The Final Victory
January 10th, 1960 @ 8:15 AM
THE FINAL VICTORY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-10-60 8:15 a.m.
To you who listen on the radio, you are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the early morning message entitled The Final Victory, The Ultimate Victory. We are following the life of Joshua, and we have come to the eleventh chapter of the book, Joshua 11. And if you will turn to it, you can easily follow the message of this morning’s hour; Joshua, chapter 11:
And it came to pass when Jabin king of Hazor had heard these things, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon, and to the king of Shimron, and to the king of Achshaph,
And to the kings that were on the north of the mountains, and of the plains of south of Chinneroth – or south of Galilee – and in the valley, and in the borders of Dor on the west,
And to the Canaanite on the east and on the west, and to the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Jebusite in the mountains, and to the Hivite under Hermon in the land of Mizpeh.
And they went out, they and all their hosts with them, much people, even as the sand that is upon the seashore in multitude, with horses and chariots very many.
And when all these kings were met together, they came and pitched together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel.
And the Lord said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them: for tomorrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire.
So Joshua came, and all the people of war with him, against them by the waters of Merom suddenly; and they fell upon them.
And the Lord delivered them into the hand of Israel, who smote them, and chased them unto the great Zidon, and unto Misrephoth-maim, and unto the valley of Mizpeh eastward; and they smote them, until they left them none remaining.
And Joshua did unto them as the Lord bade him: he houghed their horses, and burnt their chariots with fire.
Now the fifteenth verse: "As the Lord commanded Moses His servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses. So Joshua took all the land, the hills, and all the south country, and all the land of Goshen, and the valley, and the plain, and the mountain of Israel, and the valley of the same" [Joshua 11:15, 16]. Now the last verse: "So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land had rest from war" [Joshua 11:23].
The Book of Joshua is divided into two great sections and this closes the first section: "And the land had rest from war" [Joshua 11:23]. This is the ultimate and final battle. Beginning at the twelfth chapter of Joshua until the end of the book, you have the story of the division of the land among the several tribes [Joshua 12:1-24:33]. But the story of the conquest, the raging battles, closes with this eleventh chapter. So this is the final battle; this is the great and ultimate victory [Joshua 11:16-23]. And as such, it precedes it; it is a picture of that ultimate and final conquest by that greater Joshua, the King and Lord Jehovah, Jesus [Revelation 19:11-21].
Well, it came about like this. When Joshua defeated the five kings who gathered their armies before Gibeon [Joshua 10:1-43], knowledge of that stupendous victory, that gave all the heartland of Canaan into the hands of Joshua, when knowledge of that tremendous victory spread over the whole earth; the north country, all of that vast region around Galilee, and Lebanon, and Phoenicia, and Carmel, and Sidon, and Mizpeh, to the east, to the west, to the north and the south of Galilee, the sea. When knowledge came of the defeat of those five kings in the central portion of Palestine, the leader of the northern confederacy, Jabin; Jabin is a title like the pharaoh of Egypt, or the czar of Russia, or the kaiser of Germany – the Jabin of Hazor.
Now Hazor was the biggest, chiefest city in Canaan and in the Galilee area. It is located north where the road from Damascus would turn to the sea, the seaport at Acre and where the great trade route from north to south would cross. There in northern Galilee was located the fabulous city of Hazor. And Jabin – the Jabin is the king of Hazor and he is the leader of the great confederacy of all the tribes, and peoples, and kingdoms of that northern country. When the news came therefore of the defeat of the, of the Amorites in the mountain country in the center of Palestine, the Jabin of Hazor immediately sent messengers throughout all the north country of the dire and terrible peril that they faced in the marching, conquering armies of Israel [Joshua 11:1-4].
So from the Jabin of Hazor there were messengers that were sent out to Sidon. They were passed down the Mediterranean Sea. They came through Esdraelon and up to Mount Carmel under the shadows of the great Lebanese mountains and on the other side of the Sea of Galilee in the land of Mizpeh. All through the north country the Jabin sent messengers gathering the host together for war. It was the most formidable, by far the most formidable army that Israel ever faced. It says here in the fourth verse that they and their host with them were "as the sand that is upon the seashore in multitude, with horses and chariots many" [Joshua 11:4].
