Building a People of God With Unusual Characters: Joshua Part II: Finding God’s Power as God’s General

Sermon Tone Analysis
View more →

Joshua’s Part In the Story of God’s People

Joshua Is the One Character Without Major Flaws
Joshua Becomes the Leader of Israel
Joshua Is the Conquering General of Canaan
Joshua Is the Transition Between Moses and the Judges
In order to

Joshua Encounters God’s General

Joshua 5:13 CSB
13 When Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua approached him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
Joshua 5:14 CSB
14 “Neither,” he replied. “I have now come as commander of the Lord’s army.” Then Joshua bowed with his face to the ground in homage and asked him, “What does my lord want to say to his servant?”
Joshua 5:15 CSB
15 The commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did that.

Joshua Leads Israel in Conquest

Of course, you know the story of what happened next, as the spies were sheltered by Rahab, the people of Israel marched around Jericho 7 times, the priests blew the ram’s horns and the people shouted and the walls fell down. Then the city was destroyed.
With a few hitches in the conquest, the Israelites conquered city after city with God’s help.
Well, after the news of the defeat of Jericho and Ai, which included Bethel and some surrounding towns,
A group of 5 kings got together to fight against the Israelites.
The kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon formed an alliance and laid seige to Gibeon, because they had a treaty of peace with Israel.

Joshua Faces the Axis in the South

As soon as Joshua heard of it, he set out against them from Gilgal.
Joshua 10:8 CSB
8 The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, for I have handed them over to you. Not one of them will be able to stand against you.”
The Israelites pressed the battle, and
Joshua 10:9 CSB
9 So Joshua caught them by surprise, after marching all night from Gilgal.
This wasn’t just about Joshua and the Israelites. This was a battle in which the Lord God of Israel supported the armies of Israel, not just in power for the Israelite soldiers, because God always reserves some glory for himself, and in this case it’s because of what God did from the clouds against the allied kings:
Joshua 10:11 CSB
11 As they fled before Israel, the Lord threw large hailstones on them from the sky along the descent of Beth-horon all the way to Azekah, and they died. More of them died from the hail than the Israelites killed with the sword.
This was not a battle that took place in a few minutes. This was a hard-won and important battle, so much so that, in order to allow Joshua’s Israelite armies to prevail, . . .

The Sun Stood Still

in answer to Joshua’s prayer:
Joshua 10:12 CSB
12 On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to the Israelites, Joshua spoke to the Lord in the presence of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”
Joshua 10:13 CSB
13 And the sun stood still and the moon stopped until the nation took vengeance on its enemies. Isn’t this written in the Book of Jashar? So the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed its setting almost a full day.
The Book of Jashar that is mentioned here is not part of the scriptures, but it was some kind of historical epic that outlined amazing things like this 40 hour day that God gave Joshua. It is a lost book, mentioned only here.
There can be nothing more said about that day for us except what the scriptures say:
Joshua 10:14 CSB
14 There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord listened to a man, because the Lord fought for Israel.
Interesting, isn’t it, that the prayer of Joshua is answered in a way that is so over-the-top that the Scripture says, “there has never been a day when Yahweh listened to a man”.
It puts Joshua in a kind of unique position, because as one of God’s unusual characters, Joshua has God’s ear because of Joshua’s own faith in reliance on God.
With Moses, he was unique because God talked face-to-face with Moses. Joshua did not have that kind of interaction as far as entering in to the tent of meeting.
Instead, Joshua was a prayer warrior whose warrior needs were met in God’s abundant supply.
Joshua faced the kings, armies, and cities of the Southern cities and completely destroyed them. And the record reads . . .
Joshua 10:40 CSB
40 So Joshua conquered the whole region—the hill country, the Negev, the Judean foothills, and the slopes—with all their kings, leaving no survivors. He completely destroyed every living being, as the Lord, the God of Israel, had commanded.
and in this first war to take the land that God had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
Joshua 10:41 CSB
41 Joshua conquered everyone from Kadesh-barnea to Gaza, and all the land of Goshen as far as Gibeon.
and although Joshua is the General of Israel’s armies, it was Yahweh, the God of Israel that was the Commander in Chief, surrounding and supporting Joshua’s adventures, and
Joshua 10:42 CSB
42 Joshua captured all these kings and their land in one campaign, because the Lord, the God of Israel, fought for Israel.
Joshua and Israel did not immediately occupy the cities, for the land had not yet been apportioned to the various tribes of Israel. It probably would have led to an early civil war if one tribe had to displace another in the walled cities of Canaan.
So after returning to the camp at Gilgal, the armies rested and regrouped for a bit.
Next was the conquest of another very large Axis army made up of the northern cities, and this was a big fighting force that covered the battlefield and was supported by cavalry and chariots.
God told Joshua not to be afraid of them and Joshua surprised them at Merom, and chased down the fleeing army because the Lord handed them over to Israel.
Then they took the cities where they had come from, and were allowed by God to plunder most of them and take the livestock.
The scripture records that. . .
Joshua 11:15 CSB
15 Just as the Lord had commanded his servant Moses, Moses commanded Joshua. That is what Joshua did, leaving nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.
And that’s why we read that . . .

