“It was God’s will to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the LORD commanded Moses.” – Joshua 11:20
Scripture reading: Joshua 11:16-20
After what the LORD did to Jericho and Ai, and to the coalition of five Amorite kings, it really made no sense for the Canaanites to keep trying to fight Israel. But, apart from the Gibeonites, they all did.
The Holy Spirit explains in verse 20, It was the LORD’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy, but be destroyed. It reminds us of how Pharaoh refused to let Israel go, even when the plagues were destroying Egypt. God said, “I will harden his heart.”
God is sovereign and He has the right to do whatever He pleases in this world. But that’s not all there is to say. The LORD had told Abraham in Genesis 15 that He would give the land to Abraham’s descendants when the iniquity of the Amorites was complete. That time had obviously come: the sin of the inhabitants of Canaan was complete.
God doesn’t treat people like puppets. People make choices and God holds them responsible for that choice. It was not wise for the Canaanites to keep fighting Israel when it had become perfectly obvious that they could never win. God let them suffer the consequence of their foolish decision. In fact, God uses the foolish choices of His enemies to bring them to their destruction and to accomplish the salvation of His people.
Suggestions for prayer
Praise God for His sovereign direction of all things, leading to the judgement of His enemies and the salvation of His people, and thank Him for the grace He has shown you in bringing you to Himself in repentance and faith.
Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON.