The Allotment of the Land
January 17th, 1960 @ 8:15 AM
THE ALLOTMENT OF THE LAND
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-17-60 8:15 a.m.
To you who listen on the radio, you are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the early morning message entitled The Allotment of the Land. These early morning hours we are following the life of Joshua. The Book of Joshua is divided into two distinct and separate parts. The first part closes with the eleventh chapter of the book, chapter 11.
And last Sunday morning we brought the message from the eleventh chapter of the Book of Joshua. The conquest of the land, the story of the battles and wars of the land closes with the eleventh chapter. The final words of chapter 11 are these: "And the land had rest from war." "And the land rested from war" [Joshua 11:23].
The twelfth chapter of Joshua to the end, 12 through 24, concerns the division of the inheritance among the several tribes of Israel, and of course has in it the last great spiritual appeals of this warrior of Jehovah [Joshua 12:1-24:33]. We will deliver three sermons on these last twelve, last thirteen chapters; one this morning, one the next morning, and one the following Lord’s Day morning.
Chapter 12 is just a list of the kings that were defeated on the other side of the Jordan, on the east side and on the west side of the Jordan [Joshua 12:1-24]. Then chapter 13 reads thus: "Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the Lord said unto him, Thou are old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed" [Joshua 13:1]. Joshua was about ninety years old when this Bible reference is made to him. And the people had lived in a temporary camp at Gilgal for about seven years. Because of the age of Joshua and because the people needed to be settled, they needed to be given their permanent homes. The Lord said to him, "Joshua, the time has come for the people to receive their inheritance. You cannot war much longer. The limit of life has come for you. And before your translation, under your direction, the land ought to be parceled out. The division ought to be made."
But the comment is also said in that same verse: "yet – yet there remaineth very much land to be possessed" [Joshua 13:1]. By no means had they achieved what God had intended for them, and in His gracious promises to the patriarchs had bestowed upon them.
Now we follow that in the eighteenth chapter of the Book of Joshua. Turn to chapter 18 and we pick up that same theme. Joshua 18: "And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them" [Joshua 18:1], that is, the armed conflict closed with the eleventh chapter of the Book of Joshua [Joshua 11:23]. There is no longer a coalition of kings and warriors against them.
And there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes, which had not yet received their inheritance.
And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, How long are you slack to go to possess the land, which the Lord God of your fathers hath given you?
Give out from among you three men from each tribe –
that is seven tribes and three from each tribe, so that would be twenty-one commissioners, twenty-one surveyors –
Give out from among you – you seven tribes – three men for each tribe: and I will send them, and they shall rise, and go through the land, and describe it according to the inheritance of them; and they shall come again to me.
And they shall divide it into seven parts: Judah shall abide in their coast on the south, and the house of Joseph shall abide in their coasts of the north.
Ye shall therefore describe the land into seven parts, and bring the description hither to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the Lord our God.
But the Levites have no part among you; for the priesthood of the Lord is their inheritance: and Gad, and Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh, have received their inheritance beyond Jordan on the east, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave them.
And the men arose, and went away: and Joshua charged them that went to describe the land saying, Go and walk through the land, and describe it, and come again to me, that I may here cast lots for you before the Lord in Shiloh.
And the men went and passed through the land, and described it by cities into seven parts in a book, and came again to Joshua to the host at Shiloh.
And Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the Lord: and there Joshua divided the land unto the children of Israel, according to their divisions.
On the eastern side of the Jordan River, at the bottom right, to the right as you face the map of the Dead Sea, was the inheritance of Reuben. Just above that, in the middle part of all of that land on the other side of the Jordan, was the inheritance of Gad. Up above in Bashan, all of that country in Gilead, at the north, on the right of the Sea of Galilee as you face the map, was located the half tribe of Manasseh. That was given as their inheritance when Moses still led Israel and had conquered the eastern side of the Jordan [Numbers 32:33].
