The greeting. Grace to you brothers and sisters in Christ. We are gathered here today on the Lord’s Day to conclude the day the way that we began, and that is by worshiping our Lord in His word.
The Word. Turn in your Bible to Joshua chapter twelve. I will read the entire chapter beginning at verses one, hear the holy word of God, read.
Joshua 12:1. Now these are the kings of the land whom the sons of Israel defeated, and whose land they possessed beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise, from the valley of the Arnon as far as Mount Hermon, and all the Arabah to the east: 2 Sihon king of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon, and ruled from Aroer, which is on the edge of the valley of the Arnon, both the middle of the valley and half of Gilead, even as far as the brook Jabbok, the border of the sons of Ammon; 3 and the Arabah as far as the Sea of Chinneroth toward the east, and as far as the sea of the Arabah, even the Salt Sea, eastward toward Beth-jeshimoth, and on the south, at the foot of the slopes of Pisgah; 4 and the territory of Og king of Bashan, one of the remnant of Rephaim, who lived at Ashtaroth and at Edrei, 5 and ruled over Mount Hermon and Salecah and all Bashan, as far as the border of the Geshurites and the Maacathites, and half of Gilead, as far as the border of Sihon king of Heshbon. 6 Moses the servant of the LORD and the sons of Israel defeated them; and Moses the servant of the LORD gave it to the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh as a possession.
Joshua 12:7. Now these are the kings of the land whom Joshua and the sons of Israel defeated beyond the Jordan toward the west, from Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon even as far as Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir; and Joshua gave it to the tribes of Israel as a possession according to their divisions, 8 in the hill country, in the lowland, in the Arabah, on the slopes, and in the wilderness, and in the Negev; the Hittite, the Amorite and the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite: 9 the king of Jericho, one; the king of Ai, which is beside Bethel, one; 10 the king of Jerusalem, one; the king of Hebron, one; 11 the king of Jarmuth, one; the king of Lachish, one; 12 the king of Eglon, one; the king of Gezer, one; 13 the king of Debir, one; the king of Geder, one; 14 the king of Hormah, one; the king of Arad, one;15 the king of Libnah, one; the king of Adullam, one; 16 the king of Makkedah, one; the king of Bethel, one; 17 the king of Tappuah, one; the king of Hepher, one; 18 the king of Aphek, one; the king of Lasharon, one; 19 the king of Madon, one; the king of Hazor, one; 20 the king of Shimron-meron, one; the king of Achshaph, one; 21 the king of Taanach, one; the king of Megiddo, one; 22 the king of Kedesh, one; the king of Jokneam in Carmel, one; 23 the king of Dor in the heights of Dor, one; the king of Goiim in Gilgal, one; 24 the king of Tirzah, one: in all, thirty-one kings.
The prayer. Let’s pray and ask the Lord to help us worship Him today from this passage, pray.
The division. We have a twofold division in our passage.
The enemies – of God east of the Jordan. In verses one to six what we see are the battles won by Moses as the leader of God’s people in their trek in the wilderness prior to entering Canaan. (Dt.3:11, see also Ps.135:11, 136:19-20, Neh.9:22, Dt.31:4)
The account of their defeat is recorded by God in the book of Numbers 21:21-35 and in Deuteronomy 2:26-3:11.
God preserves His people in their wilderness journey. He even gives us victories while we travel through the enemy’s lands. Here, in this context, it was a physical military bloody victory. But as applied to us in our pilgrimage, the Lord gives us daily spiritual victories over the world, the flesh and the devil.
This section represents the past mercies of the Lord for us. Let’s us remember what God has done for us.
The enemies – of God west of the Jordan. Then in verses seven through twenty-four we see Joshua, the successor of Moses, as the military warrior leader also victorious over the enemies of God within the Promised Land.
This section represents the current mercies of the Lord for us. Let’s us acknowledge what God is doing for us.
In Him we live, breathe, move, exist, have our being. God is with us. Always.
And we should not let the current battles of life cause us to forget the past deliverances of the Lord. Oh, Lord increase our faith.
The war. A major theme of this passage is war.
Beloved as we look around in the world today, what we are looking at is a world at war. I am not specifically referring to actual armed conflicts with soldiers in uniform lining up against other soldiers. Though we do have that in many places throughout the world.
War among nations is a manifestation of the war I am speaking about. In fact, the war in our heads, the war in our homes, the war in our world, and the war in our passage is a testimony of the larger war. (Gen.3:15)
Have you ever wondered, beloved, why all the fights? Why so many marriages begin with such love only to end with such hate? Why churches of common faith have so much division? Why can people not get along? (Gen.6:11-13)
The war we are looking at is the unseen war, the spiritual war in the heavenlies, as the Bible calls it. The children of light fighting with the children of darkness. The kingdom of God against the kingdom of the devil. (Rev.12:7-17, Eph.6:1-18)
This war is a war against God. This war is unbelieving man, duped by the devil, and governed by the devil against God and against God’s Christ, and against Christ’s kingdom and people. (Gen.3:1-15)
Listen to what God’s word says about this war.
