Joshua 10 & 11 – God’s Sovereignty and Conquest

Our text today documents the remainder of the Southern campaign and the whole of the Northern campaign.
  • There are some apologetic concerns about the completion of this Conquest we may address at the end.
  • But before that, our text reveals something remarkable…

Canaan’s devotion to destruction and Israel’s obedience to this devotion are intricately woven around God’s Will and Sovereignty.

This all comes together in one verse in Joshua 11 –
  • Joshua 11:20 (ESV) — 20 For it was the Lord’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction [DTD] and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the Lord commanded Moses.

This text links God’s Will and Sovereignty to Israel’s obedience and Canaan’s “DTD” in a causal chain.
  • God’s Will – “The Lord commanded Moses” and Joshua that the Canaanites are to be “DTD”.
    • This command to Moses expressed the Will of God.
    • It was to be obeyed.
  • God’s Sovereignty – To this end, “it was the Lord’s doing to harden their hearts”.
    • God’s act of hardening was to ensure they would “come against Israel in battle”.
    • This would then lead to their being “devoted to destruction”.
    • The very thing God Willed in His giving of the Promise Land to Abrahams descendants.

God’s Will:
God had made it clear to Moses and Joshua His Will concerning the Canaanites:
  • Deuteronomy 7:2 (ESV) — 2 and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them.
  • Deuteronomy 20:16–17 (ESV) — 16 But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, 17 but you shall devote them to complete destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the Lord your God has commanded,

Why was this God’s will?
  • We do have some clues as to why God would will Canaanite destruction.

  • Genesis 9:22 & 25 (ESV) — 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside… 25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.”
  • Genesis 10:15–20 (ESV) — 15 Canaan fathered Sidon his firstborn and Heth, 16 and the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, 17 the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, 18 the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites. Afterward the clans of the Canaanites dispersed. 19 And the territory of the Canaanites extended from Sidon in the direction of Gerar as far as Gaza, and in the direction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. 20 These are the sons of Ham, by their clans, their languages, their lands, and their nations.

Might the curse have had a present and future connotation or at the very least been a foreshadowing?
  • Especially if “curse” here refers to the consequences of one’s sin/disobedience.
  • This connection becomes all the more acute with the description of Ham’s offspring and their territory.
  • The very peoples and land under Conquest in Joshua 10 and 11.

Covenant Faithfulness
  • Genesis 12:6–7 (ESV) — 6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
  • Exodus 3:16–17 (ESV) — 16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, 17 and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.” ’
  • Exodus 13:11 (ESV) — 11 “When the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as he swore to you and your fathers, and shall give it to you,
  • Leviticus 25:38 (ESV) — 38 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.

God’s promise and faithfulness to –
  • Bring” His people (His elect) out of exile
  • To return them to the Promised Land
  • Are themes that carry forward all the way through the NT
    • The church, resurrection, new creation, etc.

  • Genesis 15:16 (ESV) — 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
  • Exodus 22:20 (ESV) — 20 “Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the Lord alone, shall be devoted to destruction.
  • Leviticus 18:24–25 (ESV) — 24 “Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, 25 and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.
  • Deuteronomy 18:12 (ESV) — 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you.

The abominations included (Leviticus 18 and Deuteronomy 18):
  • Incest
  • Homosexuality
  • Bestiality
  • Child sacrifice
  • Divination
  • Fortune telling
  • Interpreting omens
  • Sorcery
  • Necromancy (speaking to the dead)
  • Idolatry

Was God’s will done?
  • Joshua 10:28 (ESV) — 28 As for Makkedah, Joshua captured it on that day and struck it, and its king, with the edge of the sword. He devoted to destruction every person in it; he left none remaining. And he did to the king of Makkedah just as he had done to the king of Jericho.
  • Joshua 10:35 (ESV) — 35 And they captured it on that day, and struck it with the edge of the sword. And he devoted every person in it to destruction that day, as he had done to Lachish.
  • Joshua 10:37 (ESV) — 37 and captured it and struck it with the edge of the sword, and its king and its towns, and every person in it. He left none remaining, as he had done to Eglon, and devoted it to destruction and every person in it.
  • Joshua 10:39 (ESV) — 39 and he captured it with its king and all its towns. And they struck them with the edge of the sword and devoted to destruction every person in it; he left none remaining. Just as he had done to Hebron and to Libnah and its king, so he did to Debir and to its king.
  • Joshua 10:40 (ESV) — 40 So Joshua struck the whole land, the hill country and the Negeb and the lowland and the slopes, and all their kings. He left none remaining, but devoted to destruction all that breathed, just as the Lord God of Israel commanded.
  • Joshua 11:11 (ESV) — 11 And they struck with the sword all who were in it, devoting them to destruction; there was none left that breathed. And he burned Hazor with fire.
  • Joshua 11:12 (ESV) — 12 And all the cities of those kings, and all their kings, Joshua captured, and struck them with the edge of the sword, devoting them to destruction, just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded.

And the author of Joshua makes clear that this “DTD” was done in accordance with God’s will.
  • Joshua 11:15 (ESV) — 15 Just as the Lord had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.

