Joshua 14: Lessons from the Initial Allotment of the Promised Land on the Rewards that Await Believers in Heaven

Introduction. Joshua chapters 14 through 19 describe the allotment of the Promised Land west of the River Jordan. Chapter 14 begins with God’s rewards for those who showed faith during the journeys to Egypt and then back to the Promised Land. These included: the nine and one half tribes who chose the Promised Land as their inheritance; the tribe of Levi, which chose God as their inheritance; Joseph, who denied himself so that the rest of Israel could survive; and Caleb, who showed faith in God’s promises when the rest of the nation did not. From these peoples or individuals, God reveals seven lessons about the rewards that are available in heaven. First, from the allotment given to those who showed the faith to live in the Promised Land, God reveals that He has an allotment in the form of a dwelling place in the eternal Promised Land for every believer in Jesus. Second, from the inheritance in Him that He promised to His priests, He promises the inheritance of a relationship with Him when you believe in Jesus. Unlike the Jews who had to choose between a land inheritance and an inheritance in God, you will receive both kinds of inheritance. Third, from the double allotment given to Joseph’s tribe (who denied himself so that others could live), He promises a double blessing for those who deny themselves for His righteousness. Fourth, from Caleb’s reward of land in the Promised Land, He reveals that He is faithful to keep His promises to you. Fifth, from the strength given to Caleb in His old age, He promises the blessing of strength when you do His will. Sixth, from Caleb’s right to the first choice of land within Israel, He reveals that believers in Jesus will receive the first fruits of His inheritance. This includes several types of crowns. Finally, from the peace that the Jews enjoyed after their wars, He reveals that He will reward you with peace in heaven.

1. Through Faith, Believers Have as a Reward an Allotment in Heaven. Josh. 14:1-2.

  • The division of the Promised Land by lot. After dividing up the conquered lands to the east of the Jordan, Eleazar the High Priest, Joshua, and a representative from the nine and a half tribes who decided to live within God’s Promised Land divided up the territories by lot: “1 Now these are the territories which the sons of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the households of the tribes of the sons of Israel apportioned to them for an inheritance, 2 by the lot of their inheritance, as the Lord commanded through Moses, for the nine tribes and the half-tribe.” (Josh. 14:1-2). By giving the Jews the land of Canaan, God showed that He was faithful to keep His promises: “for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.” (Gen. 13:15, 17; 12:7; 15:7; 17:8; 24:7; 26:3; 28:13; 35:12; 50:24; Dt. 9:5; 11:24). The Promised Land was the Jews’ inheritance that would pass from generation to generation: “Command the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you enter the land of Canaan, this is the land that shall fall to you as an inheritance, even the land of Canaan according to its borders.”’ (Nu. 34:2). “Saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion of your inheritance,’” (Ps. 105:11). “When He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land as an inheritance-- all of which took about four hundred and fifty years.” (Acts 13:19). “He also drove out the nations before them and apportioned them for an inheritance by measurement, and made the tribes of Israel dwell in their tents.” (Ps. 78:55). Eleazar the High Priest allotted the Promised land amongst the nine and one half tribes with the assistance of the Holy Spirit: “But the land shall be divided by lot. They shall receive their inheritance according to the names of the tribes of their fathers.” (Nu. 26:55; 34:13). This process ensured that the land was fairly divided between the tribes. Each person would know their place. This process would also help to ensure that there would be no conflicts between the Jews.

Through the use of lots, Eleazar the High Priest, apportioned the Promised Land1

  • Jesus’ promise to you of an eternal allotment in the form of a dwelling place in heaven. Like the Jews who were rewarded for believing in faith, Jesus also promises to reward you in heaven when you believe in faith. If you have faith in Jesus, He also promises that you will have an allotment in heaven: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jo. 3:16). “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,”’ (Jo. 11:25). “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.” (Jo. 5:21). Like the Jews, He also promises you a dwelling place in the eternal Promised Land: “In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” (Jo. 14:2). Your inheritance in heaven is so great that it cannot be adequately described in words: “[B]ut just as it is written, ‘Things which the eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.’” (1 Cor. 2:9). “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Ro. 8:18). If you have already accepted Jesus so as to receive your allotment in heaven, are you spreading the message for others to do the same?

