Joshua 1:3 Every Place
Do you think it is just a coincidence that Moses’ death and the ascension of Joshua to leadership just happened to take place before the crossing of Jordan into the promised land or rather was it all part of a great master plan? Isn’t it interesting that when Moses who represented the giving of the law to Israel died, the one to take his place was, in effect, a man called Jesus, for as most of us are aware, the name Jesus is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Joshua, which is a shortened form of Jehoshua meaning Jehovah saves? In Hebrews 4:8 (KJV) we have a clear example of what happened when the translators slavishly failed to retain Hebrew names. This makes a real problem for the uninitiated as it makes this verse sound like there is a deficiency in our Lord Jesus Christ, another strike against the King James Only concept.
If, as it indicates in I Cor.10:11, the things that happened unto Israel are for our example ( type -Gr.), then we should ask ourselves what examples do we find in this book of Joshua. I think it is clearly a picture of our Lord Jesus leading us into the place of victory. We shall be looking at the stories in the following chapters in that light and we shall be seeing many amazing types.
In this chapter there are at least two reminders of the victorious Christian life that we have in Christ. The first is in verse three where Joshua is told by the Lord that “every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon” has been given to you. When our Lord Jesus triumphed at Calvary, placing His foot on the neck of Satan, He trod upon the powers of darkness and conquered death for every believer. On this basis we too may be more than conquerors. As priests following the ark, we can step into the river of death and experience the victory of resurrection power. Let us think about what the Lord Jesus placed under His feet by His triumph at Calvary. Satan was defeated and Paul says to the church at Rome that he shall be bruised under their feet shortly. Soon in our text we shall see the priests dipping their feet in Jordan and stemming the flood which pictures ultimate victory over death and positional victory as we by faith reckon ourselves dead indeed unto sin (Rom.6:11).
The second is in verse eleven. Here we have another example of what is represented by the term the three days. This little phrase used so frequently in scripture speaks of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Today you stand on the banks of Jordan (death) but in three days you will be on the other side (resurrection). “Because I live you shall live also.” Praise the Lord!
Joshua 2:11 Melted Hearts
Clearly the focus of our present chapter is the shady lady of Jericho and we cannot but wonder at the epithet that has historically attached to her name. We never think of Rahab but that term follows her as certain as “Mouse” follows Mickey. Our gracious Heavenly Father always has a reason for what He does and so it must be that He has one here as well. Perhaps it is to magnify His merciful grace for she has become synonymous with the picture of singular deliverance, much as Bunyan’s portrayal of Christian fleeing the city of destruction alone. Of course, in our biblical story the heroine gets to bring all of her family she can convince to join her in her house on the wall. We can imagine that with her reputation she might not have been successful with some of them.
In addition to the spies, we can think of at least three more men who are thankful for her momentous decision. One is her husband Salmon (Matt.1:5 for commentators favor such an interpretation), secondly, there is Boaz, her special son and, of course, the Lord Jesus, her Super Son, though late in time we behold Him come.
I have a funny story to share. In speaking to a group of children at V.B.S. years ago, having dramatized the story of Rahab hiding the spies under the flax on the roof, the following day I asked some questions. “How did Rahab manage to hide these men?” In response, one of the children spoke up, “she hid them up on the roof where she was drying her slacks!”
Finally, one of the most impressive facts recorded here is that of the effect the triumphs of Israel had upon the inhabitants of Jericho. Their hearts were said to have melted when the news of the crossing of the Red Sea was coupled with the overthrow of Sihon and Og, “Whom ye utterly destroyed.” It was the fulfillment of a prophecy of another great lady of an earlier day come true; “all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away” (Ex.15:15).
Joshua 3:5 “Wonders”
I never think of this verse without reflecting on an episode that occurred when I was a student at Providence Bible Institute in 1950. A tract in my file cabinet written by the president of the school, Dr. Howard W. Ferrin helped to refresh my memory as I prepared to write these words. The subject considered celebrated what was called a miracle and there is no doubt it was a very remarkable occurrence but looking back, a bitter sweet one and I remember how, strangely, I found it difficult to be excited as most were.
What happened was this. Dr. Ferrin had discovered from the newspaper that a former millionaire’s estate, then the campus of a junior college, had passed into receivership and the trustees of PBI decided to make an offer. A last minute bid from a Roman Catholic institution of $300,000 cash prompted the court to require that sealed bids be presented in a second round. The drama, explained in detail in the aforementioned tract was certainly providential as through a series of rationalities a figure was decided upon with one dollar tacked on for good measure. Dr. Ferrin reported later concerning the judge “I shall never forget the look which came over his face.” After asking if there had been any collusion he read the bids: Order of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart....$331,000; Providence Bible Institute....$331,001! One single dollar more!
