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Sunday, February 24, 2019

posted Feb 24, 2019, 7:53 PM by Site Administrator

NOW GIVE ME THIS HILL COUNTRY THAT THE LORD PROMISED ME THAT DAY

 

Joshua 13:1-19:51

Key Verse 14:12

 

Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”

 

          First, “Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day” (13:1-15:63). Look at verse 1. It reads: “When Joshua was old and well advanced in years, the Lord said to him, “You are very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over.” In chapter 14:7, Caleb said that he was forty years old when he was sent out to explore the land of Canaan with other 11 people. Now he became 85 years old, showing that since they started the conquest, five years had passed. Now Joshua was very old. At this moment, even though the majority of Canaan was conquered, still very large areas of land remained unconquered - all the Philistine areas, the Sidonian areas, the region of the Amorites, the area of the Gebalites, and all Lebanon to the east, from Baal Gad below Mount Hermon to Lebo Hamath. God did not wait until the Israelites conquered them all. Instead, in verses 6 and 7, God gave an order to Joshua to allocate the land to Israel, and divide it as an inheritance among the nine tribes and half of the tribe of Manasseh. God’s idea was very clear: From then on, each tribe would do their conquest for their own inheritance.

 

          God’s promise was not what they could take as a free gift, but it was what they should claim and take possession of by fighting for it and capturing it; that was God’s idea. God allocated the whole world to his churches. Each church, each ministry is assigned to their own specific inheritance. God's calling is God's promise for us – God wants you to have this portion – that’s God’s calling, and God wants each tribe, each church, each ministry to conquer their own inheritance, their own specific mission area. Some ministry for homeless people on the streets; some ministries for starving children in Africa, some ministries for dying patients in hospitals. God has given us all college campuses in the world. We don't need to worry about other tribes' and ministries' inheritances. The tribe of Judah does not need to worry about the inheritance of the tribe of Benjamin. God wants each ministry to conquer their own allocated inheritance by themselves, by trusting in God, by relying on God’s help. When each tribe fulfills their mission and secures their own inheritance, God's kingdom grows powerfully all together. 

 

          At this new direction, the tribe of Judah approached Joshua, and Caleb was their leader. Who was Caleb? He was one of the twelve spies Moses sent out to explore Canaan 45 years ago. When they returned to the camp in Kadesh Barnea, the other 10 spies brought a bad report, but, two spies, Joshua and Caleb, brought a good report. Caleb concludes his life before God in one sentence, saying, “I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.” What a blessed man he was who could say, “I followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.” When he looked back his life, he had no regret, because he had pursued God without any second thought; his conscience was free and he was ready to meet God any time. He was indeed a happy man who had nothing to be afraid of. He was a real victor. It was not his own opinion only. God's servant Moses also saw him in the same way, saying, “Because you have followed the Lord, my God wholeheartedly.” In the eyes of Moses, God’s servant, Joshua was fully committed to God, and thereby, really reliable and trustworthy. Moses was greatly encouraged and comforted by Caleb's single-hearted love for the Lord. Then, God also recognized him in the Bible. Verse 14 reads, “So Hebron belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the Lord, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly.” He was a happy man who had nothing to regret about; he was a great man who had nothing to be afraid of. It was all because he had followed the Lord wholeheartedly. Do you want to be great in God? Then, follow the Lord your God wholeheartedly. At the age of 60, 70 or 80, how are you going to describe your life? Don’t you want to say, “I have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly?” If you can say that, you are true victors in life. This makes us think about how we live our life today. Today, we must struggle to follow the Lord our God wholeheartedly.

 

I personally honor missionary Jose Ahn in Chicago. He served God’s work as a Korean diplomat in Latin America. When a fellow Korean diplomat asked him for Bible study, he refused to teach, saying, “My gospel is not for Koreans, but for the Gentiles.” When I heard him sharing that testimony in 1990 at the World Mission Report, I was thrilled. I was amazed at his clear sense of identity as God’s servant. In 2004 I was in the most difficult situation in my entire mission life. I was attending the summer Bible conference in Brazil. There, he served Group Bible study on Genesis 17 for the missionaries; he taught the passage wholeheartedly. And God’s words, “I am God Almighty. Walk before me and be blameless,” touched my heart. I had been thinking about why such terrible things happened to me, and how come others did such unjust things to me. I was confused, and I was asking God for the answer, saying, “Why? Why?” But God’s message was that, no matter what others had done, I must walk before him and be blameless. God’s words changed my whole perspectives. This instantly revived me and set me on the right track. Now he is in his seventieth, and he cannot hear properly. A few years ago, I met him at the Staff conference and said to him, “Your life has revealed God’s glory very powerfully.” At this, he said, “Now the important thing is how I finish my life in God so that God’s glory can be revealed.” For this, he, even in his seventieth, struggles hard to do God’s work, teaching students the Bible and visiting Latin American countries and serving many missionaries there. We have seen many examples like this: Mother Barry poured out her life for college mission, even giving up her marriage for God’s work – even if she is 87 years old, she still serves Group Bible studies and one to one for many; the three old ladies who visited us in the sheep pen – missionary Grace A. Lee (Dr. Samuel Lee’s wife), missionary Sunji Jun (Dr. John Jun’s wife), and missionary Rebekah Choi. Missionary Rebekah Choi had some difficulty due to stroke, but her spirit was overwhelming. Again, how happy we will be, when, at the age of 60 or 70, we can say, “I have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.” So, today, let’s follow God wholeheartedly. Such people are truly victorious.

