[The following is a complete excerpt of Day 3 from Feet to Follow, Eyes to See]
Two verses. Just two verses. That’s all the Bible devotes to the conquest of the northern Canaanite city of Hazor:
At that time Joshua turned back, captured Hazor, and struck down its king with the sword, because Hazor had formerly been the leader of all these kingdoms. They struck down everyone in it with the sword, completely destroying them; he left no one alive. Then he burned down Hazor. (Joshua 11:10–11)
From the first ten verses of Joshua 11 we learn that the king of Hazor led a coalition of northern Canaanite cities and that Joshua and the Israelites defeated them on the field of battle. Yet when it comes to the destruction of this city, it reads a bit like some historical footnote.
Visit the site of Hazor, and you get quite a different picture. This was a massive city. Its citadel was well situated on a steep and imposing hill, with fortifications which must have seemed impregnable when they were still standing. Hundreds of years after Joshua destroyed Hazor, Solomon rebuilt and fortified it. Yet rich and powerful as Solomon was, the city he built was still far smaller than the city Joshua had razed. The destruction of Hazor was a major victory for Joshua and the Israelites. From a military standpoint, it may even have been their greatest one. Yet all the Bible devotes to it is just two verses.
When we read the books of Joshua and Judges, we come away with the sense that the Israelite conquest was largely a failure. Yes, they defeated Jericho and Hazor and conquered much of the land, but each tribe stopped short of total victory, and those failures led to centuries of conflict and idolatry. We have no idea that those victories which receive such passing mention would have been to the ancient Israelites the great high points in their history.
Standing atop Tel Hazor, imagining the effort required to conquer such a powerful city, I thought I could see how the Israelites might have concluded that they had done enough. What did it matter that a few Canaanite enclaves still remained? Didn’t they know from Hazor that if you challenge the Israelites they’ll burn your cities to the ground?
Looking at the massive stones cracked by the heat of Joshua’s fire, I thought I could see how subsequent generations of Israelites would have looked back on the conquest of Canaan not as a partial failure, but as the glory days of Joshua. Indeed, they would have longed for those days when Joshua led a mighty army and their enemies shook with fear.
Yet for all that, the Bible devotes just two verses to the Israelites’ remarkable victory at Hazor. Is that because God sees things differently than we do?
Man does not see what the LORD sees, for man sees what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)
Because God sees more than we do, He does not waste verses recounting our big moments and major accomplishments. Instead, the Scriptures are far more concerned with the condition of our hearts:
the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love (Psalm 33:18, ESV)
Where are you placing your hope and confidence? Are you tempted to look back to your “glory days”? Are you clinging to your big moments and great accomplishments? Or have you, like Paul, learned to assess their true value in the light of God’s “steadfast love”?
I once also had confidence in the flesh … [b]ut everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Philippians 3:4, 7–8a)
If you grasp the lesson of Hazor—if you truly learn to value what God Himself values—then your life will never be the same. In God’s book, your life will be worth many verses.
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