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THE CONQUEST AND PARTITION OF CANAAN
Joshua 11:23. So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes.
THE promises of God, though often slow in their accomplishment, are sure to be fulfilled in due season. Abraham waited twenty years for the promised child, till, according to the course of nature, there was no hope that Sarah should ever become a mother; yet Isaac was born to him in due time. God promised to give to him and to his posterity the land of Canaan; yet it was four hundred and thirty years before his posterity were brought out of Egypt; and forty more before they entered into Canaan; and even then it was six more years before they obtained a quiet possession of it. Still however, the promise could not fail, nor did it fail in any particular. The accomplishment of that event is recorded in the words we have just read; which will naturally lead us to contemplate the conquest and partition of the promised land.
The conquest of the land—
Beautiful is the analogy between the warfare of the Israelites, and that which is maintained by every true Christian. We have had repeated occasion for this remark before; but the illustration of it admits of endless diversity.
Mark their warfare in its various stages—
[Behold its commencement: it began with wonderful interpositions of the divine power in their behalf. The river Jordan opened to them a passage, as on dry land, at a time that it had overflowed all its banks: and the walls of Jericho fell down at the sound of rams’ horns, and the people’s shout: and thus a footing for them was gained in a way that gave all possible encouragement to their future efforts. In its progress they were left more to their own personal exertions. Great combinations were formed against them; and they had sometimes to contend with powers, which seemed likely to overwhelm them [Note: Joshua 10:5; Joshua 11:4.]: at other seasons they enjoyed comparative rest; yet were they never without some enemies to combat, and some conflicts to maintain. God had told them, that he would “not drive out the Canaanites before them in one year, but by little and little;” that the beasts of the field should not multiply against them, and that their population might so increase as to enable them to occupy the land [Note: Exodus 23:29-30.]. Hence, long after the inhabitants of the south were subdued, their northern enemies remained unbroken: and some of their fiercest conflicts were reserved for a period when they had expected nothing but easy and progressive triumphs. their last trials even seemed to be the greatest; for the Anakims, who were of such gigantic stature, and whose strong-holds were so impregnable as to intimidate all the spies that Moses had sent forty years before to search out the land, maintained themselves to the last, and were never conquered till all the other powers had been rooted out [Note: ver. 21.]. With the exception of Gibeon, there was not so much as one city that sought peace with Joshua; all of them being given over to judicial blindness, that they might suffer the full punishment of their iniquities [Note: ver. 19, 20.]. At last, however, came the completion of their warfare, when every enemy being subdued, they rested from all their perils and fatigues, and took possession of the whole land. Then they reaped the fruits of all their labours; they occupied all the cities, enjoyed all the spoils, and sat down in peace and safety, none making them afraid [Note: ver. 13, 14.].]
And now contemplate the Christian’s warfare—
[In its commencement, the power of God is not less displayed than in the history before us. The transition which a person experiences in conversion, is justly represented in the Scripture as a coming “from darkness into marvellous light [Note: 1 Peter 2:9.];” or rather, as “a passage from death to life [Note: 1 John 3:14.].” What human power is sufficient for a change like this? St. Paul represents the power displayed in it as equal to that which was exhibited by Almighty God in raising his Son Jesus Christ from the dead, and in setting him at his own right hand in heaven, above all the principalities and powers, whether of heaven or hell [Note: Ephesians 1:18-22.]. The remembrance of this is an encouragement to the Christian in all his future conflicts. He knows assuredly who it is that “hath begun the good work within him:” he is constrained to say, “I have laboured, yet not I, but the grace of God that was within me: by the grace of God I am what I am [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:10.].” In its progress the work is carried forward more apparently by his own exertions. He has the armour given him; but he is called forth to use it. His whole life is to be a state of warfare; and it is by fighting that he is to obtain the victory. He will not find any one enemy that will submit to him, till smitten by the sword of the Spirit, and constrained by the holy violence of faith and prayer. The world, the flesh, and the devil, will combine their forces to destroy him. There will be some seasons of more than ordinary temptation, when he will need peculiar succour from on high: and there will be other seasons of comparative rest: but, if Satan at any time depart from him, it will only be for a season, as he departed from Christ himself [Note: Luke 4:13.]. As it is with the Church at large, which has times of persecution and times of peace [Note: Acts 9:1; Acts 9:31.], so is it, in a greater or less degree, with all the individuals that compose the Church: and not unfrequently has the Christian his sorest trials, either when he is most expecting peace [Note: Job 1:10; 2 Corinthians 12:2; 2 Corinthians 12:7.], or when his last enemy, even death itself, is about to be swallowed up in everlasting victory [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:54.]. At last the completion of his warfare will arrive: O blessed season, when every enemy shall be finally subdued! Then the almost invincible Anakims shall be rooted out; and Satan, that great adversary, by whom all the rest are concentrated, and led on to battle, shall be bruised under his feet; and he shall enjoy the fruit of his victories in everlasting rest.]
