Lessons from the Conquest of Canaan
It has been said, “When it comes to missions, the low-hanging fruit has already been picked.”
In Joshua 13:1 we read of a time where the Lord spoke to Joshua saying, “Thou art old and stricken with years and there remains yet very much land to be possessed.…”
This message from the Lord came after conquering Jericho and Ai, after the battle where Joshua commanded the sun and moon to stand still in the valley of Aj’alon, after successfully fighting the Canaanite, the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, and the Hivite. “Joshua, there remains yet very much land to be possessed!”
During this part of Israel’s history we read of a people that rise and fall again in a line almost exactly parallel to two things: 1) worship of God vs. worship of idols 2) continued conquest of the land vs. relaxing in territory already conquered.
At the end of Joshua’s life we read about a whole generation of people that knew the Lord and the mighty works that He had done for them. We find that these people “served the LORD all the days of Joshua and all the day of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that He did for Israel.”
This generation knew the sound of the trumpet call gathering them to battle. They remembered the hailstones that fell from heaven upon their enemies. They walked across the Jordan on dry land. They felt the tremble of the earth and experienced the power of God as the walls of Jericho crumbled to the ground—they didn’t only read about these things in the chronicles of history!
This was the generation of men that served the Lord. They didn’t become sidetracked with the idols of the heathen. They were an entire generation on conquest; they were on a mission.
The Book of Judges tells the rest of the story. Chapter after chapter tells the story of a defeated Israel, running and hiding from their enemies. Why?
It certainly was not because of a lack of territory remaining to be possessed. No, instead the Israelites became content to dwell within the borders of that which was already conquered—every man under his vine and under his fig tree, drinking from wells they didn’t dig and eating from vineyards they didn’t plant. And finally, within these times of abundance, prosperity, and ease we find them turning to idol worship.
Within the Book of Judges we read many statements such as the following: “And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day.”
Not until the days of an Israelite king who was “a man after God’s own heart” do we find this nation seriously turning again to intentional conquest of new territory. Yes, the stronghold of the Jebusites could be conquered, and during the days of King David it became the capital city of the nation.
What story will our generation tell? The low-hanging fruit from mission fields that are within easy reach has already been picked. The unreached places that remain as new territory still waiting to be possessed are difficult to reach for many reasons.
God is calling you and me to be like Joshua and Caleb’s generation and say, “Give me this mountain!” and like King David who said, “This stronghold has stood long enough!” Now it’s our turn to say, “We are not willing to be content with territory that has already been conquered; we are willing to put our lives in danger so that together we may claim the full inheritance of the Lord.”