My parking space is about to wash away. Well, part of it anyway. I park on a hill, and water has washed the ground away under the curb, making a big muddy hollow under the concrete. I am pretty sure that if I pulled my car all the way into the space, the front-edge of the pavement would break off. A few more good rains, and maybe it will just fold down on its own. This is not the first time the parking spot has been damaged: There was a flood here that washed it out. Ten years ago, a landslide buried it.
It is just a few square feet of land, but it is mine, and has been for thirteen years. I have parked four different cars in that spot, fought with neighbors over who was allowed to use it. I used to set a grill up there and cook. Even my dog knows it is my spot.
Everyone has places like that, little spots that they know, that they see change with time, fight for, maintain. Get a couple of people and a lot of their spots together and you have a neighborhood. You know your own and some famous ones, too: Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens; Venice, Orange County, and Hollywood; Bourbon Street, and up and down the French Quarter. I have not been to all those places, though I have some idea of what they are like. But I have no idea what Baal-Gad is like. Nor Megiddo, Og, Ai, or Sihon.
I will never know a spot in Bethel the way I know my parking spot, but Joshua might have. There were people who knew those places the same way I know my parking spot of thirteen years. Canaanites, then Israelites, then Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Jews, Christians, and more. Here in Joshua, those places became part of God’s gift, “And Moses the LORD’s servant gave their land as an inheritance to the Reubenites” (Joshua 12:6). God brought them out of the wilderness where they had wandered without a spot, and gave them the place He had chosen for them.
God’s providence was not just so those people He loved would have a home, no more than His providence in my life has been only so I can fix my parking spot. The book of Daniel tells us that God reveals deep and hidden things, and all His work reveals the depths of His love in Christ (Daniel 2:22), establishing that love to endure forever (Psalm 136). He reminded Israel constantly of this gift He had given them, and when we read it, God is reminding us of His long, unbroken streak of kept promises. He provided both grace and justice. Israel’s inheritance of the land foreshadows every believer’s inheritance in Christ.