When Will There Be Peace?
Stephen Caswell © 1999
When Will There Be Peace?
Illustration Of General MacArthur
During World War II, General MacArthur, was the commander in chief of the Allied forces in the Pacific region. At one stage he was forced to withdraw from the Philippines because of the Japanese advance. But before he left he promised the people of the Philippines that he would return and liberate them one day. After some fierce battles the Japanese army was forced to retreat. The defence department of America wanted to bypass the Philippine Islands and liberate them later. But General MacArthur kept his word and liberated them immediately and then moved on toward Japan. He didn’t allow the enemy to retain any territory. He knew there could be no peace until the final victory!
Do you ever wonder when we will have peace? At times, it seems like we are always fighting against our adversary, the devil. Sometimes the battle rages fiercely. This is because Satan knows he only has a little time left. Christ has already defeated him on the cross. However the battle continues even though he will lose the war. There can be no peace while Satan roams around. So we must not drop our guard until the final victory is completed. A good soldier doesn’t look for peace until the enemy has been totally conquered. God will give us peace and rest in His good time. Until then we persevere. Until then we fight the good fight.
Last Sunday we saw how five kings formed an alliance to attack Gibeon. Joshua honoured his word to the Gibeonites. He exercised great faith in God and won a tremendous victory. Again word of this spread very quickly. How did the northern nations respond?
Firstly The Confederation - Resistance
After the total defeat of the southern alliance you might think that the enemy might give up or seek peace. But no they determined to fight Joshua and Israel with an even bigger army. When Jabin King of Hazor heard of Joshua’s victory he responded quickly. Verse 1-2 says that he sent word to the other kings of northern Canaan. He sent runners north, south, east and west to all the kings. They assembled a huge army to attack Israel. Joshua 11:4 And they went out, they and all their hosts with them, much people, even as the sand that is upon the sea shore in multitude, with horses and chariots very many.
a. Many Kings
Jabin summoned the other kings to form a confederation. Adonizedek king of Jerusalem followed this same strategy in chapter 10. There could have been 19 kings or more that fought against Joshua at this time. Joshua chapter 12 tells us that Israel conquered 2 kings under Moses’ leadership and 31 under Joshua’s leadership. Joshua conquered 11 kings during the campaigns in Central and Southern Canaan. This leaves as many as 19 kings. Normally these kings didn’t get on together. But they united to fight against a common enemy, Israel. Verse 10 tells us that Hazor was the head of all those kingdoms. Hazor was a city of some 200 acres. Jabin was probably the ruler over all these kingdoms.
b. Many Soldiers
Verse 4 says, And they went out, they and all their hosts with them, much people, even as the sand that is upon the sea shore in multitude. All of these kings assembled a huge army. They
went out with all their hosts. This is a military term and refers to the fact that they were all soldiers. They had many people, as many as the sand on the seashore. This expression does not mean that there was an infinite number, but simply means a huge body of people.
c. Many Chariots and Horses
Verse 4 also says that they had many horses and chariots. This refers to cavalry and war chariots. Josephus a Jewish historian speculated that 300,000 infantry soldiers, 10,000 cavalry troops and 20,000 chariots were involved in the conflict. The odds against Israel seemed overwhelming. I am sure the Northern Confederation must have felt encouraged.
Joshua 11:5 says: And when all these kings were met together, they came and pitched together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel. Jabin probably summoned them to the waters of Merom to make plans for the battle. Perhaps they wanted to devise a strategy that would enable them to use their great army to maximum effect. They gathered here so that they could fight against Israel as a united force.
The enemy resisting Israel in this conflict was enormous. How could Israel stand against such a mighty army? They couldn’t. But God could enable them to! Each battle that Israel fought was larger than the previous one. God prepared Israel for the next battle through the lessons of the previous one. God’s past faithfulness in giving victory would encourage them for the next conflict. God gave sufficient resources, sufficient grace for the battle at hand.
In the same way, God uses our present battles to prepare us for greater conflicts in the future. If you are standing for the Lord, expect Satan’s resistance. But ask for God’s Grace? His grace will always be sufficient. Paul learnt this lesson when he requested that God remove his thorn in the flesh. 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Illustration Of Working At Tacspo
At the end of 1993 we decided to go to Bible College. I prayed that God would prepare me for college in the meantime. Well 1994 was one of the hardest years I ever experienced. The pressure at work was incredible. One of the sales staff made life very difficult for me. This forced me to rely on the Lord in a way that I hadn’t before. To get my work done each week and still keep up with my commitments at church was hard. I was involved in a musical and V B S. I often lead a Bible study and helped with the Junior Youth. Balancing all of this and my family time was hard. But God gave me the grace to get through when I asked Him for it. This was excellent preparation for the commitment required in Bible College. The Lord taught me to be more disciplined with my time. He gives sufficient grace for every trial!
