Shall we turn now in our Bibles to Joshua, Chapter 11, and let me say right off the top, that you that are listening in on the radio tonight are only going to get a portion of what is going to be going on. As you have discovered, you who did your homework and have read your chapters in Joshua, this can be laborious reading, because it is like reading a surveyor’s map and it gives you the locations and the various cities of which many of them are not even known today, as far as their locality. But is it describing the borders of the various tribes. And so we have an overhead transparency here, and we will be showing on the screen the map of Israel and then we will be pointing out the borders of the various tribes. Rather than trying to read the names of the border lines, the cities and so forth, we’ll just be pointing out the general borders. And so we are going to cover an awful lot of Joshua tonight in a very short time because most of the reading is just defining the borders and it will be very easy to just circumscribe the borders on the transparency here for you. We’re going to cover clear through chapter 19 tonight because it is just going to go quick, rather than the whole chapter dealing with the area of Gad, we’ll say, “Now this is Gad here” and “This is Rueben here,” and we will just be able to point it out, and we will save reading or having to go over the defining of the borders in the text.
Now is came to pass when Jabin the king of Hazor had heard those things (11:1),
that he got a bunch of the kings together from the northern part.
Now, this conquest, Joshua has conquered this southern part. The area of Hazor is right in here and the king of Hazor got together the kings of all this upper area of the upper Galilee. And even as the king of Jerusalem had gathered together the kings to fight against Joshua, and he had just one battle and was able to wipe out several kings. At any rate, he was able to defeat five kings in one battle.
So, the same situation is lining up for him in the north. The king of Hazor gathers together several of the kings of the areas around in the upper Galilee and they decide to come against Joshua. The number of them said was like the sand of the sea. That is a way of expressing there were so many that you couldn’t count them. They had chariots and they had horses.
And the Lord spoke to Joshua and said don’t be afraid of them: for tomorrow by this time I will deliver them all before you, slain before you in Israel. (11:6)
So, up above the sea of Galilee was this little area of sea up there, that was actually just sort of a swamp. It is known in you Bible by different names. Here in Joshua’s time it was called Merom. And there at Merom, he came upon this confederacy of kings from the northern area and they took them by surprise; came upon them in the morning and they discomfited them. They wiped them out and God gave victory to Joshua over that whole northern area in just sort of one fell swoop. Today, this particular little body of water no longer exists. As I said, it was really just sort of a swamp, a swampy area. In the development in the nation of Israel, they wanted to have more water in the Sea of Galilee and so they drained that upper area and today you will not find any body of water up there. The river just flows through and the swamps were drained. They built dikes and they have got fish ponds and all up there, but no more of the little sea up there.
Now after wiping the kings out there at the swamps of Merom, he came back and then took their cities. The men had been wiped out and so the cities were easy prey for Joshua and he came back and took Hazor. Now Hazor was more or less the chief city of the whole upper area, and the site of Hazor today is one of the largest Tels in Israel. It’s north of the Sea of Galilee as you are going up into the upper area of Galilee, you’ll come past the Tel of Hazor. Now some of you who have been to Israel with us may remember it, but at about that point everybody ‘s usually dozing off by the time we get to Hazor. It is a large Tel. It is only partially excavated. It is interesting that in the excavation, there is a layer of ash. And it does declare that ,
…he burnt Hazor with fire. (11:11)
The ashes of that fire can be seen today. You can pick them up and sift them in your hand. You get sort of a feeling of the truth of the Bible when you hold ashes in your hand that were from the fire that Joshua lit when he burned the city of Hazor. That is just sort of to me and exciting experience to actually see the ashes and the layer of ash in the Tel there of the city that existed at the time that Joshua took Hazor. The rest of the cities they did not burn with fire, only Hazor, but they took the spoil of all of these cities.
In verse nineteen we read that there wasn’t any city that made peace with Israel for God put it upon their hearts to resist in order that Joshua might wipe them all out.