2. Through Faith, Believers Also Have as a Reward a Relationship with Jesus. Josh. 14:3.

  • The special inheritance for God’s priests. Although the Levites also would live within the Promised Land, they gave up the blessing of a land inheritance for an even greater blessing that would come from a relationship with God: “3 For Moses had given the inheritance of the two tribes and the half-tribe beyond the Jordan; but he did not give an inheritance to the Levites among them.” (Josh. 14:3). “Only to the tribe of Levi he did not give an inheritance; the offerings by fire to the Lord, the God of Israel, are their inheritance, as He spoke to him.” (Josh. 13:14). “The Levitical priests, the whole tribe of Levi, shall have no portion or inheritance with Israel; they shall eat the Lord’s offerings by fire and His portion. They shall have no inheritance among their countrymen; the Lord is their inheritance, as He promised them.” (Dt. 18:1-2; 10:9; 12:12; Nu. 18:20). Their blessing of a relationship with God would come from prayer, worship, serving, and helping others to atone for their sins at the Temple.

  • If you choose Jesus as your inheritance, you will also be blessed. Jesus is your High Priest (Heb. 4:14). To fulfill the Law, He lived without owning land while He lived as a man on Earth (Matt. 8:20; Lk. 9:58). Like the Levites, you are today part of His holy priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5, 9). Like the Levities, He calls upon every believer to store up all forms of wealth (not just land) in heaven: “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;” (Matt. 6:19-20; Lk. 12:33). Like the Levites, He will also reward you with a relationship with Him as part of your inheritance: “And it shall be with regard to an inheritance for them, that I am their inheritance; and you shall give them no possession in Israel-- I am their possession.” (Ezek. 44:28). “The LORD is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words.” (Ps. 119:57). “The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot.” (Ps. 16:5). “But you will be called the priests of the LORD; you will be spoken of as ministers of our God. You will eat the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. Instead of your shame you will have a double portion, and instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore they will possess a double portion in their land, everlasting joy will be theirs.” (Is. 61:6-7). The Holy Spirit is His a down payment on your eternal inheritance: “who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.” (2 Cor. 1:22). Also, when you act in one accord with your fellow believers for Christ, Jesus further gives part of His glory to you (Jo. 17:22). Thus, unlike the Jews, you have an inheritance of both land and a relationship with Jesus in heaven. If you are grateful for what you are going to receive, what are you doing with your life to give thanks? (Ro. 12:1-2).

3. Believers who Deny Themselves Receive a Double Blessing in Heaven. Josh. 14:4-5.

  • The special double allotment given to Joseph for denying himself for God. After describing the special inheritance of those who accepted in faith life within the Promised Land and the special inheritance of the Levites, God described the special double inheritance of the tribe of Joseph: “4 For the sons of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim, and they did not give a portion to the Levites in the land, except cities to live in, with their pasture lands for their livestock and for their property. 5 Thus the sons of Israel did just as the Lord had commanded Moses, and they divided the land.” (Josh. 14:4-5). Joseph’s tribe was the eleventh tribe and a descendant of Rachel (Gen. 30:23). His tribe received the firstborn double land blessing (1 Chron. 5:1). He received both his lands and the lands of Levi. Joseph denied himself for his people. First, he denied himself and remained faithful when he was sold into slavery (Gen. 37:27-28). Second, he denied himself when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him. Third, he denied himself by not trying to defend himself when Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him and he was placed in jail (Gen. 39:20). Fourth, he denied himself when he was later placed in second in command over all of Egypt and refrained from extracting revenge against the brothers who sold him into slavery. Jesus says that: “But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.” (Matt. 19:30). Although they were the 11th tribe, they received a double allotment in the Promised Land because Joseph denied himself for God’s righteousness.

