Week 6: Dividing Up the Land

Theme: Inheritance

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. -Ephesians 1:11-12

Introduction: When reading the Bible, and you come across a long list of names that are strung together in a row, do you feel the temptation to skip over it? You can’t even pronounce 90% of them anyway, so why not? Well, to gather perspective on this, think about the original audience. Every single one of those names meant something important to them.

While the Bible is very relevant for us today, and we believe that it always has, and always will have the power to change lives, the immediate context of the passage is easy to forget. But the context holds the key to making all passages easier to understand.

Take for example, Joshua 12:7-24. It begins easy enough: “these are the kings of the land whom Joshua and the people of Israel defeated”. But then the list begins and our eyes glaze over. But think of this list as if you were one of Israel’s warriors. You would remember each city, their king, and their people whom you fought, maybe even more than you wanted to. The same goes for those long genealogies. Imagine if those people listed were your family members?

Following the description of the land, kings, etc. the Book of Joshua heads into an interesting theme of inheritance. Remember that everything leading up to this point is fulfilling one specific promise made to Abraham. In Genesis 12, God makes a covenant with Abraham that not only will his descendants multiply and become a great nation, but this nation will be given a specific land in which to prosper (Gen. 15:18-21).

We have been calling this land the Promised Land so far. Now we get to see the beginning stages of this promise being fulfilled. We see that in some locations that the Canaanites have not been fully driven out, but the people of Israel are trusting and expecting that God will finish what He started. Therefore, each tribe of this nation, Israel, is given a part of the land, an inheritance, so that God’s people can thrive and multiply.

This week we will be looking at the theme of inheritance with respect to our own understandings of the word, and explore what that looks like for our own faith journeys today.

Key Passage: Joshua 14:1-13

1 These are the inheritances that the people of Israel received in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun and the heads of the fathers’ houses of the tribes of the people of Israel gave them to inherit. 2 Their inheritance was by lot, just as the LORD had commanded by the hand of Moses for the nine and one-half tribes. 3 For Moses had given an inheritance to the two and one-half tribes beyond the Jordan, but to the Levites he gave no inheritance among them. 4 For the people of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim. And no portion was given to the Levites in the land, but only cities to dwell in, with their pasturelands for their livestock and their substance. 5 The people of Israel did as the LORD commanded Moses; they allotted the land.

6 Then the people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-barnea concerning you and me. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought him word again as it was in my heart. 8 But my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the LORD my God. 9 And Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholly followed the LORD my God.’ 10 And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. 11 I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. 12 So now give me this hill country of which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the LORD said.” 13 Then Joshua blessed him, and he gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance.

Questions:

  1. What are the key words and phrases that stand out to you in this passage, and why?
  2. What is the reason for the allocation of the land? Do you believe that the Israelites deserved this inheritance?
  3. Why do you think the Israelites receive their inheritance at this specific time, and not sooner, or later?
  4. What do you think the link is between obedience and inheritance?
  5. Has there ever been a time in your life when you have felt that God has not fulfilled his promise?
  6. Caleb teaches us a valuable lesson about the fulfilment of God’s promises. How do you persevere in remaining faithful to God and obedient to His purposes?