Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss looks at the biblical example of Joshua and finds that he was faithful even in mundane tasks.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Every calling has its dirty work. You were so excited to have that first child in your arms—and I hope that you haven’t lost the sense of the wonder of the calling to be a mother—but you know that there are a lot of parts of mothering that are not glamorous. It’s just the day-in and the day-out. I see Joshua saying, “I’m going to be faithful with the big, exciting tasks, and I’m also going to be faithful in the little things.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, October 29. 2014.

I’ve never appreciated the story of Joshua like I have like I have before hearing Nancy teach through it in several series. Today we pick up on the twelfth of these series on Joshua. It's called "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 12): Leaving a Legacy."

Nancy: For about ten years, when I was in my twenties and into my early thirties, I traveled full-time, year-round, doing different kinds of ministry—mostly doing women’s conferences and seminars. During those years, I didn’t have a home. I lived out of a suitcase. I lived in hotels for a period of time, and I lived in a motor home. Finally, the day came when the Lord changed the season of life and ministry for me, adjusted some things, and I bought a piece of property and built a home. By that time, I was in my mid-thirties.

That was a big transition for me from those years of traveling and living on the road to settling down. I still travel quite a bit, but not like I did in my twenties. It was a huge transition. There were some wonderful aspects of it, and there were some challenges that went with that change. But as I think about the passage we’re looking at in the book of Joshua during this part of the series, I think back to that transition in my own life.

The Israelites, you remember, had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years—that certainly wasn’t a home of their own—and then they had come out of Egypt and wandered in the wilderness for forty years. Then they fought to gain possession of the land of Canaan, after they entered into Canaan, for seven years. Now, at long last, the conquest is behind them, and it’s time to settle down into the land.

It’s the land that God had promised to them 500 years earlier. God had told Abraham, “I will give you this land.” Now this generation is getting to experience those promises coming true. It’s time now for them to build homes, to raise families, to settle into the land—these people who had never really had a place to call home.

I want to pick up today in Joshua chapter 13 with what is a new segment in the book of Joshua. This is actually the second half of the book of Joshua. The first twelve chapters are about the Children of Israel entering into the Promised Land and the years of conquest—Jericho, Ai, taking over all these different cities.

They had to deal with the Canaanites, the people who lived in this country, in this land. God said the Canaanites had sinned, their cup of iniquity was full, and the Israelites needed to get rid of them. These had been years of warfare and battle. In chapter 12, you read a whole list of all the thirty-one kings with their little individual city-states that God’s people had dealt with.

Now we come to chapter 13. This is a pivot point in the book of Joshua and in the life of Joshua as well. Joshua chapter 13, verse 1:

Now Joshua was old and advanced in years. [At this point he was probably close to 100 years of age. We know from the end of the book that he lived to be 110, so he’s coming to the end of his life.] And the LORD said to him, "You are old and advanced in years, and there remains yet very much land to possess. This is the land that yet remains: all the regions of the Philistines, and all those of the Geshurites” (vv. 1–2).

Then He goes on describing in great detail the land from south to north. These are the parts that still need to be dealt with. Move over to verse 6:

All the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon to Misrephoth-maim, even all the Sidonians. [This is what’s still left to be possessed. Then God says to Joshua,] I myself will drive them out from before the people of Israel. Only allot the land to Israel for an inheritance, as I have commanded you. Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance to the nine tribes and half the tribe of Manasseh (vv. 6–7).

So God says the seven-year conquest is over, but there is still more to do. There’s more land to be possessed. By and large, Canaan is now in the hands of the Israelites. The major cities have been taken over, but there are still pockets throughout the land where the Canaanites are holding out, where they’re resisting.

Now, you know that there were twelve tribes of Israel, which was based on the twelve sons of Jacob—Israel was his name as it was changed. Twelve tribes, twelve sons. No portion, no land, no territory inheritance was given to the Levites because God was their inheritance. We read in chapter 21 that God gave them cities where they could live, but they were not to have their own portion of land.

So how did we end up with twelve regions, twelve territories in the land of Israel? Well, Joseph, who was one of the twelve sons of Jacob, had two sons—Ephraim and Manesseh. Each of those sons was given an inheritance, so we end up with twelve total. The Levites didn’t get one, but the other eleven sons of Jacob each got one, and then Ephraim and Manesseh, the sons of Joseph, each got one.

Now, of the twelve tribes, 2½ have already been given territory on the east side of the Jordan—that’s the tribe of Gad, the tribe of Reuben, and half of the tribe of Manesseh. We’re going to come back to those 2½ tribes and see an incident in their history when we get to chapter 17. But now the land of Canaan, the land that’s on the west side of the river Jordan, is going to be divvied up between the other 9½ tribes, at which point each tribe will be responsible to complete the conquest of its own territory.

