Both Sides

And it came to pass when all the kings who were on this side of the Jordan, in the hills and in the lowland and in all the coasts of the Great Sea toward Lebanon—the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite—heard about it, that they gathered together to fight with Joshua and Israel with one accord.”—Joshua 9:1-2 (NKJV) 

Israel began to branch out and take possession of the Promised Land through stunning victories over the fortified cities of Jericho and Ai. They were on the move, and it got the attention of all the other people around them, whom we’re introduced to in the passage above.

Now, as we follow Israel’s conquest of the Land of Promise, we also need to have a healthy understanding of the people on the other side of the equation. Keep in mind that there had been men, women, and children who had lived in this same region for several generations. To them, the area they occupied was commonly known as Canaan, not the Promised Land. And this swath of land had been divided among several rival kingdoms, such as the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites.

Time and space doesn’t allow for a deep dive into each of these kingdoms, but it bears mentioning that archeological evidence shows us that some of the most depraved behavior the world has ever known permeated their culture. Human and even infant sacrifice was a commonplace practice among them. 

What’s more, the biblical record attests that these people groups were viciously destroying themselves (and others) through their immorality. They were on a collision course with God’s just judgment, and Israel was God’s chosen instrument to exact this judgment (Genesis 15:16, Leviticus 18:25, Deuteronomy 20:17).
We need to understand this going forward. Otherwise we will have a one-sided view of what’s happening in the Book of Joshua. Israel can appear to be unjust in their conquest of the land. But understand, something simultaneous is happening as Joshua leads his people to victory. In receiving what God had promised to them, they were also bringing an end to atrocities that have no place in this world. God was working on both ends of the equation—blessing those who were His and judging those who were not.

When God works, He works on both sides of an equation. As He blesses His people, He is also accomplishing something else simultaneously. How He does this is entirely in His hands, not ours. Our responsibility isn’t to fully understand but to fully obey what He calls us to do . . . just as Israel did. We need to listen, obey, and then trust that God is working in ways that are greater than we can fully fathom.

DIG: What does history and Scripture tell us about the kingdoms in Canaan?

DISCOVER: How did God work on both ends of the equation through Israel’s conquest? How does this expand your view of God’s work in your life?

DO: As the powers and forces of this world gather together against the children of God even now, be confident and declare today, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV).

About the Author

Pastor Dan Hickling

Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.