Joshua is a book of military conquest. This is how Israel came to possess the land that they would be in until they were carried off into exile many centuries later.
They went in and they conquered by military might. Thanks for joining us on the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, Founding Pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hello again, I'm Bill Wright, and we're continuing our series titled, The Justice and Deliverance of God, with part two of a message called, Conquer and Divide. Last time, Don took us through some of the historical details of Joshua's and the Israelites' conquest of the Promised Land. We were reminded that God's Word always teaches deeper truths about the character of God, even during straight narrative passages.
Today, as Don continues to teach God's people God's Word, our teacher will offer some practical takeaways for us. So open your Bible again to the book of Joshua, as we join Don Green now in the Truth Pulpit. Now, some of our friends in other parts of Christianity who see no future today for national Israel, they would say that there is not a millennium coming where Israel is going to have the land for a thousand years. We've taught on that in the past, and our church affirms a future for natural Israel. But our critics, some of them anyway, would look at this passage and say, you are greatly mistaken. You say that Israel still has the land promise, is still in effect for them, to be able to enjoy the land on the earth, and when you say that that is still future, you are wrong.
You are mistaken because it says right here in Joshua 21 that God has already fulfilled his land promise, therefore there will be no future restoration of national Israel. Your whole view of the future is skewed and mistaken and ignores the obvious implications of a very plain text. Well, what are we to say to that? Should we jettison our theology because of that criticism?
Probably not. Let me explain to you why we don't. When you first see that, and when you first hear that argument if you've grown up and been taught about the future for the nation of Israel, if you're not familiar with this passage, it strikes you and it looks very compelling. But that argument falls apart pretty quickly. And as is usually the case, when somebody bases a huge theological weight, a huge theological statement on one or two passages of Scripture, there's maybe three that they use to make this argument.
Invariably, beloved, even if you don't know the immediate answer, you can go back to this basic principle to help you have discernment and to not overreact to an argument that maybe you've never heard before. Always look at the broader context of Scripture. There is always going to be more that the Scripture has to say than what one particular passage could bear the weight of. And in this instance, it is pretty easy to see that this passage could not mean what our amillennial friends say that it means. They try to force all of the fulfillment of God's land promise to the people of Israel right into this section of Scripture and says, That settles it.
There's no more to come. That's obviously wrong. It is clearly mistaken, and this is not even a close question. You can look at this from the near context surrounding this passage in the book of Joshua and Judges.
We'll do that in a moment. And also, as you look at the broader context of Scripture altogether, you can see that this passage does not mean what those people say that it means. First of all, before Joshua apportioned the land, go back to Joshua chapter 13, and I'll show you.
We read this verse earlier, but I want you to see this from another perspective. Joshua chapter 13 verse 1. This is right before the land is being apportioned. Joshua apportions it, and then that statement in Joshua 21 comes up. Joshua 13 verse 1. Joshua was old and advanced in years when the Lord said to him, You are old and advanced in years, and very much of the land remains to be possessed.
They did not possess all of the land. From the clear statement that preceded this section of Scripture, God says there's much of the land that remains to be possessed. And so, it's not saying, it could not possibly be saying, that this was the fulfillment and the climax and the utter fulfillment of everything that God promised to Abraham. Because the text of Joshua itself says it doesn't mean that. Now, in the subsequent book of Judges, which is the historical next chapter on the book of Joshua, look over at Judges chapter 1 verse 19. You can see both before Joshua 13 and after this statement in Judges chapter 1, that all of the land was not possessed by Israel.
Judges chapter 1 verse 19. The Lord was with Judah, and they took possession of the hill country, but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley because they had iron chariots. Then they gave Hebron to Caleb as Moses had promised, and he drove out from there the three sons of Anak. But the sons of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem, so the Jebusites have lived with the sons of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day.
Here's the point, and we're not even finished yet. You have this statement that our amillennial friends, some of them, say shows that the land promises have already been fulfilled, there's nothing left for God to do regarding the land for Israel. But, here's the thing, the bigger point that I want you to see is for you to just be mindful that you always want to look at context to see if a passage means what somebody says it means. Here in the context, before and after that statement, Scripture itself says there is much land that remains to be possessed. Scripture itself says that not everything was taken, and therefore, whatever Joshua 21 means, it cannot mean that God's promise had been exhaustively fulfilled.
It doesn't mean that, as shown by the broader context of what we're seeing. Now further, you go into an even broader sense of Scripture. Go back to Genesis chapter 17 here. Genesis 17, we've seen the close or the near context, to use a more precise term, the near context.