So Joshua has led the people. All the armies have been banded together, gaining the major occupation of the land. Now they’re going to divide up the land between the other 9½ tribes, and each tribe will take care of finishing off the job in its own territory.

As you read chapters 13 through 21, it's a portion of Scripture that probably a lot of people never do read because it is a little hard to get through. It reads like a title deed or a land survey. There are a lot of names of places and boundaries and geography and things that don’t make a whole lot of sense to us, especially if you’re not using a map while you’re reading. But a title deed tells you who owns the property, who has the title to the property. It tells you where the boundaries of the property are, and it tells you if there are any additional responsibilities or what, in legal terms, are called “burdens” that come with the ownership of the home or the property.

That’s what we feel like we’re reading in these chapters—a title deed. It tells who owns each portion, what the boundaries are, and what some of the burdens and responsibilities are that go with those individual portions—because there are differences in those portions.

Now, it’s easy to skip over these chapters. When you’re reading commentaries on the book of Joshua, you’ll find the commentary on this section is pretty short. In fact, we spent many, many weeks going through the earlier chapters in Joshua, and we’re going to move more quickly through these chapters.

But I want to remind us that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16, NKJV). We need all of God’s Word. So I want to encourage you not to just skip over these portions, but to do what I have been trying to do in recent months. Read them over and over and over, and ask God to show you the gems, the treasures that are buried in some of these more difficult chapters.

In today’s session I want to share with you several insights that have stood out to me as I have been reading these chapters that read like title deeds. I think that you’ll find in your life, as I have in mine, some application from these different insights.

First of all, we notice in these chapters that the portions were assigned by the casting of lots. We’re not told exactly how that was done. But when you read that they did this by casting lots. We're not told exactly how that was done. Tradition has it that there were two urns or jars. In one urn they put the names of the tribes, and in the other urn they put the description of the different portions.

Those who were casting the lots would pull one name out of the jar that had the tribes and another name out of the jar that had the portions and they would see which tribe got which portion. We're not told exactly how they did it. You could read that they did this by casting lots and you could say, “Well, it was all by chance. Isn’t Judah lucky that Judah got that portion?” That’s where I want to remind us of what Proverbs 16 tells us: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD” (v. 33).

There is no such thing as happenstance. There is no such thing as chance or luck. God is a God of providence, who oversees every detail of His universe. Your lot in life, so to speak, is not a matter of chance. It may seem like it sometimes. There are things over which you have no control—whether you were born a man or a woman, you can't do that much about that (well, today people try to do things about that). That's something that you say, "I have no choice in that." The parents you had, the upbringing you had, the physical traits that you have, perhaps physical limitations, bad or good eyesight.

These are things over which you had no control. You innate personality, the natural gifts and strengths and weaknesses that you have, the opportunities you've been given in life, your socio-economic status. Obviously, there may be some people who are poor because they don't work. But there may be some people who are poor because they do work. So there are some of these things that we have no control over.

There are challenges you have faced in your life, and you look around and say, “Boy, nobody else in my circle of friends seems to have had these same challenges. Why has my lot in life turned out to be this way?” Let me just say again, there’s no such thing as chance.

God is the one who determines the casting of the lot. What I see as I read this set of chapters is that we need to let God determine our inheritance. Let Him determine our lot in life. Joy in life does not come from getting to choose your own circumstances. There are some circumstances you can’t choose, and some of us would be destined to be miserable all our lives if the only way we could be joyful is to get to choose our circumstances. That’s not where joy comes from.

Joy comes from choosing God as our inheritance and choosing to be content and to find beauty in whatever circumstances He ordains for us. That’s how we get joy. We find joy in recognizing that when we have Him as our lot in life, we have everything.

The passage that has come to mind a number of times as I’ve been reading these chapters is from Psalm 16, beginning in verse 5, where the psalmist says, "The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup.” He’s saying, “Lord, I choose You. Even if I can’t have anything else—I can’t control all these other things—You have made Yourself available to me. You are my chosen portion. You are my cup, and You hold my lot. You are the one who determines the circumstances of my life.”

Now, there is a sense in which we do have input because when we obey there are blessings that come, and when we disobey there are consequences we reap. But I’m talking about circumstances in life over which you have no control. Isn’t it encouraging to know that God holds my lot? That He determines my lot? That’s why the psalmist goes on to say, “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”

There were parts of Israel that were rugged and mountainous. There were parts that were beautiful and more lush. Each territory had its own challenges. Each territory had things that you could complain about, but as the psalmist said, “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”

Joy comes from saying, “Lord, I accept what it is that You have given to me as my lot in life, and I choose to find beauty in that lot."

