Jan 2013

The Gift of the Land

Act 3 | A Land for God’s People

This sermon on “The Gift of Land” from The Drama of Redemption was preached by Robert Greene at Redemption Hill Church on Sunday, January 13, 2013.

Sermon audio:

Sermon Text:
Joshua 1:1-24:33

Sermon Notes:

Click here for PDF version of the notes.

The Gift of the Land
Joshua 1:1-24; 33


As the Israelites stood ready to enter the land, God’s main emphasis was upon The Book. Joshua had been by Moses side for years and had both heard and seen all that Moses had said and done. Yet, God did not tell Joshua to make every effort to remember all that Moses had done and said. Instead, God commanded that Joshua never let the Word depart from his mouth or mind. A commitment to God’s Word served Israel well. In all the changes and transitions with leaders, location and occupation, that which was continuous was the Word of God. It provided continuity of authority, an objective standard by which to judge everything and a clear expectation that God intended everyone to understand it when it was periodically read to them.

Deuteronomy 31:9-13 “Then Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, “At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”

Joshua 1:1-8 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.


Don’t let God’s Word leave your mouth: study it, recite it and speak it.

Don’t let God’s Word leave your mind: meditate on it continually.

Don’t assume you are wiser than God’s Word: obey it, practice it and surrender to it.

Joshua 8:30-35 “At that time Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the people of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, “an altar of uncut stones, upon which no man has wielded an iron tool.” And they offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord and sacrificed peace offerings. And there, in the presence of the people of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written. And all Israel, sojourner as well as native born, with their elders and officers and their judges, stood on opposite sides of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, half of them in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded at the first, to bless the people of Israel. And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who lived among them.”

Joshua 23:1-6 “A long time afterward, when the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their surrounding enemies, and Joshua was old and well advanced in years, Joshua summoned all Israel, its elders and heads, its judges and officers, and said to them, “I am now old and well advanced in years. And you have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations for your sake, for it is the Lord your God who has fought for you. Behold, I have allotted to you as an inheritance for your tribes those nations that remain, along with all the nations that I have already cut off, from the Jordan to the Great Sea in the west. The Lord your God will push them back before you and drive them out of your sight. And you shall possess their land, just as the Lord your God promised you. Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left”


Joshua 3:7-17 “The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. And as for you, command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” And Joshua said to the people of Israel, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan. Now therefore take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, from each tribe a man. And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap. So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.”

Joshua 4:15-18 “And the Lord said to Joshua, “Command the priests bearing the ark of the testimony to come up out of the Jordan.” So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.” And when the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord came up from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up on dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks, as before.”

What is the Significance of this Event?

God rolled back the waters of the river Jordan just as He had rolled back the waters of the Red Sea. It was the same sign He gave His people in their exodus from Egypt that He now gave them on their entrance into the Promised Land. God gave them this sign as He redeemed them; it was a demonstration of His Power towards them. In our present day vernacular He was effectively saying “look, don’t worry, I’ve got you”. As they were going into the land that He had promised to them, it was to remind them, in case they forgot the prior demonstrations of His power with the fire, cloud, manna and water, who this God was that was going with them and before them. ”

What Do We Learn About God’s Power? 

Not only did the people still have the Word of God to direct them, they had the Power of God acting for them. It was a power that was both personal and present.

Deuteronomy 2:25 “This day I will begin to put the dread and fear of you on the peoples who are under the whole heaven, who shall hear the report of you and shall tremble and be in anguish because of you.”

Joshua 2:8-11 “Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.”

Joshua 24:11-12 “And you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho, and the leaders of Jericho fought against you, and also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And I gave them into your hand. And I sent the hornet before you, which drove them out before you, the two kings of the Amorites; it was not by your sword or by your bow.”


Joshua 5:13-15 “When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” And the commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.”

Joshua 6:2 “And the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor.”

Application Questions

How is Joshua’s experience in the two texts above similar to Moses?

What is the significance of Joshua’s encounter with God given that he was a soldier and had been prepared all his life for battles?

Who is going to do the fighting and will get the glory when the battle is won?

What could have happened if Joshua had not had this experience?


God’s mission has never changed. He has had a plan for this earth from the beginning. He put His royal image (Adam and Eve) in the place He had created for His glory to dwell and gave His first two image bearers a job. They were to expand the borders of that garden so that His glory would cover the earth; but Adam and Eve sinned and failed in their mission. Yet, that mission has never left the Bible, has never been changed and has never been revoked from successive image bearers (humans). God has ordained the means to accomplish His purposes. He will declare His supremacy by equipping His image bearers to engage His mission. The mission of the church is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian.

Consider what Paul says regarding the mystery he was given insight into:

Ephesians 3:9-12 “and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.”

God has always planned for His people to be a living demonstration and reflection of His glory. They were (and are) to be a visible declaration that He is the One True God. This is what it means to be The Church. It is why Redemption Hill is in this city. The power of God hasn’t left us. Just as the Holy Spirit empowered Jesus in His life on this earth and raised Him from the dead. This same spirit who hovered over the darkness of the deep in creation, when you place your faith in the person and work of Christ, takes up residence in you. The Spirit always has and always will move against the darkness. He equips and empowers God’s people to accomplish all of God’s purposes. The power that parted the Red Sea & the Jordan flows today. The same power is available to the people of God today. He gives power to obey, to change desires and He gives new hearts.

The Continuing Presence of God

The One who stood face to face with Joshua in the wilderness, as the captain of God’s army, is the same man we know from His life on earth as Jesus Christ.

God’s Mission is Still Accomplished by a Man: Christ Jesus

He came to this earth and did what mankind could not do. He lived a perfect life of obedience to God’s Word. Empowered by God’s Spirit, He reflected the glory of God to a watching world by being the perfect image of God. He did this in your place and then died on the cross to pay the price for your sins.

Just as Joshua was told that the Lord would go ahead of Him, and he saw God defeat enemies on his behalf, Jesus has already gone to battle and dealt with our enemies on our behalf.

Heb. 2:14-15 “that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

Col. 2:15 “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”


For those who place their faith in Him, His victory becomes their victory. The One who was with Joshua and went ahead of Joshua has promised that He will be with us always. Matthew 28:20 “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. When Joshua saw Him, he fell to his face in worship; he asked “what have you to say to your servant?” The Lord told Joshua to recognize His holiness and respond in humility. If we are to know the power of this Leader, who is present among us, we must respond in humility. We must repent and trust in the person at the burning bush. The great I AM, captain of the Lord’s army, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Remember that He said “Be strong and courageous” for He has called us to a great mission. He has given us His Word and promises. He has given us His power and presence. He is still with us.

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