In Genesis chapter 17, verse 8, God, in making his promise to Abraham, says, I will give to you and to your descendants after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God. It has the sense that this is going to go on deep into the future more than simply a fulfillment in Joshua. That's before, in a more remote sense, a more remote indication that there should be a longevity to the land that exceeds what we see in the book of Joshua. As you go to the prophets, you see something even more. Turn to the book of Amos. I'll give you a couple of moments to find the book of Amos. But here in Amos, written some, say, five or six hundred years after the time of Joshua, we're actually making an important theological point here.
Hundreds of years after Joshua. Look at what the prophet Amos delivers as the word of the Lord to the people of Israel. He says in verse 14, Amos chapter 9, verse 14, I will restore the captivity of my people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine and make gardens and eat their fruit.
Look at this. I will also plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them, says the Lord your God. The prophet says, hundreds of years after Joshua, there is land in the future of Israel. Therefore, getting back to Joshua 21, it cannot be that that silences the land promises forever to Israel.
The contexts both before and after show that that's not the case. You have Amos saying, land is in your future to the people of Israel. Land, says the Lord your God. Look at one more in Zechariah chapter 8. Zechariah chapter 8, which is just before Micah as the next to last book of the English Old Testament.
Zechariah chapter 8, which is written a few hundred years more after Amos. Zechariah chapter 8 verse 7 says, thus says the Lord of hosts, behold I am going to save my people from the land of the east and from the land of the west. And I will bring them back and they will live in the midst of Jerusalem.
And they shall be my people and I will be their God in truth and righteousness. Multiple prophets, and it's far more than just Amos and Zechariah, these passages were just particularly clear, state that there is a land in the future of the people of Israel. This is part of the reason why we believe that there will be a millennial kingdom on the earth where Christ reigns from Jerusalem for a period of a thousand years, and Israel is in their land and they are at peace and they have what God has promised them, fully given to them in a way that has not yet happened historically from the beginning of time. Finally, just to wrap this point up, if you go to any Bible Atlas of any quality or of any size, you will find maps relating to the conquest of the land in Joshua that show that at the end of Joshua, Israel did not possess all the land that God had promised.
I have three citations in my notes to the Carta Bible Atlas, the Holman Bible Atlas, and Baker's Bible Atlas all showing the same thing. Here are big sections of the land that were not possessed at the end of Joshua. The point of all of this is that Joshua 21 does not mean what some of those amillennial friends say that it means, and therefore we should not back away or be discouraged from thinking that we are misrepresenting Scripture when we talk about a future for national Israel yet to come. What's that passage saying then? The Lord had fulfilled what He had promised to do up to that point, but it should not be stretched beyond the author's intent to contradict the rest of biblical teaching.
Think about it this way, here's an example that you'll clearly understand and relate to. God had given title to the land to Israel, but they had not fully moved in yet. Those of you who have purchased a house or even rented a place, you sign the agreements and you get the key to the place that you now own or that you are going to rent. You have legal right over that area of real estate. You have legal right over that home. It belongs to you fully and completely. However, you have not yet moved in and taken possession of it. When a buyer closes the purchase of his house, he has the house, but he's not in it.
We all understand that from a common basic understanding of how real estate transactions work. So, at the end of Joshua, what we see is that God has given the land to Israel, but they're not completely in it yet. That's all that Joshua 21 is saying. And as you read on in the book of Judges and in other places of Scripture, you see that they didn't take full possession of the land because they were disobedient. They backed away from the conflict that they allowed people to stay in the land that they could have won if they had only fought the fight that God told them to fight. And that is how we understand this possession of the land and how it relates to the future of Israel.
Now, listen to me. God does what He says and He does it without fail. But, God does it on His timetable, not ours. Many generations of Abraham's descendants had this promise in front of them, as it were, but they did not see it fulfilled in their lifetimes.
They were born, they were raised in a home, they went through their adult life, they got ill and they died and they had that promise and it was never fulfilled. But we do not measure the faithfulness of God according to the timetable and the chronology of our lifetimes. God is outside of time.
He is outside of the scope of our life. God works out His will over time, over a long period of time, in a way that precedes us, in a way that will live on after us. And so, just like the Jews who heard the promises and saw them but never saw fulfillment, in those times where we pray and nothing changes, in those times where you pray and it seems like sometimes things get worse, not better, here's how you need to think about it. You and I both, we all need to realize that our desires and our expectations and our situation does not put a deadline on God. We are not to think that way about the promises of God. We are not to demand fulfillment of every promise that we might want to see fulfilled in our lifetime.
