Joshua 13:2, 7
This is the land that yet remains: all the borders of the Philistines, and all Geshuri,…
There remaineth yet very much land to be possessed. "Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance" - form a somewhat strange pair of precepts. It seems as if Joshua was dividing what he had not got; and as if Israel were casting lots rather for perils than property. It is not quite so extreme as this. The point in the conquest was reached when nowhere was there a resistance needing a nation in arms to quell it. The several tribes were each strong enough to make good the conquest of their several heritages. The work of the nation as a nation was over. The work of each tribe had now to begin. Still there is some of the grandeur of a Divine method in giving us something that still needs conquering; enriching us with something for which some fighting still requires to be done. Look at it.
I. GOD'S GIFTS ARE GENERALLY HALF HOLDING AND HALF HOPE, All He imparts has this double character - it is always at once a possession and a responsibility His gifts resemble, say, a colonial estate needing to be cleared; a good house half built - requiring to be finished before it can be used; a mine requiring to be wrought. They are always of vast value to those who will develop their value; but of little to the indolent or timorous. For the same gift, accordingly, some will be devoutly thankful, some thankless. Hebron, given to Caleb on condition of clearing out the Anakim, seems a fee simple, unencumbered, and he rejoices at his fortune. "The wood" still harbouring the enemy seems to Ephraim for a while at least a doubtful possession. Some - the heroic - rejoiced with abounding gratitude over God's gifts; some - the indolent - deemed them so hopelessly encumbered as to be valueless. So that His gifts were great to the great-hearted, and little to the mean-spirited. God's gifts are ever of this kind. He gives daily bread, but only through the toil that wins it; saving grace, but only on condition of repentance and obedience which will use it. He gives not bags of either earthly or heavenly gold, but chances, opportunities, potentialities. "A little strength and an open door" gives the power of making our own blessed destinies, is God's usual gift to all as well as the Church at Philadelphia. His grace is power to win character; not a certain pulp which, without effect, shapes itself into goodness; nay, it is something which we cannot keep except on the condition of getting more of it. The land divided is, in great part a land yet to be possessed. Observe secondly -
II. GOD'S METHOD IS THAT OF WISDOM AND OF MERCY. His gifts would not be blessings if action were needless for their improvement and enjoyment. That would then be stagnation of our powers with consequent enfeeblement. But the gift of that which requires enterprise and action, developes all qualities of strength, vigour, courage, self denial, self respect. Those who have no part in winning what they get generally lack power to keep it. Each tribe held with a stronger hand what it conquered for itself. The sense of possession was more secure, the enjoyment of it more perfect, If God were to give dignities instead of duties, enjoyments without responsibilities attached to them, how dull and earthly would His very gifts make us, In His mercy He gives us "high callings," "new commandments," "fights of faith to fight," and so developes all manliness and godliness. Do not murmur that your bit of the land of promise can only be got, secured, and enjoyed by fighting; it is the mercy of God that so orders it,
III. IN COUNTING OUR WEALTH WE SHOULD ALWAYS INCLUDE THE LAND NOT YET POSSESSED. God's Israel are always in this position. They have a little secure and grip of a great deal that needs still to be secured, but easily may be. "The good I have not tasted yet" was rightly included in her list of mercies by one of the sweet singers of our own day. With others "a bird in the hand may be worth "two in the bush;" with us, the "two in the bush" - being attainable - are to be discounted as of far greater worth. Caleb was thankful for the hill of Hebron, while yet the Anakim disputed its possession with him. Your land to be possessed is yours by title, by promise, by the power given you to win it. Be thankful for it and take it. In your gratitude remember the victories you have still to win; attainments which you yet will make; all the answers to your prayers that are on their way to you; the heavenly Canaan you yet will gain. For, though not yet "possessed," these are all yours by God's deed of gift, and we act wisely and devoutly only when we discount God's promises as being absolutely true and certain to be redeemed. - G.
Parallel VersesKJV: This is the land that yet remaineth: all the borders of the Philistines, and all Geshuri,