Archive for category Promised Land
As Joshua turns to Judges we about the death of Joshua and the High Priest Eleazar. The book of Judges begins by telling us about the failures of the tribes to complete the conquest of their lands given to them by God.
As the division of the land concludes in Joshua 21:43-45 it states that God fulfilled all of the promises He swore to Abraham, Issac and Jacob. They were promised their descendants would possess the land and at this point in their history they do, unfortunately they were not wholeheartedly following God so the nations they should have destroyed will regain their strength and cause Israel distress and trouble for hundreds of years.
Chapter 13 starts by saying Joshua is old, by our standards he was old when Israel entered the land (above 80), but the reference is meant to let us know many years have passed since the previous chapter concluded. He is instructed to divide the land among the tribes that they may continue to possess the land and drive out the inhabitants of Canaan. It is important to remember that God is not only giving Israel the land of Canaan but also He is judging the people living in the land, He told Abraham that his descendants would inhabit Canaan 400 years later when the iniquity of those nations was full, meaning time for judgment.
Caleb requests the city of Hebron for his inheritance as he was promised by Moses when he was sent out as a spy 45 years earlier. The story of Caleb shows us what every tribe and family should have done with their allotted territory. He went and took the city, conquered the inhabitants and possessed the city for his offspring. We are told he did these things with a whole heart. It is the example Israel should have followed but did not.
The conquering of Canaan by Joshua and Israel means is covered in an overview in these chapters. There are some details covered in the southern campaign since it happens suddenly because 5 kings gathered together to kill the Gibeonites, who made a covenant with Israel, believing them to be traitors of Canaan.
Speaking of the Gibeonites, this event has always struck me funny because I haven’t experienced this culture. In our world if I made an agreement with someone who lied to me to enter the agreement, generally the agreement wouldn’t be binding, but Israel understood their word was binding even though they were lied to.
The conquest of the land seems really short, but remember Joshua and the army of Israel just conquered the armies of Canaan, they didn’t occupy the cities and territories of Canaan right away. In fact, God wanted Israel to destroy the armies out in the open areas so that the cities wouldn’t be destroyed, because God was giving Israel a ready to live in Nation. After conquering the armies, the land was divided by God among the tribes of Israel. Each tribe was expected to occupy their territory and destroy the local populations living there. Israel did not do a good job of this part. Joshua did everything God asked him to do, but individually the tribes lacked leadership and courage to conquer their territories. In fact the tribal area of Dan on maps is different from what God gave them because they were too afraid of confronting the inhabitants of their territory.
The story of Israel’s conquest of Jericho is one of the most well-known from the bible. Marching 7 times around and the walls came tumbling down has been sung by many Christians for a long time, but the part of the story that fascinates me the most is the walking around the city for seven days. I try to picture myself as one of the soldiers, with a sword by my side walking around a fortified city with walls that estimates put between 20 to 40 feet high, and I’m wondering how we are going to get this city. I think it may have been God’s plan to show Israel that they could not conquer the city without His help. Remember the soldiers in Israel were not well-trained or well outfitted by the standards of their day. Their weapon was God, without him they could do nothing, which the story of Ai reminds them.
The destruction of Jericho apparently made Israel overconfident. Their reaction to conquering Ai was to decide on their own what to do, rather than ask God. And since Achan stole some of the things from Jericho, which were dedicated to God, God would not help them until the sin was purged from the Nation. But they didn’t know that because they believed they were strong enough to conquer Ai without God. Just as quickly as overconfidence set in, discouragement set in after 36 men were killed in the first battle with Ai. Joshua asks God why He brought them into the land to kill them, and wishes they could have stayed on the other side of the Jordan. I’m surprised by Joshua’s dramatic swings in attitude, to overconfidence and then to fear and lament. However, it reminds me that I should not be overconfident in my abilities nor afraid to follow God.
When Israel stones Achan and all of his family it suggests to me the family was aware of Achan’s theft and kept silent about it, since the law of Moses forbid Israel from putting to death the children for the sin of the father or vice versa.
After the death of Moses, the Lord speaks to Joshua to encourage him and to remind him that he isn’t the one in charge, God is! God tells Joshua that following the commandments will make Joshua prosperous and successful. That is the purpose for all the commands in scriptures, that we might learn godliness.
The story of Rahab is one of the great examples of God’s love for all. She’s not from Israel, and she’s a prostitute, but her faithful response to God’s spies, brought her salvation from the destruction of Jericho, and her offspring (Jesus) will offer atonement to all the world. The requirement of the scarlet cord in her window to identify her home reminds me of blood of the lamb that had to be put on the door frame that the angel might not kill the firstborn in Egypt and of course the ultimate blood covering, our passover lamb, Christ.
With the circumcision at Gilgal, we learn that Israel was not circumcising their children in the period of wanderings. I’m not sure why, but there isn’t any sign of God’s displeasure that they did not circumcise their children, maybe He instructed them to do so during the wanderings that they could start anew in the promised land.