Now it came about that when all the kings who were beyond the Jordan,… the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perrizite, the Hivite and the Jebusite heard of it, that they gathered themselves together with one accord to fight with Joshua and with Israel. As we get beyond the Jordan, we find that the land is not vacant, merely awaiting our arrival. There are inhabitants already dwelling there that will need to be conquered before we can really call this territory our own. Further, these inhabitants will not simply roll over and play dead at our advance, but it soon becomes evident that they are an opposing force that will have to be reckoned with. It doesn't take long for the enemy to become aware of our victories as we invade his territory. As we have already stated, opposition is a foregone conclusion when we are in the process of dispossessing the enemy forces. Sooner or later they will gather their forces and declare outright war on the people of God. However, before we go rushing headlong into battle, we would do well to discover just what forces we are facing, and what we will have to deal with in the upcoming battles. As we take an in-depth look at each of these peoples in turn, we should be aware that they could represent actual personalities in our experience, or they could, collectively, represent different attributes of our common enemy – Satan.
The word "Hittite" basically denotes fear, but comes from a root word which specifically means "to break down by violence or confusion, to crush, to dismay or discourage". You have probably encountered some Hittites in your conquest of the Land of Promise. Whether they appear as actual personalities, or if they are limited to mere circumstances or situations, the Hittites' foremost characteristic is fear. This can be evidenced by violence, whether physical or spiritual, or, more subtly, by confusion. In our society, violence does not always take the form of physical assault, although, regretfully, that is a distinct possibility. More commonly, however, we have all encountered, at one time or another, people with a somewhat 'short fuse', or situations in our own lives where stress and frustrations give vent to flaring tempers, or fits of rage. In the process, words are likely uttered that rip and tear, leaving victims with crushed and broken spirits. In fact, the Hittites that some of us face, are not necessarily present entities in our lives, but rather are representative of abusive situations in our past that have left inbred negative emotions that need to be conquered. Confusion, on the other hand, is something that is a fact of life in today's world. Confusion refers to instability or lack of constancy, and as such, is something we can all relate to. We have been raised in a society where change is equated with maturity, and with the philosophy that ‘nothing remains the same’. In a sense there is an element of truth there, but at the same time, there is a part of the human soul that longs for stability, something to 'hang onto', life-principles that are predictable and applicable to all situations. Jesus likened it to the difference between the man who built his house on the sand, and the one who built on the rock. The house built on the sand, which was constantly shifting, could not withstand the storm that blew against it, 'and great was the fall thereof'. The house that was built on the rock, however, was still standing when the storm blew over, 'because it was built on the Rock'. Whether the Hittites we face take the form of violence or confusion, their common goal is dismay and discouragement. "What's the use!" is a phrase we have all heard, and likely verbalized at various times in our lives. It is an expression of utter hopelessness and implies that further effort will be entirely fruitless. This is exactly where the enemy wants us, because he knows that when we cease to fight, we have, by implication, surrendered the victory. But if we build upon the Rock that is Christ Jesus, we will be able to defeat the fears and confusion of the enemy, because we have a hope that does not disappoint.
'Amorites" is a word that means publicity, or prominence, and is a derivative of a prime root that means ‘to say, to answer, to boast or to challenge’. No doubt, we have all met some Amorites on our way into the Promised Land. The "talk about the town" can be one of the most devastating forces, not only in society in general, but in the local church as well. Phrases like "Well, you know what they say…" or "you know what Mrs. Magillicotti told me…" seasoned with a bit of blatant gossip like "wait 'til you hear what I heard about that new pastor in town…" are some of the most destructive forces we may have to face. Usually, such words come from a spirit that craves publicity and prominence, and are so convincing that, unless we are prepared to do battle with them, we find ourselves being overcome and caught up in the passion of the moment. Such a breach of our defenses can find us soon agreeing with, and even passing on such morsels of ‘knowledge’. The tongue, James says, is a fire, the very world of iniquity,… that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. Be sure that you will encounter the Amorites, and "what people are saying" as you enter the Land. One of the most powerful defenses against such attacks is the word of truth. "And you shall know the truth," Jesus said, "and the truth shall set you free." When we see the smoke rising from the fire that is threatening to get out of control, we can extinguish the flames with the help of the One who said "I am…the Truth."