 

Look at chapter 14, verses 11 and 12. Let’s read these verses together:

 

11I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”

 

          He was eighty-five years old, a really old man. Yet, he said, “I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.” Wow! An eighty-five years old man was willing to go out to battle, I mean, sword fight, more scary than UFC octagon fight. That was Caleb’s passion for God. This is what we want to learn from him that as God’s servants, as Jesus’ disciples that, even at the age of 40, 50, 60 or even at the age of 70, we go out to campus, and struggle hard to find new sheep, going through rejection after rejection, and thereby, crying out to God for help with tears, saying, “Lord, have mercy on me! Send me a sheep.”

 

For the past forty five years, Caleb had been waiting for this moment. How frustrated he was when he, because of the disobedience and rebellion of his people, had to turn to the desert right at the border of the promised land, and spend forty years in the desert. Forty years were very long for him to wait. How many times he sobbed and wept loudly for the sorrow of having to waste forty years in wandering in the desert! Probably, he had dreamed about going into the promised land, conquering, occupying it and enjoying God’s blessing generation after generation. Now, the minute the new direction of diving the land was announced, he boldly came out to Joshua and claimed God’s promise for him, saying, “Now here I am!...Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day.”

 

The land Caleb claimed was Hebron, a historic place for all Israel people. There, in Hebron, Abraham had purchased the cave of Machpelah from Ephron, the Hittite, as a burial site. There, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Leah were buried; this cave was like home to all Israel people – the most important place for all of them. Caleb claimed Hebron based on God’s promise and secured it. Then, later God’s world redemption history would develop from this area. Thus, his tribe, the tribe of Judah would play the main role in God’s world redemption plan.

 

          Caleb said to Joshua, “You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.” The Anakites were strong and tall warriors, a gigantic tribe. Even there was a saying, “Who can stand against the Anakites?” (Deut 9:2) And their cities were large and well fortified. Caleb could have been discouraged when he heard about the Anakites, and changed his mind about Hebron; he could have chosen an easy area; but still knowing that the Anakites were living in Hebron, and that the cities were large and well fortified, he claimed Hebron, because he believed in God's help, saying, “but the Lord helping me, I will drive them out.” People feared the Anakites. But when Caleb followed God wholeheartedly, he saw everything differently. He was confident that with God helping him, he would certainly drive out all the Anakites. That’s how he saw things. When he followed the Lord his God wholeheartedly, he could see things in that way – everything seemed possible, because God would help him. That’s how people who follow the Lord wholeheartedly see things. Thus, their words and attitude change; their way of thinking and ideas are different.

 

          College campuses are God’s promised land for us. But the problem is that the campuses are like well fortified cities with many Anakites, not easy to pioneer or conquer. Sometimes, their tight schedule looks like thick and strong walls. The world has fortified these students with heavy school loads and all kinds of humanistic ideas and isms. Desire for success and materialistic life has surrounded them tightly. Often, this humanism, materialism, or pleasure-seeking life looks like the formidable Anakites. Sometimes, these students’ girlfriends or boyfriends act as the Anakites, struggling hard to protect them from God, even threatening Bible teachers to stop teaching their boyfriends or girlfriends. Many people have desired to pioneer colleges, but most of them give up, because of these difficulties. But remember what Caleb said, “But, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.” Don’t you think you can drive out all these Anakites if the Lord helps you? Don’t you think you can build God’s kingdom on your campuses, if God helps you? As God was happy with Caleb who followed him wholeheartedly, God is happy with those who follow him wholeheartedly. As God was pleased to give the best area of Canaan to Caleb, God is pleased to give us His promised land, all college campuses in California, when we follow him wholeheartedly.

