JOSHUA 13:1 – 15:63 and LUKE 5:1–39
Even though there was great success in the obtaining of land for their inheritance the Lord mentioned to Joshua that there yet remained much land to be possessed. We also see that Joshua is at a late age. We can speculate that he would have been about 100 at this time. He lived to be 110.
The Lord speaks of the area that yet had to be possessed in verses 2-6. He makes the same promise that He will drive out these enemies as they go to battle (vs 6). In verse 7 Joshua is told to divide the land of Canaan among the 9 ½ tribes who settled on the western side of Jordan. This will be picked up in the next few chapters. We see from vs 8-33 the distribution of land given to Reuben, Gad and the ½ tribe of Manasseh who settled on the eastern side of Jordan. The question we need to address once again is whether this was God’s will for the 2 ½ tribes. Are there direct lessons we can learn from their example?
There is a tendency in people and certainly in Christians as well to settle for 2nd best. The problem is we often are not aware that it is 2nd best option that we are embracing. The tribes of Israel had been sojourning for a number of years in the wilderness. The new generation amongst them surely were longing to be established and settled down. These 2 ½ tribes saw great value and opportunity on the eastern side of Jordan. Their large flocks would be nicely accommodated and they envisioned a comfortable existence in these lands. They were well aware that they would need to fight alongside their brethren on the other side of Jordan before settling into their inheritance yet they were willing to do so. What then was the harm or problem in settling for 2nd best? How best to ensure that we do not fall into this trap?
Let’s look at what happened in the land of Moab in future years. The settling on the eastern side of Jordan may not have had short term consequences but there were problems in later generations. The Assyrians would later make a move against Moab, which were included in these lands and overtake them. We see in Isaiah 15 and 16 the Lord lamenting over Moab. Perhaps one of the reasons the Lord is lamenting is due to these 2 ½ tribes being part of this land that was being invaded. What looked good at the time of assuming their inheritance became a tragedy in future years. Does this not happen today? This truth can be applied to marriage, to a career or calling. It looks good, sounds good but is it really the Lord’s will? So then what can one do to prevent this from taking place? Dr. Brian Bailey emphasized this truth on a number of occasions and it is wisdom to give heed. Ask the Lord, what is the end of the matter? God is sovereign; He knows the end from the beginning so it would be prudent to seek His mind in these important decisions. If these 2 ½ tribes sincerely wanted God’s best and enquired accordingly I feel their lot would have been quite different. We too are governed by the here and now, by circumstances and environment. Sure, these things play a part but God should always have the final say. There was no way for these tribes to know what was going to happen during the reign of King Hezekiah. The same is true for us! I have come to discover through the years that the Lord is far more interested in our lives than we give Him credit for. He delights to be involved in our lives provided that we let Him. We like to be the masters of our own fate, to be in control and at the helm. Many will say that 2nd best is more than enough. I am not sure that will be the sentiment when standing before the Lord in eternity.
I personally feel that the Lord will reveal His purpose and plan for our lives. We will see that all the needed grace was available but was it appropriated? There will also be the realization that there is no 2nd chance to go back and make amends. We need to think on these things. Yes, such a person may be in the kingdom but knowing that we fell short of God’s best will result in great regret. The call to Zion is available to all. Will everyone respond to this opportunity? No, but it is afforded to all provided we qualify as seen in Psa 15 and 24. It is a high calling. By the grace of God may we not settle for 30 or 60 fold but always pursue after the 100 fold blessing. May we not make the same mistake that these 2 ½ tribes made. Their short term settling may have seemed fine at the time but they fell under the judgment that came upon the land in later years. Let us always ask the Lord, “What is the end of the matter?”
In verses 1-5 we have the account of the distribution of land amongst the 9 ½ tribes in Canaan. This was done by lot under the hand of Moses (Num 26:55). They fully followed the commandment of the Lord in this matter. Remember, the Lord gave very specific dimensions and location when this process took place. This removed any dispute or potential problem that they would have if this were to be done otherwise.
In verses 6-15 we see Caleb stepping forward and asking for a particular place within the boundaries of Judah. He is following up on the promise that was made to him by God when he faithfully sought to go into the land 38 years earlier at Kadesh Barnea (Num 32:12). Caleb emphatically makes his case before Joshua by saying that at the age 40 he was willing. He shared on how the others by way of their confession caused the nation to lose heart while he continued to wholly follow the Lord. He, like Joshua had to suffer the consequences of their actions for almost 40 years. He is now 85 and yet has the testimony that he is stronger now than when he was 40. He wanted the mountain of Hebron. We see in Caleb the same tenacity and courage that was on display 45 years earlier. The Bible cited both him and Joshua as being of a different spirit (Num 14:24).
