He suggested they go into the forests in the country, and clear some more ground for themselves. The problem was, just below this prime piece of real estate, in the valley beneath the mountain forest, lived Canaanite giants who had chariots made out of iron. These iron chariots made the blood of the sons of Joseph run cold. Where a moment ago they had been bragging about their size, now they were protesting the strength of their enemies. Joshua must have sounded like Chuck Norris when he told them, they were great people and they had the power, so bless God they were not going to just have one lot, but they were going to get out there and take that mountain. Right now! Just get up there and chop down those trees! He agreed the enemies had iron chariots and they were strong. But, he believed the sons of Joseph were great people because they were children of the Almighty God.
There seemed to be no action taken after Joshua gave this command. Joshua 18:3 And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, How long will you hesitate to go to possess the land, which the LORD God of your fathers has given you? Joshua wasn't happy about the waiting game, so he continued to harangue them in chapter 18, where it says seven tribes still didn't have a possession. It also describes the land given to the tribe of Benjamin as bordering the land of the tribe of Joseph. It mentions how it was part of the mountain, and between Joseph and Judah's plots. So, we see that Joseph's children had been successful in clearing the forest, and we can infer that they didn't have a problem with the iron chariot giants in the valley, because they weren't one of the seven remaining tribes named later. Joshua realized the other tribes were reluctant to fight for this dangerous looking country, so he had a land lottery, where lots were decided by chance. Before the rest of the land was won, Joshua died. This didn't do much for the morale of the frightened soldiers.
Judah was afraid to fight by himself, so he struck a bargain with the tribe of his brother Simeon, saying they would band together to take first one tribe's land, and then the other. Judah's land was also on that mountain, just beyond the plots of Joseph, and Benjamin. But, Judah's extended down into the valley as well. Judges 1:19 tells how they were victorious in the mountain, and drove out the enemy because the Lord was with them. However, the Lord was not with them in the valley and they lost to the giants with the iron chariots. They seemed to have lost their faith in God's ability to handle the iron chariots. They forgot how big Joseph had been in battle, as Joshua had told them they were. They forgot how big God had been inside them on the mountain.
The Israelites struggled over the course of the following years, never completely ridding themselves of all of the factions of the Canaanites completely. They always struggled with little warring countries. They didn't have the faith for total victory. This reminds me of the things that we are afraid to face today. We have our own iron chariots.
I imagine that each of us could name those things that beset us. But, God is powerful through us and in us. We are a great people in the Lord. We can do all things through Christ who makes us strong. Philippians 4:13 So, don't be afraid of iron chariots. We are champions and can take on giants in iron chariots. Through the power of Jesus Christ, we can overcome all obstacles, if we show no fear in the battle. The victory is ours!