News rapidly spread and a joyous assembly gathered in Winn Hall to celebrate in praise to God made all the more stupendous because the day before Dr. Ferrin had preached on Joshua 3:5 “Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”
At the time I was perplexed with the fact that I was not more stirred over such a momentous event. Perhaps I anticipated that long before the entire school would occupy the new campus (1960) I would have been graduated. On the other hand, perhaps I perceived somehow the sad ending to such a great story, for thirty-five years later due to the effects of neo-evangelicalism this great school, founded in 1900 in Spencer, MA would, in effect, lose visibility (and viability in my opinion) in its merger with Gordon College in 1985. I can’t help but believe that the “wonders” would have continued on this beautiful God-given campus had the leadership not allowed a lapse of faithfulness in its original commitment to the Word of God. I wish I had time to share a story told me by Carleton Helgerson which would bear this out, – perhaps later.
Joshua 4:1 “Cleaned Passed Over”
“Hey Jeb” says Uncle Josh, “what cha know, they’ve just tarred the rud clen up to ta th’ poor farm.” The italicized word is a vernacular form of the verb clean which, used three times in chapters 3 and 4, means to be completely crossed over. And here I would have thought that it was just an old Maine expression! Anyhow, the important thing is that “all the people were clean passed over Jordan” while God miraculously heaped up the waters of Israel’s main river which incidently was currently overflowing its banks (3:15). Quite a feat, that, heaping up water!
Though it is not the case here, clean also means pure, and sometimes holy (Lev.10:10) and I think it appropriate to make this application though it is certainly exegetically inaccurate. The Jordan here represents a death, burial and resurrection for this nation and they came up, as it were, clean. They were to have a fresh start in the new land and that is the message of the stones.
You will notice that while the twelve bearers were depositing the stones taken from the river (v.8), Joshua was busy setting up twelve other stones in the “midst of Jordan”where soon the heaped waters released from their invisible dam would overflow them and bury them from view. Both sets of 12 stones represented the 12 tribes, those in the river, a past dead and buried, those in Canaan a people coming up as they did, on the 10th day of the first month, to live a new life in a new land as if they had been resurrected. The children now had two questions to ask; the first is seen in Exodus 12:26 (which you will now look up) and the second one concerning these stones. There is probably a relationship wouldn’t you think? Note also the fact that the date (v.19) is the same as the beginning of Passover (Ex.12:3). Like a pair of bookends, the first occurs while they are still in Egypt and the second just as they enter the promised land.
As pictured by the stones in the river we died when Christ died and our lives are hidden in Him (Col.3:3). From the place where the ark had rested in the river we have risen in Christ to a new life of victory!
Joshua 5:9 The Reproach of Egypt
It is highly significant that for thirty-eight years the sign of being a male Israelite had not been performed on newborns. Jehovah Who was so emphatic with Moses about the circumcising of his son (Exodus 4:24-26) silently acquiesced as the nation symbolically ignored His one primary expression of their obedience and for good reason as they were being punished for disobedience. Many times in their hearts if not in their actions they had turned back disobediently to Egypt. They had listened to the cravings of the mixed multitude and had participated in the cult of golden calf worship. They had complained ever so often about their lot even now that they were free from bondage and so God had given up on this tainted generation. To have required them to fulfill an outward sign of obedience would have been ludicrous.
It was the same with the ordinance of the Passover. Heaven was again silent as year after year slipped by without the performance of this symbol of fellowship and we read of no mention at all of this obvious neglect.
But now that disobedient generation have paid the supreme price for their failure and sleep with their forefathers while their very wives and children for whom they were so concerned stand on the verge of a new and wonderful life in the promised land (Numbers 14:2&3).
There is something, however, that now must be done and this chapter records it. The reproach of Egypt must be rolled away from off them. To accomplish this the males born in the wilderness must be circumcised and then the Passover must be kept.
This done, Joshua is met by the captain of the Lord of hosts and reassured of God’s presence and power (Exodus 23:20-23 and 33:14-16). This, of course, is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ in a remarkable Christophany as evidenced by the reference to holy ground.
Remember, restored fellowship requires that past failure be dealt with, and the flesh be relegated to the cross (Col.2:11).
Joshua 6:20 The Walls Fell Down Flat
How could Israel place their feet on a city enclosed by high and seemingly impregnable walls? There must be a way to get at it– if only we could firmly plant the soles of our feet on the ground inside those walls! Wait, there is a way. If you walk around it claiming it for God you can effectively cut it out!
The people of Jericho apparently watched spellbound as their hearts melted in great fear (5:1 and 2:11) while Israel in obedience encompassed their city every day for six days. And now it is the seventh day, their Sabbath, will they come today? How quietly they approach, the only sound being the blowing of rams’ horns but today something is different. Seven times they go round, firmly planting faithful feet on a ringed path. “Shout for the Lord hath given you the city.” What did they shout? We claim everything inside the circle! It is ours! Thank you Jehovah! Positive words that echoed the faith that was flooding believing hearts. These and thoughts like these may have been those that escaped their lips at that given moment. Perhaps the earth trembled. Perhaps like the walls of Zion the foundations of the walls were “devoured” (Lam.4:11) or were shaken like the foundations of the Philippian jail (Acts 16:26). We are not told, but immediately the feet of the Israelites were standing on flattened walls.