On the western side of the Jordan in Canaan proper, the great center through the heart of the land was given to Judah all the way through. Jerusalem later became the capital of Judah [2 Samuel 5:6-7]. Then to the north of Judah, what you would know as the country of Samaria, was given to Ephraim and the remaining half tribe of Manasseh, the children of Joseph. The two great tribes in Israel were Judah and Ephraim; Judah and Joseph. And later the country broke up according to those two tribes. Judah became the kingdom of Judah, and Ephraim became the kingdom of Israel, the kingdom of Samaria.
The Levites had no inheritance in a geographical unit [Joshua 18:2]. The Levites were given cities, and for a few furlongs beyond all of their cities scattered throughout Israel, throughout the whole land, and their living was from the altar. They were supported by the tithes and the offerings of the people, like you have the ministry of your church today. If your preacher had to take time to make a living, to plow or to sell, he’d have a very poor opportunity to be the spiritual undershepherd of God’s flock. So it was with the Levites. The Levites had no inheritance. They were supported by the gifts of the people. They lived off the altar [Numbers 18:1, 21].
Now that meant that seven of the tribes remained. Seven of them were yet to receive their inheritance [Joshua 18:2]. And that is why as they face that task of dividing up the land among those seven other tribes, that is why the comment is made here and expatiated upon in Joshua, that there was very much land yet to be possessed [Joshua 13:1].
You do not realize how extensive that land is. For example, in the first chapter in the Book of Joshua and the fourth verse, after God says that He has given to His people all of that land for an inheritance [Joshua 1:3], then God describes it: "From the wilderness," way down in the south to the river of Egypt; from the wilderness the vast country to the south, from the river of Egypt, "and this Lebanon," the great vast and beautiful country of Canaan and Syria; and Philo-Syria and Lebanon, and the Anti-Lebanons; all of that beautiful glorious country, "unto the great river, the River Euphrates," clear to the vast, vast heart of Mesopotamia, "all the land of the Hittites," the Hittite Empire covered most of Asia Minor and swept down clear to the borders of Pharaoh, "all of the land of the Hittites, and unto the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun," that is the Mediterranean, "shall be your coast" [Joshua 1:4].
When God gave that land to Abraham and to his seed as a possession forever, the land and its borders stretched from the river of Egypt to the river of the Mesopotamia, to the Tigris-Euphrates [Genesis 13:14-18; Psalm 105:8-11]. That vast, vast stretch of country, rich in oil, rich in many, many, many other of the vital things of life; all of that vast area was given to Abraham and to his seed for ever. Could I make a little historical comment here? That is one reason why the Arab world is so afraid of Israel. They are afraid of the expansionist programs and aims of the Jewish people. Whether they have cause to be afraid of that or not lies in the imponderables of God.
If I were to say a personal word concerning it, I think the destiny of Israel shall ultimately include all that God has promised. The thing that Israel is doing is making a happy and prosperous life for the Arab. There are more than a quarter million Arabs in the little tiny kingdom of Israel today. And they are far more prosperous and blessed there than they are anywhere else that I know of. But those things are political and of the now.
Returning to the land; the reason the Scriptures are pointing out this the vast area is to make the comment that they have not entered into their inheritance. So in the eighteenth chapter of the book, Joshua appoints these three commissioners, these three surveyors from each one of the seven tribes. And they go through that land and they describe it and its cities [Joshua 18:4, 8-9].
All of it God gave to His people, but it is the tragedy of human frailty that we never possess what God has given us; never, ever, never. All of that marvelous land of Phoenicia, of Philistia, of Sharon, of Lebanon, all of that land to the south, they never possessed except just briefly, momentarily, temporally, transitorily; just for a brief while under Solomon. They never possessed it, yet God had given it to them. Now, I say, such is the frailty and the weakness of human flesh and human nature. It never possesses what God has given us.
Now let us apply it to ourselves. God has given us the riches of His mind, and of His heart, of His wisdom. The very Lord Himself, God has given us the depth of His riches, the whole character, and soul, and mind of God. God has given it to us in His Word.
Yet, after that Word was written, the New Testament in the Greek language, and the whole story was developed under the elected purpose of God in the eastern part of the Mediterranean; you just heard Mr. Pat Zondervan say that their wonderful leader in Greece was converted on an island that has a population of one hundred thousand people in which no single copy of the Bible was to be found among them.