 

God’s calling is God’s promise; it is God’s will for us; God’s calling is like God saying, “This is what I want you to take.” Now, we claim this promise of God saying, “Now give me all these campuses that the Lord promised me that day.” The enemies have fortified their cities on the campuses in California so heavily, but, the Lord helping us, we will certainly drive them out just as he said. 

 

          Joshua blessed Caleb and gave Hebron to him. Chapter 15 describes the territory of Judah. They occupied the southern part of Canaan, including Hebron and Jerusalem area. They occupied the largest portion of the land. Thus, the tribe of Judah became the leading tribe in Israel.

 

          Second, “Go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves” (16:1-17:18). Chapters 16 and 17 describe the territory of Joseph’s two sons – Ephraim and Manasseh. They were given very large portions of the land. But look at verse 10 of chapter 16. Let’s read this verse together:

 

They did not dislodge the Canaanites living in Gezer; to this day the Canaanites live among the people of Ephraim but are required to do forced labor.

 

The tribe of Ephraim did not destroy the Canaanites in their territory, as a result, they had to live together with them. Also, look at verses 12 and 13 of chapter 17. Let’s read these verses together:

 

Yet the Manassites were not able to occupy these towns, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that region. However, when the Israelites grew stronger, they subjected the Canaanites to forced labor but did not drive them out completely.

 

          The tribe of Manasseh had the same problem. They were not wholehearted in fulfilling God’s will. Verse 12 says that because the Canaanites were determined to live in the region, the Manassites were not able to occupy these towns. But this cannot be any excuse, because no one wants to be destroyed or kicked out of their own homes and houses. The enemies were determined, but the Manassites were not determined fully. As a result, they could not even occupy the towns. While they were on the other side of the Jordan, God gave them a clear direction to drive out all the inhabitants of the land before them. At that time, God warned them what would happen if they did not drive them out, but live together with them. God said to them, “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.” (Num 33:55,56)

 

But these two tribes – Ephraim and Manasseh – did not take God’s word so seriously; they didn’t have that much zeal for God’s purpose. As a result, they lived together with the Canaanites. In their eyes, the Canaanites were too strong. So, what did they do, instead? Look at verse 14 of chapter 17. The people of Joseph said to Joshua, “Why have you given us only one allotment and one portion for an inheritance? We are a numerous people and the Lord has blessed us abundantly.” They just came to their leader and complained to Joshua that they had only one allotment, in which many powerful enemies were living, and asked him to give them more allotment – an easy one where no enemy was living. They didn’t mention about the Canaanites living in their towns or about the fact that they could not drive them out, but simply, blamed Joshua for not giving them many allotments.

 

          What was Joshua’s response? Look at verse 15 of chapter 17. Let’s read this verse together:

 

“If you are so numerous,” Joshua answered, “and if the hill country of Ephraim is too small for you, go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites.”

 

          Joshua accepted their complaint and granted their wish; but he didn’t give them just one more allotment of free land. Instead, he had them extend their own territory by pioneering a new area – the forest in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites. “Go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there.” His direction was very clear: You go up and pioneer for yourself. They were looking for an easy mission field; they just wanted to enjoy the benefits, without having to do any work. But Joshua rebuked them of their easy-going mentality, and encouraged them to pioneer even the forest. The forest was filled with trees and they had to cut them down, clear the land for streets, houses, and for vineyards; it required a lot of works. At this new direction, they were shocked, and screamed, “But they have iron chariots.” Then, Joshua again said to them, “You are numerous and very powerful. You will have not only one allotment but the forested hill country as well. Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours; though the Canaanites have iron chariots and though they are strong, you can drive them out.”

 

We are serving a new history of God’s salvation work – campus pioneering work through one to one Bible study and disciple-making; we struggle to establish God’s kingdom on our campuses where humanism, materialism and pleasure-seeking life are prevailing – it is like trying to build God’s kingdom in the forest by going up to the forest, clearing it by cutting down all the trees, and landscaping, and turning it into a beautiful city of God. We understand the sons of Joseph. Building a city in the forest is not easy. Building God’s kingdom from scratch to its completion is not easy. We started our church in a garage. But God is pleased with those who go up to the forest, clear the land and turn it into a beautiful city of God. Actually, it is really fun to build a city from scratch even if it is challenging - you can build it up to your heart's content - you have freedom and authority to do it in the way you desire. How cool it is that you build God's kingdom powerfully on the campus, in which enemy has been occupying! God’s will is not that we just sit in the church or enjoy Christian cultures, powerful worship and praise, and fellowship with others in a well established large church. Instead, God’s will is that we may pioneer God’s kingdom in this barren world. God wants us to go up even to the forest, wilderness, and there, pioneer God’s kingdom starting from scratch to its completion - it is really worth doing. Think about going to San Diego and pioneer God’s kingdom there – I desire to establish God’s kingdom at UCSD and CSUSD, so I cry out to God, “Lord, please accelerate your work so that we can send pioneers there. Or I want to go there.” What about San Francisco? Yes, let’s pioneer this great city. What about San Jose? There are many IT people who doggedly pursue success. With God helping us, we can surely establish God’s church there, and that church will be very rich with many rich IT people. We are thrilled. Go up to the forest, clear land and its farthest limits will be yours. This is God's will for you and for me. Finally, we have this mission to live for and die for, and we can now live up to our true potential. Once we clear the forest and build God’s kingdom on our campuses, then, numerous people will grow to be powerful spiritual leaders for God’s kingdom purpose; the entire society will change because of us. This is what we are doing. Joshua encourages us, saying, “Go up into the forest,… Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours.” Amen!