We would do well to approach the walls we sometimes encounter with the faith that Israel displayed. Whether such words as we have suggested were actually expressed by them we do not know, but they certainly should be by us. “Thanks be unto God which always causeth us to triumph in Christ” (II Cor.2:14). “All things are yours” (I Cor.3:21). “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke12:32). Let us take by faith what He has already given.
Joshua 7:26 Three Troublemakers
What do Ananias (Acts 5) and Achan have in common aside from the fact that their names both begin with the first letter of our alphabet? Right, they both were judged severely by Jehovah for their misdeeds. Covetousness and greed drove them to violate the sanctity of the assembly. It is obvious that God made an example of them both. But it is not until we reach the fifth chapter of First Corinthians that we realize what ramifications the sin of one individual has upon the whole congregation. Here we read of the principle so profoundly demonstrated in today’s chapter, that “a little leaven leaventh the whole lump” (v.6). “Israel hath sinned...” (v.11).
A dramatic scene unfolds here in Joshua as God, Who knows exactly who the culprit is ferrets out the wrongdoer by the process of elimination. In the valley, ever after known as Trouble, did the whole assembly eliminate the troublemaker and, sadly, the whole family even down to his animals. Too severe – we may be tempted to think, but shall we argue with Holiness?
The solemn lesson that we should take away with us from this text is that Jehovah is just as zealous for the local assembly today as illustrated by the combining of the two New Testament passages referred to at the outset. When open sin is not dealt with forthrightly His sentence is, the church has sinned. This certainly results in His blessing withdrawn.
And what about sin that is hidden as was Achan’s? Brethren, the examination process is as thorough now as was then. It occurs at the Lord’s table where each individual eats and drinks judgement to himself if doing so unworthily.
If God does not judge us as thoroughly as He did Achan, the only reason I can give is because we are not serious about the purpose of the Supper. Tacked, as it often is, to the end of a service it is hurried through with little or no instruction given regarding the words usually read “let a man examine himself.”
My sin not being forsaken may keep the whole congregation from blessing and power.
Joshua 8:2 Spoils or No Spoils
There are two subjects in this chapter. The first and bulk of the chapter has to do with the final conquest of Ai and from verse 30 to the end reference is made to the altar at Mount Ebal the building of which had been ordered back in Deut. 27:1- 8. We will especially look at the former.
What particularly interests me as I study this passage referring to the destruction of Ai are the details relative especially to the subject of spoils. Back in Deut. 20 the rules for conquest were set forth and a difference is noted as to the cities of the land God gave them for an inheritance in contrast to how they were to treat other cities against which they might do battle (verses 16 and 17). For example, it is noted concerning Jericho that all the animals were slain (6:21) for they were classified as those “that breatheth.” The same would later be true at the slaying of the Amalakites (I Sam.15:3). You will remember that Saul had kept the best of the sheep and oxen for “sacrifice unto the Lord,” a factor for which he was severely castigated.
In light of the above rules of warfare by which Israel was to govern itself I find it interesting that with regard to Ai to which so much attention is paid, that Jehovah specifically told the warriors that they could take as spoil the cattle (v.2) which they did (v.27). Since Ai would fall into the category of being part of their inheritance, this was a special indulgence and we should note from this verse that it was “according to the word of the Lord which he commanded Joshua.”
The king had also been temporarily spared as was Agag and perhaps as he, might too have thought “surely the bitterness of death is past,” but there was no special reprieve for him as there had been for the animals.
So what is important about such minute observations, only this if nothing else, we might say, “the angel is in the details.” We must really pay attention to God’s Word! He can make exceptions to His own rules, but we had better be very careful to obey to the letter all that He indicates we should do.
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” etc. (Heb.10:25) might serve as an example of a verse carelessly disregarded today.
Joshua 9:14 They Asked Not Counsel
How easy it is for us to forget to commit our way unto the Lord (Ps.37:5). Most of us are quite busy with all of our daily responsibilities that we tend to rush headlong into one fresh experience after another leaning completely upon our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5 and 6). I noted recently something that surprised me when thinking about the passage in James 5:13 - 17 on the subject of committing our way unto the Lord. That is the place where James tells us that we are boasting when we say that today or tomorrow we will go to Bangor shopping. We are taught here that we always ought to say we will do this or that, Lord willing. He says that to overlook doing this is akin to boasting and is evil. The conclusion of the passage is that if we know better and fail to do this, it is sin.
For the leaders of Israel to “ask not counsel at the mouth of the Lord” is certainly a classic example of this pride of heart that causes us to go along through life without committing our daily doings to the Lord. We are so blamed self assured. “Self”is flesh spelled backwards (H-silent) and everything having to do with the latter is evil and thus sinful. We do things without weighing the outcome in the light of God’s Word and will.
