April 14, 2023
“Moses the Lord’s servant and the Israelites struck them down. And Moses the Lord’s servant gave their land as an inheritance to the Reubenites, Gadites, and half tribe of Manasseh.”
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“Moses the Lord’s servant and the Israelites struck them down. And Moses the Lord’s servant gave their land as an inheritance to the Reubenites, Gadites, and half tribe of Manasseh. Joshua and the Israelites struck down the following kings of the land beyond the Jordan to the west, from Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon to Mount Halak, which ascends toward Seir (Joshua gave their land as an inheritance to the tribes of Israel according to their allotments)” Joshua 12:6-7 (HCSB)
Under the leadership of Moses, the Lord delivered Israel from the bondage of Egypt and led them to the edge of the Jordan. Under Joshua’s leadership, the Lord allowed Israel to cross the Jordan and conquer the major kingdoms in Canaan. Between Moses and Joshua, 31 kings were killed.
The Exodus was long past, and the major obstacles in Canaan were completely destroyed. Now, it only remained for the individual Israelite tribes to dispossess the remaining inhabitants and claim their tribal allotments.
In what may seem like a simple transitional chapter, I believe there is a profound message here that is relevant to us: Finish the work! By now, you are familiar with the idea that Israel’s deliverance is also a metaphor for our deliverance through Messiah, Jesus. Moses represents the Law, and Joshua is a messiah figure, so now the story focuses on our part.
When we share the gospel, the first thing we convey is that all men are sinners. God’s standard (as articulated in the Bible) exposes man’s sin by laying out God’s character and His standard. The law cannot save us, but it can draw us out from the world, seeking the God Who sets the standard. Likewise, Moses led Israel out of Egypt, following the Lord, but Moses could not deliver them into the “promised land.”
Joshua led Israel across the Jordan and defeated all the major enemies in the land. The land was Israel’s. But then, each tribe had the challenge of driving out the remaining inhabitants. Israel’s success in the land was dependent upon their willingness to trust God to go before them, not as a nation, but as individual tribes. God’s relationship with Israel became increasingly personal: A “mixed multitude” leaves Egypt; Israel takes its national inheritance; independent tribes pursue their personal allotments.
Similarly, Jesus defeated the major enemies of mankind: death and sin. Salvation is completely by Grace through Faith in Jesus. Yet enemies remain in the form of our “former inhabitants,” aka our lingering sin nature. It is our challenge to drive out the remaining “inhabitants” so that we may fully thrive in our deliverance by God’s grace when we faithfully place our trust in Jesus. Of course, God gives us the same encouragement He gave Israel. He will gracefully go before us, and we will defeat those “former inhabitants” if we will trust His Word and fight by faith!
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©Steve Wiggins 2021