"Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. 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 11.18-20).
Predestination - a glorious theme to those little children that have been led of the Holy Spirit of God to see their deep depravity; their need of help from a source outside of themselves. These all love predestination because it is the only theme that will comfort them as they look to Jesus in their spiritual poverty. But, we write not of the limited predestination hawked about by the truth's secret enemies. That counterfeit predestination is nothing better than a fiery dart from Satan. The tried and afflicted saints find themselves humbly bowing before the Sovereign Ruler of the universe whom they trust has absolutely predestinated all things — all things without exception. This absolute predestination includes the upheaval of the trembling mountains, (Deuteronomy 4.11f; Judges 5.5). It embraces the roaring waves (Matthew 8.26), and the troubled seas (Psalm 107.24ff), and guides with eternal exactness the fierce winds of the most calamitous storms (Job 1.19). It also, with the precision of the everlasting decrees, directs the lives, conduct, and death of potentates, rulers and kings. To these kings and their adventures we direct our attention.
If God would so enable us, we shall inquire of the Word of God concerning some of these kings in general, and those Joshua made war with in particular. If we do not establish that all these events regarding the wars between Joshua and the kings were not absolutely predestinated, it surely will not be because predestination was not involved, but rather because of our inability or lack of grace to do so.
"Joshua made war a long time with all those kings." From Joshua 12.7 through verse 24 there is a complete list of all the kings that Israel subdued under the leadership of Joshua; 31 in all. No more! No less! From the king of Jericho to the king of Tirzah, all of them are listed. This was war on a major scale by any method of measurement, and it was war that God had clearly assured Joshua success in, as can partially be seen from the following: "There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee (Joshua 1.5)." One may ask, "Why would God purpose the complete destruction of all these kings and their forces? Are we not alike all sinners?" Hear the Word of the Lord: "And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt; To drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou art, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance, as it is this day. Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else (Deuteronomy 4.37-39)."
There are several basic reasons contained in the above text that shows as clear as the noon-day sun why God favored Israel and destroyed the heathen kings and their subjects. First, He loved their fathers and not the kings of Canaan. Second, He chose their seed and not the seed of the 31 kings. Third, God would bring His chosen to, and give them for an inheritance, the land occupied by the heathen kings. Fourth, He is God in heaven above. Fifth, He is God on earth beneath. Sixth, there is none else. Seventh, we may add, with much Bible proof, that it all seemed good in His sight (Matthew 11.26). Eighth, there is none that dare repliest against God, or say, "Why hast thou made me thus (Romans 9.20)?"
Before directing specific attention to the 31 kings Joshua made war with, we will show from various other incidents and texts how God has dealt with the kings of the earth as distinguished from, and for the ultimate glory of, the King of kings at the consummation of all things.
"The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will (Proverbs 21.1)." We envy not the sinners so hardened against the sovereign predestination of God that they would dare quarrel with the force of this text. The majesty of God's universal government over the kings of the earth is stamped vividly upon every word of the text. The heart of the king, that seat of all affections, good and evil, is as secure in the hand of God as the foundations of the world. Does the heart of the king turn to the left, or to the right? As God turns the rivers of waters, so to the left or the right He turns the heart of the king. There are no exceptions to this rule that we can see, and we are fully persuaded no one else can either. Does the king, any king, like Pharaoh, turn his heart from mercy towards the saints of God? As sure as God turns the rivers of water, he turned the heart of the Egyptian king against Israel. Did king Cyrus think in his heart to build up Jerusalem? He was but God's shepherd and would perform all His pleasure (Isaiah 44.28), for his heart was in the hand of God.
Centuries ago there was a king, Ahasuerus by name, "...which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces (Esther 1.1)." God, by name, is not mentioned in the book of Esther, but His supreme rule over this king, and all events that transpired, was as much in evidence as if the book had been written by Paul or John. "On that night [a certain night] could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king. And it was found written, that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus. And the king said, What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this? Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, There is nothing done for him (Esther 6.1-3)."