For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, (11:20)
So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. An the land rested from war. (11:23)
Now that brings you into the conquest of the land. Now in chapters twelve, thirteen and fourteen and so forth, we are going to go back and we are going to look at some of the various portions of the land and it ends the chronological order of verse twenty-three. Here is where a lot of people have a problem in reading the Bible, because when we read a book we expect it just to continue from the beginning to end in the chronological order. Not so, the Bible. It will take you and lead you through the story and then it will come back again and give you further details of the story. And so as we move into chapter twelve, we are going to get further details of the story that has already been told of the conquest of which we have already read. First of all in chapter twelve, he deals with the territories that the tribe of Rueben and Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh settled in on the east bank of the Jordan River in the territory that today is Jordan. So, as you look at chapter twelve, you can see there is just a lot of names there of the various kings that were conquered and the cities that were taken. We are just going to basically take a look at chapter twelve which deals with the possession for the Reubenites, the Gadites and half the tribe of Manasseh. We can just give you chapter twelve in a real brief summary here.
Down in the lower area here, is the area that was apportioned to Rueben. You can see the Dead Sea here. This is the area of Jordan today.
Then north of Rueben was where the tribe of Gad had settled and then the half- tribe of Manasseh, up here in the area which today is known as the Golan Heights and the upper area of Jordan. The Golan Heights was given unto Manasseh over here. The tribe of Gad, on this side, in the areas of Gilead from the Jarmuth to the middle of this little stream that flows in here at the middle of the Dead Sea. This area for Gad, and the lower part for Rueben. You see chapter twelve goes fast.
Now in chapter thirteen, the Lord said to Joshua….well, it first of all declares,
Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; (13:1)
The stricken in years means that the years took their toll. You can’t see so well. You have lost part of your teeth. Your hair is falling out. You are beginning to get around a lot slower.
And the Lord said unto him, you are old and stricken in years. (13:1)
Now I don’t think that’s very nice, but it was the truth. Though the Lord said,
There is a lot that remains to be done. There is much of the land that is not yet possessed. (13:1)
This is sort of the tragic aspect to this whole section of scripture, where God had promised them the entire land, and yet they did not take the entire land. There remained much of the territory that was not yet occupied or possessed, that God had given to them.
Now as we look at their conquest of the land in it’s spiritual analogy and as we saw that it is analogous to our entering in to the full walk and the life of the spirit, our victories over the flesh, the flesh life that is so harmful. God wants to give us total victory over our flesh, over the life of the flesh. He wants us to walk completely in the spirit. But even as with Joshua, so much of the territory was not taken. Pockets of the enemy were left. Unfortunately, so often with the believer, they have not yet taken all that God has promised. They do not yet walk fully after the spirit. There are still strongholds that the enemy has in our flesh; areas where the flesh still dominates, where it still rules. God wants to give us total victory over the life of the flesh, over the self life. God will never make a treaty with the self life. God wants us to mortify by the spirit the deeds of the flesh in order that we might live totally after the spirit. When the tragedy with Joshua was though he was now old, too old to fight, too old to do any more, stricken in years, yet there remained much of the territory that was not yet possessed of conquered (13:1). It lists some of the territories that they had not yet taken. So then it goes on and they begin to apportion the land on the west bank of the Jordan River.
Let’s go to fourteen because thirteen is just again, talking about Rueben, Gad and Manasseh, and their borders on the east bank. In chapter fourteen, in contrast now with Joshua, old and stricken with years, here is Caleb, probably about the same age. However, he still has a lot of vitality. In verse six , chapter fourteen is says:
Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal; and Caleb the son of Jephunneh came and said, you know the things that the Lord had said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and you in Kadesh-barnea.
7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land. I brought him word again as it was in mine heart.
8 Nevertheless my brothers that went up with me made the heart of the people faint; but I wholly followed the Lord my God.
9 An Moses swore on that day saying, that I could have the territory that I had spied out, or the territory where I had walked upon, where your feet had trodden, because I had fully followed the Lord his God.
10 And the Lord has kept me alive and I am eighty-five years old now, and I am as strong today as I was 45 years ago.
11 As my strength was then, even so it is now. I am ready for war. I can go out and come in.
12 Therefore, give me this mountain,
This area around Hebron where he had spied out the land and he was now wanting permission to go in and conquer that area to destroy the giants that were there and to take this land for his possession. So we find him going down and conquering that land. Now Hebron is in the southern portion here of the Jerusalem mountains. Kadesh-barnea is on down below the map here, in the wilderness area. It is from there that they came to spy out the land. Joshua and Caleb came into the area of Hebron and here into the Eshcol valley, where they grow such fabulous grapes. This is the territory that Caleb is now desiring. This whole southern section was originally apportioned to Judah. However, as they were beginning to apportion off the land, Simeon got the land that was south in the area of Beer-Sheba. Simeon didn’t do too well in the casting of the lots. Up until recently, this was pretty arid desert land. Now Israel has brought water from the Sea of Galilee and that whole desert region is blossoming as a rose. It’s got warm weather, great soil, and with the water from the Galilee that place has just blossomed out beautifully with tremendous wheat fields and all down in that area. Now it is quite green and fertile. But at the time that Simeon had it, it was pretty desolate indeed.
