Joshua 13
Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the LORD said unto him, Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.
Victories in Old Age

Joshua 13:1

God often speaks very plainly. Few care to be told to their face that they are old. But the Almighty recognizes these awkward facts and bids men recognize them. He is sometimes almost blunt, as He was in addressing Joshua. His is the directness of loving faithfulness. Matthew Henry says: 'It is good for those who are old... to be put in remembrance of their being so'. And it was for Joshua's highest good that God now puts him in memory of this unwelcome fact.

The Bible renders us the great service of introducing us to numerous aged or ageing people. They are not the least interesting figures of its fascinating and often pathetic gallery. Abraham, Sarah, David, Zacharias, and Elizabeth, have honoured place among the venerable saints of Scripture. It is to be observed that old age is associated in the Bible, I think invariably, with the saints. The tragedy of godless old age is not alluded to. Only the old age which is a crown of glory, because found in the way of righteousness, is honoured in the sacred treasury of honour.

I. Achievement—Jehovah cheers His aged servant by a great and inspiring implication. It lurks delightfully in that 'yet'. Thank God for that delectable adverb. 'Yet' carries the idea of 'in addition,' and addition implies something already in existence. 'There remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.' Much land had already been possessed. Great victories had been won. The territory of the enemy had been heroically acquired. Joshua had not lived in vain. His greyed head had won its laurels and won them worthily and well. There is a gospel of sweet reminiscence and kindly hope in that gracious 'yet'.

The Lord, the great Encourager, delights to remind his old warriors of the battles they have by His grace fought and won. He gives them light at evening time in many ways, and not least by recalling to them the 'land' they have already 'possessed'. Divinely inspired memories are among the treasures of old age.

1. When we are old we, in many cases, have the recollection of temporal achievement.

2. It is a great thing to come to age and know that we have achieved doctrinally. Blessed are they who have possessed themselves of 'much' of this Emmanuel's Land!

3. Experimentally some of God's children achieve grandly ere they are old. They become experts in believing prayer. They abound in thanksgiving. They delight themselves in the Law of the Lord. They hate every evil way. They have fellowship with all such as love Jesus Christ in sincerity. Happy souls that in old age can give glory to God because they have possessed themselves of 'much land' in the Canaan of Christian experience!

4. It appertains to some to recognize in their old age that they have achieved altruistically.

II. Omission.—When God said to Joshua, 'Thou art old... and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed,' there was kindly reproof in the faithful word. If there had been achievement, there had been omission. 'There remaineth yet'—much had been left undone. He and his braves had possessed themselves grandly, but imperfectly. Jerusalem, Gezer, Bethshean, were but instances of the 'very much' that was still unaccomplished. Those forte were still untaken.

What a parable of life! Age reveals, and increasingly reveals, our omissions. Oh, the Jerusalems, Gezers, Bethshean's, of our soldiership! Why did we not take those proud fortresses when we had boundless vigour? 'There remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.'

III. Opportunity.—Even though Joshua was old, he had spacious opportunity before him. 'Very much land remained' 'to be possessed'. He had not the opportunity of earlier days, but it was an opportunity relatively very great. The 'very much' was the measure of his possibilities.

Age always has its opportunity, greater or lesser. What land may not veteran victors possess! Do not regard old age as defeat; make it a triumph. God can strengthen Joshua to possess 'very much land,' albeit he be 'old'. Bishop Creighton said, 'We can scarcely recognize as one of the problems of life how to grow old happily'. But it is one of life's hardest and yet most hopeful problems.

IV. Endeavour.—'The Lord said unto him, Thou art old... and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.' Then Joshua must make immediate endeavour. 'You are not dangerously ill,' said a physician to a patient; 'but you are dangerously old.' Ah, that is the spiritual peril of some. At once such must bestir themselves. There is no time to be lost if the 'very much land' is not to be lost. Arise, my friend, and call earnestly upon thy God and go forth to the battle and to the victory! 'Tis time to live if I grow old' was a favourite exclamation of John Wesley in his closing years. And it is well for all old people to soliloquize thus if they would be victors whilst the shadows lengthen.