Ephesians 6:12. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
Revelation 12: 7. And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, 8 and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. 11 “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. 12 “For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”
The victory. What God the Holy Spirit records for us in God’s word today is the list of those kings and their kingdoms that were defeated by the Lord. And I should say, by the Lord using the instrumentality of His people Israel.
The servants. Let’s say a few things about Moses the servant of God. And then about Joshua the servant of God.
Moses the servant of the LORD.
Moses spent 40 years living in Pharaoh’s royal court. Then he spent the next 40 years in Sinai’s desert shepherding sheep. Then he spent his final 40 years shepherding the people of God through the wilderness. So from age 80 to age 120 Moses fought and won many battles in the name of the Lord. (Dt.34:1-7)
In a similar way, Joshua was about 80 years old when he entered the Promised Land and began to fight the Lord’s Battles. And he concluded his fighting thirty years later at age 110.
Judges 2:8. Then Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of one hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the territory of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.
My point with this is that God preserves His servants, those men, women, boys, and girls that love Him in Spirit and in Truth. Yes, in this life we fight the good fight. (I Tim.6:12, 2 Cor.10:4, Rev.2:10, 2 Tim.4:7-8, Eph.6:10-18, James 4:7, Lk.10:19)
But God fights for us. God fights through us. The life of Christ in us comes out of us. (Gal.2:20, Phil.3:1-14)
Romans 8:37. But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
The Lord. The main teaching is that the Lord is the true King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and He rules overall. (I Tim.6:15, Rev.19:16)
Our Lord defeats all His enemies. (Ps.2 and Ps. 10) He saves and preserves all His people. The gates of hell will not prevail against the people of Christ. Because it is ultimately the Lord that fights for His people. (Mt.16:18-19, Dt.3:22, Exod.14:14, Isa.41)
As we have previously said what we are seeing here in the book of Joshua is God removing sinners from the Promised Land and giving it to His saints.
This is a picture of what will occur on Judgment Day and in the Eternal estate when Christ Himself will make the great and final separation between the unbelieving goats in their sin and the believing sheep in their Sin-Bearer. (Mt.25:31-46)
Listen to what the apostle John on the Isle of Patmos sees and hears concerning this truth coming to fruition.
Revelation. 11:15. Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” 16 And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying, “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign.
Well, this will be the truth that we unpack from this passage today.
The record. I know this will sound so evident that it might appear a little silly. What we have here is the record of the list of defeated pagan kings that God places in His book the holy Bible.
The kings and their defeated citizens represent how fallen man responds to the revelation of God in nature and in scripture. Fallen man rails against God. (Rom.3:9-18)
Unbelieving man seeks to destroy the kingdom of God and establish the City of Man over and against the City of Peace. This is what happened with the tower of Babel. (Gen.11:1-9)
In His Book God reveals Himself as a Savior to Sinners. But also, to those that reject God as their Savior, He does reveal that He Himself will be their righteous Judge against their sins.
In this passage we learn that the wages of sin is death. The wars are the means to execute the divine penalty. (Gen.2:16-17, Rom.6:23, Eph.2:1-3, Ezek.18:20-24)
The instruction. God places this here in His word for our instruction. (I Cor.10:11, Rom.15:4, 2 Tim.3:14-17)
This means that God wants us as Believers, as God’s people to learn certain lessons here. Lessons about God. Lessons about our Joshua Savior. Lessons about unbelieving man. Lessons about those saved by Joshua. Who will win? Will the kingdom of man prevail against God in Christ? Or will God have the victory? (Dan.4:1-37)
So, let’s consider what we learn of the Lord.
God is. First, I suppose, we would say this chapter teaches us that God is, that God exists. And that the Lord God of the Bible is the only true and living God. And that all of the various so-called gods of their earth and nothing. (Heb.11:6, Gen.1:1, Jn.1:1)
God is omnipotent. And only He is the creator and savior. And that He is omnipotent. (WCF 2.1-3)
No created thing can stand against Him and succeed. This is very good news for His people that in this life live among enemies of God. Our omnipotent God preserves us from them, and for Himself. (2 Cor.6:14-18)
You remember what God revealed to Daniel to reveal to Nebuchadnezzar the Babylonian?
Listen to Daniel 2:34-35.
Daniel 2:34. You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them. 35 “Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
God is omniscient and omnipresent. And by deduction we also learn some of the Lord’s other characteristics or attributes.
See how God records the exact names of His enemies. He records exact people, places, and events. God is omniscient. God knows all. God is omnipresent. God is everywhere at all times. God is especially “with” His people to save and preserve them as the people of His love.
