JOSHUA 12, 13, 14, and 15
It is good to keep a record of your past victories. They are a reminder of the favour and power of God in your life – and an incentive to keep going in the future when things get tough. The list starts with the Transjordan territories, inherited by the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh. Joshua is very precise on how this land is subdivided, and from whom it was captured; the infamous Balaam gets a further mention – this time for practicing divination.
Thirty-one kings on the west side of the Jordan were captured and killed, along with their cities. But, even after a few more years, the Lord had cause to complain to Joshua that there were still large areas of Canaan still to be occupied. This included the land of the Philistines, which was often a thorn in Israel’s side. If we fail to bring the Kingdom of God to our local mission fields, then slowly the Kingdom will be taken away from us. If we do not continually move forward, then we will always slip back – there is no standing still.
Judah was the first tribe on the West of the Jordan to receive its allocated inheritance. And Caleb, the hero of 45 years previously, was given the honour of having first pick of that land allocation. He chose the area around Hebron – the land that he had personally walked on as one of the Spies. The Lord also takes careful note of those areas that we claim in our lives for our inheritance and for the Kingdom of God. We may not appear to receive that inheritance immediately, but it will come one day. Caleb was a great warrior and his power and zeal had not diminished from the age of 40 to 85. We must learn from this great man of God that there is no concept of ‘retirement’ in God’s Kingdom, and we should expect to grow more powerful and have more influence as we age gracefully. Caleb accepted his allocation as God’s gift to him, and duly drove out the giants who had occupied it up until then.
After Caleb, the remainder of Judah’s territory was allocated – this was the largest area of land of all the tribes, although it did contain a high proportion of inhospitable territory. The overall boundaries were the Mediterranean shore, the Dead Sea shore, a line running East-West just south of Jerusalem, and the desert in the direction of Egypt. The final sentence of chapter 15 states that Judah could not dislodge the Jebusites who occupied Jerusalem; it was not really until the days of King David that they were finally expelled. Pockets of enemy resistance are potentially a real problem in our own lives since they give the Devil a foothold and occupy our attention when it deserves to be elsewhere. As Jesus said, rather graphically a thousand or two years later: “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out!”.