Joshua 12:7-24 Joshua’s Battles
We are resting and recounting with Israel. Moses’ battles came into view the last time we met. Today the conquests of Joshua take center stage.
Joshua’s campaigns with Israel lasted about two years. I don’t have chapter and verse for this, yet. It may be later on in our reading but I trust the sites I looked up the information from. During those two years, Israel conquered 31 kings. That averages out to more than one king a month.
Sometimes these kings came in groups, sometimes in droves and sometimes one at a time. However they came at Israel, they FELL. Not by the might of Israel but by the hand of God. There is NO HUMAN WAY Israel could have taken this land. The battle of the five kings alone should have rid the nations of Israel. The battle against the “free for all group” which numbered like the sands of the seashore certainly should have wiped ALL traces of Israel from the face of the earth. But it didn’t because God wouldn’t let it go down that way.
“If God is for us, who can be against me?” (Romans 8:31). To fit Israel’s short history in the Promised Land so far; “With God for us, who can stand against us?” The answer is simple; NO ONE. As long as Israel did as the Lord commanded He fought her battles. When they honored Him He brought them honor. When they followed His commands He commanded even the elements to be on their side!
BUT when they didn’t listen they suffered defeat. We are only given one example of defeat after they entered the Promised Land and that was their first attempt at taking Ai. Achan’s sin impacted the whole community. When we looked at that story in chapter 7 I introduced the question of how this event would have been different if Joshua had asked God for the battle plan for Ai instead of the spies. He should have found the break in communication at that point instead of after the death of twenty six men.
I don’t know for certain if Israel faced any more defeats because the Holy Spirit didn’t instruct the author to note them here. However we do know that not all the Promised Land was conquered. God still had future conquests in mind for His people; just not now. They needed a rest and a resting place. We will begin looking at where God gives them to lay their heads in our coming reading. It is going to take a while to get through it all and I have NO IDEA where God will take us with it.
What I want to focus on for the rest of our time today is the path that Joshua took to get here. No, Joshua alone didn’t conquer all these kings. Israel as a whole did. But God credits these victories to Joshua as he was the leader Israel was following at the time.
Joshua was not always the might man of God we standing before us. When Joshua first appeared on our radar he was a young man around the age of 19. He wasn’t even old enough to be counted in the first census. He held no position. He had no authority. He was one of HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of people to walk out of Egypt on the way to the promises of God. But he didn’t stay unknown.
Joshua was from the tribe of Ephraim. His first assignment we see is when he is called on to choose and lead a group of men into battle against the Amalekites. Moses chose him personally for this task. Joshua does a good job in his first role and Israel is victorious WITH Moses and God’s help.
We are not told what Moses saw in Joshua that prompted him to pick him above all others. I would like to think it was due to the prompting of God’s Spirit. It could be that Moses had an established relationship with this young man from their time in Egypt. Maybe he served Moses then too. However Moses met Joshua, God knew his future even before he was born.
After that first battle Joshua then becomes Moses’ right hand man. He was the scribe for Moses while Moses was on the mountaintop with God the first time. He was also one of the spies who were chosen to check out the Promised Land the first time. One of his greatest actions, in my mind, was standing with Caleb in proclaiming what God was capable of doing if the people would just believe. Both these men were ready to die with Moses and Aaron if need be before joining in with all the doom sayers.
Joshua not only demonstrates faithfulness to Moses in whatever is asked of him, he demonstrates unwavering faith in God and His promises. The victories that Caleb and Joshua predicted during the scouting report became a reality BECAUSE of their trust in Him.
Joshua could have folded up hope with the other spies. He could have run the other way when Moses came to anoint him as the new leader. But because he had followed God with the little steps along the way he was ready when God called him to step into the bigger roles. He was NOT perfect in this role, as evidenced by Gibeon’s deception and the defeat at Ai, but he NEVER gave up his faith in God’s promises. He also never stopped allowing God to use him. From the young man who led his first battle to the leader who conquered 31 kings, he let God direct his steps.
That wasn’t the end of Joshua’s accomplishments either. He kept the people of Israel faithful to the Lord throughout his lifetime. “Choose this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
Father God, this is the legacy I would like to leave behind. You started me out small with my first service being “preaching” to my brothers and sisters on Sunday mornings when we didn’t go to church for some reason. You have taken me to MANY different roads. Teaching and music dominated my “resume” but I want to go wherever You leads me. I don’t know what tomorrow holds for where You will direct me but wherever it is, I want to go! I have NO aspirations of being a “Joshua” or “Moses” in my life. I’m happy with the quiet life behind the keyboard. Thank You for giving me this opportunity to share my love for You. Let me NEVER lose the main thing in all this ‘doing’ and that is spending time with You in Your word. As long as we are together that’s all that matters to me.