God is just. In this instance, He writes in His book those that hate Him and oppose His kingdom.
God is wrathful. Or, to put it another way, God records the names of those that He judges and condemns in their sin.
There is a Lamb’s book of life with the names of those found in Christ. (Rev.13:8)
But Joshua chapter twelve teaches us the opposite truth. I do not mean that there is necessarily, let us say, a book of condemnation. The idea is that God knows those opposed to Him. And He records their sins, and He will judge them, individually, personally, and really. (Rev.20:12, Heb.8:12)
This is here to glorify God, to glorify the justice of God. And to comfort God’s people. We are victorious in Christ our Victor. (Rom.8:37)
God is true. This is here to glorify the word of God against the sinner. It has come true. God is Lord. And fallen man is not.
God is long-suffering. This is here to warn the sinner. Before this day, the day of execution, lay your weapons down and like the Gibeonites come to Joshua-Jesus seeking a covenant of peace and life. (Josh.9:3-15)
Cease being an enemy. Come as a servant. But for those that will not come, their fate will be the fate of these men.
Man is deluded. You see natural man is so self-deceived that he or she believes the lies they tell themselves about God and about themselves.
Oh, they say. My god is a god of love, only love, only the kind of love I say. My god does not judge. Or the God of the Bible cannot judge me. I will never come to that day of judgment. The kingdoms of Man will defeat the kingdom of Christ. (Dan.7:15-28 Rev.11:15, Ps.2:1-12)
Man in enraged. Not only do we see that man is self-deceived being deceived by the devil to fight against God, what this list of kings represent is that all unbelieving men no matter what tribe or tongue or nation, they all are against God.
Man is doomed. V.24 of our passage says that there were 31 kings and their kingdoms against Joshua and the Lord’s kingdom.
That was all of the other people of the Promised Land. All those not on the Lord’s side were against the Lord. All. And all fell before the Lord and before the Lord’s anointed Deliverer. (Jer.15:3, Ezek.30:3, I Pt.2:8, Exod.32:25-35, Jn.8:31, 2 Jn.1:9)
You remember in the book of Daniel, in Daniel chapter 8 and chapter 11, God says the Rock of Christ will crush four opposing kingdoms, and these kingdoms represented what these kings in Joshua chapter twelve represent – the kingdoms of Man against the kingdom of Christ.
Think of those kingdoms. The kings and kingdoms of Babylon, the Medes, the Persians, Greece, and Rome. All fallen men think their power will destroy God.
But the Bible shows the true truth of the matter.
Ezekiel 3:19. Yet if you have warned the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity. (Ezek.33:9, Gal.5:21)
God is preserving. Finally, this is here to comfort the Israel of God.
We shall overcome in our Great Joshua. (I Jn.5:1-6, Ps.83)
The fallen kings and their fallen kingdoms that have so plagued the lovers of Christ in this life will on a certain day receive justice for their crimes. (WCF 33.1-3)
And they will go into everlasting death. And we will go into everlasting life. Listen to God.
Deuteronomy 4:31. For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.
Remember what Christ said.
Matthew 16:18. Upon this rock (that I am the Christ, the Son of God) I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
Remember what the exalted Christ will do on the final day to all the fallen kings of the earth.
Revelation. 19:11. And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
God is fulfilling. By this list of defeated kings God is in essence fulfilling and proving the promise He made to Abraham seven hundred years earlier. (Abraham circa 2000 BC, Joshua circa 1300 BC)
Listen to God’s promise. (Josh.12:7-24)
Genesis 12:7. The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land. (Gen. 15:18-21)
Genesis 13:14. The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; 15 for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.
Beloved, every promise that God makes to His people in His word is yes and amen. God always does what He says He will do. Always. God is truth. And He cannot lie. (Num.23:19, Titus 1:2, I Sam.15:29, Mal.3:6, Jn.14:6, Hos.11:9, Ezek.24:14)
The promise may seem like a long time coming. But it always comes. And it comes in God’s time. And it comes in God’s way. And I will say, often when we do not expect it. And most often in ways that overwhelm us.
The servants. Let’s say a few things about Moses the servant of God. And then about Joshua the servant of God.
The thanksgiving. The believing response to this is thanksgiving.
Psalm 136:15. But He overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. 16 To Him who led His people through the wilderness, For His lovingkindness is everlasting; 17 To Him who smote great kings, For His lovingkindness is everlasting, 18 And slew mighty kings, For His lovingkindness is everlasting:
We revere and adore our God for all His manifold perfections. We glory in His justice. We rejoice in His mercy. And we especially rejoice in His mercy to us.
And here, we can take this list, and thank God one by one as it were for each successive victory for us. Oh, with such a record, why do we ever fear, why do we ever doubt? May God increase our faith in His word.
Great is Thy faithfulness. (Ps.105, 135, 136)