Joshua chapters 13-15 begin an account detailing of how the land of Canaan was to be divided among the 13 tribes of Israel (Joseph received a double portion). Each of his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh are counted as a tribe. Though this material may seem dull to the modern reader it chronicles the fulfillment of Israelite inheritance.
Inheritance – biblical inheritance in the literal sense is a possession or piece of property that is linked to the promises of God (i.e. Promised Land). It’s transcendent meaning holds that God himself is our inheritance.
Levites – the tribe of priests didn’t receive a swath of territory like the other tribes. Instead they received cities, which included the surrounding pasture lands. The Levites received the sacrifice offerings brought by the other tribes to the Lord. God was to be their inheritance. The twelve cities they received were scattered throughout the new land of Israel (see Joshua 21).
While Joshua chapters 1-12 chronicle God’s great victories fighting for Israel, much of the land still needed to be taken. God himself would continue to fight for Israel if they remained faithful and followed his instructions. The areas yet to be secured included some of the coastland occupied by the Philistines, and areas to the north and south of the lands already conquered.
When the Israelites began to enjoy the Promised Land, they made compromises to speed the process along, permitting people who served other gods to live among them as slaves. Ironically this would lead to the Israel’s undoing. They would become slaves to idolatry and eventually to the Canaanites. The book of Judges chronicles this.
Like the Israelites, how many of us have proved faithful to God in times of great crisis (during the storms of life) only to lose our resolve to remain faithful in the little everyday things? Faith prizes the gifts god God gives us. Great faith sees beyond the gift and remains faithful to God who gave it.
Caleb stands out as an example of how Israel’s tribes ought to be living out their conquest of Canaan. He remained faithful to God. He wanted the complete portion God promised. His faith wouldn’t let him make compromises. At age 85, he set out to claim the land promised to him. The same land his feet trod 45 years earlier when he and 11 other Israelites first spied out the land of Canaan under Moses’ leadership (See Numbers 13). He approached Joshua and said, “Give me the land God promised through Moses.” It didn’t matter to him that the land was occupied by giants. Caleb’s faith in God allowed him to conquer the land.
Our faith in God can sustain us. Great faith remembers what God has done and is grateful. Even today, Jesus is preparing an inheritance for those who are his faithful followers.
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. John 14:1-3 NLT