The greeting. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I pray that everyone gathered here today for our sermon knows and loves the Lord Jesus Christ in Spirit and in truth. And I pray that each one of you are daily growing in your awareness of His love of you.
The Scripture. It has been a while since we last looked at our Joshua sermon series.
We are in chapter fifteen this afternoon.
Chapter fifteen has three sections within it.
- In verses 1-12 we have the boundaries of the inheritance in the Promised Land for the tribe of Judah.
- Then in verses 13-19 we see Caleb receive his portion of the Promised Land in Hebron. We read Caleb’s request for his portion of land in Joshua 14:6-15.
- Finally in verses 20-63 we have the inheritance of each family within the tribe of Judah.
Today I want to examine just that first section, verses 1-12. Let me begin at verse one, hear the perfect word of the Lord – read.
Joshua 15:1. Now the lot for the tribe of the sons of Judah according to their families reached the border of Edom, southward to the wilderness of Zin at the extreme south. 2 Their south border was from the lower end of the Salt Sea, from the bay that turns to the south. 3 Then it proceeded southward to the ascent of Akrabbim and continued to Zin, then went up by the south of Kadesh-barnea and continued to Hezron, and went up to Addar and turned about to Karka. 4 It continued to Azmon and proceeded to the brook of Egypt, and the border ended at the sea. This shall be your south border. 5 The east border was the Salt Sea, as far as the mouth of the Jordan. And the border of the north side was from the bay of the sea at the mouth of the Jordan. 6 Then the border went up to Beth-hoglah, and continued on the north of Beth-arabah, and the border went up to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben. 7 The border went up to Debir from the valley of Achor, and turned northward toward Gilgal which is opposite the ascent of Adummim, which is on the south of the valley; and the border continued to the waters of En-shemesh and it ended at En-rogel. 8 Then the border went up the valley of Ben-hinnom to the slope of the Jebusite on the south (that is, Jerusalem); and the border went up to the top of the mountain which is before the valley of Hinnom to the west, which is at the end of the valley of Rephaim toward the north. 9 From the top of the mountain the border curved to the spring of the waters of Nephtoah and proceeded to the cities of Mount Ephron, then the border curved to Baalah (that is, Kiriath-jearim). 10 The border turned about from Baalah westward to Mount Seir, and continued to the slope of Mount Jearim on the north (that is, Chesalon), and went down to Beth-shemesh and continued through Timnah. 11 The border proceeded to the side of Ekron northward. Then the border curved to Shikkeron and continued to Mount Baalah and proceeded to Jabneel, and the border ended at the sea. 12 The west border was at the Great Sea, even its coastline. This is the border around the sons of Judah according to their families.
The prayer. Let’s go to our Lord in prayer to ask Him for His help in our worship of Him this afternoon. Remember to pray believing – pray. (Heb.11:6, Mt.21:22, Jn.14:13)
The doctrine. At first glance this looks like a barren passage containing a lot of hard to pronounce words. There does not appear to be much religious instruction here for us.
But I would argue that since God says that all Scripture is given for our instruction that means even this passage is included. My hope is with a little hard digging we can uncover some of God’s lessons for us.
In general, I want to unpack this passage with an eye to see God’s sovereignty and His goodness in the giving of this portion of the Promised Land to Judah.
The promise of God. Joshua 13 to Joshua 21 is God’s record of the tribes of Israel each receiving their portion of the Promised Land as promised by God to Abraham in the book of Genesis.
Let me read that for us.
Genesis 12:6. Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land. 7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him. 8 Then he proceeded from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD.
Genesis 13:14. The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; 15 for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. 16 “I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. 17 “Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.” 18 Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD.
Genesis 15:7. And He said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.” 8 He said, “O Lord GOD, how may I know that I will possess it?” 9 So He said to him, “Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds. 11 The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away. 12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. 13 God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. 14 “But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions.
God is truth personified. And He cannot lie. (Num.23:19, Titus 1:2, Heb.6:18) The Bible is the very word of God. As such even one word from God is utterly certain.
Here God repeats that word-promise three times. He is confirming and reconfirming His own promise to give to Abraham and all the seed of Abraham the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. (Heb.6:16-20)
Beloved, God is a promise making God. (Phil.4:19, 2 Pt.1:14)
As a brief aside, I recommend for your reading a little book entitled “Precious Bible Promises” by Samuel Clarke (circa 1750), which is a compilation of Bible promises arraigned under various heads or categories. Isaac Watts gave his hearty recommendation to read and to use this book.