Might I turn to Josephus for just a moment and let Josephus tell us of that army? Josephus says that that army had 300,000 foot soldiers, that they had 100,000 cavalry, and that they had 20,000 iron chariots. Josephus said that what terrified Israel was the iron chariots. They had never faced them before. And Josephus says that the prospect of warring against thousands of chariots terrified Israel. For the great historian says that when the chariots were driven by the warriors into the rank of the opposing soldiers and the men in the chariots had such wonderful opportunity to throw their javelins, and to shoot their arrows, and to cut down with their sword; he said the affect of the driving of chariots furiously into the ranks of an opposing army was devastating in the extreme. And I can think of that for myself. Just imagine you with a sword in your hand, or a spear, or a javelin, or a dart, or a bow and an arrow and there is driving toward you furiously great horses with iron chariots. And in the chariots, in the car several soldiers and they themselves at a height and at an advantage and driving on you furiously, throwing their spears, and javelins, and darts and letting go of their arrows. Well, it was a thing like that that Israel faced; a tremendous, a tremendous foe.
Now they gathered. And when all these kings were met together, they came and pitched together at the waters of Merom to fight against Israel [Joshua 11:5].
I am sure some of you have been at Merom. That is the most beautiful pastoral scene you could ever hope to look at in all this world. The elevation is high. And the great Lebanon range is right there, and you are right at the base of Hermon, snow-capped Hermon. And the waters come down to the east. They flow to the oasis of Damascus – the Abana and Pharpar rivers. To the west and to the north, you have the great Orontes upon which Antioch was built. And to the south flowed the head waters of the Jordan. The Merom country is a beautiful pastoral meadow, surrounded by those mountains and the water spreading out in a marsh and yet deep enough to appear to be a lake, gather together again and then flow down to the Sea of Galilee. Now in that beautiful meadow, at the base of Mount Hermon by the waters of Merom this vast army gathered together [Joshua 11:5]. Well, at Gilgal there is perfect quiet and peace.
After the great victory over the five kings before Gibeon [Joshua 10:5-42], the people of the Lord are at rest in the camp at Gilgal [Joshua 10:43]. And I can imagine these people who had been wandering in the desert for forty years [Numbers 32:13; Joshua 5:6]. I can imagine the exuberance, the ebullience, the gladness, the overflowing joy of just living [Joshua 10:43]. Oxen roasting over the pits, the kettles are steaming with the choicest cuts of lamb, fresh barley loaves from the harvest are being baked there in the ovens. And the people are, are rejoicing in the abundance of this Promised Land.
Then immediately, suddenly a messenger breathlessly runs into the camp with the news that the whole north country is in arms. Joshua the true, wonderful, brave, courageous soldier that he was, Joshua took it to the Lord. And the Lord said to him, "Be not afraid" [Joshua 11:6]. Do not let it trouble your heart. Do not you worry. Do not let it be a bother to you. All the forces in hell, and in earth, and under the earth, and in the darkness above us, don’t let it bother you. Do not be afraid, not you. To be afraid is for somebody else. To be fearful and full of care and anxieties is for people who don’t know God. But don’t you be afraid. "For tomorrow I will deliver them into your hands; their horses, their chariots, and their soldiers" [Joshua 11:6].
So Joshua sent word throughout the camp. And the men of war were gathered, and he made a force march of five days up there. And when he arrived, Joshua saw that Jabin with his confederacy had made the same mistake [Joshua 11:5] as the five kings before Gibeon [Joshua 10:5-42]. He had gathered that vast army in one congested place – no room for maneuvering. What the Jabin had planned to do was to overwhelm Israel as they came down out of the north and just overrun the army of Joshua. But he had not counted upon an attack by night, an attack on the flank, and an attack on the rear as well as a forward frontal attack. He had not thought about that.
So Joshua, seeing that vast host constricted and congested in one place [Joshua 11:5] – Joshua suddenly, out of the darkness of the night – Joshua suddenly came upon them [Joshua 11:7]. And you can imagine the vast indescribable, illimitable confusion as they "houghed those horses" as they took their sharp knives and cut the great tendon in the hoof of the horses; and as they threw their javelins and their spears and cut with their swords in the neighing of horses, and in the screaming of men, and in the gray mist of the dawn; confusion everywhere! It was no time until the great army of Jabin was a shambles, and they fled in three great troops: one to the north to Zidon; one to the east to the Mediterranean where Elijah went; and the other column to the west to the east of Mizpeh on the other side of the Sea of Galilee [Joshua 11:6-9].