But Judah had the area, all of this area actually through here, when Benjamin got their portion, then this little slit of land just north of Jerusalem, went to the Tribe of Benjamin in the apportioning out of the land.
North then, is the son’s of Joseph. Here is Ephraim that settled in this area, sort of the middle area of the land. Immediately north of Ephraim was the other portion of Manasseh. So Manasseh is divided; half the tribe on this side of Jordan and the other half, up here on the east bank of Jordan.
Issachar, you can see the line here, had this area around Mt. Gilboa. The valley of Jezreel here, it’s great land that was given to Issachar. Zebulun had the portion that goes over to the area of Nazareth and what is know as Upper Galilee. Then the Tribe of Asher had this coastal strip that goes all the way on up to Sidon. So the area clear up to Sidon belonged to the Tribe of Asher. Here is Mount Carmel, the present area of Haifa today. This whole area just north of Caesarea was given to Asher. Naphtali had the Upper Galilee region and the mountains of Lebanon. Then clear on up in this little section Dan had moved. They were originally given the portion down here near the area of Joppa, Gaza, Ekron and Ashdod. But the Philistines were tough and they got tired of fighting them. So rather than having these constant battles with the Philistines, the Tribe of Dan went up here to the area of Latish and found that the people were isolated and sort of living alone. So the Tribe of Dan went up and wiped out the city of Latish and they renamed it Dan. When you talk about Israel you talk about Dan; from Dan to Beer-Sheila. It’s the northern and southern borders of the land and often you hear Israel described as from Dan to Beer-Sheila. So Dan took the upper-most part right up at the base of Mt. Herman. That’s basically how the land was apportioned off to the various tribes. You may notice how much reading that saves you.
Now, Judah did not take the city of Jerusalem, the Jebusite city.
As for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children on Judah could not drive them out: but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Israel at Jerusalem unto this day. (15:63)
It wasn’t until the time of David that the city of Jerusalem was taken. The city of Jerusalem was on a hill and had fortifications around it. You had to come up from the valley. It was just too easily to defend. They weren’t able to take the city of Jerusalem. The way it was finally conquered was interesting. Today in recent excavations they have excavated the shaft that Joab climbed to get into the city in order to open the gates so that David’s men could take the city of Jerusalem. You can go today and down near the Spring of Gihon, the Jebusites had dug a shaft through the rock, down to the spring, so that they would let their buckets down and lift the water up. That way they had a supply of water. One of the things when a city was besieged; what always caused the fall of the city was of course the absence of food and usually the need for water. So they would often times dig these tunnels. Hezekiah later dug a tunnel you remember, from the Spring of Gihon, 1,700 feet over to the Pool of Siloam. You can walk through that tunnel that Hezekiah dug. The Jebusites before then, had a shaft that went on up and the men of David couldn’t figure out how they were getting water in the city. Finally they figured that there must be this shaft that existed. So Joab, (and the shaft is probably four or five feet wide), at night, (you can imagine what it must have been like, dark,…but what a tough guy), he climbed up this shaft and got into the city and opened the city for David’s men to conquer. But at the time of Joshua the city of Jerusalem was not yet taken. As I said, that becomes really sort of the tragic story…how that they did not take all of the land that God had promised.
In chapter eighteen Joshua more or less chided the people for their failure to take all of the land. In verse three,
Joshua said unto the children of Israel, How long are you slack to go to possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers hath given you? (18:3)
It is a tragedy that they did not possess the entire land because the failure to do so ultimately led to what we find in the Book of Judges, their corruption of their worship of God, their failure and thus the punishment of God and their being conquered by the other lands.
Now, one of the things I think that in the text deserves special attention, and basically we have covered now to chapter nineteen, (I told you that it was going to go quick), is that God keeps His word. God had promised to give to Abraham and to his seed this land. We are now some 500 years or so after that promise. As they are coming in and taking the land they are having fulfilled the promise of God that was given to Abraham. God’s word and God’s promises are sure. What He has said, He will surely perform. Caleb, when he came to Joshua, he was asking for the fulfillment of the promise that was made to him. Moses promised that I could have this land forty-five years ago. I would like to have it now. He was asking for the fulfillment of the promise that was made to him. I think that it is important for us to realize that we can trust God to keep His promises. We may not see it in our lifetime. Abraham, though the promise was given to him and to his seed after his descendants, did not see the fulfillment of that promise in his lifetime. It took several hundred years before the promise of God given to Abraham was fulfilled. But the interesting thing to me is that even today as the nation of Israel has once again been established as of May, 1948, we see that the promises of God are still valid. The descendants of Abraham are still living in the land according to their divine right that was given to them by God. The sure word of God, you can count upon it. Now God has given to us exceeding rich and precious promises that by these we can become partakers of the divine nature. And the scripture warns us that there is a danger of God having made a promise, and yet we not lay claim to it. In other words, in Hebrews the fourth chapter, it talks about God has given to us a promise of rest. “But let us beware, lest having received this promise of rest we do not enter into it”.
The promises of God are conditional. They are conditioned many times upon our stepping out in faith and laying claim to them. They are other times conditioned upon our doing other things. It is possible that a promise of God go unfulfilled because I do not step in an claim it. Take the promise of salvation. The promise is given to whosoever will call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. But you see the condition is calling upon the name of the Lord. A lot of people aren’t saved. Maybe some of you here tonight aren’t saved. Why aren’t you saved?, because you haven’t called upon the name of the Lord. If you would call upon the Lord I will guarantee that He will save you. But the promise is conditional. So it is possible that there is a promise of God for you that you, as yet, have not laid claim to. You have not yet professed. It is always a sad thing when a person decides to just live with themselves as they are, rather than pressing on to live the full life that Christ has for me, the full rich life of the spirit. It’s sad when a person says, “Well, that’s just a part of my nature. I have just had to learn to live with it you know. I just have a nasty, rotten temperament and I just have to live with it. That’s just the way I am.” Rather than pressing on and receiving God’s victory, letting the spirit of God work in that area of your life, receiving the help and the strength of the spirit as you lay claim to the promises of God, too many times people are just content to live with themselves as they are; not to possess all that God has promised to give to us. And so my word of encouragement to you tonight would be to press in, continue to press, continue to claim, continue to advance until you have the received the whole of the promise of God of this life in the spirit, no longer living after the flesh, giving no place to the life of the flesh to fulfill the desires, but living fully and completely the life of the spirit, taking all that God has. It will save you so much grief and heartache in the future. As we move along soon into the Book of Judges, you will see the greed. You will see the problems. You will see the heartache that comes to Israel for their failure to take all of the land. You will see what it cost them. You will see how if you leave the enemy a foothold he will seek to expand that foothold until he now has conquered again over your life. Here you are now back in the corruption of the flesh. God wants you to live after the spirit, fully and completely. Let’s not be satisfied until we have achieved that glorious God- given promise and possession, the walk in the life of the spirit. Let’s take all the land for Jesus sake.
Father we thank you tonight for Your word and for the lessons that we can learn as we study, Lord, even the conquests of the land and the apportioning out of the various tribes. We see the tragedy, Lord, of their not pressing on to full victory, of becoming complacent and of their beginning to accept the adverse situations which finally and ultimately led to defeat. Lord help us, that we will press on towards that full, rich, abundant life in Jesus Christ, “pressing towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God which is in Christ Jesus”. Lord may we not stop short of full victory because we realize, Lord, that you have promised that it’s all ours. The command was to possess all of the land. Lord may we obey that command and may we live fully and completely after the spirit, in Jesus name, Amen.
You can go ahead and read those chapters if you want. You will get bogged down. That I will guarantee. So, the best way is to just see it on a map and it just saves so much. I do suggest that you get a good Bible map and go over that again, the location of the various tribes. You will find it quite interesting, indeed. May the Lord be with you. May His hand be upon your life to guide and to bless you this week. May you be strengthened in your service for Him. May you experience the touch of God’s love, that you might share that touch with others, in Jesus name.
Edited & Highlighted from “The Word For Today” Transcription, Pastor Chuck Smith, Tape #7067