Many people dislike reading the historical books of Scripture like Joshua and Judges because of the warfare and utter destruction of nations that is advocated. Genocide doesn’t sit well with our contemporary palates, but there are great truths to learn even in the conquest and destruction of nations. In Joshua 11 we encounter the defeat of the northern kings. But what is key to notice in this passage are the words of God:
“Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand all of them over to Israel, slain.” (Joshua 11:6)
Though the story goes on to record how Joshua and the Israelites fought, the truth of the passage is found in verse six. God is the one who grants victory and defeats those kingdoms who stand in the way of his chosen people. In fact, verse 20 records,
“it was the Lord himself who hardened their heats to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy…” (Joshua 11:20)
God will not stand to see his promises thwarted, his chosen people defeated and sin and idolatry to go unpunished. None of these things can stand and it is in a passage like this that God gives us a picture of the spiritual battle he is waging for us in Christ. First, all the kingdoms of darkness and evil allayed against the Christian (God’s chosen people who are truly of Abraham’s seed) were defeated at the cross and made a public spectacle.
And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:15)
Second, The promises made to Abraham to bring his descendants into a land flowing with milk and honey, lacking no good thing were fulfilled in Christ who grants his people every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms where their citizenship now resides, all because of the cross.
But our citizenship is in heaven. (Philippians 3:20)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)
Finally, Genesis 15 tells us that the reason for the defeat of the Northern Kingdoms was because their sin hadn’t reached its full measure, but when the day of reckoning came, God meted out to these kingdoms all that their sin required. This was but a foretaste of that great day in the future when Jesus will judge all the nations and peoples who have stood opposed to his rule and will bring down complete destruction upon their heads, exterminating them without mercy.
But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for thedayof God’s wrath, when his righteousjudgmentwill be revealed…This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. (Romans 2:5, 16)if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment… By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (2Peter 2:9, 3:7)
Is there hope? Certainly, join with the chosen people, repent of your sin, believe in Jesus Christ as your savior and Lord, trusting that he bore God’s wrath for you on the cross and so no further punishment remains. Then go and live your life in submission to his reign and rule.