 

          Third, “How long will you wait?” (18:1-19:51). Look at chapter 18, verses 1 and 2. Now the country was brought under the control of Israel. So, the whole assembly of the Israelites gathered at Shiloh and set the Tent of Meeting there. The Tent of Meeting was the Tabernacle, God’s dwelling place – a portable temple. The Levites carried all the parts of the Tabernacle and set it up at Shiloh that was in the territory of Ephraim. Setting up the Tent of Meeting shows that the war was almost over in the land, and the Israelites were ready to settle in Canaan; but there were still seven tribes who had not yet received their inheritance. Judah and the sons of Joseph acquired their inheritance by asking Joshua for what they wanted; but these seven tribes didn’t know what they wanted; they didn’t ask; just they were following others, without knowing where they were going and what they were doing. Even if they had participated in the battle under the leadership of Joshua, they didn't know what they were really doing and what God wanted them to do. They did not take any initiative to occupy the land. So, Joshua rebuked them, saying, “How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you?” 

 

          This whole world is God’s promised land for the believers to conquer and build God’s kingdom. But in reality, so many Christians don’t do anything; their eternal inheritance is right before their own eyes, but they don’t know what to do; they don’t have any desire or idea to take possession of it all the days of their life – 70 years or 80 years, and their life is fruitless and empty. During their whole life, they go to church once every Sunday, but they don't do anything to take possession of their promised land. They just sit in the church for 1 hour and then, go home, and one week later, they do the same thing. What are they doing during their whole life? Just wasting their time! Just neglecting God's will for their life! Once I was wondering, “Why didn’t God take me away to heaven when I believed in Jesus, but let me live in the world where so many different kinds of enemies and dangers are?” In my eyes, it would be much better if God took me away to heaven as soon as I opened my heart and accepted Jesus – then, I would be safe and secure in heaven. But strangely, God didn’t take me away, but let me live here. Then, soon, I realized that God wanted me to expand God’s kingdom on earth so that I would have glorious inheritance. Jesus says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-- fruit that will last.” (Jn 15:16) Surely, all Christians are on the conquest. The book of Exodus shows us how people can be saved, that is, through the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God; but the book of Joshua illustrates how we must live our lives here on earth – we are on the conquest to build and expand God’s kingdom here on earth as soldiers for Christ. The whole world would be eventually destroyed, and the earth will be given back to the children of God. We are in the promised land. The conquest is going on. But so many Christians do not take any action; they don’t know what’s going on; their desire is about how to survive in the world, not about how to conquer it and take possession of it. Joshua rebukes all these people, “How long will you wait before you take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers has given you?” “How long will you wait?”

 

          With this rebuke, Joshua had them choose three men from each tribe, and let them go through the land to write a description of it. When they returned with a thorough description of the land, he divided the land into seven parts, cast lots and distributed the land among them. Now, it was up to each tribe of how to deal with their enemies in their own territory. Those who drove out their enemies from their territory would enjoy their inheritance fully, but those who did not drive them out would have to live with them. God has distributed the land, the whole world among his people, ministry by ministry, church by church, and all college campuses have been given to us as our inheritance. They are God's promised land for us. As much as we pioneer and conquer, that much will be given to us not only in this life, but also in the life to come - indeed, all the campuses we conquer will be given to us as our eternal inheritance. So, let's go and pioneer all these campuses! Even the farthest limits of the land will be ours. Even though our enemies have iron chariots, we can surely drive them out, with God helping us.

 

          When they had finished dividing the land into its allotted portions, the Israelites gave Joshua the son of Nun an inheritance among them – the town he asked for – Timnath Serah in the hill country of Ephraim.

 

One Word:   Now Give Me This Land That The Lord Promised Me That Day

 

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