The same resemblance as we have traced in reference to the conquest of Canaan, may yet further be discovered in,
The partition of it—
The land, when conquered, was divided to the tribes by lot; God having reserved to himself the whole disposal of it: his it was from the beginning; and his it continued to be; and they must all receive it as a gift from him. Mark here the order of events;
[God gave the land to Abraham, whom of his own sovereign will he had called out from an idolatrous people, and to whom for his own glory’s sake he had revealed his will. To him, I say, God gave the land: not for any merit that was in him, either seen or foreseen, but, “for the manifestation of his own glory.” And whence is it that man is taken, in preference to the fallen angels? or whence are Christians selected from the whole world, which lieth under Pagan darkness or Mahometan delusion? or whence are some “recovered out of the snare of the devil, by whom they have been led captive at his will,” whilst others are left still in bondage to him, wallowing in their lusts, and enemies of all righteousness? Will any man presume to say that he “made himself to differ [Note: 1 Corinthians 4:7.],” or that God chose him for his own superior goodness, either seen or foreseen [Note: Deuteronomy 9:4-6. Even such a thought is reprobated; and how much more such an assertion!]? Let not that man ever speak of pride; for wherein could Lucifer himself exceed such presumption as this? No: we must affirm with the Apostle, that “God hath chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world; and that, not because we were holy, or because he foresaw we would be holy, but that we might be holy, and without blame before him in love [Note: Ephesians 1:4.].” He, of his own sovereign will, gave his Son to us, and us to him [Note: John 17:6; John 17:9-10.]; yea, he “predestinated us also unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved [Note: Ephesians 1:5-6. It is not expedient to be always harping upon this subject; but we must not be ashamed of it, or afraid on proper occasions to confess it.].”]
[This, though a gift, was yet attained by means of their own exertions. The common objection against the doctrines of predestination and election is, that it encourages men to sit down supinely, expecting God to do every thing, whilst they themselves do nothing. But did Joshua and Caleb argue so; or was there found one single person in the whole kingdom of Israel that argued so? No; they all knew that the gift of Canaan did not supersede the necessity of their exertions, nor did the efforts they used prevent it from being a gift. They knew that it was a gift; and that very consideration encouraged them to fight for it; and they laboured cheerfully, because they “knew that their labour would not be in vain in the Lord.” Thus then it must be with us. “The covenant whereby heaven is made over to us, is ordered in all things and sure:” yet we must “fight the good fight of faith” and “quit ourselves like men,” if ever we would enjoy any one of its blessings. It is “to those who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, that eternal life will be given [Note: Romans 2:7.]:” nor is there one single hour on this side eternity when we are at liberty to put off our armour: we must “be faithful unto death, if ever we would obtain the crown of life.” The will of God is made known to us: every assistance is offered for the performance of it: in obeying it we must find our present happiness, and ensure that which is to come. This order of things is absolutely irreversible: “we have need of patience therefore, that, after we have done the will of God, we may receive the promise [Note: Hebrews 10:36.].”]
[This, though long delayed, they attained at last; and doubtless considered themselves as well repaid for all their labours. But what was their rest in comparison of that which God has reserved for us? Of ours David speaks, when he represents God as swearing that the impenitent and unbelieving shall never enter into it: and in the Epistle to the Hebrews, this declaration of David’s is brought to prove, that there must be some other, and better, rest than ever was enjoyed in this world. The rest which Joshua promised and gave to Israel in the land of Canaan, was only a type and shadow of that which God has prepared for us: “If Joshua had given them rest,” says the Apostle, “David would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God [Note: Hebrews 4:7-9. In ver. 8 the name “Jesus” should be translated “Joshua.” They are both the same word in the Greek.].” Now here the whole parallelism which we have illustrated, is marked by God himself. Their Captain has the very same name with ours, and was a most illustrious type of him: and the rest of Canaan which he gave them after all their conflicts, was a distinguished type of heaven; to the everlasting possession of which we shall be advanced, when, under the direction, and by the aid of Jesus, we have subdued our spiritual enemies. Then all difficulties, temptations, trials, conflicts, will be for ever banished; and rest in the bosom of our God will be our everlasting portion.]
Let us learn then from hence the issue,
Of the world’s impieties—
[God beareth long with sinners; and because his judgments against their evil works are not executed speedily, their hearts are the more fully, and more securely, set in them to do evil. But “God is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness.” He has fixed a period beyond which his forbearance shall be exercised no longer: and then the most secure shall be visited, and the most powerful brought down. “Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished.” O that the secure and thoughtless would reflect on this, ere it be too late! Hostility to Jesus and his people, whatever men may imagine, can never terminate, but in the destruction of those who indulge it. Beware then, Brethren, of hardening yourselves against God: for “who ever hardened himself against him and prospered?” His hand will surely find out all his enemies; and every refuge of lies shall be swept away with the besom of destruction.]
Of the saint’s conflicts—
[Victory may in some cases be long held in suspense: and the most courageous veteran may need peculiar comforts from above. But the weakest shall triumph in due time; and be made “more than conquerors through Him that loved them.” We readily grant, that, as the Israelites had to contend with “nations that were greater and mightier than they,” so it is with us: but the issue of our conflicts shall be like theirs also. It is said on different occasions, that “God delivered their enemies into their hands;” and from thence the victory became certain. The same promise has he made to us; and it shall be fulfilled to every one of us in its season. Let not any then give way to unnecessary alarms. Appearances may be awful and alarming: but our consolation is, that “greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world:” and, if at any time we be tempted to say, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me?” let us instantly reply with the holy Apostle, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Joshua 11". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany