The greeting. Grace and peace to you in the name of Christ. I trust today was truly a restful and worshipful Sabbath day for you. Christ said that man was not made for the Sabbath. The Sabbath is not a collection of dos and don’ts designed to weary us. Just the opposite. The Sabbath is a gift from our gracious God to give refreshment to our body and soul. The Sabbath is God’s gift designed to relieve our battle weariness. (Mk.2:27-28, Isa.58:10-14)
Tonight we will conclude our enjoyment of this day by looking forward to the great day when after serving the Lord we will then receive our inheritance in the eternal Promised Land. (Heb.11:1-41, 12:1-3)
The word. Turn with me please to the book of Joshua. Today we are going to look at chapter thirteen.
Remember to read along in faith and to hear by faith. It is by faith that we please God. It is by faith that we receive the word of God as the very word of God. (Heb.11:1-31, Mt.21:22, Mk.11:24, James 1:5-6) Joshua thirteen, beginning to read with verse one, hear the perfect word of God – read.
Portions of the Promised Land west of the Jordan yet to be conquered.
Joshua 13:1. Now Joshua was old and advanced in years when the LORD said to him, “You are old and advanced in years, and very much of the land remains to be possessed. 2 “This is the land that remains: all the regions of the Philistines and all those of the Geshurites; 3 from the Shihor which is east of Egypt, even as far as the border of Ekron to the north (it is counted as Canaanite); the five lords of the Philistines: the Gazite, the Ashdodite, the Ashkelonite, the Gittite, the Ekronite; and the Avvite 4 to the south, all the land of the Canaanite, and Mearah that belongs to the Sidonians, as far as Aphek, to the border of the Amorite; 5 and the land of the Gebalite, and all of Lebanon, toward the east, from Baal-gad below Mount Hermon as far as Lebo-hamath. 6 “All the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon as far as Misrephoth-maim, all the Sidonians, I will drive them out from before the sons of Israel; only allot it to Israel for an inheritance as I have commanded you.
Portions of the Promised Land east of the Jordan already conquered to be divided by tribal inheritance.
Joshua 13:7. Now therefore, apportion this land for an inheritance to the nine tribes and the half-tribe of Manasseh.” 8 With the other half-tribe, the Reubenites and the Gadites received their inheritance which Moses gave them beyond the Jordan to the east, just as Moses the servant of the LORD gave to them; 9 from Aroer, which is on the edge of the valley of the Arnon, with the city which is in the middle of the valley, and all the plain of Medeba, as far as Dibon; 10 and all the cities of Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, as far as the border of the sons of Ammon; 11 and Gilead, and the territory of the Geshurites and Maacathites, and all Mount Hermon, and all Bashan as far as Salecah; 12 all the kingdom of Og in Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth and in Edrei (he alone was left of the remnant of the Rephaim); for Moses struck them and dispossessed them. 13 But the sons of Israel did not dispossess the Geshurites or the Maacathites; for Geshur and Maacath live among Israel until this day. 14 Only to the tribe of Levi he did not give an inheritance; the offerings by fire to the LORD, the God of Israel, are their inheritance, as He spoke to him.15 So Moses gave an inheritance to the tribe of the sons of Reuben according to their families. 16 Their territory was from Aroer, which is on the edge of the valley of the Arnon, with the city which is in the middle of the valley and all the plain by Medeba; 17 Heshbon, and all its cities which are on the plain: Dibon and Bamoth-baal and Beth-baal-meon, 18 and Jahaz and Kedemoth and Mephaath, 19 and Kiriathaim and Sibmah and Zereth-shahar on the hill of the valley, 20 and Beth-peor and the slopes of Pisgah and Beth-jeshimoth, 21 even all the cities of the plain and all the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites who reigned in Heshbon, whom Moses struck with the chiefs of Midian, Evi and Rekem and Zur and Hur and Reba, the princes of Sihon, who lived in the land. 22 The sons of Israel also killed Balaam the son of Beor, the diviner, with the sword among the rest of their slain. 23 The border of the sons of Reuben was the Jordan. This was the inheritance of the sons of Reuben according to their families, the cities and their villages. 24 Moses also gave an inheritance to the tribe of Gad, to the sons of Gad, according to their families. 