Once Gloria and I bought a fifth wheel without committing the purchase to the Lord and we lost quite a bit of money when we had to sell it because it was too much for us to manage. Now we try in the little things as well as the big to pray about them, committing it to the Lord. Not that we have arrived for I feel that we still have a long way to go on this score, but we are trying. How about you?
Gibeonitus is a form of heart trouble and the cure is to walk daily in such a close fellowship with the Lord that we do not get off on bypaths because it seem like the thing to do. Let us cultivate the habit and mean it when we say, Lord willing, we will do such and such.
Joshua 10:42 God Fought For Israel
There is an old saying that goes like this, because of certain actions the result was, they had the devil to pay. Because of the failure of Israel to check things out with the Lord they were stuck with the Gibeonites as a constant reminder of their failure. Of all things, this resulted in a strange circumstance where they were forced, because they had made a league with the enemy (9:15), to take time away from their duties to defend these enemies (v.6 of this chapter). Can you think of such a situation where some sister or brother made peace with an unsaved marriage partner and have been paying for it the rest of their lives? There are many such cases where God’s people have been deceived by the enemy into thinking that their prospective partners are saved only to find out to their bitter dismay that they were being deceived and now they have the devil to pay. And of course once such a binding vow is made, there is no way out of it. (See II Samuel 21:1 & 2).
On the other hand in this chapter we see how to really treat with the enemy ought to be fought. If done the right way, God will fight for us as He did for Joshua (v.42) with miracles of hailstones and causing the sun and moon to stand still (vs.11 & 12).
Victory over all of these enemies came swiftly as city after city was destroyed in a great mop up operation. It should be noted (as our Pastor Bonin pointed out last Sunday morning) that this work was done with speed, with severity and with great success and the reason was simple, the leaders were dealt with first. These kings who were captured were dealt with forthrightly as the leaders of Israel put their feet on the necks of these enemies. Satan is a defeated foe and we must treat him as such instead of falling for his wiles (9:4).
Paul spoke to the church at Rome telling them that God would shortly bruise Satan under their feet (Romans 16:20).
Beware of falling into the humanistic trap of sympathizing with the Gibeonites rather than sorrowing over Israel’s failure to discern the devil’s ploy. This too shows the weakness of the flesh.
Joshua 11:15 Joshua Left Nothing Undone
Okay, I think it’s time for a reminder about the God we worship. If we are not careful, a chapter like this one could get us into trouble. We live today in such a man centered environment and it is very human for us to want to be accepted. If our neighbors and friends, let alone our relatives ever found out what we believe they would be horrified and we would be ostracized. For example, if they read the Bible they probably have a mindset that lets God off the hook by concluding that the Old Testament is archaic and that civilized people have developed far beyond the concept of a deity Who commends genocide. The facts are, however, that two of our basic beliefs about God are that He never changes and that the revelation about Him that we possess is infallible and totally trustworthy.
I believe that there is probably quite a large percentage of Christians who may imbibe the philosophy that the New Testament is an improvement over the Old. Either God has changed or our interpretative methods have somehow improved. Surely we much prefer a God Who loves the world and desires its evangelization rather than One Who sends His people out into that same world to kill everything that breathes (v.14) including all women and children. Yet, we are on very thin ice if we hold such a concept that makes any changes in the character of God. It is not God Who has adjusted to our way of thinking in our modern age, but we who need to adjust our view of Him to make certain that we have not robbed Him of His holiness or exaggerated His love.
In Jehovah’s electing grace He chose Israel to be the objects of His unconditional love (Deuteronomy 7:6) and He gave them the land of Canaan casting out the inhabitants of that land because of their wickedness (9:4). He hasn’t changed but a new development as old as eternity has been revealed where the grace of redemption has been shown to include His church. Christians are the only ones in our age who will ever reach heaven. We are chosen in Christ through His atoning death (Eph. 1:4). All others are destined for Hell and the lake of fire including those aforementioned neighbors, friends and, yes, loved ones of our families. Perhaps they should be told.
Joshua 12:1 Possessing the Land
As we reach the chapter which marks the halfway point of this history of conquest it might do well for us to reflect once again on its meaning. Our Joshua is our Lord Jesus Christ. He is our Champion and, like the son of Nun, has effectively finished the work. Remember the words He spoke from the cross, “It is finished!” The war is effectively over and we may enter triumphantly to divide the spoils, to “eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh.8:10).
We enter upon the thoughts of chapter 12 from a great springboard namely the fact that the “land rested from war” (11:23). Do we really appreciate the wonderful truth that we as believers, the moment we are saved, enter a position achieved by our Heavenly Joshua classified as rest? We say, “but wait a minute are there not yet personal battles to be fought in the Christian life?” And here we enter upon a great truth unfolded in this book! The land rested but still the people fought – how do we reconcile the two? Let us not miss the beauty of it all. Do you see it? He has given us the victory but we must possess the land. When we go forward in the strength of the Lord, we will always be “more than conquerors” (Rom.8:37). We read in II Corinthians 2:14 that He “always causeth us to triumph in Christ.” He has won the war and guarantees our victory in skirmishes like Caleb’s which we shall see in chapter fourteen. There may be thirty-one kings to fight (one for every day) but only one day at a time and never a thought of failure, whether on mountains, in valleys, springs (slopes), in the wilderness or in the south country (v.8) for He has gone before and in His strength will not we persevere? This is the “joy of the Lord” as we go on to “possess the land.”