And throughout the whole earth that dearth, that famine of the Word of God, is always in evidence. And in our own midst, once in a while mother gets the Bible and dusts it with a cloth like she would any other piece of furniture, and carefully puts it back on the table, or underneath the table, or on top of the desk. How little do we ever enter into our possessions, our inheritance. And it could be a ludicrous hour if I were to start telling the things that are funny about how people put together, and speak of, and get mixed up in the most rudimentary facts and revelations of the Word of God. It is an astounding thing how little we enter into the treasures of the Book!
That is one reason I delight – if God will help me to be physically able to do it – that is one reason I delight in these 8:15 o’clock services; teaching myself, as well as humbly praying God’s Spirit to help us learn together all of the treasures that are to be found in the unfathomable depths of the oceans of God’s wisdom and mind, here writ large on the sacred page. We have it before us. It is just for us to enter into it.
There is so much we never possess of the power and the presence of God. Like Job said, "I had heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear" [Job 42:5]. It is hearsay evidence with us about God. We hear that He did a great thing back yonder years ago, or that He did a marvelous thing for somebody over there in China, or maybe in the Eastern Mediterranean. Or maybe it happened to our grandfathers. But how many of us can say that final sentence with Job, "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth Thee" [Job 42:5] – a deep personal experience with God, His power and His presence? So much land to be possessed, and what could I say of our Christian service and our Christian achievement?
Dear people, I do not exaggerate when I avow to you that for everyone who is in this church now, large as it is, there are a hundred that ought to be won, that ought to be included, that we could possess for God if there were in us that zeal, and the drive, and the spirit to take what God has given us. We are lethargic. We are phlegmatic. We are compromised. The ease of life, and the luxury of living, and the world that is in us dulls our sensitivity, and blunts our consecration, and drops dead still our drive.
Here in the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Joshua, the closing part before it enters into this eighteenth chapter, the children of Ephraim, the children of Joseph, Ephraim came to Joshua and said, "There is not enough here for us. We are a great people" [Joshua 17:14]. And Joshua said, "Look, if thou be a great people, then get thee up" – number, verse number 16; number 15, "If thou be a great people, then get thee up" [Joshua 17:15].
And the children of Joseph said, "Yes, but they have iron chariots down there in those valleys that we need for farms, and agriculture, and support, and to be built homes and to sustain our great people. They’ve got iron chariots down there" [Joshua 17:16].
And Joshua said, "I thought you said you were a great people?"
"Well, we are a great people," said Ephraim, "and we need these greatly enlarged borders."
And then Joshua says, "Then go possess them, though they have chariots made of iron, and though they be strong" [Joshua 17:17-18].
Don’t you ever persuade yourself that we are going to build a great work for God without toil, and consecration, and effort, and devoted service. It will not come any other way. There are iron chariots in those valleys, and the powers of darkness ride hard against us. It is tough. It is unmalleable. It is difficult. But God wills it, if we will just enter into those marvelous inheritances God hath given us.
When we expand this work this spring, that’s not for you. You’ve already got a place, some of you over there, and some of you up there, and some of you back here, and some of you over there. That’s not for you; this tremendously enlarged appeal is for people who are now not in anybody’s Sunday school, they are not in anybody’s church. They are not loved and and cared for, and wept over, and prayed with except you do it. And the great inheritance of the Lord that lies before us is for us to possess. It is for us to take it.
May I make one other comment on that before I leave it? How little of the gifts of the Holy Spirit of God for you, for us, how little do we ever actually receive, and take, and possess. So much of it is yet to be received.
May I point out to you? According to the Word of the Lord, every one of God’s sainted children, every one of His converts has a gift. Every one of us has. In this twelfth chapter of the First Corinthian letter, the whole chapter is on that. "There are diversities of operations, the same God worketh in us all. The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every one to profit withal. To one is given by the Spirit" [1 Corinthians 12:6-8] this gift, to another this gift, to another this gift, to another this gift, to another this gift, to another this one, to another this one, to another this one. And he mentions many, many [1 Corinthians 12:8-10]. And he says every member of the body of Christ is vital and is necessary. And every one of us has a gift, every one of us [1 Corinthians 12:7, 11].
