Joshua 12 and 13 (7)
Read Joshua 12 and 13.
1. What’s the biggest challenge to you in reading chapters like this? Do you find it difficult to discover anything meaningful, or anything that you can apply in your own walk with the Lord?
2. How can these chapters, and others like them, help us in appreciating the greatness of God and the magnitude of His promises?
Think about it.
The first two sections of Joshua – Preparation and Conquest – were full of divine encounter, scene changes, dramatic action, memorials, mistakes, and course corrections. In section three, Settlement, there won’t be quite as much of this sort of narrative, and our tendency might be to think that this part of the book is not all that important.
But as I hope we have seen in these first two chapters, that’s not the case. Chapters 12-21 afford an opportunity for connecting God’s work in the present (of Joshua’s day) with His work and promises in the past. Using the geography of the land of promise, these chapters will sketch out the scope and reliability of His promises to Israel. We need to read between the lines on much of this, to be sure; but we will not be going beyond Scripture or reading into it as we do.
It's as if, in section 3 of the book of Joshua – as elsewhere in Scripture – God wants to play catch-up with us through these litanies of cities, places, and tribes, to help us understand the here-and-now nature of His promises. What God has promised, God fulfills, in great detail. For in appreciating the temporal details of His eternal promises, we are encouraged to believe that everything God tells us can be taken as truth.
So, as we work through chapters 12-21, let’s not get bogged down in the tedium of this account. Instead, like a child rehearsing his Christmas presents over and over in great detail, let’s rejoice in the God Who blessed His people so faithfully, and remember that those precious and very great promises remain for us as well (Rom. 4.13-16), and even more so because our Joshua has succeeded far beyond everything His predecessor ever achieved.
Meditate and discuss.
1. We keep mentioning the promises of God (Gen. 12.1-3; Rom. 4.13-16). How would you summarize those promises? How has our Joshua made those precious and very great promises even more sure?
2. Since the promises God fulfilled for Israel in Joshua’s day were so temporal in nature – cities, homes, farms, cultural artifacts, and the like – what does this suggest about how we should regard the temporal benefits with which we are surrounded? How can seeing our temporal benefits in this way encourage us in our walk with and work for the Lord?
3. The temporal outworking of God’s promises should remind us of the spiritual and eternal nature of the precious and very great promises of God. How would you explain that aspect of God’s promises?
“This chapter does not need a lengthened exposition, as it only enumerates the kings of whose territories the Israelites gained possession. Two of them are beyond the Jordan, Og and Sihon, whose rule was extensive; in the land of Canaan there are thirty-one. But though each of those now summarily mentioned was previously given more in detail, there is very good reason for here placing before our eyes as it were a living picture of the goodness of God, proving that there had been a complete ratification and performance of the covenant made with Abraham as given in the words, ‘Unto thy seed will I give this land.’” John Calvin, Commentary on Joshua (1509-1564 AD)
Lord, the blessings with which You surround me each day remind me above all else that…
Pray Psalm 103.1-14.
Count your blessings – temporal and spiritual – and give thanks to the Lord for His great faithfulness and love.
Psalm 103.1-14 (Old 100th: All Creatures That on Earth Do Dwell)
O my soul, bless the Lord’s great Name! His many benefits proclaim:
He pardons sins and heals disease, and from the pit grants us release.
With mercy rich and steadfast love He satisfies us from above,
Revives our youth, works righteousness, and justice serves for the oppressed.
His ways to Moses He made known; to Israel His great works were shown.
The Lord is full of mercy sweet, and with His favor does us meet.
To anger He but slowly goes; abounding love to us He shows.
He will not always scold nor chide; His anger will not e’er abide.
Our sins He casts from us away; He shows compassion every day.
He knows our frame, that we are dust, so on His goodness let us trust.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).