A message by my pastor inspired these thoughts shared today. He preached it last Sunday morning. How providential!
Joshua 13:1 Much Land to be Possessed
Ha, it’s bad enough to be old and stricken in years without having the God of all flesh reminding you about it. It is thought that Joshua is about one hundred and ten at this point in time.
In this way Jehovah introduces the conclusion of this book. A parentheses follows (2-6) in which we are told about the land that yet remains to be possessed. As Matthew Henry informs us it lies in every direction (italics mine).
“He gives him a particular account of the land that yet remained unconquered, which was intended for Israel, and which, in due time, they should be masters of if they did not put a bar in their own door. Divers places are here mentioned, some in the south, as the country of the Philistines, governed by five lords, and the land that lay towards Egypt (#Jos 13:2,3), some westward, as that which lay towards the Sidonians (#Jos 13:4), some eastward, as all Lebanon (#Jos 13:5), some towards the north, as that in the entering in of Hamath, #Jos 13:5. Joshua is told this, and he made the people acquainted with it.”
The magnitude of the work to be done is emphasized in the fact that all the land of the Philistines is included (v.3) but the assurance that it could be done is clearly stated in verse six “them will I drive out before the children of Israel.” In other words it is a big job but I am a big God and if you let Me, I will do it through you!
There is an interesting note on the subject of the lot in the center column of my Bible. It says “without man’s choice or will.” Often the use of the lot is mentioned in Scripture and the purpose of using it was in order that the disposing of a matter be left entirely up to the Lord. It was used in the N.T. in the choice of Matthias to take the place of Judas and in Proverbs there are two interesting statements regarding it (16:33 and 18:18). It was the method by which the scapegoat was chosen (Lev.16:9 & 10). As this note states, it was one excellent way to make sure the will of man was not present.
The lessons for us in this passage are : knowing what is yet left to be done in our lives (let us ask Him) and remembering “God always gives the best to those who leave the choice to Him”(Jim Elliot?).
Joshua 14:12 Give Me This Mountain
Having reiterated that the tribes of Reuben, Gad and one half of Manassah had already received their inheritance on the other side of Jordan and that Joseph’s two sons were each receiving a lot for their inheritance instead of him and that Levi would not be receiving a lot since the Lord God was their inheritance (v.33), now the remaining nine and a half tribes were to be allotted their share of the promised land.
Seizing upon the moment, Caleb reminds Joshua about the promise made to him by Moses (and Jehovah, Num. 14:24) that his inheritance would be the very part of the country that he and Joshua had spied upon forty-five years earlier. He had been one of the twelve sent into the land at Kadesh barnea (reported in Numbers thirteen) when upon their return to declare their findings he and Joshua alone asserted their belief that the Lord would give them this land that flowed with milk and honey. Now, these two were the only ones left alive from that day and Caleb appeals to Joshua that the promise made to him be kept.
It so happened that the mountain he wanted was still inhabited by a family of Anakims who were known for their great size. Remember, the spies had felt as small as “grasshoppers” in the presence of these giants (Num.13:33). This, however, did not discourage Caleb for a moment since he was still, as then, a man of great faith in Jehovah. Though he was now eighty-five years old, which was at this time considered a great age, he felt as strong as he was back years ago when this promise had been made.
“Give me this mountain”was his cry of faith as he doubted not that the Lord would be with him and enable him to drive out the enemy, a feat he evidently accomplished according to Judges 1:20!
Should this not be an example to us today when faced with some great test of our faith? Lord, give us our mountain too!
Joshua 15:19 Give Me a Blessing
The entire chapter before us is taken up with the lot of the tribe of Judah, its borders and its cities. There is a brief narrative portion and it is upon the interesting event contained in these few verses that we shall focus today (13 - 20).
Caleb, as we noted in the previous chapter, sued for his part of the promised land which fell within the borders of Judah and had been accorded to him by the Lord as a reward of his faithfulness. This is certainly an example of the fact that though Israel was given the land they needed to personally lay claim to it by putting their feet on it. What a great picture of faith, laying hold of God’s promises. Instead of “standing on the promises,” they had to literally stand upon the premises.
Interestingly, though it seemed that Joshua and Caleb were on an equal footing as regards their faithfulness as spies, it is Caleb who is singled out for this honor. Notice in 14:8 & 9 “I wholly followed the Lord my God.” One might think he should have said “we wholly followed the Lord.” In consequence, the land was given to him, etc.(I think I had more to say here but was interrupted and can’t remember where I was going with it - sorry).
