Claiming God's Promises

Discovery for Teachers

Claiming God's Promises



Joshua 13:1 through 21:45

“There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.” (Joshua 21:45)


Joshua, who was about one hundred years old, now had the task of distributing the land to each of the tribes of Israel. The allotments were given both as border descriptions and a listing of cities. His completion of this job left a lasting legacy to Israel: a place for each tribe and family to settle and call home. They were then able to enjoy what God had given them.

The Israelites inherited their land. They did not win it as spoils of battle nor did they purchase it. “Inheritance,” the theme of the Book of Joshua, is a very important word. In these nine chapters, the word inheritance is found more than fifty times. Other important words are possession and promised.

Before Joshua proceeded with dividing the land on the west side of Jordan, the land on the east side was divided amongst the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. This was completed per the instruction given by Moses. Focus was then placed on the land of Canaan.

Caleb made his request, “give me this mountain” (Joshua 14:12). This must have signaled to the tribes God’s ability to fulfill His promises. Not only was Caleb alive to receive his promised inheritance, but he was willing and able to do a younger man’s work to get it. Caleb also provided for his descendents. He engaged his nephew Othniel, who later became his son-in-law, to take the city of Debir. Caleb’s daring faith influenced Othniel, who went on to become the first judge of Israel.

The territory of Judah was divided by border descriptions and a detailed list of cities. The tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim, the sons of Joseph, inherited the central hill country of Canaan.

Though slow to respond to the challenge, the remaining seven tribes also had their inheritance marked out for them. Unlike Caleb and the daughters of Zelophehad, these tribes did not demonstrate faith and spiritual zeal. A settlement process was put in place for them. The land remaining to be apportioned was divided into seven equal parts. Joshua then cast lots to determine the specific inheritance of each tribe.

The final two land designations were made. First, Joshua established six cities of refuge. They were needed because society in that day had no police force to investigate crimes. Joshua set apart three cities of refuge on each side of the Jordan River. Finally, forty-eight cities were designated for the Levites to live in — as the tribe of Levi had been set aside by God to be priests for Israel, they did not receive their own territory like the other tribes.


  1. Four times in this text block it is mentioned that the Levites were given no inheritance (Joshua 13:14,33; 14:3-4; 18:7). In your own words, explain why they were not given a portion of land like the other tribes.

    The Levites were chosen to serve the Lord and He was their inheritance (Deuteronomy 10:8-9; 18:1-8; Numbers 18). Lead the class to recognize that God wanted the priests to be fully devoted to His service. We, too, are admonished by the Lord to have our “inheritance” set on heavenly things rather than earthly possessions. Through class discussion, list some possible indicators of whether our chief treasures are heavenly or earthly. Your students’ ideas might include how we spend our time, what we think about, what we look at, what we do with our money.
  2. Joshua and Caleb had finally reached the Promised Land. Clearly they were still in good health and able to enjoy Canaan. Why was this so?

    They had come into Canaan because they believed God and obeyed Him. No doubt many times they were glad they wholly followed the Lord, rather than being swayed by the reports given by the other spies. Even though they spent forty years in the wilderness, God rewarded their faith, and they lived to see His promise fulfilled. Discuss with your class the benefits in fully trusting God.
  3. Define inheritance and describe how it applied to the Children of Israel.

    One definition is, “action of inheriting (receiving as an heir).” God had given them this land by promise, but it was up to them to take possession. The Christian is an heir to the Kingdom of God. Discuss what actions we must take in order to receive our inheritance.
  4. Who was the first to claim his inheritance? (See Joshua 14:6-15.) What zeal did he demonstrate?

    Caleb was first. He reminded Joshua of the promise Moses had made to him. Not only was he eager to receive it, but he was willing to do whatever was necessary to take possession. His age, the enemy, and fenced cities were not deterrents, because the Lord was with him. Discuss obstacles that we may face as we endeavor to serve God. What can we learn from Caleb in these situations?
  5. In what way was Joseph remembered, even though he had died in Egypt? (Numbers 16:1-5)

    He was remembered through the fact that two of his sons — Manasseh and Ephraim — inherited the central hill of Canaan. Also the bones of Joseph were buried in the Promised Land at this time. Discussion should center on the far-reaching implications of whether or not we will serve God.
  6. The majority of the tribes were slow to take possession of their land. What plan was devised to help them? (Joshua 18:2-6)

    Three men were selected from each tribe to go through the land and describe it and divide it into even parts. Then Joshua cast lots to determine who received which section. After discussing the plan, you may bring out how many Christians today are slow to take what God has promised to them. We have a description of what is available, so we should claim and possess the promises of God at the first opportunity. Delaying does not make it easier. It gives the enemy more time to cause doubt and undermine our faith.
  7. Caleb’s daughter asked for more than her father promised (Joshua 15:19). What was her request and the subsequent result? What spiritual lesson can we learn from her action?

    She asked for springs of water in addition to the portion of land given to her, and she received the upper and lower springs. Possibly, she received more than she expected. Talk about how we can ask of the Lord and He can grant beyond our expectations. You may ask for a student to share a personal testimony to illustrate this point.
  8. Read Joshua 21:43-45. What three “good things” promised to the Children of Israel did God fulfill? What assurance does this provide us today concerning God’s promises to us?

    (1.) They possessed the land the Lord had promised.
    (2.) He gave them rest all around them.
    (3.) He delivered all their enemies into their hand.

    Have the class correlate the Israelites’ “good things” to the blessings we enjoy as Christians today. We, too, can possess His promise, have rest from our burdens, and receive victory over our enemy, Satan.


The Lord fulfilled His promise. Israel’s ownership of the land was purely the gracious act of God. Their possession and enjoyment of the land depended on their submission and obedience to Him. Not one word of God will ever fail those who wholly follow Him.