Bible Commentaries
Joshua 11

Wells of Living Water CommentaryWells of Living Water

Verses 1-23

The Wages of Sin is Death

Joshua 11:1-23


We have heard of old that "to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." This is true. The outstanding feature in the conquests of Joshua was his absolute obedience to the Captain General of his armies. He fought when and where he was told to fight.

1. Obedience in the midst of dangers. Joshua was not given light things to do. He faced great and fully armed hosts, determined to ruin him. However, whatsoever the call, Joshua was always ready with the response. He never hesitated, never argued, never asked "why?"

Would that we were as ready to obey, no matter what may portend. Suppose our obedience may lead us into dark vales, where lurks every foe to our success. Suppose friends and family may oppose. Suppose men may decry our way, and foes may beset them. When God says "go!" we must obey.

The Word of God gives the records of many a saint who pressed on through every kind of obstacle, and in each case they pressed on, even though it was through death, unto perfect victory. Read Hebrews 11:1-40 . It tells the story of God's heroes of the faith who were obedient unto death. What a galaxy they are; what a star-cluster of mighty men and women!

2. Obedient without delay. When God ordered Joshua to fight, he fought. His obedience was prompt He brooked no tarrying for a better or a more strategic moment. All of that was left to God; his part was to carry out orders.

In the great battles of earth, soldiers must obey, and must obey at once. We asked a colonel during the World War, "What is the greatest trait to be desired in a soldier?" Quickly he replied, "Obedience." We queried, "Is not 'courage' as needed as 'obedience?'" The reply we remember well. The colonel said, "A brave soldier can do no more than create havoc, if he is not obedient; an obedient soldier may lead to victory, even though he obey orders in fear and trembling."

It is vital to obey. To obey is good, to obey quickly is better.

3. Obedience in detail. Joshua did not a part, but the whole of what he was told to do. He ceased not until all was accomplished. To obey in the main, but to neglect obedience in the minor details, may lead to serious results. "Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth."

God told Joshua when He called him to succeed Moses, "That thou mayest observe to do according to all the Law. * * Have not I commanded thee?"

Shall we obey only where we like our orders? Shall we follow on, only in those matters that appeal to our flesh or mind?

4. Obedience in its rewards. Chapter after chapter, verse after verse in the Book of Joshua, relates how Joshua and Israel obeyed the Lord, and how the Lord crowned their battles with conquest. Think you that success could have come to them, had they gone against the Lord? The oppositions were altogether too great, the powers of the enemy were altogether too large for Joshua and his hosts to have conquered, apart from God's aid. To obtain God's aid, they were tied up to God's commands.

God gives the Holy Ghost to them who obey Him. The Holy Ghost is absolutely indispensable to every phase of the successful Christian life. Disobedience therefore brings defeat.


1. "These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast."

It is interesting to observe in our Scripture how one king collected so many other kings unto one purpose, and that was to the overwhelming of the chosen people. We read in Joshua 11:10 , "For Hazor beforetime was the head of all those kingdoms."

It seems to me that we have before us, at this moment, a similar condition to that which Joshua had to face. Notice, there was in that day Jobab, the king of Madon; there was the king of Shimron and the king of Achshaph; there were the kings of the north, and the kings of the south, and the kings in the borders of Dor.

In the end time we read of ten kings who shall be gathered together under one king, even under the antichrist and they shall come together to fight against Israel and Israel's God.

The word in all of this that strikes us is: "They were of one mind."

2. A review of present world conditions. Dictators are arising on every hand.

The dictators of the ten kingdoms which are yet to arise, and, we may say, are now in the process of rising, will have no difficulty in turning their authority over to one king, inasmuch as all of the ten are of one mind.

These ten kings will give their power and authority unto the one king and the result will be that a united, despotic front against the Son of God will be achieved. In the Psalms we read: "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His Anointed (Christ)." The spirit of nationalization, and of world autocracy is in the air. The Scripture says: "These shall make war with the Lamb."


1. They who are with us are more than they who are with them. It is necessary in these days which are heading up in a world state, to consider our own forces and strength lest we become despondent and give up the fight.

We grant that a comparison between the armies of the antichrist, and the armies of the Lord from every human viewpoint bespeaks certain victory to the antichrist. The powers will indeed fray Israel. However, God will permit the enemy to go only so far when, He, Himself, will go forth and fight as He fought in the day of battle.