That was the last time that the Canaanite ever gathered together against Israel. This was the last, and ultimate, and final battle and it was a most decisive victory. For after this battle, the land passed into the hands of the children of God [Joshua 11:10-23]. All of that could not but bring to your heart that great, and final, and decisive victory of that other and greater Joshua [Revelation 19:11-21]. "When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men" [Ephesians 4:8]. Chained to His chariot wheels as our great conquering Joshua entered glory – chained to His chariot wheels captivity; death, hell, the grave, the powers of darkness; hanging at His side, the keys to Hades and to the Grave [Revelation 1:18]. Oh, if you were orator and poet and singer what a thing could you describe – the glorious triumphal entry of our Lord into glory after He had once and for ever and decisively defeated Satan, the powers of darkness and the rulers of this world! [John 12:31-33] There may be war in heaven but the great battle is already won [Revelation 12:7-9]. The victory is assured. The decision is decided. This is the ultimate and final victory of our Lord.
Now it says at the end of the chapter, "And the land had rest from war" [Joshua 11:23]. And that is a picture of our Lord. After the great conquest in the cross, our Lord was raised from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sat down on the right hand of God [Mark 16:19]. This marvelous thing "Which God wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand . . . Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the" glory, and honor, and salvation of His "church" His people "Which is the body of Him that filleth all in all" [Ephesians 1:20-23]. And the land had rest from war. And our Lord sat down.
"He who is the express image of His person, and the brightness of His glory, when He by Himself had made expiation of our sins, purged our sins, He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high" [Hebrews 1:3]. The thing is finished. The war is over. The decision is made. The great victory is ours. "And the land had rest from war" [Joshua 13:23]. And our Lord sat down.
That rest is not the rest of weariness. Our Lord never overspent Himself. Many sleepless nights, the burden of the sin of the world upon Him, all of the shame and suffering of His life, all of the toil of His ministry but the great divine energy of God was not exhausted. When they laid Him in the tomb and sin, and death, and hell, and hate, and Satan had done their worst, He awoke. He was raised [Matthew 27:32-28:7]. And in His hands, He said all authority and all power in heaven and in earth [Matthew 28:18]. It is not the rest of over weariness. Our Lord has not spent Himself.
The divine energy is as much glorious, and imperial, and all powerful as it ever was when He sat down. Not the rest of overspending, of weariness, nor is it the rest of inactivity. Did you ever notice how the Book of Mark ends? "So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down on the right hand of God" [Mark 16:19]. Now look at the next verse. "And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following" [Mark 16:20]. In one verse, next to the last one: received up into glory, the great, the great Conqueror – "received up into heaven, and sat down on the right hand of God" [Mark 16:19].
Then in the next verse, the next breath, "And these disciples went every where preaching the word, the Lord working with them" [Luke 16:20]. Up there in glory, behind every sermon that is preached, and every appeal that is made, and every prayer that is prayed and every work that is done; behind the scenes, the illimitable, immeasurable dynamic power of the Lord working, working, working; so it is not the rest of inactivity. The flesh has been nailed to the cross, but we must mortify the deeds of the body. Death and hell have been overcome, but we must meet them and face them in the power of the victory of our Lord. Satan has been vanquished but we must put on the whole armor of God. The land has been taken, the conquest is finished, but the victory must be followed up. It is not the rest then of being over weary and overspent, nor is it the rest of inactivity.
Well then, what is that rest? And He sat down on the right hand of God [Matthew 26:64; Mark 16:19] and the land had rest from war and the work of the great Joshua was done [Joshua 11:23, John 19:30]. What is that rest? It is the rest of a finished redemption, of a finished task, of a finished and completed achievement [Hebrews 4:1-11]. It never needs to be done again. It is done once and for all and forever.
Our Lord never needs to fight that war again. He never needs to go into the valley of the shadow of death again. He never needs to meet Satan again. He never needs to be crucified again. That great final battle was done one time and for all and it is finished forever and forever. That’s what I am going to preach about at the 11 o’clock hour – once and for all. It is the rest and He sat down. It is the rest of a finished and ultimate achievement [John 19:30].
You know as I have been studying the Word of God, preparing these many messages for these years, more, and more, and more I can see reading the Word of God, and studying it, and poring over its pages preparing these messages, I can see the absolute impossible theological position of those who think that we are saved by something that Christ has done, and then something that we have done adding to the finished completed work of Jesus our puny offerings. Our tears have nothing to do with it. Our mourning has nothing to do with it. Our prayers have nothing to do with it. Our goods works which God says are as filthy rags [Isaiah 64:6]. Our good works have nothing to do with it [Ephesians 2:7-9].