I recommend praying using this book. I am certain you will be encouraged.
What a gift-promising and gift-giving God we serve! (James 1:17, Jer.29:11, Heb.10:23)
The land east of the Jordan. Earlier, you may remember that Joshua gives the portions of the Promised Land to the tribes of Rueben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh on the eastern side, or the right side, of the Jordan River. (Num.34:15)
There is some debate among theologians if this land, which is sometimes referred to as the Transjordan was technically part of the Promised Land, or if it was just land that Moses permitted these tribes to possess because they asked for it. (Josh.1:2-4, Num.32:1-17)
And there are some that argue that their desire for this land was based on a worldly desire rather than a spiritual desire to be associated within the Promised Land proper. In other words, they made a Lot-like choice, they saw the green grass of Sodom as it were and desired that land. (Gen.13:10-13, I Chron.5:22-26)
Joshua 14:1. Now these are the territories which the sons of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the households of the tribes of the sons of Israel apportioned to them for an inheritance, 2 by the lot of their inheritance, as the LORD commanded through Moses, for the nine tribes and the half-tribe. 3 For Moses had given the inheritance of the two tribes and the half-tribe beyond the Jordan; but he did not give an inheritance to the Levites among them. 4 For the sons of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim, and they did not give a portion to the Levites in the land, except cities to live in, with their pasture lands for their livestock and for their property. 5 Thus the sons of Israel did just as the LORD had commanded Moses, and they divided the land.
The land west of the Jordan – the Promised Land. Then in Joshua 14 Caleb as a representative of Judah receives his inheritance next. (See: Numbers 13:1-21, 34:1-13)
The sovereignty of God. Now in our passages we have the sons of Judah receiving their inheritance.
Judah and the rest of the tribes will receive their portions of the Promised Land west of the Jordan.
What we have here are the boundaries of Judah’s land.
South. Verses 2-4 are the southern boundaries.
West. And we see that verses 3-4 show us the south westerly borders.
East. Verses 5A is the eastern border.
North. Verses 5B-11 represent the northern border.
Picture in your mind the Sea of Galilee up at the north then the Jordan running from it straight south, coming into the Salt Sea. That is the dividing line between the two sides of the Promised Land.
To the western edge of the Promised Land is the Mediterranean Sea.
Lessons. A few practical thoughts here.
God carries out His will. God is the One that seeks and saves whom He wills. God is a willing carrying out God.
Not only does God save sinners in Christ, but He also places us in the Body of Christ where He wills. Read Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12.
Like that God gives to each tribe what He determines to give to each tribe. God is the One that determines what He will give. And also, to whom He will give it, and when, and why. He is God.
God may choose and He often does to give one person or one group one thing and at the same time give another person or another group a different thing. That is part of His lordship.
This is like the distribution of talents. God gives to one servant five talents. He gives to another two talents and so on. And He has not done any wrong by such divine distinction.
Sovereign salvation is sovereign from start to finish. And each tribe receives what God allots to them in the order that God has determined. (Eph.1:11)
So, then we are being taught to trust in the will of God. And to wait upon the timing and ways of God. And to be content in what God gives to us. And not to covet what He gives to our neighbor. Of course, this is what the Tenth Commandment speaks to. (WLC 146-148, Exod.20:17)
God makes good on His word of promise. As I say, our passage records the tribe of Judah receiving their portion of land.
The promise was made by God to Abraham; a promise that included his descendants. Abraham lived circa 2,000 B.C. (Gen.25:7-8)
The children of Judah, descendants of Abraham, receive the promise approximately seven years after Joshua entered the Promised Land and began his battles evicting the Canaanites, so somewhere around 1,400 B.C. (Josh.1:1, I Kings 6:1, Josh.11:18)
Lessons. What are some lessons God means for us to learn about Him?
Whatever God’s promises He always brings to pass. (Josh.21:45) Though as in our passage it may take 600 years to come to pass. And for the heavenly Promised Land we have been waiting thousands of years. But it will come. God has promised.
And this is despite any words to the contrary by the world, the flesh, and the devil. Man may say that God’s word will not prevail, but God says it will.
We learn that the duration of time and the various changes of circumstances do not alter or impede the immutable promises of God to seek and to save and to preserve and to establish His elect people.
Think of all of the various major and minor elements in the created universe that all came together to produce this reception of the Promised Land.