God’s allotment for the 12 tribes of Israel2

  • God’s grace in giving Joseph’s descendants a double blessing. Manasseh and Ephraim’s double inheritance was an act of grace. The Jews were not allowed to marry persons who were not Jewish (Dt. 7:3). Also, to be considered Jewish, the mother had to be Jewish. But their mother was the daughter of an Egyptian priest: “Now to Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, whom Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, bore to him.” (Gen. 46:20). Thus, the tribes were both half-breeds who were not technically Jewish at all. These tribes also worshiped the golden calf. God therefore gave them a double allotment out of grace, not because they deserved it.

  • Jesus’ promise of rewards in heaven for those who deny themselves for Him on Earth. Like the tribe of Joseph, God also promises to reward you in the eternal Promised Land if you deny yourself for His righteousness: “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;” (Matt. 6:20). “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matt. 13:44). “I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.” (Is. 45:3). The treasures that He promises will also never perish: “Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” (1 Cor. 9:25). To store up treasures in heaven you must deny yourself for His righteousness: “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.”’ (Matt. 16:24). Yet, to receive your reward in heaven, you must also deny yourself in secret. If you deny yourself or do good works for the recognition of others, you have received your reward (Matt. 6:4). Are you denying yourself for His righteousness to store up a double allotment of treasure in heaven?

4. Believers who Show Faith will be Rewarded with all God’s Promises. Josh. 14:6-9.

  • God’s faithfulness in honoring His promise to Caleb. After describing the special blessings for the tribes of Levi and Joseph, God described the special reward to Caleb for his faithfulness: “6 Then the sons of Judah drew near to Joshua in Gilgal, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, ‘You know the word which the Lord spoke to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh-barnea. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought word back to him as it was in my heart. 8 Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt with fear; but I followed the Lord my God fully. 9 So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden will be an inheritance to you and to your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God fully.’” (Josh. 14:6-9). Caleb came from a mixed ancestry. His mother was from the tribe of Judah (Nu. 13:6). Judah was Leah’s son and Jacob’s fourth child (Gen. 29:35). After Reuben, Simeon, and Levi forfeited their firstborn status through their sins, the blessings of leadership fell to Judah. God gave it a pre-emanate leadership role amongst the tribes (Gen. 49:8-12). Caleb’s father was Jephunneh (Josh 14:14; Nu. 34:19; 13:6). Jephunneh’s family came from an Edomitish tribe called the Kenizzites (Josh. 14:14; Nu. 13:6; 32:12; 1 Chr. 4:15). Jephunneh’s name means either “for whom a way is prepared” or “he has turned.” Caleb, who name means “dog,” which is considered a lowly animal in that culture. Caleb’s name suggests that he was not a great man at first. Yet, just as father’s name suggests, “he turned” to God in faith (along Joshua from the tribe of Ephraim) when others feared the giants in the Promised Land (Nu. 13:30). God later called Caleb “my servant.” (Nu. 14:24). He was one of only two people from the generation that left Egypt who were entitled to enter the Promised Land (Dt. 1:34-36). By honoring His promises to Caleb, God showed that He is filled with grace and that He is faithful to keep His promises. The examples of Joshua’s two sons and Caleb also show that He will not reward you based upon your pedigree. He will reward those who faithfully serve Him regardless of their background.

Caleb appeared before Joshua to receive his reward3

Caleb received his special inheritance for his faith-led obedience4

  • Like Caleb, God will reward you in heaven when you are a light to others. Joshua and Caleb were God’s two witnesses who tried to encourage the fearful people to have faith (Nu. 14:9). They foreshadowed God’s two lonely witnesses who will try to encourage the people to turn to Him in order to enter the Promised Land in heaven (Rev. 11:3). Believers are to be lights to others: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;” (Matt. 6:14). They are also to comfort or encourage others with the comfort they have received from God (2 Cor. 1:4; Heb. 3:13). Joshua and Caleb were almost stoned for their witness (Nu. 14:10). Like Caleb, are you encouraging others to do what is right, even if you are ridiculed for doing so? If so, like Caleb, God will reward you.