Achsah, Caleb’s daughter must have become a very eligible young lady and papa decided to capitalize on that fact. She was named for a tinkling ornament around the ankle which probably represented a token of endearment. It was her first cousin that claimed her for his wife. Her father’s generous response to her request would indicate his favor towards her. We do not know but what they had eyes for each other to start with and that Caleb was just testing his nephew’s mettle. Could he measure up to his name and be a force for God ? He did, and won the prize who now became a chain around his ankle – oops.
Actually she was a pretty smart girl. She knew that a south land could be unproductive without a good source of water. She asked and received double. Doesn’t our Father do the same for us and may we be an ornament around Christ’s ankle (Titus 2:10) as we live to glorify our Husband Who fought and overcame the enemy to win Himself a bride!
Joshua 16:16 They Drave Not Out the Canaanites
Beginning at the last verse of the previous chapter (15) and passing through this one and into the next we have a sad theme to deal with. You will note this theme again when we come to the first chapter of Judges. Driving out the Canaanites was a task at which Israel often failed. And what can we learn from this failure?
First, it should be established that it was not God’s fault that they failed, nor was it Joshua’s. God had given them the land and the implication seems clear that victory was to be achieved over and over again without any loss of life. Joshua had conquered the enemy and rest had been won. These are recurring themes as we have seen. Why then is there failure?
Let us examine our own Christian experience for without question this book is a picture of life in the New Testament church. Those who think that crossing Jordan is a picture of dying and going to heaven have gotten their hymn book mixed up with their Bible. Nothing could be further from the truth! Canaanites in the land -- heaven forbid! Struggles, failure, battles, more failure – it’s just not my idea of what heaven will be like, how about you?
On the other hand in spite of the fact that our Lord Jesus has secured victory for us, are all Christians that you and I know living victorious Christian lives? But could they if they lived by faith and yielded their lives wholly to the Lord? Of Course! So whose fault are the failures?
Caleb got his mountain, Othniel his bride. By these dear friends, the victory is certainly implied. The Canaanite not driven out, is true of many a saint; In spite of everything Christ did, they languish weak and faint. In Romans twelve and in verse one, the secret shall be found; ‘Tis only to appropriate that wins us higher ground. So press ahead as Paul has taught and take by faith the land. Soon will the song to us belong, “we’re part of Caleb’s band!” (Make up a tune and sing these last five lines.)
Joshua 17:13 Tribute?
It is wonderful to be forgiven and on our way to heaven, but the fact remains that sin still causes us to “come short of the glory of God” (Rom.3:23). So, Israel succeeded in putting the Canaanite under tribute but frankly, that just doesn’t cut it! That seems a lot like what so many Christians do, instead of crucifying the flesh by appropriating Christ’s victory over it, they harness it and try to make it fit into God’s program.
If the first chapter of Judges is any indication of how widespread this problem is, it is evidently of major proportions. My sense is that this is no exaggeration and it speaks volumes about today’s brand of Christianity. There is no way that the saints can possibly be walking in the Spirit (thus not fulfilling the lust of the flesh) if they are not often in the Word. This has got to be more than reading a few verses and a little story from the Daily Bread and I get the feeling that even this is more than many of today’s busy Christians take time to do. The measure of worldliness seems to have grown greatly in my lifetime, a lack of conviction is prevalent and faithfulness to the Lord and one’s local assembly is minimal. I believe our little church is far ahead of many yet my heart is grieved at how few attend evening service and prayer meeting.
Making the flesh do religious things in order to assuage the conscience is a common place practice I fear and I think that doing God’s work in the strength of the flesh is almost the norm in Christian service. All of this is pictured in Israel’s failure to “drive out the Canaanite.”
What God said they were to do with these inhabitants was to kill them all without mercy. What God expects us to do with the flesh is deal with it in the same forthright manner. “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Gal.5:24). There is to be no mercy shown to the flesh. Letting it live will bring “snares and traps” (Joshua 24:13). Ask God to show you whether you are dealing scripturally with it or are rather trying to harness it and bring it under tribute.
Joshua 18:2 Claiming Our Inheritance
Seven of the tribes had not yet received their inheritance at this point. They were: Benjamin (v.11); Simeon (19:1); Zebulun (19:10); Issachar (19:17); Asher (19:24); Naphtali (19:32); and Dan (19:40). In this chapter, but mostly in the next, each of these received their portion by lot administered by Joshua. He indicated that they were being slack in possessing the land God had given them (v.3). Of these, unfortunately most of them, according to Judges one, were unable to be completely victorious.
The tabernacle was pitched at Shiloh where it stayed until captured by the Philistines. Its presence (the Lord’s Presence) among them is a type of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the body of each believer today. Like Israel we have the promise and the presence but like them we often lack the power so that we are unable to completely drive out the Canaanite, i.e. we are not living up to our potential as Christians.
