One reader sent an e-mail in response to the post on the fulfillment of God’s promises: “You should deal . . . with whether or not that part of the Abrahamic covenant is still in force if Joshua says the land was given to the people.”
This actually raises a fairly big issue within Joshua itself. Some passages in Joshua seem to say that the entire land had been conquered (Josh 10:40-42; 11:16-23; 21:43-45). Other passages seem to say that there was more land to conquer (Josh 13:1; 18:3).
This seeming discrepancy should not be blown out of proportion. For instance, Joshua 11:23 reads, “So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had spoken to Moses,” immediately after noting that there remained land to conquer in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod (Josh 11:22).
It is important to remember exactly what God spoke when he promised the land to Moses (Josh 11:21; 21:45). In Deuteronomy 7:22, God said, “The LORD your God will drive out these nations before you little by little. You will not be able to destroy them all at once; otherwise, the wild animals will become too numerous for you” (HCSB).
In other words, God had given to Israel the land as a whole, but, just as he had said, there still remained land to conquer little by little: the border lands and pocks of resistance within each tribe’s territory.
As to the Abrahamic covenant being fully fulfilled, this becomes more of an issue in 1 Kings 4:20-21. That passages says Solomon ruled all the land by the Abrahamic Covenant according to the specified boundries (Gen. 15:18). It is important to note, however that this land was promised to Israel as an “everlasting possession” (Gen. 17:8). That was not fulfilled either in Joshua’s day or in Solomon’s.