5. Believers Who Do God’s Will Receive the Blessing of Strength. Josh. 14:10-12.

  • Caleb’s blessing of strength to see God’s promises fulfilled. Unlike the patriarchs who never lived to see God’s promises fulfilled, Caleb and Joshua both lived to see the fulfillment of His promises. Moreover, God gave Caleb the strength of a younger man to enjoy His gifts: “‘10 Now behold, the Lord has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today. 11 I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in. 12 Now then, give me this hill country about which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the Lord will be with me, and I will drive them out as the Lord has spoken.’” (Josh. 14:10-12). At the end of the wars, God gave Joshua the strength of a younger man at age 85 to enjoy his inheritance. Likewise, up until the time of his death at age 120, He gave Moses the strength of a younger man to do His work: “ . . . when he died, his eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated.” (Dt. 34:27). The message is that He will give you strength to do His will.

  • When you do God’s will, He will also reward you with strength. When you step out in faith to serve Jesus’ calling in your life, He can also give you the strength to complete your tasks for Him: “And looking at them Jesus said to them, ‘With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”’ (Matt. 19:26; Mk. 10:27; Lk. 18:27). “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13). God also promises to prolong your life if you are faithful to Him: “So you shall observe to do just as the Lord your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right or to the left. You shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you will possess.” (Dt. 5:32-33). This might be a year, a day, or some other increment of time. Only in heaven will you learn how much time was added to your life.

6. Believers in Christ Will Receive the First Fruits of His Inheritance. Josh. 14:13-15.

  • Caleb’s reward of the first inheritance in the Promised Land. After recounting God’s promises to Caleb, He showed His faithfulness through the fulfillment of His promise: “13 So Joshua blessed him and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. 14 Therefore, Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite until this day, because he followed the Lord God of Israel fully. 15 Now the name of Hebron was formerly Kiriath-arba; for Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim.” (Josh. 14:13-15). Hebron was the first city in all of the Promised Land to be granted to one of God’s people. Because of his faithfulness, Caleb received the first-fruits of the Promised Land with the first inheritance (Josh. 15:13; Jdgs. 1:20).

Caleb’s reward included Hebron5

  • God will also reward you with the first fruits of His inheritance. Like Caleb who received the first inheritance in the Promised Land, the dead in Christ will rise first to claim their inheritance in heaven: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” (1 Thess. 4:16). Believers will also receive five kinds of crowns, a number symbolizing His grace. First, those who persevere in the face of trials, like Caleb, will also receive a crown of life: “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (Ja. 1:2; 2 Tim. 2:15; Rev. 2:10). Second, those who live pure while waiting for His return, will receive a crown of righteousness: “in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:8). Third, those who exercise self-control will receive an “incorruptible crown” (1 Cor. 9:25-27). Fourth, elders, pastors, teachers, leaders, and shepherds of God’s flock will also receive “a crown of glory” (1 Pet. 5:4). Finally, those who help lead others to Jesus will receive a “crown of rejoicing” (1 Thess. 2:19; Dan. 12:3). Are you living a righteous life to receive all the crowns available to you?

7. Believers Who Show Faith Will Be Rewarded with Peace. Josh. 14:15(b).

  • The peace given to the Jews. Finally, all who believed and chose to live in the Promised Land received the reward of peace: “Then the land had rest from war.” (Josh. 14:15(b)). God had just told the Jews that further wars were needed to drive out five nations of Canaanites and Philistines who still remained in the Promised Land (Josh. 13:2-7). Thus, this promise of peace looked forward to the reign of the Messiah over Israel.

  • Jesus’ offer of peace to all believers. Jesus offers the peace that surpasses all understanding: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:7). Your peace in the eternal Promised Land is available only because of His sacrifice at the cross: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ . . ” (Rom. 5:1). “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, . . .” (Eph. 2:13-15). “[W]e have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Rom. 5:1). His definition of peace is different than the world’s definition: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (Jo. 14:27). The peace that comes from God does not prevent stressful things from happening. It is instead the ability to stay calm, collected, and happy in the face of adversity. In other words, God will not give you peace by changing your surroundings. He will give you peace by changing your response to your surroundings. But this kind of peace requires that God burn away your selfish desires. In heaven, He also promises rest from all struggle and conflict. If you are lacking peace, are you turning to Jesus?