BTW – Understanding God’s will here demonstrates that God was not planning as history unfolded.
  • He always knew exactly the who, what, and when.
  • All of which were preparing the way for Christ.
  • And this leads us to the how.

God’s Sovereignty:
What is God’s Sovereignty?
  • “The fact that God is free and able to do all that he wills; that he reigns over all creation and that his will is the final cause of all things” – Martin Manser.
  • “By his sovereignty we mean the authority of his power over creation” – Michael Bird.
  • Psalm 135:6 (ESV) — 6 Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.

We noted earlier an expression of this sovereignty, “it was the Lord’s doing to harden their hearts”.
  • This language is similar to God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart in Exodus.
  • And it parallels God’s stirring of Cyrus’ spirit.
  • Ezra 1:1 (ESV) — 1 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom…
    • Cyrus went on to “allow” and fund the rebuilding of the Temple.

God’s power over earth’s rulers is expressed well in Proverbs.
  • Proverbs 21:1 (ESV) — 1 The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.

Judicial Hardening:
In the case of the Canaanites and Pharaoh “it was the Lord’s doing to harden their hearts”.
  • This action of God’s sovereignty is often called “judicial hardening”.
  • God is exercising His sovereignty over a “king’s heart” to accomplish His will.

BTW – “Don’t think you can escape this God by running into the New Testament; you will meet the same God there (Heb. 3:12–13)” – Dale Davis.

The topic of God’s Sovereignty raises some important questions.
  • Did God leave the fulfillment of His will for the Promised Land up to His creatures?
  • Or, did He sovereignly predestinate events, outcomes and behaviors?

God’s Action:
In one sense, the Bible understands the Conquest as God’s work and His predestination.
  • His direct and personal causative action in the details of the Conquest.

Scripture puts in this way –
  • Exodus 23:23 (ESV) — 23 “When my angel goes before you and brings you to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, and I blot them out,
  • Exodus 23:29–30 (ESV) — 29 I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. 30 Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land.
  • Exodus 33:2 (ESV) — 2 I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
  • Exodus 34:11 (ESV) — 11 “Observe what I command you this day. Behold, I will drive out before you the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
  • Joshua 1:2–3 (ESV) — 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.
  • Joshua 10:8 (ESV) — 8 And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands. Not a man of them shall stand before you.”
  • Joshua 10:11 (ESV) — 11 And as they fled before Israel, while they were going down the ascent of Beth-horon, the Lord threw down large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died because of the hailstones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword.
  • Joshua 10:12 (ESV) — 12 At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”

Yet, God’s Sovereignty and predestination operates in the context of man’s actions.
  • Man’s natural ability (different from moral ability) to be causative somehow compliments God’s Sovereignty.

The two come together in the following verses:
  • Joshua 10:25–26 (ESV) — 25 And Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous. For thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.” 26 And afterward Joshua struck them and put them to death, and he hanged them on five trees. And they hung on the trees until evening.
  • Joshua 10:42 (ESV) — 42 And Joshua captured all these kings and their land at one time, because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel.
  • Joshua 11:6 (ESV) — 6 And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, for tomorrow at this time I will give over all of them, slain, to Israel. You shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire.”

Man’s Actions:
The writer of Joshua also explicitly attributes Conquest to the actions of man.

Scripture puts it this way –
  • Joshua 10:34–35 (ESV) — 34 Then Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Lachish to Eglon. And they laid siege to it and fought against it. 35 And they captured it on that day, and struck it with the edge of the sword.
  • Joshua 10:40 (ESV) — 40 So Joshua struck the whole land, the hill country and the Negeb and the lowland and the slopes, and all their kings. He left none remaining…
  • Joshua 11:16 (ESV) — 16 So Joshua took all that land, the hill country and all the Negeb and all the land of Goshen and the lowland and the Arabah and the hill country of Israel and its lowland
  • Joshua 11:18 (ESV) — 18 Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.
  • Joshua 11:23 (ESV) — 23 So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had spoken to Moses. And Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments…

BTW – though God hardened the Canaanites’ hearts, Scripture also shows their causative actions as well.
  • Here is but one example –
  • Joshua 11:4–5 (ESV) — 4 And they came out with all their troops, a great horde, in number like the sand that is on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. 5 And all these kings joined their forces and came and encamped together at the waters of Merom to fight against Israel.

It is clear that God uses means to accomplish His Will.
  • And along with His Sovereign actions in creation – including hardening the hearts of the Canaanites – He also uses the actions of His creatures.
  • God gave the Promised Land but Joshua took the Promise Land.
  • God hardened Canaanite hearts but the Canaanites allied together to fight Israel.
  • The two, God’s Sovereignty and man’s action, mysteriously go together.
  • This is no different in the NT.

Dale Davis has some wise words about this mystery.
  • “Divine sovereignty does not negate human activity but stimulates it” – Dale Davis.
  • “God’s sovereignty is not a doctrine that shackles us but a reality that liberates us, not a cloud that stifles but an elixir that invigorates” – Dale Davis.