Hazor is taken. Because it is a mighty city, the human mind might reason that it could be a suitable capital for Israel. But God does not allow the seat of worldly power and influence to become the seat of His people, for His people depend solely on Him. Hazor will not become the new capital of Israel, but will be completely destroyed. God will not leave any trace of the power that has ruled before.
Unfortunately, by the unfaithfulness of God’s people this city is rebuilt. In the time of the judges it appears that this city even rules over God’s people for some time. This happens as a result of the discipline God has to impose on His people because of their unfaithfulness (Jdg 4:1-2a1Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, after Ehud died.2And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; and the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim.). When the people call to Him, He frees them from this enemy by Barak and Deborah. Deborah sings with Barak of that liberation in a song (Jdg 5:11Then Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying,
). In that song she mentions the downfall of this enemy (Jdg 5:19-2119“The kings came [and] fought;
Then fought the kings of Canaan
At Taanach near the waters of Megiddo;
They took no plunder in silver.
20“The stars fought from heaven,
From their courses they fought against Sisera.
21“The torrent of Kishon swept them away,
The ancient torrent, the torrent Kishon.
O my soul, march on with strength.
). In Psalm 83 God is called up to do to the great northern collection of armies in the last days what He did with this king (Psa 83:1010Who were destroyed at En-dor,
Who became as dung for the ground.
Not all cities are burned. God has promised His people that they will live in cities which they themselves have not built (Deu 6:10-1110“Then it shall come about when the LORD your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build,11and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied,). Not everything should be destroyed. Things that are of use to them must be spared (Deu 20:19-2019“When you besiege a city a long time, to make war against it in order to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by swinging an axe against them; for you may eat from them, and you shall not cut them down. For is the tree of the field a man, that it should be besieged by you?20Only the trees which you know are not fruit trees you shall destroy and cut down, that you may construct siegeworks against the city that is making war with you until it falls.). But all inhabitants are killed, according to the commandment of the LORD (Deu 7:1-61“When the LORD your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you,2and when the LORD your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them.3Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons.4For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you.5But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, and smash their [sacred] pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire.6For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.; 20:16-1816Only in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes.17But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the LORD your God has commanded you,18so that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against the LORD your God.). This total extermination should not come as a surprise, as has happened so often, that a loving God commands it. Whoever accuses God of cruelty does not know Him, nor does he know himself.
The God of the Old Testament is no other God than the God of the New Testament, as if we had a God of love there and a God of revenge here. The New Testament God says that also “our God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12:2929for our God is a consuming fire.), while the God of the Old Testament is also a God of love.
Is it unjust that God should have all these people killed? No. There are several reasons to give that make it clear that God is right to do so:
1. God never judges without warning and sufficient time to take the warning to heart. These Canaanites have had a testimony of God in their midst in Melchizedek (Gen 14:1818And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High.). So they cannot say that they have never heard of God. They also know what He did for His people in Egypt and after.
2. The meekness of God waited four hundred years, until the iniquity of the Amorites is full (Gen 15:1616Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”). He waits long, but not endlessly. He waited a hundred and twenty years before he let the flood come (Gen 6:33Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”). He has been waiting in His meekness for almost two thousand years now (2Pet 3:8-98But do not let this one [fact] escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.9The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.) since man has committed the greatest sin ever by killing His Son. But if the wickedness of the Canaanites goes beyond everything, God can only judge them. They do everything a person can think of and do about sins. They deserve the judgment.
3. They know that God is a Judge. They know what He has done in and with Egypt. But none of the cities behave kindly towards the Israelites (verse 1919There was not a city which made peace with the sons of Israel except the Hivites living in Gibeon; they took them all in battle.). That is the result of the hardening of their hearts. That does not undo their guilt. God hardens a heart only if someone has hardened his heart first. Hardening is a judgment from God, after man has refused to submit to God. There is a hardening of the Gentiles (Rom 1:24,26,2824Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.26For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,), the Jews (Rom 11:2525For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;) and the nominal Christians (2Thes 2:11-1211For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false,12in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.).
The example of Rahab and the Gibeonites makes clear that God is unaltered in His desire to save people (Rom 10:1313for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”). Rahab and also the Gibeonites speak of the threat, of which all inhabitants of Canaan have heard (Jos 2:9-119and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you.10For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.11When we heard [it], our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.; 9:9-109They said to him, “Your servants have come from a very far country because of the fame of the LORD your God; for we have heard the report of Him and all that He did in Egypt,10and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon and to Og king of Bashan who was at Ashtaroth.). Yet only they resort to the people of God to escape the judgment, albeit in different ways. There, they both find the salvation against judgment.
God does not assign anyone to hell. It is now still “the acceptable time”, ” behold, now is “the day of salvation”” (2Cor 6:22for He says, “At the acceptable time I listened to you, And on the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”—) to escape the judgment of hell. But God does determine the time of the end of that time and that day, while He still makes the call to repentance sound. “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all [people] everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-3130Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all [people] everywhere should repent,31because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”).