A catalog of geography is how one might view Joshua chapters 13-19 – interesting, but dry for any sort of spiritual development. But such is to miss the theological truths communicated to the believer in such a chapter. If we will recall, the entire Old Testament story points towards Jesus Christ and his life and ministry on this earth (John 5:39). So even a story about how the land gets divided and what remains to be done in the promised land is instructive for the modern day disciple.
Joshua 13 opens with these words,
“You are very old and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over. This is the land that remains…” (Joshua 13:1b-2a)
If we recall that Israel’s story was to be illustrative of the Church’s story, for the church is the true Spiritual Israel according to Ephesians 3:6 and Galatians 3:29, then we must ask how is Christ’s life paralleled in the conquest of the land and how is the truth that large areas of land remain to be taken over apply to the Church?
Certainly it is not hard to see Christ’s death and resurrection as the parallel to the initial foray into the land which secures the presence of the chosen people in the promised land. he is the Angel of the Lord fighting at Jericho (Joshua 5:14) and the one who causes the sun to stand still in the valley of Aijalon (Joshua 10). But like in these events that doesn’t complete the spread of the chosen people over the face of the land. Sure they are present, sure they are a force to be reckoned with, but there are still enemies needing to be conquered and brought into the worshiping community.
Isn’t this the same reality that New Testament Church has faced ever since the resurrection of Christ? The message of conquest must go forth and be proclaimed.
Every knee must bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
We are fighting against powers, authority and principalities in the heavenly places, just as Joshua and the nation was fighting against earthly kings. And the battle is for the hearts of people and the possession of a land where everyone worships the only true God. There can be no compromises, no sharing of God’s kingdom, it is all or nothing, but glory be to God, the end is guaranteed. The Lord will reign upon the earth and in the heavens. We must simple go forth and conquer by proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ so that people may believe by hearing.