There are several profound items contained herein. The very evening that the wicked Haman would come to the king seeking approval to destroy Mordecai, the king could not sleep. What wondrous providence! Had the king enjoyed his usual rest certainly Haman would have gained the heart of the king to put to death this servant of God; but no! the king could not sleep! His heart, being in the hand of the Lord, was made restless and he sought to occupy his time of fretfulness with what? Bone-dry books of the chronicles, or records of the king's domain. And where did the eyes of the servants light to read? On the account of Mordecai informing the king of a plot against his life. Was this Mordecai's lucky moment? Did the servants chance upon this recorded event? We leave the answer to those two questions to the limited predestinarians for their consternation. Even more amazing was the fact that the deed had gone unrewarded until that moment. Surely God was guiding these events, as well as the heart of the king, to deliver Mordecai from the evil plot of Haman. Haman may have sought to gain the ear of the king, but the heart of the king was securely in the hand of the Lord.
Yet another amazing twist to this episode was the timing of Haman's entrance before the king. Haman's entrance, like all the other events of the evening, came together at the appointed moment in God's eternal decrees to raise the outcome above any speculation regarding chance. Everything fell out with the same unerring accuracy as did the creation of the universe. Nothing came early nor arrived late.
Haman thought in his heart that the king would delight to do honour to him and thus he recommended a lavish display of honours be conferred on the one whom the king delighted to honour. Thus Mordecai was both exalted and delivered at once, and Haman hasted to his house mourning and having his head covered (Esther 6.12). For centuries now, those that have no confidence in the flesh see the predestination of all things illuminating these events.
Another king, named Ahab, thought in his heart to avoid considerable danger in battle when he went up to Ramoth-gilead to make war with the king of Syria. His plot was cunning and conceived to put king Jehoshaphat at the risk rather than himself. "And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, I will disguise myself, and will go to the battle; but put thou on thy robes. So the king of Israel disguised himself; and they went to the battle (II Chronicles 18.29)." The king of Syria had commanded the captains of the chariots to fight not with small or great, save only with the king of Israel. Thus when the battle drew on they spied Jehoshaphat and believed him to be their prey. Soon they had compassed him about, but he cried out, "and the Lord helped him; and God moved them to depart from him (III Chronicles 18.31)." The following is one of the most amazing accounts of the predestination of God to be found in the Bible: "And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness: therefore he said to his chariot man, Turn thine hand, that thou mayest carry me out of the host; for I am wounded (II Chronicles 18.33)." About the time of the sun going down he died.
All three kings, the king of Israel, the king of Syria, and the king of Judah, did that which seemed right in their own eyes, but the decrees of God would be executed nevertheless. Ahab's heart was fully evil and selfish, yet as the rivers of water, God turned it to his destruction. The king of Syria thought in his heart to single out the king of Israel in the battle, but the plan of his heart was also frustrated. God delivered Ahab from the scheme of the king of Syria so that a venturesome arrow might strike this wicked king. King Jehoshaphat, fully duped, and thinking no doubt to magnify himself in the battle, found his robes of glory to be little more than a bull's-eye. Thus God turned his heart to cry to Him and he was spared. Might we not say then that all three kings' hearts were in the hand of the Lord? Again, we observe the predestination of God ruling in affairs that seemed well contrived by these three kings.
While Israel still journeyed in the wilderness they encountered another of these kings whose heart was in the hand of the Lord. "And they turned and went up by the way of Bashan: and Og the king of Bashan went out against them, he, and all his people, to the battle at Edrei. And the Lord said unto Moses, Fear him not: for I have delivered him into thy hand, and all his people, and his land; and thou shalt do to him as thou didst unto Sihon king of the Amorites, which dwelt at Heshbon. So they smote him, and his sons, and all his people, until there was none left him alive: and they possessed his land (Numbers 21.33-35)." Here came a king, hot to do battle with the rag-tag looking band of sojourners. Doubt not that he thought he would get the victory; otherwise he would have supplicated for peace. But no; to battle he must go, for God had delivered him into the hand of Moses. Israel was completely victorious. King Og and all his bloodthirsty host were routed and put to the sword, "...until there was none left him alive: and they possessed his land (verse 35)." Would any presumptuous Arminian dare to suggest that Moses and his army "some how got out of control" and exterminated these innocent folks? The obvious conclusion is that God purposed the death of Og and all his host, otherwise He would not have delivered them to Moses in the first place. Simply put, it was their time to die, the way was also certain, and die they did. So then, we ask, did God get this plan up "all of a sudden" or was it included in His eternal plan? From all eternity He must have known the outcome, and yet he led Og straight into the slaughter. Thus, we see certainty stamped upon the whole; and that translates to absolute predestination if there is any meaning at all to the entire event.
