All Others They Took in Battle


All Others They Took in Battle

January 24th, 1960 @ 8:15 AM

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.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Joshua 11:19

1-24-60     8:15 a.m.



 To you who listen on radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  This is the pastor bringing the early morning message from the second half of the Book of Joshua.  If you have your Bible, you can easily follow the message by turning first to Joshua 11:19, Joshua 11:19.  For some while now, we have been following the life and the exploits of this great conqueror for God, and the message this morning and next Sunday morning will conclude our speaking from the Book of Joshua. 

            The sermon this morning regards the conquest of the land and a certain phase of it.  In Joshua 11:19: "There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel – not one, the only exception – the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon:  all other they took in battle."  I wonder if the author of that verse – "there was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, except that one, the Hivite city of Gibeon:  all other they took in battle,"  I just wonder if the author of that verse had these things in mind when he wrote it.

           The Book of Deuteronomy, the thirty-fourth, the last chapter describes Moses as the Lord led him up to Mount Nebo to look over the land of promise.  And it says in Deuteronomy 34:  "And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah . . .  And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it, I will give it unto thy seed" [Deuteronomy 34:4]. 

            And the Book of Joshua itself opens with that same avowal from the God of heaven.  The Book of Joshua opens: "Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses My servant is dead: now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.  Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses."

            That is a summary of the promises God had made to the patriarchs over and over again.  The Lord said unto Moses, "This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed."  So the next Book opens with a repetition twice-over of that promise.  God says, "Go over.  Possess this land, which I give to the children of Israel.  Wherever your foot shall press down the soil, that have I given unto you" [Joshua 1:2-3].

            Now, that’s why I make the remark.  I wonder if this author had those promises in mind when he said, "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" [Joshua 11:19]. God said, "I will give it to you. The whole land from the river of Egypt to the great river of Mesopotamia, to the Euphrates.  All that vast, vast, extensive land; all of it, have I given thee."  And when they crossed over the Jordan to possess it, they faced formidable cities.  They faced terrible armies.  They faced bitter and intractable enemies.  They faced war and blood and death. 

            "All of this," says God, "will I give thee."  And when time came for them to possess it, it was a war to the death!  The first time the children of Israel ever faced iron chariots was when they crossed over the Jordan River.  The first time they ever saw a walled city was in the land of Canaan.  Josephus says that the very prospect of Israel’s facing iron chariots terrified the soldiers of God.  Driving those horses with those iron chariots into the midst of the opposing ranks, and the men in the chariot armed with javelins and spears and bows and arrows, shoot those darts and cast those spears to the right and to the left, right down upon the men, who themselves were fleeing before the on-rush of those driving stallions – doesn’t take much imagination to conjure up the picture of the terror that came into the hearts of the children of Israel when they faced a foe like that for the first time.  Isn’t that an unusual thing?  God says, "All this length and breadth, all of it before you, I have given you."  Then when the time comes for them to possess their inheritance, there is a bloody foe and an opposition to the death.  That is nothing but a picture, a parable of your life and your pilgrimage in this earth. 

            All things are ours.  It is written in the Book.  All things are ours, whether life or whether death, whether things present or things to come, whether heights or depths, all things are ours.  And we are made inheritors and possessors in Christ of everything that God has created, and all is ours [1 Corinthians 3:22].  The world is before us and heaven beyond us.  But for us to possess our inheritance and come into the promises of God, it means a war and a battle to the death.  The forces of evil are always arrayed against God, and His people, and His church, and you!        