The mountain of Hebron was not an easy possession to take. There were giants to contend with nonetheless Caleb had that valiant courage and heart. He wanted the mountain of Hebron. You sense something special about Caleb above the others that were with him. Yes he was old but he yet possessed great strength. He passed a test that others did not yet know or have opportunity to experience. This is important to understand because there are spiritual Caleb’s today who have paid a price. They have a message and experience that is uncommon and we would do well to be around such people. He must have been an inspiration to many others. A man at his age demonstrating such boldness had to have a contagious effect upon many.
In today’s terms I would like to give an example of a “Caleb” type character I recently had the privilege to meet. This man shared in our church service this past week. He is about 80 years of age and still going strong. His love and devotion to Jesus is apparent to all. I was awestruck as he shared his mission experiences of recent years. He has been in a real battle zone yet God has enabled him to be preserved while allowing much fruit to come forth. He has seen great triumphs and horrible tragedies, even among some who have worked alongside him. I have been a missionary for many years but I have never experienced the level of challenges this man has been through. (We have had our challenges but not even close to the magnitude this brother has endured.) I see this man like a Caleb. He is still strong with a powerful testimony and ready to take on any challenge.
There is another truth to present here. Hebron means fellowship. We know that true unity is costly and it does not come cheap. Caleb had to go up against formidable foes but it did not deter him. The enemy was strong, their walls were well fortified but Caleb had the ability to take God at His Word. He did so at Kadesh Barnea “we are well able to go up” (Num 13:30) and he is still confessing the same here. He knew the Lord would be with him. There are walls erected amongst brethren that need to come down. This requires an ability to be broken bread before one another so that we can have true communion.
Caleb was able to take Hebron but we will later see another enemy that fights against unity. He was an enemy that Joshua was not able to drive out. He is an enemy that is stationed before Zion. It makes the case of the need for true unity and fellowship amongst the brethren in these last days. Let us appreciate the greatness of Caleb. Are you ready for another old charismatic song that speaks to this chapter?
I want that mountain; I want that mountain, where the milk and honey flows and the grapes of Eschol grow. I want that mountain; I want that mountain, that mountain that the Lord hath given me.
The borders of the land that Judah is to obtain are given in verses 1-12. In verses 13-15 we see Caleb driving out the three sons of Anak out of Hebron. In verse 17 we are introduced to Othneil and Achsah (daughter of Caleb). Caleb promised his daughter to the one who would take a city by the name of Kirjath-Sepher. This name can be interpreted as “a city of books”. It indicates that it was an intellectual city seeing that it was known for its books. Caleb must have appreciated the kind of valour required to take such a city hence his giving Achsah to be the wife of the one who would rise up. We see a quality in Achsah as she now moves her husband to ask for a land that has springs of water. Was this being greedy or was it a prompting that the Lord has placed within her. The initial field that her earthly father gave them was an arid and dry land in the south (vs 19). She took initiative to ask for springs; for something more. Her father was so moved by his daughter’s request that he not only gave her springs but the upper and nether springs as well. This is a picture of the benevolence of the heavenly father. She wanted more and she sought to inspire her husband to a greater plain. This was not being greedy and we need to discern between the two attitudes. God has so much more for His people and He is honoured when we can ask largely. It must come from a true heart. We do not know many specifics concerning Achsah but being the daughter of Caleb gives us some insights to her character. It is a quality seen in Elisha when he asked for the double portion. It was asking largely, it was a hard thing but God honoured it. Was Elisha being greedy? Well, he was jealous for the kingdom of God. He asked for the mantle and double portion for the purpose of the kingdom. We will later find that Othneil will one day become the first judge of Israel. The church needs to see Achsah’s arising. They bring out the best in their husbands in moving them into the high calling of God.
In verses 21-62 we see the cities that are allotted to Judah. The last verse is worthy of attention. There was one enemy that was not removed.
Jos 15:63 As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out: but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day.
Why could they not drive them out? What is it about this group that prohibits Israel from destroying and removing them; especially when considering the total defeat of all other nations? There is speculation that Israel may have initially removed the Jebusites but they were able to retake the territory after some time. They remained a strong enemy up until the time David displaced them before he took Zion (2 Samuel 5). This was their primary stronghold, the mount of Zion. We will see later during the reign of the Judges that Benjamin was also unable to displace them (Jud 1:21). This enemy speaks of being “discord sowers”. Their power is in their words or confession. It was the confession of Israel that prohibited them from entering into the land (Num 13:31). The Jebusites were on hand in defying and challenging Israel when God told them to go in and possess (Num 13:29). It was their confession to David where they sought to instil fear to those who were looking to take Zion.
2Sa 5:6 And the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land: which spake unto David, saying, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither: thinking, David cannot come in hither.
2Sa 5:7 Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David.