What are some of the Canaanitic issues? Many believers struggle over bad habits which they cannot seem to break. One of the reasons is because they are not willing to call their problem a sin. Christ died for sin and it certainly is sin when a person lives a defeated Christian life due to a carnal habit. Hating sin like God hates it is an important step in the process and then dealing with it by counting oneself to be dead to it (Rom.6:1 - 13) will be necessary to really produce victory.
I know of believers who could be serving the Lord as teachers or in numbers of other capacities who are filled with fear or self-consciousness. The victorious Christian deals with both of these as sin, putting them off by faith and seeing himself overcoming inabilities and inadequacies as did Gideon, and Moses, for that matter.
If the Biblical words are not commonly on our lips then we are definitely not doing it right. Anything less than the life of Christ in us (Phil.1:21) is sin, should be called sin, confessed as sin, dealt with as sin by counting ourselves dead to it and then we should consider ourselves as being resurrected and sin destroyed. We walk by faith!
Joshua 19:50 Joshua’s Place in the Sun
And so, gradually, the elders of Israel saw to it that the land was divided up among the tribes. Standing before the tabernacle in Shiloh the division took place. This was its temporary location until, following a few side trips it would eventually end up in a permanent place and in more permanent form, as the temple built by Solomon. One might wonder if everyone was happy with their lot. It didn’t matter for it was what God had given you so you accepted it, were thankful for it and went about to develop it.
If the episode in Judges 1:1-20 was any example of what the tribes faced in subduing their territory, it was no easy task. Judah and Simeon helped each other to slay 10,000 men. Later it was determined that Judah’s portion was more than they could handle so part of their inheritance was given to Simeon (19:9). It was good that these two tribes could see their way to work out their problems together as brethren should.
Only this week I learned of a family that is divided over some issue about which I know absolutely nothing, but it grieved my heart to hear of it and I wished I might have been able to help them solve their problem. Brethren are supposed to dwell together in unity and especially so if they want God’s blessing (Psalm 133). I pray regularly for two situations where there is conflict among brethren. Grandchildren and grandparents are denied the joy of what should be a blessed relationship. If you know of such tragic circumstances, make it your business to at least pray for reconciliation. “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
Finally, in this chapter, we read of Joshua receiving his inheritance. We might say that he finally got his place in the sun for that is what Timnath-serah means. In fruitful Ephraim on a quaking (Gaash - Judges 2:9) hillside he built a city where he lived out his years and where he, finally, was buried. It must have been quite a special place as he got to choose it but only in the will of the Lord (v.50). Are you where He wants you to be?
Joshua 20:4 Give Him a Place
There are just nine verses in this short chapter and the only subject is that of the cities of refuge. We have pretty well covered this subject back in Numbers thirty-five and Deuteronomy nineteen. Those passages were anticipatory whereas in this chapter Joshua is being instructed by the Lord to actually appoint the cities that shall be for refuge from the “avenger of blood.” There were three such cities on each side of Jordan.
These cities picture Christ Who is certainly our Refuge in Whom we may hide “until the storms of life are past.” We are all guilty before the Lord and deserve judgement.
We are safe in this city until the death of the High Priest and since He will never die, we are safe forever.
As we have previously suggested, these cities are types of local churches. We say this for several reasons. Whatever is true of Christ, our Head, is often true of the body as well. Certainly the attitude of those who manned these cities had to be most sacrificial. They had to welcome the fleeing stranger into their homes, clothe and feed them temporarily and give time and effort to help them in many ways to adjust to their new circumstances. Remember, they had come probably with just the clothes on their backs and may never go outside the city again if the high priest is young and in good health. We hope everyone was congenial and easy to approach, we hope the same for our local assembly.
God always told Israel to love the strangers that were within their gates and though, in the strictest sense these who “stand at the entering of the gate”(v.4) are not those kinds of strangers, yet they were probably not known personally to the Levitical inhabitants.
Let us be sure to make new folks feel at home when they come to our local churches. “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers...etc” (Heb.13:2)
Joshua 21:41 Forty-Eight Cities
You will note, as the conquered land is being divided, that the Levites do not get any. That is, there is no portion designated for their tribe as stated in numerous places (13:14, 33; 14:3; 18:7). It is said rather that the Lord God of Israel is their inheritance or the sacrifice or the priesthood is their inheritance. Aaron was told that this would be the case when they reached the promised land (Num.3:12 & 13) and of them God says “mine shall they be.”
The Levites, in one sense, picture all believers because we are the church of the firstborn and have been redeemed out of the hand of the enemy. In I Cor.6:19 & 20 it is clearly stated that we own no right to ourselves for we have been “been bought with a price” and are God’s, that is, His possession.
What we see particularly in this chapter is the fact that all of the tribes were to surrender certain of their cities to the Levites so that they would have a place to live and it was done in such a way as to place them strategically among the tribes. Certain of these cities were the cities of refuge (v.6) but the rest of them were given to them simply as a residence.
Among the Levites were priests like Zacharias (Lk.1:5) whose duty it was to take his turn at the temple. I Chron.9 tells us about various tasks they were expected to perform coming in from the villages from time to time (v.25).