That victory was fought, and won, and finished and is decisively final by our great Joshua [John 19:30]. And I receive it as a gift from His gracious hands. It is a gift of God. It is something God has done for me [Ephesians 2:8-9]. And if I weep and if you weep it is because of the weaknesses and the shortcomings of my life. And if I mourn it is because I cannot thank Him enough. And if I pray it is because I need His help and His strength.
And the whole outreach and overflowing of your life ought to be "Thanks be to God who gives us the victory in our Lord Jesus Christ" [1 Corinthians 15:54-57]. Praise the Lord for what He has done. Bless His name for the great victory He has wrought for us – our great Champion. It is the rest of a completed, finished assignment. Jesus did it and there is nothing left to complete that assignment. He did it fully, completely. He overcame Satan ultimately, decisively and forever [John 17:4; 19:28-30].
Well, where do we enter into that rest? Oh, that is a great sermon in itself! If we just had some hours here, what is that rest for us? "And the land had rest" [Joshua 11:23]. Our rest is in Christ [Matthew 11:28]. We have the rest of a full reconciliation, no longer toiling for our salvation.
I tell you one of the most overwhelming things I ever read in my life was that personal physician who was waiting on the late pope in Rome and who described honestly what was taking place and said that the pope when he faced death was full of fear and trepidation. Why? Because of the doctrine that it is our good works that get us to heaven. And how do you know? How do you know but that, though you may live a fine good life for forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty years, in the last day of your life you will still miss it? How would you know? We have the rest of a full reconciliation.
Let me read it out of the Bible better than I could say it. Paul in the triumphant glorious conclusion to the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans said, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is it that condemneth? It is Christ that died for us, yea, that is risen again, that is even at the right hand of God" [Romans 8:33, 34]. Our salvation lies in the promise, and the gift, and the victory, and the finished work of Jesus.
You and I may stumble, and stagger, and hesitate, and pause, and fall into doubt, and difficulty, and weakness. And in a thousand ways our lives may be clouded, and hurt, and cut down, and wounded. That is the pilgrimage. But He never fails. He is not weary nor is He overspent. Nor is the divine energy limited or wasted. Out of His unwasted fullness He gives to His people and He keeps us forever and forever. It is the rest of a reconciliation. It is the rest of an assured victory.
We may face death. We may face the grave. We may face many trials. We may face many troubles. We may go through many things in this pilgrimage. But don’t you be afraid says God. Do not let that little heart of yours beat fast because of the fear of being defeated. He is already defeated. Already defeated, Satan is a defeated enemy [Colossians 2:10-15, Revelation 20:10]. The grave is a defeated foe. The victory is already complete [1 Corinthians 15:54-57]. We’re just waiting for it is final denouement. We are just waiting for the crowning coronation [Revelation 20:12]. We are just waiting for the great ultimate consummation. That is all.
And He sat down [Hebrews 10:12]. And He sat down and they had rest from war [Joshua 11:23]. Our rest is one of full trust and fellowship with God [Hebrews 4:9-10]. Be still. Be still, and let God speak to your heart [Psalm 46:10-11]. Be calm and let the sediment of mud and debris fall to the bottom and out of your life. Be tranquil and let God mold you and make you. Trust in the Lord. The victory is His and it is ours. And some great, and final, and ultimate day the coronation will come. The great consummation will be fully acknowledged and announced. "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony" [Revelation 12:11]. The battle is won. The war is ended. God has done it for us. It is the gift of Jesus to us [John 14:27]. And with solemn lips and with praises in our hearts, we are pilgrimaging through this weary world – looking to that great and ultimate coronation day when the King who is King indeed, and the Lord who is the Lord of glory, shall be crowned, and we shall bow at His feet, name His name, sing His praises, world without end. That is what it is to be a Christian.
Now while we sing this song of appeal, somebody you, one somebody you, one somebody you while we sing this song, while we make this appeal, give your heart to Jesus, to put your life with us in the fellowship of the church, while we make the appeal, would you come? On the first note of the first stanza, in this balcony round from side to side, into the aisle or down one of these stairwells and here to the front, "Pastor, I give you my hand. I give my heart to God." Or, "Pastor, the family of us, we are all coming into the fellowship of the church." As Jesus shall say the word and the Spirit shall lead the way, would you make it now? Would you make it this morning; while we stand and while we sing?
THE FINAL VICTORY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Two parts of Joshua
2. Division of the
Battle with five kings
1. Most of Canaan won
2. Results in
1. Rest and then
division of the land
2. Final rest for
believer because of Christ’s ultimate victory