25 Their territory was Jazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the sons of Ammon, as far as Aroer which is before Rabbah; 26 and from Heshbon as far as Ramath-mizpeh and Betonim, and from Mahanaim as far as the border of Debir; 27 and in the valley, Beth-haram and Beth-nimrah and Succoth and Zaphon, the rest of the kingdom of Sihon king of Heshbon, with the Jordan as a border, as far as the lower end of the Sea of Chinnereth beyond the Jordan to the east. 28 This is the inheritance of the sons of Gad according to their families, the cities and their villages. 29 Moses also gave an inheritance to the half-tribe of Manasseh; and it was for the half-tribe of the sons of Manasseh according to their families. 30 Their territory was from Mahanaim, all Bashan, all the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, and all the towns of Jair, which are in Bashan, sixty cities; 31 also half of Gilead, with Ashtaroth and Edrei, the cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan, were for the sons of Machir the son of Manasseh, for half of the sons of Machir according to their families. 32 These are the territories which Moses apportioned for an inheritance in the plains of Moab, beyond the Jordan at Jericho to the east. 33 But to the tribe of Levi, Moses did not give an inheritance; the LORD, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as He had promised to them.
The petition. Now let’s pray and ask the Holy Spirit that inspired these words to apply them to us – pray. (2 Tim.3:14-17, 2 Pt.1:20-21)
The doctrine. The genre of this book and this passage is a historical narrative. It is the history of salvation, salvation of God’s people. It is not my intention to walk through each and every one of these names that I just butchered in pronunciation.
Rather I want us to consider the main doctrine or teaching of this chapter. What we see are essentially two things. One, God’s people serve Him. Two, after a lifetime of serving the Lord, we then receive the inheritance that the Lord has promised to those that love Him. Of course, this is all in Christ, for Believers in Christ.
Positively, serving then inheriting. Negatively, no serving, no inheriting.
The purpose of Scripture. To get a better understanding of passages like these with all the battle scenes, the fighting, the killing, and the destruction we would do well to remember the primary purpose of Scripture.
To proclaim salvation by the Servant of the Lord. Scripture is God’s redemptive or salvific revelation to us. (2 Tim.3:15)
Scripture is God revealing to us that it is His will to redeem or deliver or save sinners out of their sin and bondage by means of His Deliverer. That is the main message of the Bible from Genesis 3:15 all the way through to the last verse of the Bible – Revelation 22:21. (WCF 1.1)
Let me read how God first states this purpose to save sinners as announced in His word.
Genesis 3:15. And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”
The spiritual contestants – Satan and Christ. This is the spiritual enmity which means spiritual war between the enemy of God – Satan and the Son of God – Christ. (Rom.16:20, Heb.2:14, Col.2:14-15) Satan will strike Christ’s heal. Christ will crush Satan’s head – for us, for His servants, for His lambs. (Acts 20:28, Eph.5:23-29)
The spiritual contestants – servants of Satan and servants of Christ. And in Scripture we see that spiritual war played out with the two opposing servants of these two opposing leaders. (Eph.6:10-18)
We have the servants of Satan fighting against the servants of Christ, the children of darkness fighting against the children of light. (2 Cor.6:14-18, Eph.5:8, Jn.8:44, I Thess.5:5)
That is what we find in the book of Joshua. That is what we see in our chapter. The kingdom of Christ is advancing. The kingdom of the devil is being defeated by Christ. The people of God are saved and preserved. And they are being established in the Promised Land. All as God has promised. (WSC 102)
Here at this time of the infancy of the church we are taught by types and shadows to look forward to the day when by the servant of the Lord Joshua-Jesus we shall receive our inheritance in the eternal Beulah Land where all will be pleasantness. (Isa.62:4, WCF 7.5-6)
Let me read to you from our secondary standards to fix into our minds and hearts that it is God’s purpose to take us out of the City of Destruction (to use the language of John Bunyan in Pilgrim’s Progress) which is what the destruction of the Canaanites represents and to bring us in to the Celestial City the New Jerusalem which is what the Promised Land represents – by a Redeemer Joshua-Jesus. (see Hebrews 3, 4, 11, 12)
WSC 20. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery? A. God having, out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, (1) did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer. (2) (1) Eph. 1:4. (2) Rom. 3:20,21,22; Gal. 3:21,22.
