So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD said to Moses…
Though the records of this war are short, we know that "Joshua made war a long time with all these kings." Only the most striking and salient features are recorded, and these are such as are well fitted for correction and instruction. The campaign in all probability lusted for six years. God, had He so chosen, could have brought all the Canaanites together and crushed them at one blow. He did not do so, and He gives us the reason why He did not. So far as His people were concerned it was for their spiritual training. Had He wrought such a wonder, they might have magnificently celebrated His praises as at the Red Sea, but as easily forgotten His mercies as at Marah. Jehovah sought to teach them and us by the continuance of this conflict, that His heritage is our portion only through faith in Him and faithfulness to His word. Yet there is an opposite error that must be guarded against. If we are not to expect one great and decisive victory, much less are we to expect a series of disastrous defeats. If too great a triumph might have led to presumption on the part of Israel, too great a trial might have induced despair. Accordingly, God neither gave the one nor did He permit the other, but always tempered both to the necessities of His people. Is not this a true picture of spiritual experience, full of instruction and encouragement? How often does the young convert feel himself walking in a land of miracle? "Old things have passed away, all things have become new." The chains of iron and the fetters of steel fall from his limbs. The bars of brass are broken, and he quits the prison house of Satan and walks abroad in abounding liberty and glorious triumph. Sometimes, indeed, in the buoyancy of his soul, he indulges in strange talk, shakes his head with precocious wisdom, and assumes unconscious airs of superiority in the presence of such as do not share his happy experience. But by and by he encounters some gross and humiliating defeat like that which befel Israel at Ai. He is humbled in the dust. With chastened spirit he begins to join trembling with his mirth, and he finds out, more and more every day, the need of constant trust and unquestioning obedience. He wakes up to the fact that in this fight of faith, as in that, the conditions of success are trustful courage, wise purpose, sleepless energy, scrupulous obedience, and hard blows. It will be interesting to notice the last foes encountered in this fight. We read in the immediately pre ceding verses: "At that time came Joshua, and cut off the Anakims." These Anakim were the first to fill the hearts of the Israelites with fear, and they were the last to be faced. Compared with them the Israelites felt themselves grass hoppers, and it was well that their giant strength was not braved at the beginning of the campaign, but reserved to its close. Israel did not face these giants till it had been trained in the war of the Lord; till it knew how invincible was the man who puts his trust in Jehovah; till it knew from its own experience how one could chase a thousand — till, in short, it was able to measure the strength of the Anakim not against its own, but against the omnipotence of Jehovah. The opposition, which was once deemed invincible, now shrinks into insignificance. How often is it thus in the experience of God's people. I have sometimes asked young converts why they had been so long in coming forward to confess Christ. And their reply has often been, "I saw what was required and expected of a Christian. I felt the many and great difficulties that lay in the way of confessing Christ. I knew some thing of the temptations and troubles that would come upon me if I became a Christian, and as I looked at these things I felt afraid, and shrank back conscious of my own weakness." Exactly! Before these difficulties, that would come upon you by confessing Christ, you feel as grasshoppers. Does that express your present position? You are like Israel at Kadesh-Barnea. You are standing on the very borders of the land, with all its beauty spread before you. Yea, you also are spying it out. You are considering the promises and blessings of Christ for time and eternity. You cannot but confess that it is a goodly heritage, a pleasant land flowing with milk and honey. Even though you have not entered the good land, you know that you are refreshed by its blessed fruits. Then why not enter in? It is free for you. No walls rise up between you and it to shut you out. No deep river rolls to prevent your entrance. Ah! you are afraid. There are giants there, and strong cities walled to the sky. If I confess Christ I shall have mighty temptations and troubles to face and overcome. Are such your difficulties? Well, I do not say you are strong. I do not say that there are no Anakim in the land. But I do say that you utterly misunderstand the meaning of the situation. The instant you go forward you enlist on your side the strength of Jehovah, and there is no sin, no temptation, no trouble, however gigantic, over which He cannot cause you to triumph. But there are lessons here for the Christian veteran as well as for the Christian recruit. He has left Moses behind, as a leader who can give no rest, he has put himself under the flag of Joshua, he has entered into the inheritance and fought the good fight of faith, with encouraging measure of success. Yet still there remain some temptations, some sins, some sorrows, some bereavements, which look very dreadful. They are like gigantic Anakim, before which you quail. Do not measure your might with theirs. Pit them against the omnipotence of your Father God. Any temptation, any sin, any trial, is too much for us in our own strength; but strengthened with His might the meanest can face and over come the greatest of them all. Notice, again, that the fighting does not grow less severe as we go onwards. The Anakim were left to the last. So often the greatest burdens, sharpest trials, severest afflictions, fiercest temptations, come at the end. No man can ever rest here in fancied security.
(A. B. Mackay.)
Parallel VersesKJV: So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war.
WEB: So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that Yahweh spoke to Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. The land had rest from war.