            There’s no compromise!  There’s no moratorium!  There’s no truce between our Lord and the archenemy of God and of God’s people.  There is no surcease.  There is no allayment of that terrible and awful conflict.  The forces of evil are dark, and merciless, and cruel, and organized, and they contest every inch of the ground that is challenged by the children of God, whether in your life, whether in your city, whether in your state, or whether in your nation.  Just touch the forces of evil anywhere and see the depths of cruelty to which they have recourse in carrying forward the war against the people of the Lord.  Whether on a national scale, and you deal with governments of atheism and materialism, how do you write a contract?  How do you write a treaty?  How do you make ultimate peace with a nation that denies God and spurns and flouts every promise, as though promises were nothing but instruments by which they deceive and devour and destroy the opposition?  How do you make peace with atheism?  How do you make peace with greed?  How do you make peace with debauchery and sin?  How do you make peace with the liquor traffic?  How do you make peace with the narcotic peddler?  How do you make peace with the underworld?  How do you make peace with organized crime?  How do you make peace with the darkness of the powers of this world?  How do you make peace with Satan? 

            It is a contest, a war, a battle to the end, and we are never liberated from that trial.  All of this, says God, is yours.  All of it.  The city is yours.  The nation is yours.  The state is yours.  The world is yours.  Heaven above is yours.  All things are yours.  But there was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon.  All others they took in battle.  And you will find in your pilgrimage, you will find every step of the way is contested by that implacable and terrible foe. 

            Now, with that portrayal in the Scriptures – and this is isn’t something I’ve conjured up, though my observation and my reading and my experience confirms it, having seen that in the Scriptures, as well as in life, corroborating – how are the children of God to act and to do and to be? 

            All right, the first thing, the first thing: we are to attack and never to live on the defensive.  Never!  Never!  God’s people are not to be apologetically servile, but we are to be on the offensive ourselves.  And we are to live in the attack, in the offense, in the charge and never in the retreat and in the surrender, however the battle goes, however the war is, however the forces multiply against us.  Don’t ever underestimate the enemy – ever.  Don’t ever underestimate the spirit of worldliness and indifference, even in the church! 

            All the evil isn’t just outside those walls.  That black, dark, satanic dragon-snake comes in that back door, and he crawls in and out among the pews of the church, and he sticks his forked tongue in my face!  The spirit of antagonism to the driving force of the will of Christ, in us, in the church, it’s out there!  It’s a flood tide.  Don’t ever underestimate the power of the enemy. 

            Don’t ever, for example, do like I see some people doing.  They come to a great church service, and the house is filled with people, and the doors are closed, and the windows are down.  And they look at all the people in the church and say, "Surely the kingdom of God has come. This is the triumphant day of the Lord."  Just look outside those walls and beyond these windows at the vast illimitable ocean tide of evil and opposition, as well as the war that we fight in our own church and in our own souls and in our own lives. 

            How are we to face and how are we to feel and how are we to be in this battle of the Lord?  First, we are always to attack, to be on the offensive, to charge just as the Lord said to Joshua in the next chapter, the eleventh chapter.  "And the Lord said unto Joshua, Be not afraid.  Tomorrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel . . .  So Joshua came, and all the people of war with him, against them suddenly" [Joshua 11:6-7].  We are not to be cowards, craven, cowering; God’s people are to stand up, face up, be on the attack.  That’s to be our spirit. 

            We are to be that way in everything, in every part of this conflict.  If there is a great vast city before us, every part of it ought to feel the impact of the appeal of the children of God.   If there is delinquency, we ought to be there working, fighting for the Lord.  If there is darkness and crime, we ought to be there, working for the Lord, fighting for the Lord.  If there is a vast city of indifference and lethargy, we ought to be there seeking to sound the trumpets and to wake up the dead, calling them to the resurrection of the life that is in Christ Jesus.

            Wherever the thing rages, wherever the battle turns, whatever the fold, there the church, God’s people, ought to be, all of us, with the spirit of attack and offense and charge and conquest!  That ought to be our spirit.  Why, bless your heart, if there was the beginning of that kind of a spirit on the part of God’s people, all of the traffics that wage and war against children, and young people, and homes, and families, and fathers and mothers of us – all of it would be wiped away, including that liquor store right there across the street from me that makes me mad and lose my gentle spirit every time I come to church!

