Scripture: For it was the LORD’S doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the LORD commanded Moses. So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had spoken to Moses. And Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments. And the land had rest from war. Joshua 11:20, 23 ESV
Observation: The remainder of chapter 10 summarizes Israel’s victories over the kingdoms of southern Canaan, while chapter 11 covers the conquests of the northern territory. In both passages, the author cites details regarding tribal names and locations that would be of concern to the original audience, who shaped their identity in part according to the history of the land. And as we wade through the repetitive flow of the text, the author highlights two running themes of the entire book:
- Joshua did as the Lord commanded (10:40, 11:9, 11:12, 11:15, 11:20 above, 11:23).
- The Lord fought for Israel (10:30, 10:42, 11:6, 11:8, 11:20 above).
Chapter 11 closes with the notation that Joshua took the whole land following Yahweh’s instructions to Moses and subsequently allotted the inheritance to Israel’s tribes. “And the land had rest from war” (v.23 above).
Takeaway: The precept of obedience to God and his resulting favor stretch across the breadth of Scripture. In the book of Joshua, the call to adhere to the Lord extends from Israel’s exodus leader (Moses) to their conquest commander (Joshua). Indeed, the text portrays an integral relationship between Yahweh, Moses, and Joshua: Joshua obeyed what the Lord commanded Moses. In a sense, the author wants his audience to know that we learn obedience (not inherit), which places responsibility on both the mentor and the mentee. And while Scripture is our basis (as both Moses and Joshua read to the people), its instruction must be coupled with modeling its adherence.
Several years ago, I read a billboard driving up a steep hill in Pittsburgh that said, “Your children catch 90% of what you do, not what you say.” I note “steep hill” because I saw the irony in the advertisement’s location. Undoubtedly, consistently modeling what we profess is as challenging as climbing a steep hill. But the good news is that the Lord is fighting for us. He wants us and future generations to find “rest from war” under his blessings that flow from obedience to his commands.
So how do we stay on track? By immersing ourselves in Scripture that reveals our Triune God’s commands and blessings. And by spending time in prayer where the Holy Spirit speaks to our minds and hearts and assures us of our Lord’s immeasurable love for us and his grace that brings forgiveness and reconciliation. Combined with the support, encouragement, and accountability from our community of believers, we will find the strength and courage (two other running themes of the book of Joshua) to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in dying from selfish, destructive habits and rising to a godly, sacrificial lifestyle founded in Christ’s love and grace. For it is here that our land will find rest from the spiritual wars waging around us.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Word, both revealed in Scripture and the life, death, and resurrection of your Son. And we thank you that you fight for us through the sanctifying work of your Holy Spirit so that we might know peace in our land. So would you please help us be strong and courageous and face the challenges of the world, the flesh, and the devil by cooperating with your Holy Spirit as we immerse ourselves in your Word, prayer, and the community of believers? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling