The righteousness of God
So Joshua conquered the whole region—the kings and people of the hill country, the Negev, the western foothills, and the mountain slopes. He completely destroyed everyone in the land, leaving no survivors, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had commanded. Joshua slaughtered them from Kadesh-barnea to Gaza and from the region around the town of Goshen up to Gibeon. Joshua conquered all these kings and their land in a single campaign, for the Lord, the God of Israel, was fighting for his people.... No one in this region made peace with the Israelites except the Hivites of Gibeon. All the others were defeated. For the Lord hardened their hearts and caused them to fight the Israelites. So they were completely destroyed without mercy, as the Lord had commanded Moses. During this period Joshua destroyed all the descendants of Anak, who lived in the hill country of Hebron, Debir, Anab, and the entire hill country of Judah and Israel. He killed them all and completely destroyed their towns. None of the descendants of Anak were left in all the land of Israel, though some still remained in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod. So Joshua took control of the entire land, just as the Lord had instructed Moses. He gave it to the people of Israel as their special possession, dividing the land among the tribes. So the land finally had rest from war... In all, thirty-one kings were defeated. Joshua 10:40-42; 11:19-23; 12:24 NLT
Several chapters, including the passages from our text, are the lists of the war campaigns that Joshua and the Israelites were engaged with that comprised Canaan, the Promise Land; the southern campaign (see 10:28–43) and the northern campaign (see 11:1–15). The summaries of the conquests emphasized how extensive the victory was. Only the Gibeonites were spared (see 9:1–27). The rest of the Canaanites were taken ‘in battle’ (11:19). The summaries may easily seem to be tedious and pointless. Why even bother mentioning all these? Yes, these verses are here to give us historical details, but they are also here to point us to spiritual truths. Embedded in the narratives of the history are shining and glittering nuggets of spiritual truths. Aside from God’s faithfulness to His people another important truth that should not be ignored is the righteousness of God. We were given the gory details of the defeat of the Canaanites. We must keep in mind that these nations were utterly corrupt. They practiced every perversion conceivable, even to the point of sacrificing their own children to their idols. We should also be reminded that these same nations were given every opportunity to turn from their sinful ways, as Rahab did (see Joshua 2), but they obstinately refused to do so. Sin must be dealt with harshly for evil is contagious. When God told Moses to instruct the people, included in that are these words including the Canaanites: “You must completely destroy the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, just as the Lord your God has commanded you. This will prevent the people of the land from teaching you to imitate their detestable customs in the worship of their gods, which would cause you to sin deeply against the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 20:17-18). If they don’t destroy the Canaanites, they will destroy the Israelites. The call to separation with sin and its practices is clear in the Word of God, and it is for us to obey, renounce every form of sin and worldliness, and turn with all our hearts to the Lord. Instead of lamenting the judgement of the Canaanites, we would do well to ponder upon the righteousness of God and the judgement that will come our way if we do not repent. When we keep rejecting God’s truth, He judges us by hardening our hearts against the truth.