God gave the Canaanites a long time to repent of their wickedness but they refused His mercy. So, when divine love could no longer bring repentance to the Canaanites, divine justice decreed the end of their probation. And the Lord gave their land to His faithful children (Num. 23:19–24). The divine principles that were implemented in Israel’s conquest of Canaan were:
God the Creator decides the time and territorial extent of the nations (Dan. 2:21; Acts 17:26; Deut. 32:8). Patiently He directs the affairs of earth in order to work out the plans of His will. But each nation chooses its own destiny by its use of the power granted to it by God (Ex. 9:16). Rejection to God’s ways means national devastation (Dan. 5:22–31).
God did not choose Israel as His chosen people because of favoritism to them; He would have accepted any nation on the same conditions that He accepted them (Acts 10:34, 35; Rom. 10:12, 13). It was simply because Abraham was obedient to God (Gen. 18:19). Thus, Abraham’s seed became God’s representatives among people, and the covenant made with Abraham was affirmed to them (Deut. 7:6–14). Their main advantage above other nations was that God entrusted them with His Word (Rom. 3:1, 2) and commissioned them to spread it to all the world (Gen. 12:3; Isa. 42:6, 7; 43:10, 21).
In order that they may carry out His commission, God bestowed great blessings on them (Deut. 7:12–16; 28:1–14). Thus, in viewing the blessings upon Israel, the nations of the world will see the evidence that it pays to worship God (Deut. 4:6–8; 28:10). But should they become unfaithful, He would reject them as He now rejected the nations of Canaan (Deut. 28:13–15, 62–66, cf. Isa. 5:1–7; Rom. 11:17–22), and drive them out of the Land of Promise (Deut. 28:63, 64).
The Canaanites had a probationary period of 400 years (Gen. 15:13, 16), but instead of using this time for repentance, they filled up their cup of iniquity (Gen. 15:16; Deut. 20:13). Therefore, it was essential that the land should be cleansed from evil to make sure that God’s promises of the coming Messiah will be fulfilled for the faithful.
However, all those among the heathens that would choose to worship the true God will be saved. The conversion of Rahab the Canaanite was evidence to the fact that divine love would save all those who are willing to forsake their idolatry (Joshua 2:9–13; 6:25; Heb. 11:31; James 2:25). The saving of sinners was also illustrated in the flood, the destruction of Sodom, and the fall of Jerusalem by Romans. All who regarded he warnings were saved (Gen. 6:9–13, 18; 18:23–32; Luke 21:20–22).
In the conquest of Canaan, divine power was to be united with human effort. God intended all men to know that it was by His power alone that Israel succeeded. Military reverses at Kadesh-barnea (Num. 13:28–31; 14:40–45) and some 38 years later at Ai, showed the Israelites that in their own power they could not overcome their enemies (Dan. 4:30). Only by their full dependence on God could they win.
In His service,