Thursday, October 14, 2021

The Book Of Joshua. Day 32, Land Still To Be Taken

In Chapter 12 we studied the kings the Israelites defeated on the east side of the Jordan and on the west side of the Jordan. But the conquest of the promised land is not yet complete. In Chapter 14 the Lord tells Joshua there is work yet to be done. 

"When Joshua had grown old, the Lord said to him, 'You are now very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over.'" (Joshua 13:1) Joshua will live to be 110 years old. We don't know how old he is here in Chapter 13 but it's generally estimated that he's anywhere from 90 to 100 at this time.

The Lord doesn't say, "Joshua, you're old and you need to retire. There's a lot left to be done but a younger man needs to do it." Instead the Lord is saying, "There's a lot of life left in you, Joshua. There is work yet to be done. I'm not finished with you." He is saying something similar to what the psalmist says in Psalm 92:12-15: "The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, 'The Lord is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.'" Joshua may be old in body but spiritually he is still fresh and green. He is still able to bear fruit for the Lord. 

You and I can bear fruit for the Lord all our lives. As we grow older we don't have to move to the sidelines and say, "I'll step aside and let someone younger do it." If we still possess the health and physical strength to do the work, we are called to keep working for the Lord. Even if our bodies are frail, if our minds are still sharp we can still guide and encourage the younger generations to stay strong in the Lord. We can still give godly advice; in fact, who better to give advice than someone who is now an elder and who has experienced the faithfulness of the Lord for many decades?

Now we look at the remaining territories to be conquered by the Israelites. "This is the land that remains: all the regions of the Philistines and Geshurites, from the Sihor River on the east of Egypt to the territory of Ekron on the north, all of it counted as Canaanite though held by five Philistine rulers in Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron; the territory of the Avvites on the south; all the land of the Canaanites, from Arah of the Sidonians as far as Aphek and the border of the Amorites; the area of Byblos; and all Lebanon to the east, from Baal Gad below Mount Hermon to Lebo Hamath." (Joshua 13:1-5) 

"As for all the inhabitants of the mountain regions from Lebanon from Misrephoth Maim, that is, all the Sidonians, I myself will drive them out before the Israelites." (Joshua 13:6a) It's important for us to remember that the Israelites never did completely take over all the land the Lord wanted to give them. This does not mean His promise failed. His promise was conditional. He said that if Israel did not rebel against Him, He would "be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you". (Exodus 23:22b) He said if Israel would not bow down to idols, He would "send My terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run." (Exodus 23:27) The promise in the first half of this next passage was conditional upon Israel obeying the command in the second half of this passage: "I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give into your hands the people who live in the land, and you will drive them out before you. Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. Do not let them live in your land or they will cause you to sin against Me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you." (Exodus 23:31-33)

The people won't fully drive out everyone the Lord told them to drive out. They will allow some of them to live in their land. As a result of co-habiting with idolaters, we'll find many citizens of Israel falling into idolatry as we move through the Old Testament. Lest we find ourselves taking on a critical attitude toward the ancient Israelites, we must stop and consider how many times we ourselves have become comfortable with ungodliness. How often have we compromised our values? How often have we been lazy about holy living? Just because certain habits and behaviors are common doesn't mean it's okay to allow ourselves to fall into them. Idolatry was common in the land of Canaan. Sinful living was rampant. Everywhere a person turned, there was something to satisfy the carnal desires of man. Everywhere a person turned, some other god was offered other than the one true God. The false gods didn't require holy living. The false gods didn't tell anyone to love their neighbor as themselves and to treat others the way they wanted to be treated. False gods didn't ask man to be anything more than what he was in his natural state. That's why the Lord commanded the Israelites to wipe out the heathen idolaters and destroy their idols and altars---so they wouldn't be continually assaulted by the temptation to be unfaithful to the Lord and give in to sinful living.

Some of the promises of the Bible depend solely on the faithfulness of God. Other promises depend on us obeying the Lord's instructions. The Lord has never made a false promise and He never will.

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