This could never be the outcome of man; the odds of success would be beyond believable. Only God could bring these things to fruition.
And that includes bringing His Promised People into the Promised Land to dwell with Him.
The Bible is the narrative of Paradise Lost in Adam and then Paradise Restored in Christ; all by way of God’s gracious and sovereign promise.
Of course, the underlying truth is that given these truths we ought to then believe in God, believe in His word, believe in His Christ, and then look forward to the time in which we will go to receive our own inheritance in the heavenly Promised Land. Read Hebrews 11:1-40.
So, we are to live upon every word of our God. (Mt.4:4) And walk by faith in His word and not by sight or by carnal reason.
Beloved, God is a promise keeping God.
Without getting too distracted from my intended purpose, I think I should make a comment here. Men make promises all day long. And even the best of men for myriads of reasons, they cannot keep their promises. Sinfully, maybe they have lied. Non-sinfully, maybe they have died. (Prov.16:9, Prov.19:21)
Mere man is not a promise-maker that we should trust in for our eternal life; he will most certainly fail us and that includes self.
Only God can be fully trusted to keep every promise He makes.
The wisdom and the goodness of God. Now let’s consider the particular area that was given to Judah in a bit more detail with an eye to God’s wisdom and goodness.
Something which may not be apparent is this, God gives to Judah their land and then He gives to the other tribes their land. Each tribe and each family within each tribe had their own land of inheritance.
Lessons. God fills the Promised Land with His promised people.
The entire Promised Land is filled with God’s children. There is no spot in the Promised Land that God does not place His children.
Remember, this land is a picture of the heavenly Promised Land. Read Hebrews 11.
One day the day the perfect Promised Land will be filled, from sea to sea as it were, with worshipers of the Lord God. There will be no spot in the new heavens and new earth were the children of God will not be worshiping the Triune God.
All of God’s children have their inheritance rights in the Promised Land. God did not determine that any one tribe, family, or much less one person should own all the land and the other tribes would own nothing and be serfs of the one or the few.
Landowners. All of God’s children have their God-given portion of the Promised Land. All of God’s children are rightful landowners as it were. There will be no poor children of God in the heavenly promised land. In Christ, we have a legal right to our portion of Promised Land. (WLC 74)
Freemen. This land represented the land of the free-men and free-women. There are no slaves in the antitypical promised land. And all of God’s children will be utterly free in this glorious land to come. We will be free from sin, free from sickness, free from death, and free to love God with a childlike love. (WCF 20.1)
The kingly tribe. Judah is first to receive its inheritance on in the Promised Land “proper” we would say.
(See: I Chron.1:13, Gen.10:19. Northern border: Gen.15:18, Dt.11:24, Ezek.47:17, Josh.1:4. Southern border: Exod.23:31, Ezek.49:19, Gen.15:18. Eastern border: Num.34:11-12, Ezek.47:17 – the Jordan River. Western border: Num.34:6, Ezek.47:20 – the Mediterranean Sea)
The land west of the Jordan is the part of the Promised Land that is especially separated by God for His people. One writer says, that from Dan to Beersheba and from Jordan to the Sea was par excellence the land of Israel. (Blaikie, Expository Lectures on the book of Joshua, p.275)
Judah has been referred to as the imperial tribe or the royal tribe.
Remember the patriarchal blessing.
Genesis 49:8. Judah, your brothers shall praise you; Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; Your father’s sons shall bow down to you. 9 “Judah is a lion’s whelp; From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, And as a lion, who dares rouse him up? 10 “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. 11 “He ties his foal to the vine, And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine; He washes his garments in wine, And his robes in the blood of grapes. 12 “His eyes are dull from wine, And his teeth white from milk.
This is the land in which God will place His holy city Jerusalem in.
This is the land in which God will place His holy temple and name in.
This is the tribe from whom the Christ will come. Christ is the root of David. (Rom.15:12, Rev.5:5)
Christ is the Son and the Lord of David. Christ is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. The risen Christ says this of Himself, I AM the root and descendant of David, the Bright Morning Star. (Rev.22:16)
Christ will be born in this place – Bethlehem.
Christ will die in this land – of Judah, outside of Jerusalem.
And thus, God gives to them the first fruits as it were.
The conclusion. Who can account for the goodness of our God?
What wells up in your heart Beloved when you hear these good things to come?
Isn’t it – even so Lord Jesus come quickly.
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