Joshua 14

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Joshua 14 begins in similar fashion to Joshua 13: land is being allotted as inheritance. We see that Eleazar the priest and Joshua…and the heads of the fathers’ houses of the tribes come together to oversee the casting of lots for inheritance (v.2). We see that everyone is taken care of in some way, shape, or form in vv.2-4, and the people did as the Lord commanded.

Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite then comes to Joshua to claim what was promised to him many years ago:

That day Moses made this solemn promise: ‘Surely the land on which you walked will belong to you and your descendants permanently, for you remained loyal to the Lord your God.’ So now, look, the Lord has preserved my life, just as he promised, these past forty-five years since the Lord spoke these words to Moses, while Israel traveled through the wilderness. See here, I am today eighty-five years old! Today I am still as strong as when Moses sent me out. I can fight and go about my daily activities with the same energy I had then. Now, assign me this hill country that the Lord promised me at that time! No doubt you heard then that the Anakites live there in large, fortified cities. But assuming the Lord is with me, I will conquer them, as the Lord promised.”

(Joshua 14.9-12, NET)

Caleb was one of two spies who returned with a positive report of the land ahead of the people in Numbers 13.1-25, the other being Joshua himself. Everyone else was destined to die in the wilderness because of their lack of faith, trust, and obedience to God except Caleb and Joshua (Numbers 14.30). Here, now, Caleb is claiming what was promised to him (Joshua 14.9). 

Often in our own faith life, we are reticent to claim what has been promised to us, aren’t we? We know that God has said this and that and made these promises and those promises, but we are seldom stand up to claim them. Yes, there are promises made to specific people at specific times which we cannot claim, such as Jeremiah 29.11, but there are also big, bold, and broad promises that apply to anyone and everyone (Isaiah 40.30-31, for example).

Today then, rather than seeing the struggles ahead as the spies did, choose to focus on the promises God has made about you and about your situation. See how your life changes when you stand on the Word and the promises of God and when you claim what has been promised to you.

Joshua 13

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Joshua 13 begins with the truth that despite Joshua being old and advanced in yearsthere remains yet very much land to possess. There is always more to do. For Joshua here there was more land to possess that the Lord had promised him. For you and for me, more promises of God to possess.

After reading that the Geshurites and the Maacathites were not driven out from the land fully (v.13, cf. 2 Samuel 3.3) the rest of the chapter is about land given as inheritance to different tribes. We see the inheritance of Reuben (vv.15-23), Gad (vv.24-28), and Manasseh (vv.29-31). Interestingly, the tribe of Levi is not given land as an inheritance, but the offerings by fire to the LORD God of Israel are their inheritance, simply, the LORD God…is their inheritance. 

Again with chapters from the history books in the Bible, the temptation is that we skim-read them and count them as not applicable to our lives today. No, we are not promised possession of this parcel of land or that pocket of territory. Rather, we share in the inheritance of the tribe of Levi. God has called believers in our day and age a holy priesthood (1 Peter 2.5) and said that we share in the saints’ inheritance (Colossians 1.12). 

You might think that things are going fairly well in your faith-life: you’re further along the discipleship path now than when you began, you’ve left behind struggles and sins that plagued your former self, but, as the Lord told Joshua, there remains very much…to possess. Being a holy priesthood means we have a level and intimacy of access to God that the average person didn’t here in the time of Joshua. As for the tribe of Levi, the same is true for you and for me: the LORD God…is [our] inheritance. Use it, claim it, and possess it!

Joshua 12

At first glance Joshua 12 doesn’t seem to contain much for us, does it? In vv.1-6 we see a list of kings and peoples conquered on the east side of the Joran river, and in vv.7-24 a corresponding list for the west. It’s so easy to skim read this kind of chapter in the Bible and move on to something with more action in, isn’t it?

But, before you do, pause and think about how God’s people in this place and at this time would have read records like this. What we read as Joshua 12 is a list of victories, a compendium of the conquered. It’s a written record of how God has miraculously moved to provide for His people. It’s something they could point to and say “See, God loves us and has moved so evidently and powerfully to save us from danger and death”.

For you and for me, no, these names might not mean much, because now we would look to the accounts of the cross and the resurrection and say “See, God loves us and has moved so evidently and powerfully to save us from danger and death”.

We would look to the cross and the empty tomb and see victory, enemies conquered, and God’s will unfolding. In our being able to look back to both, Joshua 12 and the cross of Christ, we are in the privileged position of being able to see one foreshadowing the other and God’s master plan of redemption, of provision, and of protection for His people playing out. Don’t dismiss passages like Joshua 12 then, see them as a preview the ultimate victory of Jesus. 

Joshua 11

Joshua 11 begins in familiar fashion: an alliance of kings and armies is formed to fight against Israel (vv.1-5). The reassurance is also familiar (v.6), as is the truthfulness of God’s Word (v.8). The victory for Joshua and God’s people was total, their obedience total, and the judgement of God against those who had been given over to their sin was also total (vv.10-20, cf. Romans 1.24-28). 

The final hurdle is perhaps the highest (metaphorically and literally). Back in Numbers 13 the spies’ report of people of great height, compared to which they looked like grasshoppers had made the people too afraid to enter the land promised to them. Here in Joshua 11 we see that trusting in God, totally, led them to victory over the Anakim from the hill country and there was none of the Anakim left in the land of the people of Israel. One rather famous descendent of those left in Gaza appears later in 1 Samuel 17 but for now, they’re out of the way. With this, the land had rest from war.

For you and for me, at the risk of being repetitive, again we see that total obedience to, and trust in, God is the only way that the people are victorious (v.6, 8, 15, 20c). Without being overly obvious, the same is true for you and for me. When we try and make a way in our power and strength we invariably come up short, even when we are on the precipice of something wonderful (Numbers 14.1-4). Rather, as a shepherd leads sheep that are willing, we need to follow first and forge ahead second. Today then, focus on just that: following first, forging ahead second.