In the back ground I hear the swell of violins, horns, a bass drum and cymbals as God is telling Joshua that "it's time to possess the land." Like something you might see at the end of a motion picture as your heart's been racing throughout the movie. As the ending draws near and you finally catch your breath with relief. “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:2-9.
It would almost seem that the first chapter in Joshua is the perfect ending to the story of the children of Israel coming into the Promised Land. Instead, it's a new beginning of a new story or chapter as they cross over the Jordan River. God instructed Joshua that once again he had to send spies to check out the first city that they needed to conquer. Conquer? I thought God was giving this land to them. This is where my thoughts begin.
God was going to hand this land over to them, but it didn't come without a fight. When God gives us promises we have to "drive out" the inhabitants of doubt in our lives. The first instruction God gave to Joshua after crossing the Jordan, was to build a memorial of twelve stones from the Jordan River. This was to serve as a reminder for generations to come of them crossing the Jordan on dry ground (Joshua 4).
What really caught my attention was the names of the inhabitants of Canaan. Back in Genesis 9 when God cursed Ham for having looked upon Noah in his nakedness, he sent him away. Canaan was a son of Ham. Genesis 10:15-20 says "Canaan was the father of
Sidon his firstborn, and of the Hittites, 16 Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, 17 Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, 18 Arvadites, Zemarites and Hamathites. Later the Canaanite clans scattered 19 and the borders of Canaan reached from Sidon toward Gerar as far as Gaza, and then toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, as far as Lasha. 20 These are the sons of Ham by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations. These are the names of the inhabitants of the land that the children of Israel were to conquer. That's when I realized that God wanted this land redeemed. Just like He wants our heart's redeemed from sin.
Before Joshua and the people could begin taking their inheritance, God instructed them to go through a circumcision, again (Joshua 5:2). They did this once in the wilderness, but this was a new generation that God was with. Under the New Covenant, God is concerned with the circumcision of our heart (Romans 2:29). This is why it is important for us to daily "clean our hearts" of the trash that gets thrown in. Whether it's by others or by our own admission. They were also to celebrate a Passover supper to remind them of what God did for them in Egypt.
After the fall of Jericho, God became angry with His people because of "sin in the camp." It was one person, Achan. He had taken a robe from Babylonia some gold and silver and had hidden them under his tent (Joshua 7:20-21). Some translations call these the "devoted things." Unforgiveness is kind of like these devoted things. We treasure our hurts from other people in hopes that it will punish them. When in reality it destroys us. God doesn't want us to be devoted to our unforgiveness of others and even against ourselves.
In Joshua 9, Joshua and his men come across the Gibeonites. They were deceptive people in the fact that they had heard what the Israelites were doing to the cities in Canaan and thought if they came to them as travelers from a distant land they wouldn't kill them. Just as they thought, Joshua believed them and made a peace treaty with them. Because Joshua had made an oath to them, they were never driven out of the land and this caused them grief throughout history. I think we often make "peace treaties" with our circumstances. We say, "it is what it is." That's okay because often we can't do anything about our circumstances. I like to look at it like this. The definition of "circum" is to go around. The definition of "stance" is a position while standing. Put this together and life is going to happen around us, but it's our stance that holds us in place with the hope of victory. We can live with our circumstances if we choose to live victorious rather than defeated.
After they had driven out the inhabitants and allotted the inheritance Joshua 21:44 & 45 says this, "The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled." God wants to fulfill his promises to his children, us. We have to fight against the inhabitants of sin and unforgiveness. It is crucial for us to keep our heart's pure and humble before the Lord. Jesus fought the battle for us at Calvary. He already won the battle. We already have victory. Like the Passover before they conquered Jericho, Jesus is our Passover sacrifice that conquered sin and redeemed us so that we could possess the promises of God in our lives.