The division of this Scripture. Our chapter, chapter thirteen divides into two parts.
In verses 1-6 we have the portion of the Promised Land west of the Jordan yet to be conquered.
In verses 7-33 we have the portion of the Promised Land east of the Jordan already conquered to be divided by tribal inheritance.
The themes in this Scripture. Now as we go through our passage there are three themes or truths that I want us to be especially mindful of.
One, the truth of servanthood.
Two, the duration of our service, especially considering the brevity of life and the certainty of death.
Three, the truth of our inheritance in the promised land, and that by the lot or the gift of God. This represents the conclusion of our service and the beginning of our everlasting perfect rest. (Rev.14:13, Heb.4:10)
The servants of God. Let speak a little bit about the idea of a servant. That clearly is what we have with Joshua. And I would say also with all of the Israelites. Joshua is serving God as a military leader. And the Israelites in view are serving God fighting in the Lord’s army.
Moses – servant of the Lord. V.1-6. Earlier we were told about Moses as the servant of the Lord and his victories over the enemies of God. (Josh.12:6)
Joshua – servant of the Lord. Elsewhere Joshua is also referred to as the servant of the Lord. (Josh.24:29)
Jesus – The Servant of the Lord. Christ says this of Himself. Jesus is also referred to the “The” Servant of the Lord.
Isaiah 42:1. Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. 2 “He will not cry out or raise His voice, Nor make His voice heard in the street. 3 “A bruised reed He will not break And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. (Isa.49:1-13, 50:4-11, 52 and 53, Phil.2:5-8, Jn.13:12-17, Jn.13:4-8, Mk.10:45, Lk.18:14)
Christians – servants of the Lord. Listen to how the apostle Paul speaks of Christ as God’s Servant. He uses Christ’s servanthood to excite us to embrace our own servanthood in Christ.
Philippians 2:5. Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
All true Believers in Christ are the servants of the Lord. Jesus says this.
John 12:26. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
We exist to serve. Now I know this will sound a bit simple, but the servants of God are called by God to serve God and not to be served. God’s servants exist to do His will in this life. (Lk.22:24-27, Jn.13:1-17) We are called to conform our wills into God’s will.
Think of the terms that God uses in His word to describe the Christian life, they are active. Believers walk, run, fight, wrestle, farm, build and so on. All indicative of an active serving life.
Again I say, we do not exist to serve ourselves. But rather we exist to do the will of Him that saved us. Imagine if we could truly live upon that one truth. We are here to say along with Christ to God, God it is not my will be done, but Thy will be done. (Mt.6:10, Mt.26:42, Lk.22:42)
If we could receive this by faith we would not be so concerned about the particulars of our life, after all we are not called to build our own kingdom but rather to be a servant building Christ’s kingdom. He sovereignly calls. He sovereignly distributes the work or the service. And He sovereignly governs the results. (I Cor.3:1-14, Eph.1:11)
As regards to Moses and Joshua or any other of the Old Testament prophets, the priests, the kings, or the New Testament apostles, God has called these men to Himself savingly. (Jn.15:16, Rom.9:10-21)
After God calls His servants, He then commissions His servants – to serve Him.
God has commissioned His office bearers and all His servants for a particular work in His visible household. We all have a particular job or function in the body of Christ to perform. (Rom.12, I Cor.12) Even our stations in life are given to us by God in order to serve God in that station.
In the case of Moses, he was a leader deliverer. He led the people of God out of slavery. And he led Israel through the howling wasteland. And he brought them right up to the River Jordan just before the Promised Land. In this Moses was a type of Christ,.
