Good morning church! Wanted to welcome everyone who has joined us in-person and also online this morning. How is everyone doing? One of the things that we really want to see happen more than anything else is to see our hearts hear and respond to God’s Word this morning. If you’ve been tracking with us at the Gathering, you would’ve figured that we’re going through a series titled “Our Promise Keeping God” from the book of Joshua.
We’re almost half way through our series, and now we’ve arrived at chapter 12 & 13 where we’ll see how the Israelites are ready to inherit the Promised Land.Before we begin, would you join me as we pray and ask God to help us understand and apply this passage to our lives today?
What comes to our mind when we think about the word “inheritance”? In Hindi they use the word “viraasat” to describe inheritance. We’ll probably think of property, wealth, possessions being handed down to one’s children or successors. Interestingly in the Bible, when God refers to the Promised Land, He refers to it as an inheritance that He’s kept for the Israelites.
What we will see in today’s passage is that the people of God will need “grace” to be able to enjoy their inheritance. They’ll need God’s grace from start to end. It’s a “gracious inheritance”. But it’s not just the Israelites who need grace, but the Bible tells us that in Jesus we have been given an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.
This inheritance is kept in heaven for us (1 Pet 1:4) and so I hope that we too realize through the course of this time that we can only enjoy and unlock our spiritual eternal inheritance by grace only.
So 3 things which will help us enjoy our gracious inheritance:
1. We need grace to receive our inheritance (Josh 12)
One of the things that will stand out to you from chapter 12 is that there are a bunch of names of kings and places. If you’re like me who is not too much into history, it’s sometimes hard to read through a passage that’s only talking about names and places. But we need to ask ourselves, why did God put this passage in Scripture in the first place? What was God trying to tell the Israelites at that time and all of us now through chapter 12?
By reminding them of 33 kings that were defeated, 33 cities who had armies much larger and greater than that of the Israelites, and this generous area of land which is flowing with milk and honey, God wanted His people to recognize that they needed His grace to be able to receive the inheritance.
Sometimes it’s hard for us to understand this concept of grace, because we are so used to seeing how people get rewarded for their competence in the world today. So the Israelites would’ve done something right which is why God gave them an inheritance, we might argue. Maybe they did something significant or maybe they were more righteous than the others. Let’s quickly look at these two aspects.
- They weren’t given an inheritance because they were significant
6 “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. 7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers (Deut 7:6-8)
- They weren’t given an inheritance because they were righteous
5 Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. (Deut 9:5)
In fact in the 40 year journey through the wilderness, the lives of the Israelites were not defined by faithfulness and loyalty to God but rather by stubbornness, rebellion and constant grumbling.
And so it was pretty clear that it wasn’t the significance or righteousness which made God chose the Israelites but rather His love and covenant promises which were made to Israel’s forefathers centuries before this.
How does this apply to us today? It could be that right now we are going through a season where we see momentary victories over certain sinful habits or maybe we are experiencing a season of spiritual growth, and it’s very easy for us to pat ourselves in the back and think that either it’s because of something significant that we’ve accomplished in life, or that we’re special in some way or because we are more righteous than some others that God has chosen us and given us an eternal inheritance.
It’s purely because of God’s love and His covenant promises in Jesus which is why God gives us an eternal inheritance. Some others might listen to this and think – “Hey I’m not really going through a season of spiritual victory and growth. In fact it’s the opposite where spiritual life seems like a daily struggle where I find myself go back to those sinful patterns”.
And if you’re in that place, let me tell you that God’s grace also addresses your need right now. Just think about it – right now God is not demanding you to do something significant to be able to come to Him, neither is He asking you to try to be righteous on your own and then earn the right to come back to Him.
No, God’s saying that His choice to give you an inheritance is purely based on His love and His commitment to you in Jesus. And that should free you to realize that you can come to Him and repent today.
But not only do we need grace to receive our inheritance, we also
2. We need grace to keep our inheritance
13 Yet the people of Israel did not drive out the Geshurites or the Maacathites, but Geshur and Maacath dwell in the midst of Israel to this day. (Josh 13:13)
This particular verse might seem a little out of place in the middle of chapters that have spoken at length about the Israelites uncompromising obedience and many successful victories. And the immediate question that probably comes into our minds is why would the Israelites not drive out the Geshurites and Maachathites?
Maybe the Israelites thought “these Geshurites and Maachathites don’t seem to be causing too much of an issue here. They are not like the other nations who gang up together and start a war against us. They are minding their own business and plus we are already comfortable with the land that we’ve already conquered, so why simply get into another unnecessary battle here.
What we see here is that although the Israelites became very comfortable with the land, but God was more concerned about their hearts. The reason why God wanted the Israelites to drive out these other nations from among them was because these other nations would end up influencing them to follow their wicked and idol worshipping lifestyle.
That was the main problem. God knew that if the Israelites entertained the Canaanite nations, they would forsake the God who redeemed them, and who by grace gave them this land as an inheritance. God knew that their affections would be turned away from God.
And I think this same issue speaks into our hearts today as we tend to become very comfortable with the level of obedience and holiness that we presently have. If you had to honestly answer this question in your heart, what would you say are some areas in your life where you’re aware that you let the guards down in your pursuit of holiness and holiness?
Maybe it’s busyness – maybe you’re just too busy with a lot of stuff that you don’t have time to do the things that actually matter – things that help keep your affections toward Jesus like spending time in God’s Word and prayer. And we forget how these spiritual disciplines are necessary to fuel our affections for Jesus.
Or maybe it’s the content that we consume – we convince ourselves that we are strong believers and we are able to discern what’s right from wrong, but deep down that’s beginning to impact your affections for Jesus.
So before we get into the action points, I want us to realize that it’s first and foremost a heart problem & that’s why we need our Savior Jesus even today. We preach the gospel to ourselves daily because our heart needs the rescuing work of Jesus today.
Do we need a resolve to address this problem of getting too comfortable with our current level of obedience / disobedience? Yes, we need resolve but let’s understand that none of us has the resolve. We desperately need Jesus to change our hearts today and that’s why we pray. Because we need grace to keep our inheritance as well. If it were left to our ability of keeping the inheritance, we would’ve lost it already.
But not only do we need grace to receive, and not only do we need grace to keep but we also need
3. We need grace to see God as our inheritance
33 But to the tribe of Levi Moses gave no inheritance; the Lord God of Israel is their inheritance, just as he said to them. (v33)
In the midst of all the land allotments, what’s kind of interesting is the instructions that are given to the tribe of Levi. Unlike all the other tribes, they are told that they won’t have a physical space for inheritance. Their Lord is their inheritance!
Which meant that they had to be dependent on God for their provision & protection daily. In terms of provision, a portion of the sacrifices of the people were to provide for the tribe of Levi. The other aspect about our inheritance is that it’s something that we enjoy. And so when God is telling the Levites that He is their inheritance, He is telling them that out of every other tribe – the Levites in a special way will be able to experience joy while ministering in the OT tabernacle or temple.
I’m not sure what went through the minds of the Levites as they saw all their fellow Israelite tribes being allotted lands, but I’m sure they would’ve wrestled with this question – “Though I don’t have a physical land, would I count this as my highest privilege and greatest joy to know that God is my inheritance? Would that be enough for me?”
And that’s a challenging question which can challenge us today as well, “if we didn’t get our physical needs met as we expected, if we didn’t get the healing that we prayed for, if we didn’t get the job that we prayed for, if we didn’t get the person to marry as we prayed for, if we didn’t get the comfortable life and success as we hoped, if none of this were granted to us, would we still count it as our highest privilege and greatest joy to know that the Lord is our inheritance and possession? Would we say that this is enough and satisfying for us?”
In Matt 13:44 Jesus tells us of a parable about the kingdom of heaven. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
And it’s so interesting, the only reason why the man was able to joyfully sell all that He had to buy the field was because He understood the value and preciousness of that treasure.
When we realize that the God of the universe, who is Holy and Perfect beyond measure, who is Powerful and awesome in deeds, Loving and merciful in character chose to come near us (though we didn’t deserve it because we were sinners), and when we realize that God didn’t spare anything – in fact He gave up His Son on the cross to die for our wickedness and sins. And Jesus died and was buried and on the third day He rose from the dead so that whoever would believe in Jesus, would now receive this inheritance which is what – God Himself! When we realize that this is what God did to give Himself to us, then we can say that “My God is enough”.