Daniel was brought before king Nebuchadnezzar. The king dreamed dreams, "...wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him (Daniel 2.1)." The whole business so troubled the king that he sought the magicians and astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to unfold this disturbing vision to him. After these frauds and Satan's handservants gave the king a thorough run-around he was so "angry and very furious," (verse 12) with them all that he commanded to destroy all the wise men of his kingdom, which command also included Daniel.
Daniel desired of the king time and he would shew the king the interpretation of his dream. Daniel then went to his house and made the matter known to his three companions, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah that they would desire the mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret (verse 18). "Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and settethup kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him (Daniel 2.19-22)." Thus Daniel revealed to the king his dream and was spared, along with his three companions. It is clear that the king could not recall his dream, neither could his swarm of religious diviners reveal it either. But God knew it, else how could He reveal it to Daniel to render to the king his interpretation? God is infinite in wisdom and knowledge. Some call it the omniscience of God. Whatever it is called, God, from all eternity, knew the dream and spared Daniel with the revelation of the dream. We ask: did God know it because the king was going to dream it, or did the king dream it because God not only knew it, but predestinated it to come to pass?
Let us suppose for a moment. If God knew the dream, did not He always know it? And, did not God always know that Daniel would be saved from destruction by the revealing of the same dream? Now suppose that the king slept like a baby that night and did not have the dream. None of this would ever have happened then, you say? Then did God really know it from eternity or not, if it might not happen? "Oh," you say, "it had to happen, but it was not predestinated; it just happened." Then what caused it to had to happen if not predestination; chance? If it had to happen, then it was as certain as God, in His infinite wisdom, had always known it.
To put the matter in clearer New Testament light, we look to the words of the Apostles: "And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done (Acts 4.24-28)." These humble disciples, unlike the arrogant free-willers of today, believed that God had made all, and all that was in all besides. They quoted David, (Psalm 2) regarding the unification of rulers and kings against the holy child Jesus. But, amazing at it may seem to the limited predestinarians and assorted other Armiians, these disciples saw that all the unifications and federations of kings and rulers was but God's hand displaying His determinate counsel. It was also a counsel determined before to be done. We may safely conclude, the kings did what God had predestinated, absolutely, and from all eternity.
Of all the kings that ever pestered the Jews, no king was more depraved than Herod, with the possible exception of king Ahab. Herod was a half-breed. His father was an Idumaean, a descendant from Edom, or Esau, and his mother was reputedly an Arabian. Coming then from such despised stock it was no wonder that his passions knew no bounds. When it was announced by the wise men from the East that the Christ child had been born, Herod requested of them that they bring word to him of this matter. The wise men had described the baby Jesus as "he that is born King of the Jews, (Matthew 2.2)." The Lord had other plans for the distant travelers, however, as can be seen in the following: "And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way (Matthew 2.12)." If a Conditionalist ever took time to give this business any thought he might find far too much predestination herein to suit him. Word from king Herod certainly must have carried some weight with the wise men -until word from the King of Kings came to each of them in the dream. The construction of the text requires that we understand that each of them had the same dream. Is that a world-class coincidence; or was it the work of God? And, could it possibly be imagined that the meeting between the wise men and Herod caught God without a plan? No; not at all. God had from all eternity determined to bring every participant in this episode together at the precise moment to do exactly as each of them did. We believe we can establish this assertion from the Word of God, and in so doing also establish that it was all predestinated. For example, Joseph also dreamed. The angel of the Lord warned Joseph to flee to Egypt with Mary and the Christ-child, "...for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him (Matthew 2.13)." We may fairly ask, how did God know that unless it was so? And, was not the heart of Herod in the hand of the Lord, just like the heart of all other kings? Do not these things all become to us a perfect series of events, absolutely predestinated to come to pass, and so working together for good to those that love the universal government of God?