  • Thank You, Lord, for the inheritance that You have given me.
  • Thank You, Lord, for the health, the physical situation You gave me.
  • Thank You for my parents.
  • Thank You for my upbringing.
  • Thank You for the hard things.
  • Thank You for the challenges.
  • Thank You for the special-needs child.
  • Thank You for these limitations. 

Now, I’m not saying all those things are good things. It’s a fallen world, and there are hard things and bad and evil things in this world. There may have been evil things done to you, but God is able to make your lot a beautiful one for you. He’s able to bring beauty out of the most horrible, horrid circumstances and past.

So we see that our lot in life is determined by the Lord, and we can rest in that. Then, as we read these chapters, I also notice that Joshua sought the Lord’s direction and followed the Lord’s direction in everything—even in the seemingly routine matters of divvying up this land.

It’s one thing for Joshua to trust the Lord and to say, “Lord, I need You, and I need Your direction,” when he was getting ready to scale the walls of Jericho. We can all see in the midst of the battle how much we need the Lord. We cry out, “Lord, help! I need you.” But I see in these chapters that Joshua, who is doing much more mundane tasks now—these are administrative tasks, divvying up the land—is still seeking the Lord. He’s still asking the Lord for direction. He’s still trusting the Lord to guide and direct his steps.

The distribution of the territories, according to Joshua chapter 19, verse 51, was done “by lot at Shiloh before the LORD, at the entrance of the tent of meeting.” They didn’t just go huddle up in a room and say, “Who do we think should have which piece of land?” They went to the meeting place, the Tabernacle, which was at Shiloh by this point, and they said, “Lord, You show us how this land is to be broken up.” They did it before the Lord.

I think of that very familiar passage in Proverbs 3: “Do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways”—in all your ways, even in the seemingly non-spiritual matters of life—“in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (vv. 5–6).

No task is too small. Nothing you do in the course of a day—shopping, chauffeuring children back and forth to school, being in the workplace—no task you do is too small to seek the Lord. Nothing that you do is too insignificant to need the Lord, even things that don’t seem like big spiritual issues.

You might say, if you’re going to teach a Sunday School class, or if you’re going to sing on the praise team, “Well, yes, I need the Lord for that.” I know I need the Lord for a day like today, when we’re recording one program after another, and I’ve been crying out to the Lord. But am I as conscious of my need to seek the Lord and lean on Him when I’m sitting in my study? When I’m doing administrative tasks? When I’m responding to email? When I’m answering correspondence? We need the Lord for everything.

Joshua is seeking the Lord. This is not a mystical or subjective thing. He consistently looked to God’s Word for wisdom to know how to handle these various issues and responsibilities. Many times throughout these chapters you’ll read, “as the Lord said,” or “according to the Word of the Lord.” Where did Joshua get direction? From the Word of the Lord.

  • Is your life being directed by His Word?
  • Are you reading it?
  • Are you studying it?
  • Are you applying it?
  • Are you following it?

Here’s a third insight that I see from these chapters: that the enemies you don’t deal with now will continue to plague you.

You’ll read several times through these passages verses like this one: “Yet the people of Israel did not drive out the Geshurites or the Maacathites, but Geshur and Maacath dwell in the midst of Israel to this day” (13:13). Several times in different places you read that kind of verse. The Children of Israel did not drive out their enemies, and as a result they had to live with them long-term.

That’s a challenge to me to deal with besetting sins and issues now. I need to realize that the things I don’t deal with, the habit patterns in my life that need to be changed . . . How many of you have habit patterns you wish you had dealt with when you were in your teens?

We have some teens with us today. I want to say a word of encouragement to you. When you get to be an old, gray-headed lady like me, you will be saying to the younger women that you know, "I wish I had dealt with these things sooner." The enemies of: anger, a loose tongue, lack of self-control, bitterness, immorality, selfishness, fear. God says, “I will fight these enemies for you, but you must fight them, too.” You’ve got to deal with them. You’ve got to drive them out, and by God’s grace, they can be driven out.

We’ve seen throughout the book of Joshua how God dealt with the most difficult, impossible enemies. God can deal with those in our lives, but if we let them co-exist in our lives, we will have to struggle with them over the long haul.

One of the things I really appreciate about Joshua in this passage is that he was committed to finish the job that God had given him to do. It’s easy to run out of steam. It’s one thing to be faithful when you’re young, you’re energetic, and the momentum is with you. But then you get to a hundred years of age like Joshua was—and some of us feel a hundred some days!—and you say, “I’m just tired of doing this work; I’m tired of doing this job.”

We see that Joshua was a man who was faithful all the way to the finish line. He wanted to finish what God had given him to do.

