The Fight Goes On

Joshua 13

Jerry A Collins




*               Why might we want to throw in the towel in our spiritual lives?

*               Are you battling with sin in your life?

*               Do you find it tempting to engage in the sin of the world?


As I have mentioned to you, I have been reading a riveting book about the Rwanda genocide in the civil war of 1994. The book is one mans story, Lt. Gen. Dalliare, who was given a mandate from the UN called UNAMIR or United Nations Aid Mission in Rwanda. Because of the overwhelming humanitarian need that developed due to the genocide, UNAMIR had to adjust its original mandate to bring both the two warring parties to the negotiating table and institute the Arusha Peace accords they had signed months earlier. Now they had to expand the mandate with approval from the UN to include addressing the massive humanitarian need for safe zones and hospital care, and refuge protection embodied in UNAMIR2, the new mandate was called. Joshua also had a mandate from God. That mandate was to conquer the land of Israel. As we come to Joshua 13 we turn a corner from conquest to settlement. Joshua had been leading under Gods instructions to conquer Canaan or GITCC. But now Joshua is called to fulfill the final part of his mandatesettlement in the land. To divide the land so that each tribe can claim its inheritance and enjoy this gift from God. He moves from a soldier to an administrator. Years of hard fighting is now followed by the people settling down in the land, by completing the conquest, then, building houses, cultivating soil, raising families and living peacefully in their own land.


1 Here we have a description of the situation. Joshua was old and advanced in years suggesting that his faculties were failing him. He was starting to lose it physically and mentally. He was not the man he was. He was eighty when he was named the leader of the nation and its army. When he succeeded Moses, he was a vigorous, focused and determined leader. Now the ensuing years of war have left him battle-scarred and the campaign had obviously taken a toll of him. But the work is not completed. There is still more land to be possessed. Much of it was conquered but it was not possessed and yet much still need to be conquered before it could be possessed.

2-7 describes the land still needing conquering and possessing. There still remained small enclaves of Canaanite opposition on the periphery, the coastal plain, the northern coast and near Mt Herman and the surrounding mountain range up north. God noticed what remained. It is not failure on Joshuas part. He did what he could in the time he had. But now God wanted him to divide and distribute the land among the 9 1/2 tribes west of the Jordan river. It would then be up to them to dispossess the Canaanites and possess their inheritance from God.

(1) We may realize our own human limitations and discover that we may never accomplish everything that we planned or wished to accomplish for God, His kingdom, our ministries. That could be discouraging tho we read of none of that in Joshuas life.

(2) Yet vs 6 God promise is that the ongoing work of possessing inheritance is Gods responsibility and it rests with His power and plan. So as we work our work here, we recognize not only the limitations of our involvement but the promise of God to see His work thru to the end. It does not depend upon me even tho I can participate in that work with Him.

(3) God encourages us along the way so that we can remain steadfast to the end. Several references to Moses in this setting may be used to encourage Joshua as he puts in motion this final stage of his mandate. Joshua trained under Moses leadership and watched Moses divide the land east of the Jordan. He watched as Moses climbed up Mt Nebo to view this promised land and heard God tell him he would never enter into it. He would die with his mandate unfinished. Now these many years later, he hears the same thing about his own mandate. But he understands that that will never hinder God. God is ultimately responsible for His work getting done. Keep discipling peopleyour kids, new believers, old believers.

(4) We could probably argue that it is not possible to remove every last Canaanite, yet that is exactly what was needed and leaving any of them is their eventual downfall. The solution for us today, is to be committed to a lifestyle of spiritual warfare. There is always sin in our lives left unconquered. So the spiritual life is a constant spiritual warfare if we are progressing and possessing. No warfare means no spiritual progress. Cp vs 6 & 13. The Canaanites continued to live among Israel.

(5) This whole chapter focuses on Moses division of the land east of the Jordan river, dividing it between Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh. At the end of the chp is a summary in vs 32. Several times in this chapter it refers to Inheritance. 50 times in this second half of Joshua. The point is that they inherited their land. They did not win it in a lottery or receive it as a prize or purchased it in a business transaction. The Lord Himself gave it to them as the sole owner of it. Lev 25:23 clearly teaches that God was the landlord and the people were tenants. The rent required was complete devoted obedience to God, the landlord. They had ratified this lease agreement in Chp 8 on Mt Ebal and Mt Gerizim when they reiterated and accepted the requirement of cursing and blessing they could expect if they played or did not play by these rules. In our age we have Christs commands which we are required to obey. The judgment seat of Christ will be the place to determine our reward or lack of it. There are real consequences for our choices as believers just as there was for Israel.

2. WHILE FREE TO CHOOSE TO PARTCIPATE IN GODS WORK WE NEED TO DO SO WISELY The rest of chapter is Joshuas recognition & confirmation of Moses allotment of land to tribes on east of Jordan (8, 15, 24, 29, 32). These wanted possession there because they had large herds of cattle and the rich grazing land there was desired even tho this placed them outside boundaries of Canaan. But was this request a wise one? (1) There were no natural boundaries exposing them to invasions by regional enemies. They eventually became a buffer zone between Jews in Canaan and pagan nations. So they became extremely vulnerable. They were also the first to be carried away into captivity by Assyria. (2) They made them selves vulnerable to the pagan influences of their neighboring enemies. This ungodly influence threatened their obedience to God by introducing idolatry and rebellious children who moved the tribes further away from God in succeeding generations. This is a warning to borderline xians today. If the quality of your material life is more important than your eternal life your heading for disaster.


By contrast to transjordan tribes, twice (v 14 & 33) mentioned tribe of Levi received no inheritance. They were allotted sacrifices and God Himself! Who could have dreamed of a greater inheritance than that? (1) God did not want tribal responsibilities to distract from work He gave them. (2) He wanted them fully devoted to his service. Salt & lite to the tribes, teachers of the Law reminding the people God wanted them to be the sameto stay focused on their God. A. 2 tribes chose, as Lot did, on basis of appearance (Gen 13:10-11) and their inheritance ultimately lost. B. Levites requesting no portion given one of abiding spiritual significance. We are the Levites of today. Speak truth wherever. No one serving as soldier involved in civilian affairshe wants to please his commanding officer (2 Tim 2:3-4). Dont resign from service. Stay owned to God.