The “Canaanites’ took their name from a word which means a peddlar, a merchant, or a trafficker, and, as one investigates the root meaning of the word, it becomes apparent that there is a definite connotation of ‘humiliation’. In fact, in its original form, the word literally means ‘son of Ham’. Without much difficulty, I am sure that we can recall encounters with Canaanites in our conquest of the Land – those whose basic motivation seemed to be peddling, selling, or trafficking in all manner ‘goods’. This may take the form of ‘privileged information’, misplaced fears, misguided emotions, higher forms of knowledge and ideologies, and the list continues indefinitely. It seems, in our society of mass-market orientation, that there is no lack of merchandise to be offered, and ready markets are not difficult to find. Just as interesting, one should note the ultimate factor of humiliation that is involved in such commerce. Whether it is on the part of the “merchant’ or the “customer” there is, more often than not, an element of shame and remorse that is associated with such transactions. When the “information” proves to be absolutely false, or the emotions are found to be totally unfounded, the embarrassment of the situation becomes evident, and is further complicated by the realization that it is entirely irrevocable. In light of these ideas we would do well to remember the admonition to “let the buyer beware” in dealing with those who have all manner of goods which they are constantly trying to “sell”.
The Perizzites, as the definition of their name implies, were inhabitants of the open country. Their villages were unwalled and rustic and were typically devoid of established boundaries. “What could be more pleasing?” one might question, “no dividing walls, no property markers, total lack of “No Trespassing” signs, and everything would be entirely accessible to everyone.” However, before we become too enamoured over such an “ideal society” we need to investigate the implications such a life-style. We have seen, throughout history, but perhaps more prevalently in the last few generations, the proliferation as well as the consequences of the Open Society. Appealing to the rebellious nature of man-kind in general, the lack of established boundaries encourages the humanistic excesses of our carnal nature. Without any fear of retribution or disciplinary measures, we descend to the philosophy of “what pleases me” as opposed to the Lord’s teaching of “how can I benefit my neighbor”. Along with the establishment of boundaries comes the necessity of consequences for the willful, as well as the negligent exceeding of those boundaries. “Whom the Lord loves, He chastens” the Bible declares. Consequently , where there is a definite lack of correction or reproof, the individual is left with the unanswered question – “Does anyone really love me?”
By contrast, the Hivites were well established villagers. The word “Hivite” literally means life-giving, or place to live, and is derived from the word that was used for “Eve” – the mother of all living. Quite probably, they were a highly developed society with a well established sense of community. Why, then, would they feel such apprehension upon hearing of what the people of God had accomplished at Ai? What would cause them to join forces with those who were bent on outright resistance to the plans that God was unfolding in that era of history? Even today, in our highly evolved society, one cannot deny the resistance that quickly becomes evident among the populace when the concept of the “ultimate Plan of God” is introduced. “We have our established ways,” they argue. “We have always done things this way, and we certainly don’t need people trying to push new ideas and concepts that are not tried and true. Every individual has a right to live as they see fit” the argument goes – “society in general cannot be bound by the mores of a select few, or the concept of an all-encompassing Higher Power”. “Let us live for today, for tomorrow we may die” the Bible sums up the pervading philosophy. Yet in our conquest of the Promised Land, such ideologies must give way to the principles of the One who declared “I am … the Life”
The final group of people to join in the coalition against the people of God were the Jebusites. By definition, these were not normally aggressive or defensive people. The word means ‘down-trodden’, or ‘a threshing-place’, and carries the connotation – to trample under foot, or be polluted. Before the invention of modern farm machinery, the common means of dividing the wheat from the chaff was the process known as the threshing floor. The wheat was trampled or beaten by whip-like implements until the ripe seeds were separated from the husks or chaff that enclosed them on the stalks. No doubt, we have all encountered our share of Jebusites as we strive to possess the land of promise. People who have been trodden on the threshing floor of life, only to be polluted by bitterness and strife. “Are we not called to minister God’s love and compassion to such people?” the question arises, and indeed, such is the case. It is not the people in themselves that need to be reckoned with, but rather the resulting attitudes that cause them to admit defeat before the real battle has even begun. Defeatist and bitter attitudes are like cancerous growths that not only consume those directly involved, but also spread surreptitiously to those that are associated with them.
So we have a panoramic view of the enemy that will need to be reckoned with. It is likely that they will gather in a show of strength - particularly in response to a spiritual victory which is miraculously provided on our behalf. The primary cause of their agitation is simply that they have heard what the Lord has done for His people. It is at these times that we need to be reminded of the Lord’s admonition that we “do not fear, nor be dismayed because of them” for “the battle is not ours, but the Lord’s” and He will never be defeated!
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