Let us compare the two hosts. We read of the wicked, "Many there be which go in thereat." We read of the righteous, "Few there be that find it." There has always been a vast majority of earth's peoples on the side of sin and of Satan.

Our key verse says: "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."

2. The chariots and the horsemen of Israel. In Second Kings, chapter 6, Elisha was besieged in Dothan by horses and chariots and a great host. Gehazi the servant of the Prophet greatly feared, saying, "Alas, my master! how shall we do?" Then it was that Elisha said: "Fear not: for they that be with us, are more than they that be with them." Then in answer to Elisha's prayer, the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, "And, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about."

In the next chapter we read that the innumerable hordes of the Syrians heard "a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host."

When Armageddon has reached its height, then once more there will be the sound of a moving in the heavens, and the Lord will come forth riding upon a white horse, and with Him the armies which are in Heaven.


1. With whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Our key verse says: "Be not afraid because of them: for to morrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel." God speaks with authority and with assurance. If God be with us, who can be against us? As we think of the end time we are assured that God will give the victory.

(1) God's Word is settled in Heaven. There is not a jot or a tittle, a promise or a prophecy, that will not be fulfilled, even as God hath said. As we write, we are not slow to utter the statement: "I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me."

(2) As Joshua faced Hazor and the confederate kings he faced, them with certainty of victory. As we face present-hour conditions we face them with a like assurance. We know just how everything is coming out We understand the general strategies of the enemy; the casting down of Satan; the alignment of Satan with the antichrist and the false prophet; the ten amalgamated kingdoms, under one king; the final great battle; Christ's Coming down to Olivet all of these things are revealed, and all are certain. This leads us to our second statement:

2. "God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure." Nebuchadnezzar faced no more of a certainty than did Joshua, nor than do we.

Here is a rock-ribbed sureness. We speak that we do know. We have no fables to proclaim, and no probabilities to exploit. We speak the Word of God, the more sure Word of Prophecy.

The literalness of the fulfillment of past pledges made by the Spirit through the Prophets, adds certainty to the literalness of the fulfillment of coming prophecies. Let us, therefore, speak with all authority and assurance.


1. "And they overcame Him by the Blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony." Joshua 11:8 expresses the fulfillment of what God had promised to Joshua. The verse says: "The Lord delivered them (Hazor and the confederate kings) into the hand of Israel, who smote them, and chased them unto great Zidon, * * until they left them none remaining."

(1) Let us not imagine that victory belongs to the arm of the flesh. If we think that we, of ourselves, can overcome we are only the more certain to be overcome. There is nothing in us with which we may cope with Satan and with Satan's hordes. Our enemy is strong stronger than man, yea, stronger than redeemed man.

Our inability, however, does not spell our defeat. There is a place of victory.

(2) Victory belongs to a true testimony. In the Book of Revelation, chapter 11, God is speaking to His two witnesses who shall arise against the powers of darkness. These witnesses shall prophesy during the latter forty and two months of tribulation. Of them it is said: "And I will give power unto My two witnesses."

In the 12th chapter of Revelation we read of Satan being cast down to the earth. Immediately there follows a marvelous vision of how the devil had been overwhelmed by saints throughout the ages: "And they overcame him by the Blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony."

So God has given power to us to witness, even as He will give power to the two witnesses.

2. In Christ, Joshua overcame, and in Christ we must overcome. We can conquer only as we have been conquered by the Christ of God. When grace has conquered us, and we become His witnesses, then we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

V. ETERNAL BURNINGS (Joshua 11:11 )

And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and forever. There is something that makes us pause as we read in Joshua 11:11 : "They smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them: there was not any left to breathe: and he burnt Hazor with fire."

1. The utter destruction at the Coming of the Lord. We read in Second Thessalonians of the Lord Jesus being revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels. We also read how those who obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ "shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power."

In the next chapter of Thessalonians we read of the Coming of Christ and of how the Wicked One shall be consumed with the breath of His mouth, and shall be destroyed with the brightness of His Coming. When Satan, after the thousand years, is cast into the lake of fire, he is cast where the beast and the false prophet are, and not where they were.

