The Book of Joshua Series
Conquering the Land
As I mentioned last week we have come to the halfway point in the book of Joshua. The first twelve chapters of Joshua dealt with the conquest of the Land and the next twelve chapters will deal with the tribes receiving their inheritance of the Land. Joshua chapter eleven and verse twenty-three serves as a hinge that turns from the conquest of Canaan to the distribution of the land to the twelve tribes. It reads, “So, Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had spoken to Moses, and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes.” (11.23a) For centuries, Israel had waited to receive its long-promised inheritance. What was promised to Abraham is now coming to fulfillment in the days of Joshua.
Some suggest that the second half of the book of Joshua with its lists, markers, and land distributions is dull compared to exciting episodes of Israel’s military conquests found in the first half of the book. But to Israel these lists were like the reading of a will informing the heirs of their inheritance. Joshua had been victorious to conquer the kings and armies that inhabited the land but now it was the responsibility of each tribe to drive out the remaining inhabitants and possess their inheritance completely. Chapter thirteen begins, 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.” (13.1)The land still needed to be conquered but now the responsibility was on each tribe to finish the job.
A Giant Object Lesson
Since we have arrived at the halfway point in the book of Joshua, I want to point out how the book of Joshua is a giant object lesson illustrating Christ’s victory over the enemy of death, hell, and the devil and our responsibility as His children to drive out the remaining inhabitants of sin in our lives. Let me explain. The victories of Joshua in the first half of the book foreshadows the great victory of Jesus Christ who utterly defeated the enemy of our soul. The second half of Joshua illustrates the responsibility we have as believers in Christ to purge out the remnants of the flesh in our lives. Joshua through his victories secured the land as an inheritance for the children of Israel but the greater Joshua, our Lord Jesus Christ, through His victory on the cross has secured our eternal inheritance. And now that our inheritance has been secured, we are called to cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2Cor.7.1)
Today we will see the good example of Caleb claiming his inheritance and driving out the remaining inhabitants while next week we will see the bad example of the sons of Joseph being discontent with their inheritance and their lack of diligence take full possession of their land.
The Life of Caleb
Caleb first comes onto the pages of Scripture forty-five years earlier in the book of Numbers when he is chosen by Moses to be one of the twelve spies sent to spy out the land of Canaan. Moses said to them, “Go up there into the Negev; then go up into the hill country.
See what the land is like, and whether the people who live in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many. How is the land in which they live, is it good or bad? And how are the cities in which they live, are they like open camps or with fortifications? How is the land, is it fat or lean? Are there trees in it or not? Make an effort then to get some of the fruit of the land.” (Num.13.17-20) So they went up and spied out the land. After forty days the spies returned and came to Moses and all the congregation of Israel to tell them what they discovered and to show them the fruit of the land. They said, “We went into the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless,
the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. (Num.13.27-28) The people began to panic so Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” (Num.13.30-31)
Of the twelve spies sent out by Moses only Caleb and Joshua gave a positive report and encouraged the people to take possession of their inheritance of the land. Because of this the only ones of that generation that were allowed to enter the land were Caleb and Joshua.
The Lord spoke about Caleb saying, But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his
descendants shall take possession of it. (Num.14.24)
During the next forty years Caleb and Joshua waited patiently as the disbelieving generation wandered in the wilderness and eventually passed away. As they entered into the Promise Land, Joshua led the conquest and Caleb was a faithful warrior at his side. And now forty-five years later it was time for Caleb to receive his inheritance. The book of Joshua records, Then the sons of Judah drew near to Joshua in Gilgal, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know the word which the Lord spoke to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh-barnea. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought word back to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless, my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt with fear; but I followed the Lord my God fully. So, Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden will be an inheritance to you and to your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God fully.’ Now behold, the Lord has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today. I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in. Now then, give me this hill country about which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the Lord will be with me, and I will drive them out as the Lord has spoken.” So, Joshua blessed him and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. (14.6-13)
As many of you know Barbara and I named our oldest son, Caleb. Even though the name Caleb has gained popularity in recent years, when we told our family back in the day that we were naming of son Caleb most of them asked why. Then someone would say, “Oh, Caleb was one of the good spies, right?” “Yes,” I would reply. But the reason why we named our son Caleb wasn’t just because he was “one of the good spies” but it was more because of what Caleb said forty-five years later. Now behold, the Lord has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today. I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in. Now then, give me my inheritance! (14.10-12a) I love that! “I am as strong today as I was then. For war or for going in or coming out. Now then, give me my inheritance!”
Though Caleb was advanced in age, his strength is undiminished. At eighty-five he was still leading the charge. Oh, that the Lord would give us Senior Saints like Caleb. Senior Saints that lead as examples. Senior Saints who are committed to the Lord for the long haul. I thank God that the Lord has always blessed me with fathers in Christ that I could look up to. Fathers in Christ that I could depend upon to lead the charge. And now that I am a father in Christ my prayer is that the Lord would equip me to be like Caleb. Years ago, I was told, by one of these fathers in Christ, to always have three people in your life. One to be your father in the Lord, who you can seek advice from. Another to be your brother in the Lord, who you can strategize with. And another to be your son in the Lord, that you can train and equip for ministry. And this morning I want to pass that advice on to you. And to the Senior Saints I want you to know that there are younger Christians that need you in their lives. Don’t neglect your responsibility to the next generation. Both Caleb and Joshua were old and advanced in years. They had waited patiently. They had fought faithfully. And now they are leading the younger generation by example. Let’s do the same!