The spiritual Jebusites of today are well entrenched in Zion and they seek to intimidate and paralyze anyone who attempts to ascend its holy hill. This is the high calling that God lays before us today. This is why women like Achsah need to come forth to prompt and move their husbands to greater realms. David, as a king/priest was able to take Zion while displacing this formidable and previously undefeated foe. It was David who loved the presence of God who was able to take the city. He did it both as a king and as a priest, seeing that he had the Ark of the Covenant alongside him. This truth will be elaborated upon when we examine the journey of the Ark of the Covenant from Shiloh to Zion (1 Sam 4 thru 2 Sam 5).
This is the first of two accounts where Jesus approached Peter and others while fishing in a boat. The other account is found in John 21. There is an interesting contrast to consider. Here we see the men washing their nets after toiling through the night and taking in no fish. Jesus steps into one of the boats and begins to teach (vs3). When He finishes He instructs them to let down their nets for a catch. Peter responded that they had worked all night and took in nothing. Still, in obedience he let it down and took in a huge amount of fish. Why was there fish now for catching and not earlier? Perhaps it was due to the teaching of the Lord and for all it represents. Personally, I find that sound Biblical teaching draws people. Especially, today there is a notable hunger in the hearts of many people for the teaching of God’s Word. If the Son of Man be lifted up He will draw all men unto Himself (Joh 12:32). The Gospel does not need to be sugar coated to attract people. People want the Truth and reality of the Living Word. When Peter and the others laid down their nets they brought in a huge amount of fish; so much in fact that the nets broke (vs 6). There was a tremendous harvest of fish and they had trouble containing the catch.
In the last days there will be great revival resulting in multitudes coming into the kingdom of God. Are we prepared? Will we be able to build upon that harvest? We all long for revival but I am not sure we are truly ready for it. In John’s account we see a similar event. This takes place after His resurrection. They had another night of not catching any fish. The Lord appeared and instructed Peter and the others to cast the net on the right side of the ship. They brought in 153 great fish. This time the net did not break. What does all this mean? The number 153 is significant for two reasons. First it represents the number of times you find the name Zion or Sion mentioned in scripture. A key in being able to contain and facilitate this great harvest will be dependent by way of one’s vision. It will also be accomplished by those who mend the nets such as John and James (Math 4:21-22). Zion is the dwelling place of God. The attributes that speak of Zion will help ensure that we will be capable in being able to build upon the harvest. There will be a need for teachers of righteousness so as to ground and establish people. We do not want our nets to break, especially in the last days of the great harvest.
In verses 12-15 Jesus heals the man plagued with leprosy. He tells him to tell no one but how can this man help himself? Of course he trumpets his healing. Can you blame him? Why did Jesus tell Him to do this? I believe He wanted their focus to be on His Words more than on the miracle. People flocked to Him all the more when they heard of this man’s healing. As in other times when the crowd would grow in numbers, Jesus would withdraw Himself to a quiet place to meet with His Father. We have called this experience in previous commentaries a “Position of Rest”.
In verses 18-26 we have the account of the man who was lowered from the ceiling who needed healing from palsy. Jesus marvelled that they would go to such extremes to bring this man to His attention. Jesus seems to be touched and moved by those who have desperation for a miracle. It is interesting that He responds by saying “Man, thy sins are forgiven thee” (vs 20). Why did He not just speak a Word of healing? Jesus took note that there were scribes and Pharisee’s in attendance. Jesus took opportunity to provoke them on this thought of forgiveness. I am sure He knew that this would stir them up. You can see Him incrementally revealing Himself as the Son of God. He does not do it all at once because He knew His time was not yet ripe. He would do this later. He then asks an intriguing question. Is it easier to say forgive thee of thy sins; or to say, Rise and walk? It is easier to say that one is forgiven of their sins because it is not immediately verifiable. To say you are healed is something that can be seen and observed. He demonstrated His authority to heal while at the same time letting it be known that He does forgive sins as the Son of God. The greater blessing of course is being forgiven of sins. The miracle of healing is something that all can rejoice in but it does not compare to being forgiven. It does not compare in having one’s name written in heaven.
Finally, we have another account of the example of becoming a new wineskin. This was discussed in the Math 9:14-17 commentary. It is critical for the church of the last days to be walking in the Spirit. God is about to do something new and fresh and we need to be those wineskins that can be stretched and utilized so that we flow in alignment with His purposes. In order to be part of that new thing (Isa 43:19) we have to know how to let go of former things (Isa 43:18). By no means does this mean changing our doctrine as many are doing today. It means having the means to be flexible and open for change. When God is moving afresh we want to be sure to be moving with Him. The Lord will never contradict His Word. We must call to mind the first recorded miracle of Jesus. When He turned water into wine it was mentioned that He was saving the best for last. It is a sign for us. Let us never lose sight of the fact that the outpourings of old will never compare to what is coming. There is no way we will be able to steward such a move if we stay at a status quo in our thinking and approach.