When Herod saw that he was mocked of the wise men he was exceeding wroth, and so had all the children of Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, slain, from two years old and under (Matthew 2.16). There can be no mistaking here that the awful deed of Herod was just another barbaric act of a depraved heart. What king Herod did was as certain to transpire as certainty can be, as is established by the following Scriptures: "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not (Matthew 2.17,18)." Unless one can prove that what Jeremiah had prophesied was merely speculation, or a shrewd guess by God in telling him to say it, then it must have been certain to transpire. Again, the question arises, how did God know it unless it was to be just as he knew it? How, too, could such an event possibly be predicted centuries before unless the unerring hand of God governed the whole? Is it not clear that this king, like all other kings, was being directed by Him Who held his heart in His hand?
JOSHUA AND THE KINGS
Having now seen a clear and definite pattern of how God has absolutely ruled the rulers and kings throughout the Scriptures, we will briefly consider the warfare between Israel, led by Joshua, and the citizens of Canaan, led by their various kings.
Joshua was no king; nor were there to be any kings among Israel for years to come. Israel was governed solely by God. What governmental, spiritual, or military practices they employed were all given them by the Lord of hosts. Though they were a sizable people in number they were by God described as few. "For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt (Deuteronomy 7.6-8)." Thus this fewest of all people came up from the wilderness and begun to wage a protracted war against all the mighty kings and nations in the land the Lord had given them for an inheritance. There in Canaan the Israelites were to drive out all its previous occupants that they might subdue the land as well as its inhabatants.
There was a good and proper reason for the warfare Joshua conducted against those heathen kings. He and the Israelites had been instructed to do so. "But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee: That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 20.16-18)." We would emphasize two points from this text. The first is God was telling the Israelites exactly what would take place. He told them what could only be described as His eternal plan for them on entering the land. Could that be anything less than predestination? If it was not His predestinated plan then how could He tell them with any certainty of these coming conflicts? The enemies of truth will respond, as they usually do, that God foreknew all this business, but He did not predestinate it. We suppose, on that basis, that God was in possession of knowledge that may be no knowledge at all; He only knew it if it came to pass, and if it did not then He didn't know it; He only thought He did. If that idea is not on the outer limits of ignorance we cannot say to what idiocy sinners may run to that they may deny the plain truth.
The second item from Deuteronomy 20 is the purpose of God to work all this for good to the children of Israel. God would have Israel remove by warfare all these wicked heathens that could only contaminate their behavior should they be permitted to co-exist. How fully beautiful to contemplate such a grand theme. God had from all eternity laid the blueprint, if we may use such a comparison, to deliver His chosen, and destroy the heathen. We can only bow in amazement that we have hope of being among His chosen today. If our hope is real, and from God, we may as well expect many spiritual battles just as Israel of old endured. But, may our Lord be praised, the battle is not ours but the Lord's. "And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's (II Chronicles 20.15)."
Returning to our text at the heading we see that "...it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly (Joshua 11.20)." Profound, yes, and fearful too, that it is stated that the hardening of the kings hearts was of the Lord. There is no room here to say that God allowed this to happen, or that He suffered it to be so. No; it says it was of the Lord. Their heart was in His hand and He hardened it. Not a king escaped this sovereign act. All 31 came in battle against Joshua and Israel, and each in succession was destroyed without favor or pity. It was of the Lord.
We would mention that there were a number of other kings that Joshua smote on the other side of Jordan besides the 31 kings on the west. Be assured their sad fate rested in the same hand as all the other kings; the hand of the Lord. We might run on and on asserting the certainty of all this, but we feel there is more than enough evidence to show the predestination of God throughout. Should this be thought a hard and hateful doctrine to some, let it be known that there have been those through the centuries that are also fearful of holding to that which would seem to blemish the Name of God, who nevertheless love the sweet certainty that God rules all, absolutely and eternally.
J. F. Poole
Volume 9, No. 5