Over here in the fourth chapter of the Book of Ephesians, he says the same thing again, and discusses it, "Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ" [Ephesians 4:7] – each one of us. Then he quotes a passage to support it from the Old Testament, "When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men" [Ephesians 4:8; Psalm 68:18]. To some He gave, and to others, and to some, and to others, and he mentions some of them [Ephesians 4:11-12].
There is something you can do that nobody else can do in this earth. There are people you can influence that nobody else can influence in this earth. There are examples that you can set that nobody else can set in this earth. There are treasures that are poured into your life that are not given to anybody else in this earth. And that is why Paul goes into that long discussion saying it is all of us together with the gift of God that makes the body perfect. "And the eye cannot say to the foot, I do not need you. And the ear cannot say to the hand, I do not need you" [1 Corinthians 12:14-21]. All of us are vital and necessary. We need an eye and an ear and a hand and a foot and all the members all of the body. And we need you and you and you and you! God is given to each one of us a gift [1 Corinthians 12:7-11]. But I say, the frailty of human nature is such that how little do we enter into those marvelous gifts the Lord has bestowed upon us.
As I told you, have I told you how I came into the wonderful, wonderful opportunity to present Dean Willis to this church? Every year I preached at Ridgecrest for about eighteen years. And the pastor of the church there at Ridgecrest had me to eat with his family every year. And he had a blond girl there, teenage girl. And upon a day I went back and she had married. And the next year when I went back and ate dinner with the family, that young husband of that blond teenage girl was seated by my side, and I began to talk to him. I asked him where he was born. He was born there at Ridgecrest, the only boy ever born in Ridgecrest, in Pritchell – born in Ridgecrest.
Where did he go to school? He went to Mars’ Hill Junior College and was graduated from Wake Forest, our senior Baptist college in North Carolina. I asked him what he majored in; he majored in business administration. I asked him what he was doing; he was the town manager of Black Mountain. He ran the fire department, and the police department, and the water department, and the utility department. He was the town manager of Black Mountain.
That is the little city close to Ridgecrest. But he said to me, "But preacher, really I gave my life to God for full-time Christian work. But" he added, "there is no place for me. I am a business major, and I felt in my heart, God called me to a full-time Christian service, and I gave my life for full-time Christian service. But there is no place for me. I am a business major."
That is the persuasion of so many of our young people: "If I were called to be a preacher or a missionary, but I am not called to be a preacher or a missionary; therefore, there is no place for me." At that very moment I was scouring the earth for a business administrator of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. God put me there by the side of that young man. And when I heard him say that, I said, "Young fellow, the Lord has been preparing you just for us." And I brought it to the deacons, and the deacons sent for him, and the minute they saw him they liked him. And at the first meeting, they hired him. And no man has ever blessed our people more than the business acumen and the personal dedication of Mr. Willis. That’s his gift.
And I take Dean as just an illustration of all of the children of God. There is something He has given you, and something He has given you, and something He has given you. And all of us together make the house of God full and complete.
There is the window and here is the foundation. There are the pillars and here is the roof, and here are the walls. And all of that together builds up the house of the Lord. Here is the body of Christ, and every member of it is vital and necessary.
All of us have a gift. All of us have; you have, if we would just receive it from the Lord. Lord, I take it as of Thee. And what I can do, such as it is, in the fullness of Thy Spirit, blessed Lord, I dedicate it unto Thee. In this balcony round, on this lower floor somebody to give his heart to the Lord; or somebody to consecrate his life to Jesus; or somebody to put his life with us in the church; would you come? A family you, or just one somebody you, as the Lord shall lead the way, would you make it now? While we stand and while we sing.
ALLOTMENT OF THE LAND
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Wisdom and knowledge of the Word of God – how little we enter into our
Presence and power of God
Christian attainment; Joshua to Ephraim, "Take it!"
Gifts of the Holy Spirit
2. Cities of refuge