I think it was quite significant that the children of Judah gave the Levites the city of Arba (Hebron) after the three sons of the giant, Anak, were driven out. Did they give it out of the goodness of their heart and was Caleb happy to have the Levites in the city as his neighbors while he occupied the villages and the fields as his possession? Some day soon we’ll have an opportunity to ask Him, won’t we?
Let us be generous when the Lord asks us to give Him His due and not begrudge the fact that it has come from our hard earned resources. If it were not for Him we would have nothing. Like David and perhaps Caleb let us say that we will not offer unto the Lord that which costs us nothing and let us praise him by thankful giving from the bounty He has given.
Joshua 22:34 Ed
If the spoils gathered by the two and one half tribes to whom the land on the east side of Jordan had been apportioned was any indication, it is clear that in the conquest of the land great personal wealth had been amassed. This among other things must have been a great incentive for battle, especially since their experience had proved them to be invincible (21:44).
When it was seen that the returning troops had erected an altar on the verge of their side of Jordan the western tribes became extremely concerned. They, remembering the great plague that God had sent in punishing them for “the iniquity of Peor” (v.17), feared that He might chasten the whole congregation for this apparent transgression. In Leviticus 17: 8 & 9 it was expressly forbidden to offer a sacrifice anywhere but at the door of the tabernacle. A deputation was hurriedly assembled and, with Phinehas at its head, was sent across the river to confront the apparent offenders before the more severe measure of war be pressed (v.12).
Happily when the truth was known, the altar had only been built in the interest of peace and mutual understanding (v.24) and was not schismatic. It was to stand as a silent witness to the fact that though a river separated them from the main body there could be no doubt, due to the altar’s design (v.28), that both branches sprang from the same roots.
Frankly I don’t blame the congregation for its concern though they did seem to jump to conclusions. In a few years it might seem a bother to cross Jordan to worship Jehovah when they had a perfectly good altar, more conveniently located. In fact it wasn’t too many years before Jeroboam was leading Israel to worship in Bethel and Dan (I Kings 12:26 & 30), rather than bothering to go up to Jerusalem (v.28).
For the time being, however, Ed stood as a witness between them that the Lord is God.
May our lives on the altar show the same.
Joshua 23:13 Snares and Traps
Within a few generations following Joshua’s days we read in I Kings 14:22 - 24 that in the tribe of Judah things were being done that provoked the Lord to jealousy. High places were built and images set up as the saying goes “on every high hill and under every green tree.” There were sodomites in the land “and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.” This in spite of what God had told them in Deuteronomy. For example, He said in 12:2 that they should “utterly destroy” all such places, hewing down the graven images and destroying the names of their gods out of the land. Also, in 23:17 He had said that “there shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.”
The question arises, how is it that in such a relatively brief period of time the land had become so corrupted, and this in Judah which was at the heart of Jehovah worship? There is only one explanation and it is given here in today’s chapter. Joshua had warned them that if they did not obey God in expelling the Canaanites and if they intermarried with them these nations would be “snares and traps” unto them, becoming “scourges in their sides and thorns in their eyes” until they would be destroyed “from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you” (12 -16).
As we know, one has only to read to the end of II Kings to find that this is exactly what happened (25:8 - 11).
All of this in spite of the great promises made to His people that Jehovah gave them this land and promised them complete victory if they would “cleave” unto Him. The promises of God in the Old Testament and the New are limited only by the lack of His people to love Him and put Him first. What blessings would be ours if we would but do that. Let us yield to Him today.
Joshua 24:15 My House Will Serve the Lord
Oh yes, sure, you will all serve the LORD, obeying His voice and to be certain we will take a great stone and sit it up under an oak. Only the stone was deaf and the oak was probably cut up for firewood. Israel managed to do it during the days of Joshua and the elders which outlived him, but then what?
One of the sad things that is evident in so many of our Christian families is how quickly apostasy sets in. Mom and dad were wonderfully converted when special evangelistic meetings were held at their church. They were zealous for the Lord and separated from worldliness. They attended services every time the doors were opened and the pastor thanked the Lord for them in his prayers. Their grandchildren go to shows, listen to rock music, dance at their wedding and come to services when it’s convenient. What happened?
Joshua said, “as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (v.15). What he said was good but what he did seems dumb. I’m not certain where we get the term stone deaf, but perhaps it comes from here in this scene. Stones cannot hear and oaks, though long-lived, end badly. The best efforts at making succeeding generations into good Christians often fail. What is the answer?
There is only one way that I know. It is not enough to see to it that your children profess Christ. Wise parents will not be satisfied until they see their children yielding their lives to Christ as in Romans 12:1. Ability to read and personally apply Scripture and having daily fellowship with the Lord in prayer are evidences. Sweet and humble obedience to parents is to be looked for as fruit. Only in this way can you be as certain as possible that “your house” will serve the Lord, and that succeeding generations will be included.