The service includes battles – Moses serves by fighting. Moses spent 40 years living in Pharoah’s royal court. Then he spent the next 40 years in Sinai’s desert shepherding sheep. Then he spent his final 40 years shepherding the people of God through the wilderness. So, from age 80 to age 120 Moses fought and won many battles in the name of the Lord. (Dt.34:1-7)
Joshua serves by fighting. In a similar way, Joshua was about 80 years old when he entered the Promised Land and began to fight the Lord’s Battles. And he concluded his fighting thirty years later at age 110.
Judges 2:8. Then Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of one hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the territory of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.
Christians serve by fighting. We also, all through life, fight the good fight of faith. (Eph.6:10-18, I Tim.6:12, 2 Cor.10:4, Rev.2:10, 2 Tim.4:7-8, James 4:7, Lk.10:19)
The limited duration of service. The next theme I want us to consider is the limited duration of our service unto the Lord here in this life. And the term is limited obviously by the certainty of our death.
Look at what God records for us instruction in His service.
We are told that Joshua is old, that he is advanced in years.
Let me first say a few words about the idea of being old. You have heard it said that age is just a number. Or that you are as old as you feel. Or people say things like, I am 86 years “young” instead of saying 86 years “old”. As if to say “saying” the word “young” rather than “old” works like magic. This is silly.
Before Adam sinned against God there was no death. Then God inflicted the curse of death for sin. Because of sin our days are numbered. And God Himself is the One that determines their length. (Job 14:5, Ps.139:16, Ps.31:15)
Now before the Flood with Noah men lived to great ages. Read Genesis chapter five. The Bible records Enosh lived 905 years, Kenan lived 910 years, Mahalaleel 895 years, and Jared 962 years. Methuselah is the oldest person recorded in the Bible, 969 years old.
After the flood men began to live greatly diminished ages. Abraham lived 175 years. (Gen.25:7) Isaac lived 180 years. (Gen.35:28) Jacob lived 147 years. (Gen.47:28) Joseph 110 years. (Gen.50:26) Moses lived 120 years. (Dt.34:7) Joshua lived 110 years. (Jg.2:8)
Then God tells us through the Psalm of Moses in Psalm 90 that now in our time the maximum lifespan for people is roughly 70 to 80 years. (Ps.90:10)
The obvious implication is that he does not have a great deal of time left to live. I am not saying that God is saying Joshua’s death is immanent. But the idea is that he does not have too much time left to serve the Lord in his work as military leader of God’s people.
Jesus said this.
John 9:4. We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work.
Listen to how God records the day of our departure from this life as a motive to work while we can.
Luke 9:30. And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, 31 who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
2 Timothy 4:5. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
2 Peter 1:13. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.
God is using the brevity of Joshua’s life to spur him on in his service of the Lord. Christ teaches that very same principle. We should think regularly where we are in life. How old are we? How many years have we lived upon God’s earth? What have we accomplished for His kingdom? How many years have we known Christ and served Christ? Are we close to the end of our days when we will no longer work for Christ, but rather go to be with Him?
None of this is meant to depress us. Just the opposite. God wants to excite Joshua to redouble his efforts to defeat the remaining enemies of God in the Promised Land.
And the notion is, is that he still has more battles to fight. Do you see that? He is an old servant and God is telling him to fight more battles. Why do we are modern American Christians think that we can attain to a certain age and the ‘retire” or semi-retire serving the Lord and fighting the fight of faith? On no Beloved. The battle against the world, the flesh and the devil does not end because we have reached length of days. The battle goes until our last day.
We are assured success in our service. But I will say, as God assures Joshua, the victory is certain because the Lord fights for us.
And see the scheme for this Joshua. In this life fight and conquer. Then after death be received into heaven. Of course, this is the scheme for Joshua-Jesus. And also for us that love Christ. A lifetime of serving and fighting. Then after death we are received into the immediate presence of Christ. No more battles. Only blissful joyful peace with God and those that love God.
The next thing I want us to see in this section on Joshua and his service is that the God directs His servants. God tells Joshua exactly what God wants from him to do. God tells Joshua to divide up the Promised Land among the various tribes in Israel.
