Dad shows son lion in the clouds March 28 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Joshua 13, 14, 15

Note: The content of the Biblical texts for the next three days covers the division of the land of Israel in 1400 B.C. in detail. While the borders of their territories were important for the twelve tribes of Israel, many of the ancient border cities are not known by these names today. It is therefore easier for us if we view the division of the land from a Biblical map. You will see many linked references to a map within this Bible study.

Our Faithful God Motivates Us

In C.S. Lewi's' book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the central character of the allegorical story is Aslan the Great Lion. He represents Jesus Christ. Aslan is gentle and wise, but powerful and even dangerous. Aslan gives his life for one of the sons of Adam (and Eve, although not mentioned), and then miraculously comes back to life to fight against the evil powers of the witch (symbolizing Satan) and finally destroys her. The characters in his story must learn to trust in the wisdom of Aslan, to have faith in him. How do we know someone is worthy of faith? We can know someone is faithful when his actions are consistent with his words. If that person makes a promise, he delivers.

God Keeps His Word

In our chronological Bible study we are in the book of Joshua. The time is approximately 1400 B.C.. Six-hundred years have passed since the LORD made a promise to Abraham that he will give his descendants the land of Canaan for an inheritance (Genesis 17:8). First, however, God blesses Abraham's seed; many nations have come from him through Isaac and Jacob and their descendants. From one individual family God grows a large nation.

It was out of fear and self-preservation that Egypt enslaved the Israelites for 400 years so they would not be conquered by them. Through ten miraculous plagues God showed himself to be the Almighty Sovereign LORD, greater than any of Egypt's “gods”. With the last plague, the plague of the death of the firstborn sons, God finally delivered his people from bondage. Then he provided for and protected them in the desert, although their numbers swelled to well over two million people. He lead them to the southern edge of the land of Canaan, but they feared to enter it because of giants in the land. Because of their unbelief in God's almighty power to help them defeat their enemies, he exercised judgment, and most of them died in the desert.

The LORD was merciful and gracious, however—he allowed Israel's children under twenty years of age to enter the Promised Land—after they had been shepherds in the desert for forty years. God worked a miracle by providing a dry passage across the Jordan River, and then he helped their army to win over thirty-one kingdoms. Through an incredible miracle he even lengthened the day so Joshua's forces would have time to pursue and defeat their enemies. Finally, God brought Israel rest from war (Joshua 11:23b).

We can be motivated to trust the LORD by reviewing what he has done and then acting in faith. Do we know God in a personal way? Have we come to him for forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life? Israel's God can be our God. (more...).

For the large part, most of the land of Canaan is conquered, but there will still be minor skirmishes. The individual tribes can now do mop up jobs in order to possess their inheritance. Individual faith and responsibility are important. God will help us to fight our personal battles if we will put our faith into action!

God keeps his word. Today's reading shows us the borders of the two and one-half tribes east of the Jordan River and the borders of Judah in the west. As you can see from the map, Reuben is the southernmost tribe of the east, with its borders ending at the Arnon River, a tributary of the Dead Sea (Salt Sea), its western borders being the Dead Sea and the Jordan River, its northern borders being the Jabbok River, a tributary of the Jordan River. The small tribe of Gad is squeezed between the two tribes of Reuben and Manasseh, with the borders of Jordan to the west, in the territory of Jazor (Gilead) and half the Ammonite country near the town of Rabbah. It is a particularly beautiful area with good pasture land. The northern half tribe of Manasseh has southern borders of the Jabbok River, western borders of the Jordan River, and northern borders of the Yarmuk River, another tributary of the Jordan River (map).

Judah is the first and largest tribe to receive her inheritance west of the Jordan River. Her southern boundaries are the end of the Dead Sea, south through Edom, then west through the Negev and Zin (desert wilderness areas) to the Wadi (brook) of Egypt to her western boundary, the Mediterranean Sea. From there her territory stretches east to Bethel and as far north as Gilgal and the mouth of the Dead Sea where it meets with the Jordan River (we notice from the map that she fails to possess the area of the Philistines).

From the division of the tribal inheritances we can learn that God keeps his word to his chosen people. Although most of us are not Israelites, we are included as a chosen people of God. The Apostle Paul will later inform non-Jewish believers, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 1:13, NIV). As God was faithful to the Israelites, he will be faithful to us.

Motivated by Faith

Caleb is a stellar example of one motivated by faith. Caleb and Joshua are from the first generation of Israelites delivered from Egypt. They are the only ones over twenty years of age allowed to enter the Promised Land. Caleb was forty at the time he spied out the land, when Israel was at the southern border of Canaan in Kadesh-Barnea. At that time, Caleb and Joshua were the only spies who expressed faith and confidence in God that the LORD would help them win, even against the giants in Canaan. Joshua became the leader of the great nation of Israel after Moses died. In today's Bible reading Caleb speaks to Joshua to receive his own piece of land in Canaan. Hear his testimony:

“So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out [45 years ago]; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there [giants nine feet tall like Goliath] and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”

So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the LORD, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly. (Joshua 14:10b-14, NIV)

Caleb not only has courage, but he inspires it in others. Caleb makes a promise:

And Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Acsah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher” [Debir].

Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb's brother, took it; so Caleb gave his daughter Acsah to him in marriage. (Joshua 15:16-17, NIV)

Othniel was later to become the first judge of Israel (Judges 3:7-11). Do we inspire any others to have courage and act in faith?

Lessons to Live By

  • We can be motivated to trust God by reviewing what he has done and then acting in faith.
  • Individual faith and responsibility are important (more...). God will help us to fight our personal battles if we will put our faith into action.
  • God keeps his word.
  • If you have faith, do not keep it to yourself. Motivate others to have faith in God.

Focus Verse

2Chronicles 20:20c (NIV) “Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.”

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A Look Ahead: God keeps his word and gives us the assurance of heaven, but like Israel we need to Claim our inheritance. What does this mean? Join us for our Next Lesson.

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