The Land Rested From War Jos. 11:23 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
After Joshua led Israel into the Promised Land, they fought with the inhabitants of the land and defeated 31 kings and the land rested from war. Joshua had completed and won all the battles that God had commanded Moses to fight in the land in these initial campaigns. It was time now for Joshua and Eleazar to divide the land among the remaining 9 ½ tribes [Jos 14:1-2].
However, after dividing the land, there were still enemies to fight and defeat [Jos 13:1-6; 13:13; 16:10; 17:12-18]. The trouble is that once the land rested from war, Israel didn’t fight these enemies and, consequently, they became a snare to them in the future [Moses and Joshua warned them of the same thing, Num 33:55; Jos 23:11-13].
We’re going to examine some of the reasons why Israel didn’t complete the task of destroying their enemies. These reasons will hopefully provide good lessons for us in our spiritual warfare. Once the land rested from war:
Israel lost her seasoned leaders – Moses and Aaron died in the wilderness right at the end of their journey and Joshua died shortly after Israel divided the inheritance by lot [Josh 24:28-29]. Israel should have been close enough to the Lord to follow him directly but they weren’t; and so without a good shepherd to lead them, they strayed. We need to beware of two things in this lesson. Beware when your children leave home. They have had you for a good leader, hopefully, but they probably aren’t strong enough in their relationship with the Lord to stand on their own. And beware when you are without a strong pastor. Sheep stray without good leadership. Get in a good church under a strong pastor.
Israel forgot the original battle plan – “I will drive them out little by little,” [Deut 7:20-23]. The rest they enjoyed was temporary. They had enough respite from war to divide the land and to let the 2 ½ tribes return to their inheritance on the other side of the Jordan River. This is what I call the period of consolidation. We must remember not to quit fighting after we have some spiritual victories and gain some spiritual ground. There will always be more battles to fight and more ground to gain. We cannot forget our battle plan, “fight the good fight of faith.”
Israel rebelled against the commandments of God – once Israel divided the land they were supposed to conquer the rest of it and defeat all of their enemies. They were commanded to destroy their graven images, their pictures, and their high places. Instead, they left some of these and they ended up worshipping the false gods of the land. You cannot do a percentage of what God told you to do and consider it done. Consider Saul in 1 Sam 15:13-15, 19-25. He spared the king that he was supposed to kill and he spared the best of the spoil. Many Christians are content to do only the portion of what God commanded that they want to do and believe that God is pleased with them. He’s not; that’s rebellion and he is never pleased with rebellion.
Israel lost her fervency to fight – the Jews were okay with letting some of the former inhabitants remain. By now they had inherited a great deal of land and it was nice to have some people under tribute to work it for them. They were not nearly so zealous to defeat the rest of their enemies. We must be very careful in our lives not to lose our zeal for the things of God once we have sufficient provisions. Consider the church of the Laodiceans in Rev 3:15-19.
Israel became complacent with her enemies – Israel put her enemies to tribute but they forgot that the idolatry of their enemies and intermarriage with their enemies would cost them dearly in the future [Ps 106:34-43]. So often we become complacent with worldly things in our lives and our homes and among our children. Those things become a curse to us like the idols of Canaan became to Israel [Deut 7:26]. Never become complacent with worldliness in your life, with worldly things in your home or with worldly associations that draw you away from Christ.
Israel became consumed with her inheritance – the Jews were more interested in settling in to life in the Promised Land than they were in fighting wars against the remaining inhabitants of the land. Many Christians have started enjoying life in this world as if we are in already in the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. We are not home yet. Our worst battles are still yet to be fought. This world is not our home so don’t become consumed with it.
Conclusion: there are many good lessons we can learn from studying the children of Israel after they entered the Promised Land. Take heed to these lessons lest you repeat them yourself.