Joshua chapter 18, beginning in verse 1:

Then the whole congregation of the people of Israel assembled at Shiloh and set up the tent of meeting there. The land lay subdued before them. [But] there remained among the people of Israel seven tribes whose inheritance had not yet been apportioned. So Joshua said to the people of Israel, "How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you?” (vv. 1–3)

Joshua wanted to make sure that before he died, the job God had given him was finished. God had said, “Divide up the land,” and the people were dilly-dallying. Joshua said, “How long are you going to hang around? Let’s finish the job.” He wanted to make sure that before he died the people were settled into the land.

Some parts of Joshua’s job, and some parts of our jobs, are not all that glamorous. But the warfare and the dividing up of the land, the administrative tasks as well as the glamorous, exciting, adventurous parts, they’re all a part of the calling. We need to be faithful with both.

In the book of Joshua there are actually only six chapters given over to talking about battles and there are nine chapters that are given over to talking about dividing up the land. Where are the chapters where we focus? It's on the glamorous one, on Jericho, the big battles, the exciting stories. How many times do you sit and read bedtime stories to your children at night and read about the dividing up of the land?

I think in the proportion there we realize that every job, every calling has its dirty work.

You were so excited to have that first child in your arms—and I hope that you haven’t lost the sense of the wonder of the calling to be a mother—but you know that there are a lot of parts of mothering that are not glamorous. It’s just the day-in and the day-out. I see Joshua saying, “I’m going to be faithful with the big, exciting tasks, and I’m also going to be faithful in the little things.”

Then Joshua waited until all the tribes had received their inheritance and their portion before he took anything for himself. That’s something that speaks to me about the heart and the character of this great man of God.

Chapter 19, beginning at verse 49:

When they had finished distributing the several territories of the land as inheritances, the people of Israel gave an inheritance among them to Joshua the son of Nun. By command of the LORD they gave him the city that he asked, Timnath-serah in the hill country of Ephraim. And he rebuilt the city and settled in it (vv. 49–50).

So not until Israel was securely established in the land, and all the tribes had received their portions of the land, did Joshua settle into a place of his own. At that point he requested a city in his own tribe, with his own people. Timnath-serah, the name of the town, means “my abundant portion.”

I think Joshua is saying, “What God has given me is good. It’s enough. I’m contented with God’s provision.”

Now, that provision, that city, wasn’t given to him turn-key. He didn’t expect the fact that he’d been the great leader and military general to mean that everybody else was going to do the dirty work, the hard work of settling that city for him and making it suitable for occupancy. He rebuilt it himself—at about a hundred years of age. Here’s a man who . . . it never got to his head that he was the big leader. He didn’t expect others to wait on him or serve him. He continued to the end to be the one to get the last portion and then to be the one to build that city himself.

So as we come to the conclusion of these chapters—and over the next sessions we’re going to go into a bit more detail on some specific incidents that took place within these chapters—but as we look at the big picture here of the partitioning and the distribution of the land, I want to read in chapter 21 the summary of what has taken place to this point, beginning in verse 43.

Thus the LORD gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. And the LORD gave them [what’s that next word?] rest. [You find that word six times in the book of Joshua. That’s what God wanted His people to experience: rest.]

And the LORD gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the LORD had given all their enemies into their hands. Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass” (vv. 43–45).

That’s the summary. That’s the overview. When all the battles are said and done, all the headaches, all the heartaches, all the hardship—and there was a lot of all of that—God gave rest. The people were settled in the land, and they could look back and say, “God has fulfilled all his promises. Not one of them has failed.”

I want to say that when we have been through the battles and wars of our Canaan-land conquest, and one day when we reach the other side, when it’s all said and done, we will look back, and we will say, “God has overcome every enemy. He’s kept every promise. He’s fulfilled His Word, and He has given us rest.” Eternal rest is what we have to look forward to.

Leslie: When so many people are searching for answers, we need to continue pointing them to Jesus Christ. That encouragement from Nancy Leigh DeMoss is part of the series "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 12): Leaving a Legacy." We’ll continue looking at the life of Joshua into November.

Can you believe 2015 is almost here? Before you know it, your current calendar will be obsolete, and you’ll be replacing it. I hope you’ll choose the 2015 Revive Our Hearts wall calendar. The theme this year is “Peace in the Storm.” Each month you’ll read a quote from Nancy that will encourage you to thrive—even in the storms of life.

Renowned artist Timothy Botts provided illustrations for each month’s entry. I think you’ll like this calendar, and this week, you can get a copy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. It’s the final week we’ll be making this offer, so let us hear from you soon. Ask for the “Peace in the Storm” wall calendar when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit

The story of Joshua challenges some ideas Americans have about retirement. Find out why on tomorrow’s Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.