Joshua 16-18 How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land?

From Joshua 16-18

06 Joshua Jerichos Walls FallUnder Joshua’s leadership Israel has taken some of the promised land. However some still remains. The inhabitants are subdued, its theirs for the taking, but they keep on putting it off.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

18 Then the whole congregation of the people of Israel assembled at Shiloh and set up the tent of meeting there. The land lay subdued before them. 2 There remained among the people of Israel seven tribes whose inheritance had not yet been apportioned. 3 So Joshua said to the people of Israel, “How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you?” (Jos 18:1–3)

Seven tribes have not yet come into their ‘inheritance’ because they haven’t taken all the land yet. Thats more than half of the tribes. Joshua criticises them for their procrastination.

Sometimes God has given us something we have asked for, but we don’t have it because we still have to work for it.

Joshua decides to provide them with some incentive.

4 “Provide three men from each tribe, and I will send them out that they may set out and go up and down the land. They shall write a description of it with a view to their inheritances, and then come to me. 5 They shall divide it into seven portions. Judah shall continue in his territory on the south, and the house of Joseph shall continue in their territory on the north. 6 And you shall describe the land in seven divisions and bring the description here to me. And I will cast lots for you here before the LORD our God. (Jos 18:4-6)

They haven’t taken the land, but Joshua orders them to send some men in to map it out. Once they have it mapped, Joshua can divide it up for them into the seven remaining portions. Presumably, once they know what their land is they will be more inclined to take it for themselves.

7 The Levites have no portion among you, for the priesthood of the LORD is their heritage. And Gad and Reuben and half the tribe of Manasseh have received their inheritance beyond the Jordan eastward, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave them.” (Jos 18:7)

The allotments for Judah and Joseph are mentioned above. Gad, Reuben and Manasseh bring the total to five tribes catered for. The levites have no portion, they will be provided for through temple worship. Seven tribes remain. All tribes will be looked after. The account shows national unity and a fair distribution.

8 So the men arose and went, and Joshua charged those who went to write the description of the land, saying, “Go up and down in the land and write a description and return to me. And I will cast lots for you here before the LORD in Shiloh.” 9 So the men went and passed up and down in the land and wrote in a book a description of it by towns in seven divisions. Then they came to Joshua to the camp at Shiloh, 10 and Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD. And there Joshua apportioned the land to the people of Israel, to each his portion. (Jos 18:8–10)

The men go out as Joshua instructed and return with a description of their portions of the promised land. The next few chapters will spell out these descriptions of the remaining land.

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

“After the prompting of the Lord, Joshua set out to divide the land among the tribes of Israel. The fact that the land had not yet been entirely conquered did not keep Joshua from giving it to the various tribes. This was an act of faith on his part. It expressed his firm belief that the land would most certainly be conquered. He acted as if the land were already Israel’s because it would eventually be Israel’s.

Along with the strong faith of Joshua and Caleb, we see weak faith. The people were not able to conquer Jerusalem, which belonged to the Jebusites (15:63)—as if the God of Jericho could not possibly be the God of Jerusalem! (Ellsworth, R. (2008). Opening up Joshua (p. 101). Leominster: Day One Publications.)

It took Israel sometime before they took all the land. Not till at least the period of the Judges. But even then the LORD raised up foreign powers over Israel because of her disobedience. David was the one who took Jerusalem. With the LORD’s help.

Story of Jesus

Jesus commands his people thus;

33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” (Mt 6:33)

The kingdom of God is our portion. Our inheritance. There are present and future aspects to the kingdom of God. We have entered his kingdom (Mt 12.28; Mk 9.1) by believing in him. He is the Christ, he died for our sins and rose from the grave. We are also assured we will be part of the kingdom to come (Lk 11.2; 21.31). Provided we do not continue in sin (Gal 5.19-21; 1 Cor 5.9-11; 6.9-10; Eph 5.1-12).

Now we are to be involved in his kingdom ministry, promoting his righteousness.

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” (Mt 13:18–23)

Joshua reminds us there is still much to be claimed. God’s kingdom, God’s righteousness. Go and bear much fruit.

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