Very trustful such may well be as they war their good warfare. Philip Henry declared, 'Christ is a Master that does not cast off His old servants'. No! He never does. And He will not cast you off in the time of old age! The comforter shall still be with you. The Risen Lord shall empower you. You shall possess the land.

—Dinsdale T. Young, The Gospel of the Left Hand, p. 43.

References.—XIII. 1.—C. Vince, The Unchanging Saviour, p. 120. John McNeill, Regent Square Pulpit, vol. iii. p. 393. XIII. 1-6.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy ScriptureDeuteronomy, Joshua, etc., p. 158. XIV. 6.—Ibid. p. 160. D. T. Young, Neglected People of the Bible, p. 59.

This is the land that yet remaineth: all the borders of the Philistines, and all Geshuri,
From Sihor, which is before Egypt, even unto the borders of Ekron northward, which is counted to the Canaanite: five lords of the Philistines; the Gazathites, and the Ashdothites, the Eshkalonites, the Gittites, and the Ekronites; also the Avites:
From the south, all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that is beside the Sidonians, unto Aphek, to the borders of the Amorites:
And the land of the Giblites, and all Lebanon, toward the sunrising, from Baalgad under mount Hermon unto the entering into Hamath.
All the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon unto Misrephothmaim, and all the Sidonians, them will I drive out from before the children of Israel: only divide thou it by lot unto the Israelites for an inheritance, as I have commanded thee.
Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance unto the nine tribes, and the half tribe of Manasseh,
With whom the Reubenites and the Gadites have received their inheritance, which Moses gave them, beyond Jordan eastward, even as Moses the servant of the LORD gave them;
From Aroer, that is upon the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the river, and all the plain of Medeba unto Dibon;
And all the cities of Sihon king of the Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon, unto the border of the children of Ammon;
And Gilead, and the border of the Geshurites and Maachathites, and all mount Hermon, and all Bashan unto Salcah;
All the kingdom of Og in Bashan, which reigned in Ashtaroth and in Edrei, who remained of the remnant of the giants: for these did Moses smite, and cast them out.
Nevertheless the children of Israel expelled not the Geshurites, nor the Maachathites: but the Geshurites and the Maachathites dwell among the Israelites until this day.
Only unto the tribe of Levi he gave none inheritance; the sacrifices of the LORD God of Israel made by fire are their inheritance, as he said unto them.
And Moses gave unto the tribe of the children of Reuben inheritance according to their families.
And their coast was from Aroer, that is on the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the river, and all the plain by Medeba;
Heshbon, and all her cities that are in the plain; Dibon, and Bamothbaal, and Bethbaalmeon,
And Jahazah, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath,
And Kirjathaim, and Sibmah, and Zarethshahar in the mount of the valley,
And Bethpeor, and Ashdothpisgah, and Bethjeshimoth,
And all the cities of the plain, and all the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon, whom Moses smote with the princes of Midian, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, which were dukes of Sihon, dwelling in the country.
Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them.
And the border of the children of Reuben was Jordan, and the border thereof. This was the inheritance of the children of Reuben after their families, the cities and the villages thereof.
And Moses gave inheritance unto the tribe of Gad, even unto the children of Gad according to their families.
And their coast was Jazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the children of Ammon, unto Aroer that is before Rabbah;
And from Heshbon unto Ramathmizpeh, and Betonim; and from Mahanaim unto the border of Debir;
And in the valley, Betharam, and Bethnimrah, and Succoth, and Zaphon, the rest of the kingdom of Sihon king of Heshbon, Jordan and his border, even unto the edge of the sea of Chinnereth on the other side Jordan eastward.
This is the inheritance of the children of Gad after their families, the cities, and their villages.
And Moses gave inheritance unto the half tribe of Manasseh: and this was the possession of the half tribe of the children of Manasseh by their families.
And their coast was from Mahanaim, all Bashan, all the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, and all the towns of Jair, which are in Bashan, threescore cities:
And half Gilead, and Ashtaroth, and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan, were pertaining unto the children of Machir the son of Manasseh, even to the one half of the children of Machir by their families.
These are the countries which Moses did distribute for inheritance in the plains of Moab, on the other side Jordan, by Jericho, eastward.
But unto the tribe of Levi Moses gave not any inheritance: the LORD God of Israel was their inheritance, as he said unto them.
Nicoll - Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

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