Caleb told Joshua, “Now then, give me this hill country about which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the Lord will be with me, and I will drive them out as the Lord has spoken.” (14.17) What is interesting about Caleb’s request is that the people of Anakim were a formidable race of giant, warlike people who occupied the lands of southern Israel. And the Analites dwelt in the territory that was part of Caleb’s inheritance. But what is even more interesting is that the people of Anakin were the direct descendants of the people that struck fear in the hearts of the people of Israel back in the days of the twelve spies forty-five years earlier. These were the people that the ten spies said were giants who devoured their enemies and made the children of Israel look like grasshoppers. (Num.13.32-33; Dt.1.28) These were the people forty-five years earlier that Caleb said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” (Num.13.30) And now forty-five years later Caleb issues his request to give him this hill country so that he would take possession of it and overcome the Anakites. Sometimes the Lord allows us to do what we have waited a lifetime to fulfill.
Caleb’s confidence in the Lord and his commitment to see the Lord glorified in his life didn’t weaken as he aged. No, Caleb’s confidence and commitment strengthen as he grew older. As a matter of fact, there is a common characteristic in Caleb’s life that is mentioned here in the book of Joshua as well as forty-five years earlier in the book of Numbers. And that characteristic is that Caleb followed the Lord fully. (Num.14.24; Josh.14.14) On the pages of Scripture when we are introduced to Caleb, we are told that he followed the Lord fully. And on the pages of Scripture when we will see the last of Caleb, we are told that he followed the Lord fully. Caleb is one of those blessed individuals who can say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2Tim.4.7) Even though his outer man was decaying Caleb did not lose heart because his inner man was being renewed day by day. (2Cor.4.16)
Drive Out Completely
What is interesting is the chapter eleven tells us that Joshua utterly destroyed the Anakites with their cities. (11.21) But here in Joshua chapter fifteen we see Caleb drives out the three sons of Anak completely. (15.14) Remember how I explained to you at the beginning of the sermon how the book of Joshua is a giant object lesson illustrating Christ’s utter destruction of the enemy and our responsibility as His children to drive out the remaining inhabitants of sin in our lives. Well, what we see here with Joshua and Caleb is a microcosm of that same dynamics. Joshua utterly destroyed the Anakites and their cities and Caleb completely drives them out. This is a grand illustration of how Christ utterly destroyed the enemy, and how we must drive out the remaining remnants of the flesh in our lives. Christ’s victory on the cross defeats the enemy of our soul but we must be diligent to put to death the deeds of the flesh.
I want to make sure you understand. What we see here with Joshua and Caleb is a type of what we see with Christ’s victory and the Christian’s responsibility. The Apostle Peter’s tells us, “Christ Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” (IPt.2.24) Christ Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross. Christ through the sacrifice of Himself on the cross utterly destroyed the enemy of our soul and bore our sins in His body on the cross. Why? so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. Through the Spirit of God, we drive out the remnants of the flesh in our lives.
I want to make sure you understand. At the very beginning of the second half of the book, the Lord says to Joshua, “very much of the land remains to be possessed.” (13.1) And I would say to those of us in Christ, “there remains much in our lives that needs to be possessed.” Yes, Christ has defeated the enemy but there is much in our lives that remains to be possessed. We need to take full possession of what we have been given in Christ. Why wouldn’t we take full possession of what has been given to us in Christ? If we are God’s children, then we are heirs also, heirs of God and follow heirs with Christ. (Rom.8.17) Then why wouldn’t we take full possession of our inheritance? If the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ and has lavished upon us redemption through His blood and the forgiveness of our trespasses and has given us the Spirit as a pledge of our inheritance, then why wouldn’t I utilize the surpassing greatest of His power and drive out all the remnants of the flesh in my life? (Eph.1)
We must understand that the Canaanites had no right to be in the land. They were squatters with no legal title to the land. The land was Israel’s by the Lord’s gift. The Lord told Abraham, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.” (Gen.13.14-15, 17) Brothers and sisters, just like the Canaanites had no legal right to be in the land so the remnant of the flesh has no legal right to be in our lives. The remnants of the flesh are spiritual squatters and have no legal right to occupy any portion of our heart or life. Immorality, impurity, and sensuality have no legal right to occupy my heart. Enmities, strife, and jealousy have no legal right to occupy my life. Every square inch of my heart and life is the Lord’s. Therefore, I will drive them out as the Lord has spoken.
We should take possession of it all: seek after holiness, follow on to know the Lord. We have been predestined to become conformed to the image of Christ. Therefore, take possession of it. Say to the sin that now hinders your peace, “Peace is mine in Christ, clear out!” Say to sin that stops your usefulness, “Usefulness is mine in Christ, clear out!” Say to the sin that obstructs your testimony, “I am a follower of Christ, get out! Say to the Anakites, Jebusite, and every other “ite” in your life to “get out” so that you can fully claim your inheritance in Christ.
Brothers and sisters, what I am saying this morning is that “we should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” My challenge this morning is that we should be all means go up and take possession of our inheritance in Christ and surely overcome all the remnants of the flesh in our lives. What I am suggesting is that we do a spiritual inventory to see if there are any remnants of the flesh that are hindering us from enjoying our inheritance in Christ.
You know the phrase “a land flowing with milk and honey” is used over twenty times as a poetic description of the bounty that awaited God’s chosen people as they claimed their inheritance of the land. But did you know that along with the bounty that was on the surface of the land there were rich minerals that laid underneath with iron in the stones and copper in the hills. Moses reminds the people saying, “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without scarcity, in which you will not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. (Dt.8-7-9)
What I am saying is that sometimes we have to go deeper into our hearts to discover the true riches of our inheritance in Christ. Don’t just live on the surface. Dig deeper into your heart to discover the riches of His inheritance to the saints. (Eph.1.18)