Summary: Division of Canaan among Israel
For the past couple of years we as a family have gone to the Opera House in Belfast to see the Pantomime and because we usually book over the telephone and pay by credit card our name and address are on the data base of the Opera Houses’ computer system. That means that whenever they are sending out their programme of events for the forthcoming season we always receive a copy. While browsing through an edition of their programme a year or two ago I noticed that the reduced Shakespeare company were scheduled for a visit. The reduced Shakespeare company are a group of artists who in a show lasting perhaps two and a half hours try to cover as many plays of William Shakespeare as possible, taking perhaps a bit out of Romeo and Juliet and a bit out of The tempest, and then moving on to some scene of Macbeth and then King Lear and so on. Their presentation is reported to be very entertaining and does succeed in giving you something of a flavour of Shakespeare, albeit somewhat superficial and tongue in cheek. I say that it is reported to be very entertaining because although we got the information about the event we never actually got to see it. I did however hear a guy a couple of years ago giving an even more greatly reduced and very entertaining summary of Shakespeare’s works, in about three to four minutes.
Of course connoisseurs of Shakespeare would not be at all enamoured with such a treatment of the great playwright’s works, preferring a more detailed, studied approach to the various individual texts. But who knows perhaps the less deep, overview type of approach might have actually served some practical purpose in getting people interested in a genre of English literature that they might otherwise have avoided because they considered it of no entertainment value.
Well this evening you are going to get the reduced Joshua as I endeavour to cover seven chapters of this book in about 25 minutes in a single sermon.
Some of you might perhaps think that such an approach is somewhat superficial and I have to confess that in one sense it is. I have been very selective in my choice of material and of necessity will be leaving out great chunks of text. However I trust that my overview approach this evening will not only prove to be a benefit in and of itself but will also stimulate some interest at least in chunks of scripture like this that many of us would perhaps usually avoid. One’s natural tendency when one comes to a section of the Bible, like this, where chapter after chapter is given over to a seemingly endless lists of names that one cannot pronounce and places that one can no longer identify and so on is to skip over such a section and go on to the next more interesting part of the Bible and I have to confess to having done that myself from time to time. But there are golden nuggets of truth and practical instruction to be found in what from the human perspective are the most unlikely and seemingly unpromising of places in scripture.
The theme of this section (ch13-19) is that of the allocation of the land to each of the individual twelve tribes of Israel. Although there was still quite a bit of territory to be captured and numerous enemy enclaves still to be conquered and destroyed, by the time you reach chapter 13 Israel has nevertheless gained general control of the land. The major battles had been won, the finishing off of the task, that is the overthrowing of the prevailing pockets of resistance in the different territories would be left to each of the individual tribes to whom that territory was allocated. The actual allocation of the land, although carried out by Joshua was ultimately determined by God himself by means of the lot, most probably using the Urim and Thummin. These, we believe were perhaps some kind of coloured stones used by the priests by which they discerned the mind and will of God. And so the land is divided up among God’s people.
Now in our overview of these chapters this evening I want you to notice with me first of all
1) The Spiritual Calibre of Caleb:
The record of Caleb receiving his inheritance is found in ch14/6-15 & ch15/13-19
There are a number of things that these verses teach us about Caleb as comes to receive his portion of the land.
(i) He Was a Ardent Servant of God:
I use the word ardent here in the sense of being devoted to something or someone. For example if I say ‘see that man he is an ‘ardent’ Manchester United fan’ what I mean by that is that he loves Man Utd, he is fully committed to supporting them and only them. His loyalties are not divided. He is an out and out United supporter.