            I have to pass that thing coming here to the door to get in, and I have a little rise in my temperature and in my blood pressure every time I look at that thing right there, thirty feet from our church door.  We are craven.  We allow ourselves, and that’s just typical.  I use that "just typical" of a thousand other things.  God’s people are so prone, and so easily prone to be, and so easily discouraged and crestfallen and beat.  We are in the habit of being beat.  We accept it as the normal thing in life that we have a little pipsqueak opposition, maybe, and a little word of caution, but as for attack and battle and war and victory, we’re not accustomed to it. 

            "Be not afraid:  tomorrow I will deliver them in thy hands.  So Joshua came and all the people of war with him" [Joshua 11:6-7].  This is ours.  All of it is ours, says the Book.  This is God’s promise, and we are to possess it, but we’ve got to take it.

           All right, a second thing that I find here, and that is we are to think in terms of victory!  We are to think victory.  Look at the thirteenth chapter here in Joshua: "Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the Lord said unto him, Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed" [Joshua 13:1].  After we’ve been working at this thing for ninety-three years, this great city of Dallas is still so largely lost and indifferent to Christ.  There would remaineth yet much land to be possessed.   "This is the land that yet remaineth."  Then it names "all the borders of the Philistines, and all Geshuri.  From Sihor, which is before Egypt, even unto the borders of Ekron northward, which is counted to the Canaanites:  the lords of the Philistines; the Gazathites, and the Ashdothites and Eshkalonites and the Gittites and the Ekronites and the Avites."  And on and on, it names them. 

            "All the inhabitants of the hill country, all the Sidonians; them will I drive out before the children of Israel" [Joshua 13:2-6].  They were never driven out; never driven out.  The Philistines occupied with their five lords all the cities of Philistia, and all the Sidonians of Phoenicia.  Oh, it was never taken!  Yet God says, "I will drive them out before the children of Israel."  They never did take it.  "Only divide thou it by lot unto the Israelites for an inheritance, as I have commanded thee.  Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance unto the nine tribes and the half tribe of Manasseh" [Joshua 13:7].  God said to those blessed people, "Take all of this land.  Take all of it, and divide it up, and take it."  They were to think in terms of conquest and of victory! 

            Do you remember in the life of Jeremiah when God said to Jeremiah, "Jeremiah, go over here, and in that little village where you came from, which is now in the hands of the Babylonians, the Chaldeans, go buy a field"?  And the army of the Babylonians were encamped on the field that Jeremiah was to buy.  That was God’s way of saying to Jeremiah, "Do not be afraid.  We – you and I, God and His people – we will win this battle, and we will win this war.  Go buy that field on which the army now encamps" [Jeremiah 32].

            I have been trying to think – and haven’t had time to run it down this week – do you remember the story of that old Roman that went before the Roman Senate and put down the money and bought the land on which – was it Hannibal’s army or some other conqueror – was encamped as he besieged Rome?  Do you remember that story?  One of the famous stories in Roman history.  That’s the spirit!  That’s the spirit!  This besieging army got us all shut up.  Buying the land on which they encamped!  Same thing here, dividing up the land: "and you take this part and you take this part and you take this part, and God will give it to us."  And they never did possess it. 

            It was hard.  It was difficult.  It meant toil, and trouble, and trial, and sacrifice.  And they never took it, though God gave it to them!  I wonder how many souls there are in this city that God would give us if we would take them?  I wonder how many people we could teach the Word of God in the city if our people had the spirit of conquest and would take them?  I suppose it’s because I’m in the place that I am as pastor of the church, but if I had forty lives to live beside the one I’m now living, I can think of a place for every one of them, invested in getting people to the Lord and into the orbit of the ministry of this teaching and this preaching, if I just had some more lives in order to go out here to do it. 

            People are everywhere responsive to these invitations, if there is just somebody to do the inviting, and to be interested, and to speak to them, and to go by for them, and to invite them.  Ah, God is on our side, or we’re on God’s side, and God has given us the land!  It is just we are so lethargic and so phlegmatic and so luxury-loving and so at ease in Zion, it is difficult for us to cross the waters and to enter into the war.  We don’t get it any other way; we have to take it.  "Now therefore divide the land for an inheritance" [Joshua 13:6].  It is yours.  Take it. 

            Now, I want to turn the page and follow the example of one man.  "Then the children of Judah came unto Joshua in Gilgal: and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite said unto him, Thou knowest the thing that the Lord said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and thee in Kadesh-barnea.  Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the Lord sent us from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart" [Joshua 14:6-7]. 

           "Let’s take it," said Caleb, "we are well able.  Let’s take it!"

"No," said the people.  "No," said the Israelites, "we saw the enemy, and he’s great, and powerful, and rich, and organized, and mighty!  We were like grasshoppers in our own sight" – and naturally the Scripture says – "and so were we in their sight" [Numbers 13:26-33].  When you are like a grasshopper in your own sight, don’t ever worry: you are a grasshopper in their sight too.

            "Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me out [Joshua 14:6-15].  Nevertheless, my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I followed the Lord.  And Moses swore on that da, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children’s forever.  And now, behold, the Lord hath kept me alive, as He said, these forty and five years"; he’s eighty-five years old now.  "As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, so is my strength now, for war."  Isn’t that a sight?  For the rocking chair, we say.  Eighty-five years old, "My strength today is as it was then for war, for battle, for God! Now therefore give me this mountain" – and he picked it out – "whereof the Lord speaketh in that day: for thou heardest in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fenced:  and if the Lord is with me, and He said He would be, I will be able to drive them out."  And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron – Kirjath-arba."  That was the name of it, and then came to be known as Hebron.  "Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezitee unto this day because he followed the Lord.  And the name of Hebron before was Kirjath-arba; which Arba was a great man among the Anakim." 

            Arba was the father of Anak, and Anak was the father of the giants.  And of all the places where Caleb had visited as they spied out the land, up and down the length of it, there was a great, fenced city where the Anakim lived – giants.  And when Caleb chose his inheritance, he said, "Give me Kirjath-arba, the great, fenced city of the Anakim.  Give them to me."  I guess all those people looked at him: eighty-five years old, and he chooses Kirjath-arba, the city high and fenced of the Anakim, the giants!     Didn’t bother Caleb.  "God said He would be with me, and if God is with me, I can drive them out," and Joshua blessed him.  And so Caleb, eighty-five years of age, goes down to Kirjath-arba to war against the Anakim.   

Why, those things overwhelm you.  There are strong men in this church that, if I were to give them a list of eight boys, little junior boys, who ought to be in Sunday school and are not, and say, "Here, you great, big, strong man, here are eight little boys.  Get a hold of these boys for God!"  Why, that big, strong man would say, "I can’t do that. Oh, they’re too much for me!" 

            What if I were to call in a great, strong, fine man here in this church and give him the name of fifteen liquor dealers, and fifteen dope peddlers, and fifteen gangsters, and told him, "Go out here and get these people for God"?  Oh, I would have to take along a little bottle of smelling salts.  He would faint!  The Anakim: "Give them to me" [Joshua 14:12], says Caleb.  "Give them to me.  Got a hard place, give it to me.  A difficult place, give it to me.  A strenuous assignment, let me have it."  Oh, bless Caleb and his kind today! 

            We will not win without toil.  We will not conquer without a battle.  We will not build without trial.  "All this land do I give you," said God, and every city they took in battle.  Same way with us today: we’re in the conflict, we’re in the war, and the Lord help us as we work and strive and make appeal unto Him. 

            Would you like to join us?  Somebody on a confession of faith, "I’d like to belong to the marching army of the Lord."  Would you like to join us?  Come.  It has in it trial.  It has in it war and battle.  But it also has in it the most glorious, overwhelming, overflowing gladness to be described in this earth.  Come.  Come.  Is there a family who would like to journey with us in this pilgrimage by confession of faith or letter?  Wherever somebody you would like to come, in the balcony, on this lower floor, would you make it this morning, while all of us stand and sing?