2. The flaming fire at the Coming of the Lord. It is "in flaming fire" that the Lord takes vengeance on those who are to be punished with everlasting destruction. Another verse says: "And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever." The final abode of the wicked is spoken of in the word of God as, "the Lake of fire."

If to any, the utter destruction of the Canaanites, who were ripened in their sin and rebellion against God seems harsh; if the burning of their city with fire seems severe; let them remember that the destruction of the wicked and the fires of hell in the coming days, are a thousand times more terrible. It is written: "Our God is a consuming fire." It is written again. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God."


He wholly followed the Lord God of Israel. This is the call of God to every believer. When we think that out of the ten spies only two followed the Lord fully, we begin to wonder how many there are in our day who go all the way with God,

1. We are reminded of the man who said: "I will follow Thee withersoever Thou goest." The Lord, however, saw deep into his heart and knew that he wanted to follow Him for the glory that he could get out of it. Christ said, therefore, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head." We hear no more of this man.

2. We are reminded of another who said: "Suffer me first to go and bury my father." To him the Lord replied: "Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the Kingdom of God." Let us beware lest any of us should endeavor to put anything before our Lord Jesus Christ,

3. We are reminded of a third person who said: "Lord, I will follow Thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house." Unto him the Lord said: "No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God."

Thank God for two men, Caleb and Joshua, who followed the Lord fully. They did not reason among themselves, nor did they argue their inability to overcome the inhabitants of Canaan, They simply believed God, and were ready to go where He bade them.

The rich young ruler wanted to follow Christ, but he drew back because he was commanded to sell his goods, and all that he possessed. To the contrary, Matthew, the publican, hearing the call of Christ to follow Him, immediately arose, left the money changers, and followed Him in the way.

VII. A COMPLETE OBEDIENCE (Joshua 11:16 ; Joshua 11:23 )

It is so interesting to read the twice-stated words: "So Joshua took all that land," "the whole land." He did this according to all that the Lord said unto Moses.

1. Let us go all the way with God. It is not enough to do some things, we must do all things. The two verses before us are a complement to the words of God spoken unto Joshua at the beginning. These words are recorded in Joshua 1:7 and Joshua 1:8 . Once more a double statement, emphasized by repetition. Joshua 1:7 says: "That thou mayest observe to do according to all the Law, which Moses My servant commanded thee." Joshua 1:8 says: "That thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein." Thus it was that Joshua left nothing undone.

Let us examine our hearts and ask ourselves if our obedience to Christ is partial or complete. Have we done some things, and left others undone? Paul wrote to the Galatians: "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth?" However, they did start to obey the truth, because Paul told them, "Ye did run well; who did hinder you?" Evidently, something arose to discourage them, and they left following the will of God.

Epaphras prayed that the saints might stand "Perfect and complete in all the will of God;" Let us do everything we are told to do.

2. There was a great blessing which came to Joshua and also to Caleb. Full obedience always brings a full reward God was with Joshua even as He had promised.

Wherever Joshua went, he went in victory. We read, "From the mount Halak, * * even unto Baal-gad * * and all their kings he took, and smote them, and slew them."

In Joshua 11:19 and Joshua 11:20 we read of how there was not a city that he did not take that he might destroy them as the Lord commanded Moses. In Joshua 11:21 we read: "Joshua destroyed them utterly with their cities." In Joshua 11:22 we read, "There was none of the Anakims left in the land of the Children of Israel."

Praise God for such an obedience. Let us arise and do likewise.


One of the great features of this study is the place of victory in overthrowing the wicked one.

We are saved by the Blood, and being saved, we overcome by the Blood.

When you begin to look for the origin of the Cross, is when your soul is left in wonderment and surprise. When you begin to search for the secret springs of the Cross, then it is your amazement begins. For the Cross was in the heart of God long before it was on the hill of Calvary. The Cross is not an instrument of time but had its initiative in eternity .

Said a young man to Dr. R. F. Horton of London "I do not believe that a Man who died nineteen hundred years ago can save me from my sins."

Dr. Horton replied; "Nor do I, but Christ the Lamb of God who died before the foundation of the world can save you from your sins."

Here is indeed the origin of the Cross. It springs from the eternal purpose of God. Hallelujah for the Cross! It standeth fasti It cannot be moved, it is anchored in God's heart. Hallelujah for the Cross! From an Exchange.

Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Joshua 11". "Living Water".