You see it is the Lord that directs our steps. He dictates what is pleasing to Him. He does not leave Joshua to himself to devise his own schedule of work as it were.
After our limited service we receive our eternal inheritance. The last truth we will consider from our text is that after our limited and brief service unto the Lord here in this life then He will bring us to Himself to enjoy our eternal inheritance in Christ.
Look at our passage again. Let me read those verses that speak of this inheritance in the Promised Land.
V.6. All the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon as far as Misrephoth-maim, all the Sidonians, I will drive them out from before the sons of Israel; only allot it to Israel for an inheritance as I have commanded you.
V.7. Now therefore, apportion this land for an inheritance to the nine tribes and the half-tribe of Manasseh.” 8 With the other half-tribe, the Reubenites and the Gadites received their inheritance which Moses gave them beyond the Jordan to the east, just as Moses the servant of the LORD gave to them.
V.32. These are the territories which Moses apportioned for an inheritance in the plains of Moab, beyond the Jordan at Jericho to the east. 33 But to the tribe of Levi, Moses did not give an inheritance; the LORD, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as He had promised to them.
Our inheritance is God’s promise. Our inheritance is the fulfillment of God’s promise.
What we have here is the fulfillment of prophecy. God has fulfilled His word of Promise. God told Abraham back in Genesis 13 that He would give this land to the descendants of Abraham. And God always fulfills His promises. They may be a long time coming. As it was here. From the time of the Promise to Abraham in 2,000 BC to the time of the realization under Joshua roughly 1,300 BC, so 700 years later.
Christ Himself has gone away to prepare a place for us. A place that He said that He will bring us to. Remember delay does not mean failure. Delay means God is working on His timetable. One thousand years is like one day to the Lord. Beloved, let us possess our souls in patience. Let us wait upon the Lord for Him to fulfill His word to us. We will receive the inheritance.
Our inheritance is God’s gift. Now let’s look at the idea of inheritance as a gift of God as purchased by Another. In earthly things we inherit something that belonged to another but that he or she bequeathed them to us. Bequeath means that they directed another, the executor of their estate, that upon their death to then distribute their goods to those that they wished to have them.
You see the Promised Land was won by God. God was the efficacy in the battles that Israel fought. God owns the Land. God owns this land of peace and rest. God is the One that brings His children in and expels those who do not belong to Him. We know ultimately that Christ is the purchaser and preparing of our eternal estate.
We inherit every blessing of God because we are in Christ. Again, our inheritance speaks against our merit. Our inheritance points us to the merit of Another, even Christ our True Joshua.
Now we see that God is allotting in this Land a portion to each tribe. This is not to say that there is a good portion of the Promised Land given to one saint and a “bad” portion of the Promised Land given to another saint. No. All of the eternal Promised Land is glorious.
But the Bible does say that there will be degrees of blessedness within blessedness. I admit this is a bit mysterious. But I do believe the Bible speaks to this idea under a number of figures.
Listen to this.
Matthew 25:19. Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 “The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ 21 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 “Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ (Lk.19:13-25, I Cor.15:38-44, I Cor.3:11-15)
Our inheritance is God Himself. V.33. And lastly notice what God has allotted to His priests. They get no portion of the Land. He Himself is their portion.
God allows them to live in a place in the land. It does not belong to them. They enjoy the use of it here below. God provides for their daily food with the offerings of their brothers and sisters. So God gives them their daily food and daily necessities of life. But He reminds them, their portion as His priests is not in this world. They own no land. They own no riches.
By which they are taught to sit loose to this world and its things. (I Cor.7:31)
The world is passing away. (I Jn.2:14-18)
Oh Beloved, Christ has made us a kingdom of priests to God. (Exod.19:6, I Pt.2:5, Rev.1:6, 5:10)
God is our portion. Living with God is our inheritance.
Serve the Lord. Very soon we will be enjoying Him with perfect gladness. We will be in His immediate presence. God Himself is our inheritance.
Oh, what a blessing to be His servants, even His sons and daughters.