I recently preached the second half of Joshua 10. The text is one of those that preachers might be tempted to ignore and hearers tempted to dismiss. On the surface, these verses amount to little more than a war report. Personally, I don’t believe that God waste words and whether it is obscure laws about donkeys, war reports, or genealogy, all Scripture was breathed out by God to strengthen our faith in God (2Tim 3.16; Rom. 15.4).
Knowing that, verse 33 in chapter 10 is very interesting. In the middle of this list of battles is a city named Gezer, just West of Gibeon. Apparently, the King of Gezer decided to help Lachish. And though there is an account of the defeat of the King and his army, there is not ever an account of Israel taking the city. 33 Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish. And Joshua struck him and his people, until he left none remaining. So though their battle was successful against the King, they chose not to capture some cities completely. Perhaps they felt Gezer wasn’t a threat or that it was “basically” defeated. This report matches what we later read in Joshua 16.10, as well as Judges 1.29, where the city of Gezer is identified as a place where the Israelites failed to dislodge the Canaanites.
If the Exodus is a picture of man’s redemption then Joshua is a picture of man’s sanctification. Quite simply, Jesus saves us (justification), then Jesus changes us (sanctification). Legalists, moralists, and all around self-righteous fools get those out of order. We fight FROM our righteousness not FOR it…but we fight. We only thing we contribute to our justification is our sin. Sanctification, however, is that active fight, motivated, empowered, and accomplished by God whereby we love Jesus more and love sin less.
Looking at the Southern campaign of Joshua (where the cities were silent) and Gezer specifically, then we see that just because sin is silent, doesn’t mean that it is conquered. Moreover, there are no little sin or insignificant compromises. Though it is wise to pick our battles, it is not so wise when we are talking about sin. Every battle is necessary and important. We need not and cannot be perfect in ourselves, but must be vigilant in pursuing Christ’s perfection—even the smallest sins have consequences. Though we might not start well, we must finish well. Sin never takes a vacation, but it certainly follows it on ours, so we can never relax our hold on the cross. Proverbs 6.10-11 says, A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.