Joshua Conquered All That He Met

In these first conquests, as the Canaanites were completely overwhelmed wherever Joshua went. The list of victories is given in
Joshua 11:16 CSB
16 So Joshua took all this land—the hill country, all the Negev, all the land of Goshen, the foothills, the Arabah, and the hill country of Israel with its foothills—
Joshua 11:17 CSB
17 from Mount Halak, which ascends to Seir, as far as Baal-gad in the Valley of Lebanon at the foot of Mount Hermon. He captured all their kings and struck them down, putting them to death.
With all these victories won by the Lord’s General, and contained in just a couple chapters of the Bible, it is easy to think of it as something that happened like a blitzkrieg, sudden and overwhelming.
It wasn’t quite that simple or quick. There was a lot of land, a lot of opposition, and a lot of work to do. And some of these victories meant the armies of Israel had to keep up the pressure.
In fact,
Joshua 11:18 CSB
18 Joshua waged war with all these kings for a long time.
and the General had to keep his troupes motivated through it all. We get a hint later that this took decades to accomplish.
Facing such fierce invaders as the Israelites were at that time,
Joshua 11:19 CSB
19 No city made peace with the Israelites except the Hivites who inhabited Gibeon; all of them were taken in battle.
And there was nothing nice and clean about the battles. This was a kind of genocide, directed by the Lord:
Joshua 11:20 CSB
20 For it was the Lord’s intention to harden their hearts, so that they would engage Israel in battle, be completely destroyed without mercy, and be annihilated, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.
And do you remember that the spies 50 or 60 year ago were afraid of the giants in the land, the Anakim? They didn’t pose a problem. Only a few were left in Gaza, Gath and Ashdod, which would be the ancestors of Goliath in a couple hundred years.
Finally, Joshua’s battles were over, and he could retire the army for now.

Victory in Yahweh Brought Rest

Joshua 11:23 CSB
23 So Joshua took the entire land, in keeping with all that the Lord had told Moses. Joshua then gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments. After this, the land had rest from war.
And the land was allotted and the cities resettled with Israelites.
Now, there were many cities that Joshua had not waged against; there is only so much that can be done with one battle-hardened General who led most of these battles on foot.
The Bible records that it’s

Time for Joshua to Retire

Even though the full extent of the promised land yet remained:
Joshua 13:1 CSB
1 Joshua was now old, advanced in age, and the Lord said to him, “You have become old, advanced in age, but a great deal of the land remains to be possessed.
Still, in what remained were. . .
Joshua 13:6 CSB
6 all the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon to Misrephoth-maim, all the Sidonians. I will drive them out before the Israelites, only distribute the land as an inheritance for Israel, as I have commanded you.
The whole of the promised land is theirs for the taking, but now the rest of the taking had to happen.
It would fall to the tribes who inherit the land to secure their cities and borders. Although the conquest of the heart of the land had given Israel a strong foothold, so much more would have to happen as the Israelites took control of the land occupied for centuries by the Canaanites.
God was giving rest to Joshua as General, but retaining him as a sort of Governor as he carried out what he had promised, and it was

Time to Divide the Land

Joshua 13:7 CSB
7 Therefore, divide this land as an inheritance to the nine tribes and half the tribe of Manasseh.”

Joshua Found All He Needed in Yahweh

He found courage
He found wisdom
He found power to overcome
He found God would fight the battles with him
He found God would sometimes fight the battles for him
He found that God’s guidance would hold him together.

Joshua Was Faithful

Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more