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Joshua 22




SCRIPTURE: Joshua 22

As the book of Joshua begins to wind down, we encounter the story of the two and one-half tribes that had asked Moses for permission to live on the wilderness side of the Jordan and not move into Canaan with the rest of the nation.  Moses had granted them permission to do that but with the stipulation that armies from those two and one-half tribes would cross the Jordan and help the rest of the nation defeat the Canaanites.

As they were getting ready to head back to their families that they had not seen in at least seven years, Joshua gives them a charge on how to live when they got back home.  They were to obey the Law of God given through Moses.  They were to love God, walk in His ways, cling to Him, and serve Him.  Although their military responsibilities had been taken care of, they still had some spiritual things to continue to take care of.

They were given substantial spoils of war.  Joshua told them to share that with those who did come over to fight.  On one hand, it might seem unfair that those who stayed home and didn’t join the fight should get anything from the battles that were won.  On the other hand, the fact that they were to get a portion of the spoils was one way of recognizing their contributions on the home front.

When the armies of the two and one-half tribes got to the Jordan River, they decided to build a huge altar.  By their own admission they did not intend on sacrificing there.  It was to be a reminder to them and the following generations.  However, when the tribes that had taken up residence in Canaan heard about this, they assumed the worst and decided to go to war against their fellow Israelites.

Thankfully, the priest took some men to find out what was going on before the fight started.  That’s when they heard that the intention was not to make a place of sacrifice but a memorial or future generations to see and remember.

So, why was this such a big deal?  One reason is there was one thing that bound all of Israel together and that was their worship of Yahweh.  And that worship was to take place where the Tabernacle was.  Anything else would be false worship and would separate the tribes of Israel.  That brings us to some lessons we can learn from this episode:

One, it is commendable for believers to be zealous for the purity of the faith.  Compromise in this arena never works out.  Never.  Two, it is wrong to judge people’s motives.  We should always get the facts and give others the opportunity to explain their motivation.  Three, it is good to have honest, open conversation to resolve differences and bring about reconciliation.  Four, when wrongly accused it is good to remember Proverbs 15:11 – “A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Joshua 21




SCRIPTURE: Joshua 21

This chapter details the last and crowning act of the allocation of the land in Canaan.  The leaders of the tribe of Levi made their claim for towns and the surrounding pasture lands that Moses had promised them. (See Numbers 35:1-8)

Once the distribution had been completed, the Levites had been given 48 towns (cities) including six cities of refuge.  These cities were scattered throughout the new nation.  It has been estimated that no one in Israel lived more than 10 miles from one of the towns given to the Levites.  This meant that every Israelite had someone within easy walking distance who was supposed to be well versed in Scripture and could provide Biblical guidance for all the problems of life.

The distribution was done according to the three main branches or clans in the tribe of Levi.  These corresponded to Levi’s three sons: Kohath, Gershon, and Merari.

Once these allocations had been made, we get to verse 43.  The last three verses of this chapter are some most powerful words.  We read where God kept His Word and fulfilled His promises.

Where I grew up, there were some unwritten rules that most people lived by.  One of those was “a man is only as good as his word”.  What we meant by that is if a man lied to you, he was not a good man.  But if he kept his word, if you could trust his word, he was a good man.  And a man who would keep his word even in difficult circumstances was even a better man.

I still operate under that premise.  In fact, over the years, I have said this to a lot of people.  But the point of the last three verses of this chapter is not to lend credence to the rules we lived by when I was growing up.  The point of the last three verses of this chapter is to remind us that God is a good God.  And one of the things that makes Him a good God is He keeps His Word.

If you are familiar with the story of Israel, you know they were a difficult people.  They often let circumstances diminish their faith.  They were known to rebel.  They complained about everything.  At one point, some of them actually tried to replace Moses as their leader. 

When you think about the character of Israel, it would be understandable if we read here that God got fed up with the whole lot of them and didn’t give them the land that He promised.  But when God gives us a promise, the fulfillment of that promise is based upon His character not ours.  God will not, indeed cannot, go back on a promise.

That should give us great comfort and encouragement today.  We can trust God’s Word.  We can rely upon His promises.  We can count on God to do exactly what He said He would do.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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