In Joshua’s later years, we are told that God still has more land for Israel to settle. As you read today, let me take a step back from the details of the story and insist on one truth about God’s purposes as Israel dispossesses the Canaanites: God is protecting Israel from Canaanite corruption, and thus protecting the world from Canaanite corruption. The Canaanites deserve punishment, but God does not direct Israel to destroy them for this reason only; He also recognizes the corruptive influence a powerful and evil nation or group of nations can have over smaller ones.
In a previous post, I mentioned that idolatry and injustice always go together. When a powerful nation is filled with idolatry, injustice thrives wherever that nation has strong influence. In destroying the Canaanites, God is not just punishing evil, but calling Israel to quarantine it and prevent it from spreading to other nations. As Joshua continues to conquer more lands for Israel, recognize that, from God’s all-knowing perspective, Israel is containing the idolatrous contagion.