How are we to think about it then? Simply this. Simply this, beloved. Here is where everything extraneous gets stripped away from faith and it is brought down to its bare, pure essence. In the Scriptures, we have God's promise that He will deliver us to heaven. In the Scriptures, we have the promise that He will cause all things to work together for good to those of us who love God and are called according to His purpose. We have the promise. And beloved, if we have the promise of God, we have enough. That's all that we need to satisfy our souls. We have the trustworthy Word of God that He knows us by name. He has promised us in the Scripture that He is going to do good for us. And that is meant to sustain our soul all the way until we get to heaven to be with Him. And that's enough, beloved.
I say it gently, I say it with compassion, but we must say this clearly. The promise of God is enough to satisfy the believing heart. We do not have to have a breakthrough in order to believe God. We do not have to have some kind of miraculous deliverance of health or money or whatever the circumstance may be. We don't have to see in our lifetime, and certainly not by tomorrow at 10 AM, we don't have to see it turn the way we want in order for us to be completely confident, completely serene, completely at peace, because we have the promise of God. And as we look at the whole scope of redemptive history, we say God certainly fulfills His promise in His time. We're part of something that's greater than we are. There is a greater purpose at work than our lifetimes can encompass. And therefore, we tap in, as it were, we tap in to the timeless accomplishment of the promises of God. We realize that He has brought us into His kingdom, brought us into His church, brought us into the realm of His Son, and therefore we belong to that realm even if we don't see and possess it right now as we stand here today. And because we own that promise, because God has brought us into the timeless realm of His kingdom, we no longer have to have all the answers in this life. We no longer have to have all of the solutions in this life. God has promised, and that's enough. For centuries, Israel looked at those Old Testament Scriptures for 400 years in slavery in Egypt. Oh God, where's the promise? Generation comes and goes and comes and goes and comes and goes. Would they have been justified to say God's never going to keep His promise? No.
Not only would they not have been justified, they would have been wrong. Well, beloved, all of this becomes very personal when you're tempted to impatience in your life circumstances, in your unfulfilled desires, in the threats to your well-being. So many times we enjoy the faithfulness of God and we get to see it played out in our lifetimes. This church and my opportunity to be a pastor to you is a fulfillment in my lifetime of His promise, not to make me a pastor, but of desires that were on my heart for decades before fulfillment ever came.
But it was decades, decades of waiting. And so, as we see these things in Scripture, as we start to understand these things, we have to adjust our sense of time and adjust our sense of expectation to the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient timetable of God and say, I have His promise, that's all I need. Look at Hebrews as we close. Hebrews 11.39 says, all these, after reviewing the heroes of the faith throughout Hebrews chapter 11, Hebrews 11.39, all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised.
Some of them were stoned, some of them were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword. Where is the promise of God when your neck is being offered up to an executioner because of your faithfulness to Christ? You see, we're not to view God's promises from a strictly earthbound perspective. We're supposed to love Him and trust Him so completely and so serenely that even if everything earthly is arrayed against us, we are unmoved and unshaken in our confidence because our confidence and our desire is not in our circumstances, our confidence and our desire is found in this blessed book.
And that changes your entire perspective on life. Israel waited for centuries. We can wait a few decades. The heroes in Hebrews 11, some of them were literally, their top half was separated from their bottom half by a saw. We can suffer and trust at the same time.
And so when ear ticklers come and promise you breakthroughs, don't be deceived. God doesn't work that way. God works out His purposes over time and we're content to rest in Him, to wait on Him, knowing that when His fulfillment comes, the victory will be utterly complete like it was in the book of Joshua. Praise be to this great God whom we can trust so completely that if we just have His word, we have enough.
Walking by faith means trusting God's promises even when their fulfillment might only come much later or not within our lifetime at all. Pastor Don Green will have more of our series, The Justice and Deliverance of God next time here on The Truth Pulpit. So be sure to join us then. But right now, here again is Don with a heartfelt request for you. Well, you know, my friend, I feel very blessed by God to be able to do what I do. I have a church that is loving and supportive of me, that love to hear God's word. I have this radio broadcast. I have the opportunity to speak to you in a personal manner like this.
What a wonderful gift that is. You know, I would just encourage you, if the Lord ever brings us to your mind, pray for us. We're like all men in ministry.
We feel our inadequacy. We realize that we need the power of the Holy Spirit to attend the work that we do so that there would be eternal fruit for your good and for the glory of Christ. So pray for us as the Lord brings us to mind. Pray for those that support The Truth Pulpit with the labor of their hands. We have a wonderful team and we're just so grateful for you as you listen to us day by day on The Truth Pulpit. Thanks, Don. And friend, we hope you'll visit thetruthpulpit.com to learn more about our ministry. That's thetruthpulpit.com. I'm Bill Wright and we'll see you again next time when Don Green teaches God's people God's Word from The Truth Pulpit.
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