Secondly The Confrontation - Deliverance
I. God’s Word
After this huge army had gathered to fight against Joshua, the Lord spoke to Him. He gave him encouragement. The Lord gave a promise and a commands.
a. Promise - Complete Deliverance
Joshua 11:6 But the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow about this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel. You shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire.”
God told Joshua not to be afraid of them because He would deliver them into Israel’s hand. Joshua had received God’s promise of deliverance on previous occasions. God had never failed to keep His word. He always did what He said He would. Joshua only had to wait one day for victory. This must have encouraged Joshua as he fought this huge army.
b. Commandment - Complete Destruction
God also gave commands for the battle. Previously he had been told to kill all the inhabitants of the land. The Lord told Him he would do this now also. He was to hamstring the horses and burn the chariots. But why? Wouldn’t it be better to keep these weapons and use them for His own battles? No! God did not want Israel to trust in weapons, but in Himself. Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the LORD our God. Israel must always seek the Lord’s help in battle and not rely in human resources.
II. Joshua’s Works
a. Faith - He Suddenly Attacked
Joshua 11:7 So Joshua came, and all the people of war with him, against them by the waters of Merom suddenly; and they fell upon them.
Joshua responded in faith. For a start, Merom is some 5 days march from Gilgal in the south. Joshua had already left for Merom before God gave him the promise of deliverance. Rather than wait for the enemy to bring the battle to him. He took the battle to the enemy and caught them off guard. He didn’t allow them to put their plans into motion. He didn’t wait for the enemy to gain a stronghold somewhere. He moved against them as soon as he knew of their position. He attacked them suddenly and made the most of the element of surprise. All of this points to the fact that Joshua exercised great faith in God.
The description of the battle indicates that Joshua drove the army northward into the mountains. Chariots cannot be manouvered in mountainous terrain. The open country or plains in the south was probably where Jabin intended to use them. However Joshua didn't give them this opportunity. Joshua exercised both faith and wisdom in this battle against this huge force. Even though the army was the largest encountered so far the battle was one of the quickest.
We should respond to the enemies attack the same way Joshua did. 1 John 5:4: For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Believe God’s promises and step out in faith. Obey the Lord, keeping His commands. Don’t let him to get a stronghold in your life. As soon as you are aware Satan’s attack, his temptations, confront them. Don’t play with temptation to see how far you can go. Defeat it quickly and decisively with God’s help. 1 Corinthians 10:13: There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
b. Obedience - He Struck All
1. Left No Soldier Undefeated
God kept His promise to Joshua and delivered the enemy into Joshua’s hand. Joshua 11:8 says: And the LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel, who defeated them and chased them to Greater Sidon, to the Brook Misrephoth, and to the Valley of Mizpah eastward; they attacked them until they left none of them remaining. Israel obeyed God’s command completely. They did not stop fighting until the enemy was totally defeated. Just because the enemy is on the run does not mean they are beaten. Israel pursued them and did not let up until they had killed them all.
2.Left no chariot or horse in tact
Joshua 11:9 So Joshua did to them as the LORD had told him: he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire. Joshua did exactly as God had commanded.
3.Left No City Unconquered
Joshua 11:12-13 So all the cities of those kings, and all their kings, Joshua took and struck with the edge of the sword. He utterly destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded. But as for the cities that stood on their mounds, Israel burned none of them, except Hazor only, which Joshua burned. Joshua captured every city. He left them in tact so that the Children of Israel could inhabit them. But he made an example of the capital Hazor. He destroyed the greatest city to show everyone that they could destroy any city they wished to. Also Hazor was where Jabin head of the northern nations ruled from. Joshua destroyed his large fortified city as proof of their overwhelming victory.
4. Left No Commandment Undone
Joshua 11:15 As the LORD had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded Moses. The word command or commanded is used five times in chapter 11. Joshua left nothing undone. He followed God’s plans for conquest to the letter. One of the main themes of this chapter is that Israel obeyed God’s commandment completely.
Partial obedience is disobedience. Israel learnt this lesson the hard way at Ai. Everyone obeyed God’s command except Achan. The results were devastating for Israel. But here Joshua obeyed God’s commands exactly. God’s commands require absolute obedience. Do you obey all of God’s commands? Or are you giving the enemy a foothold in your life?
