For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that He might utterly destroy them, and that they might receive no mercy, but that He might destroy them, as the Lord had commanded Moses (Joshua 11:20 NKJV).
I had often wondered why a “just” God would harden (figuratively) someone’s heart. Why would he do something that seemed so cruel as to not allow the people to make a choice for themselves? Well, I did some search using bible dictionaries, concordances, and commentaries.
In the verse above, “their hearts” was referring to the people who lived in Canaan at that time. Joshua 11 describes “…many people as the sand on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots” ready to fight against Joshua and the Israelites. Imaging the sand on the seashore, and now picture those people.
This was happening years after the death of Moses, who led the people out of Egypt. At this point in Joshua 11, after spending forty years in the wilderness, the Israelites were finally obtaining the promise God made to Abraham in Genesis. After seeing such a great army rise up against them, God tells Joshua not to be afraid as victory was sure. After about five (5) years of fighting against these people (AMP version Joshua 11:18), Joshua defeated all the kings and the armies, and took control of all the cities of the kings. However, the other remaining Canaanites, after seeing this, still did not make peace with the Israelites because the Lord hardened their hearts.
Harden, a Hebrew word חזק, transliterated as châzaq (pronounced khaw-zak’) means to strengthen, be courageous, grow firm, be resolute, behave self valiantly, to withstand (BDB and Strong’s Concordances). It is the same word the Bible uses to speak of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart in Exodus 4:21 “And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go“. Basically, when God “hardens” someone’s heart, he makes them feel brave, courageous, and strong. He makes them feel like they are able to win the fight against his people.
There are times that God will make us feel like we are brave and that we can fight any battle and win. And he does tell us that we are more than overcomers (Romans 8:37). However, we must learn to discern what God is doing. Even though we may feel mighty, it doesn’t mean that the battle is for us to fight. The Gibeonites were some of the mightiest men in the land of Canaan (Joshua 10:2), yet they did not fool themselves that they could go against God’s will, to give Israel the land, so they lied in order to live. This goes to show that we must not be led by feelings but by the Spirit.
At times, it’s not even God who is boosting us, it’s the devil. We need to stop following our feelings. Just because it feels right, doesn’t mean it’s right. It might not feel like the wrong thing to do but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. How many times have we said we thought something was the right thing to do but looking back we see that it was a mistake? Enough times.
I Samuel 6:6 says, “Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He did mighty things among them, did they not let the people go, that they might depart?” God gave them the feeling but they accepted it, they took it. So, it is them, and not God, who hardened their own hearts (became obstinate / stubborn). When we’re stubborn, it means that we know the truth, but, we prefer to have our own way instead of being obedient.
Instead of being led by feelings, seek God for the truth and follow his truth no matter how brave/courageous we may feel. In answer to the question, no God is not wicked for making someone feel brave/courageous because they know God’s will and acting on the feelings is their choice.
Written by: Klasik Krys ~ Creator of the blog site, lover of God, and an inspirational speaker. Developer of the YouTube Channel “Purposeful Inspiration”.