Illustration Of Baking A Cake
I am not much of a cook, but I do know that recipes only work when you follow them exactly. When you are making a cake you need many ingredients. You mix the eggs, the sugar and other ingredients except the self raising flour and the cake won’t rise. The flour is needed just as much as the rest. You have to follow all the instructions. You have to obey the recipe book completely. In the same way Israel had to remove all of the Canaanites from the land before they could possess it and enjoy God’s blessing!
Lastly The Completion - Inheritance
Joshua 11:16-18 Thus Joshua took all this land: the mountain country, all the South, all the land of Goshen, the lowland, and the Jordan plain - the mountains of Israel and its lowlands, from Mount Halak and the ascent to Seir, even as far as Baal Gad in the Valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon. He captured all their kings, and struck them down and killed them.
These verses give a summary of the entire conquest. They describe the land conquered in the central, southern and northern campaigns. The summary lists the extreme boundaries they had reached. These go from Mount Halak in the south to Baalgad in the north near Mount Hermon. And from the east to the west. They subdued all the land and conquered all the main cities. No doubt there were pockets of Canaanites that still need to be cleaned up, but the entire country had been subdued. Verse 23 says that Joshua took the whole land. The word took is used 3 times in these 7 verses. The main point is that they had completed the conquest of Canaan. With Canaan conquered they could each receive their individual inheritance.
Joshua 11:18 says: Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.
The conquest took about seven years. Israel did not conquer the land quickly. It required time and perseverance to take the whole land. But God had told Israel this in Exodus 23:27-30: I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee. And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee. I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land. The Lord told them that they would possess it little by little. He said that He would do it this way so that the land did not become desolate or overrun with wild beasts. It was for their ultimate good the conquest took many years.
What naturally comes after conquest? Peace of course. After victory comes peace and rest. But in this section we also see how they didn’t obtain peace. It wasn’t peace at any price!
1. Not with the enemy / They Conquered them.
Joshua 11:19-20 There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all other they took in battle. For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses. Joshua and Israel did not make peace with any of the Canaanites, except for the people of Gibeon. All the other peoples they conquered.
You cannot make peace with the enemy. They even conquered the giants that had caused the first generation to disobey God and forfeit their inheritance. Peace can only come after victory. James 4:4 says: Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. We can’t make peace with God’s enemies, the devil, the world and the flesh.
2. Within the Land / They Controlled it.
Joshua 11:23 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.
After 7 years of conquest Israel had finally taken control of the land. As we saw this took much effort and perseverance. Now God gave them rest from war. Now they had peace within the land. Now Joshua could divide up the land amongst the tribes. Now they could receive their inheritance. Israel was now receiving the blessings of obedience and faith. God had fulfilled all of His promises to them. The Conquest had been completed! Their future looked promising. God gave them peace. Paul speaks of pressing on to perfection. Philippians 3:12-15 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
The Christian life is made up of many battles and we mustn’t stop fighting until the final victory. The Christian life requires perseverance. Like Paul we must press on to completion, we are not yet perfect. James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Firstly The Confederation - Resistance
If you are standing for Jesus Christ, expect the enemy to resist you. The Lord uses these conflicts to strengthen us and prepare us for greater battles. Are you discouraged when facing fiery trials? Don’t be. Remember God’s past help to encourage you in your present trials. Are you drawing on God’s grace? God gives us more grace in time of need. His grace is sufficient. Let us therefore come boldly before the throne of grace in time of need.
Secondly The Confrontation - Deliverance
With the confrontation God gives promises and commands. The Lord gives us promises so that we can gain victory in our lives. Do you take hold of God’s promises and step out in faith? Or are you doubting like the first generation who wandered in the wilderness? Do you obey God completely? Or is there something that God has asked you to do and you are being disobedient? God cannot take you forward until you put this thing right. Israel had to deal with Achan’s sin before they had victory at Ai.
Lastly The Completion - Inheritance
Are you trying to find peace with the world? Are you allowing the enemy to have territory in your life or home? Are you playing with sin a little? Allowing sin in our lives gives the enemy ground from which he can launch another attack. We cannot have peace at any price. Friendship with the world is enmity with God. Satan can cause great strife in our lives if we give him a foothold. He will always seek to gain more ground once he has a foothold. We must defeat him completely. Let us be like Paul and continue on toward perfection. Let us keep fighting the good fight.
When can believers expect to find peace? Not until Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, wins the final battle. Satan will be cast into the lake of fire and Christ will reign. Until then Satan fights against God’s people like the Canaanites did with Joshua. Until then we must resist him at every turn. God will give us rest and peace in His time. Let us seek to be like the apostle Paul, who at the end of his life could say. 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: — Amen
1 Peter 5:10-11 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.