Monday, October 31, 2016

Monday - Joshua 17 - Manasseh's Second Portion

Manasseh had been Joseph's firstborn son, however, you might remember that Jacob blessed the younger son above his brother (Genesis 48:14). So, these many generations later there was still a certain domination of Ephraim over Manasseh. That is not to say that Manasseh wasn't blessed, for that tribe was truly endowed with much. Remember, a large portion of land had been given to part of the children of the tribe of Manasseh back on the eastern side of the Jordan.  Now they received another piece of real estate west of the Jordan River. It seems Ephraim was a little jealous of that, so they asked their brother and leader, Joshua. for some additional land (Joshua 17:15).  And, he gave it to them too... even though most of the tribes had not received any allotment yet.  Specifically, he gave land west of the river to the 5 daughters of Zelophehad the Manassite. That might seem unfair given the fact that most of the tribes hadn't even been to the table to find out what was theirs yet. But, God has His own ways and mankind has many flaws.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Saturday - Joshua 16 – Lessons from Ephraim

Now that we are looking at Canaan and what land belonged to which tribes, you might notice which ones came first: Judah, Ephraim and Manasseh.

In verse 4 we see that though land already BELONGED to Ephraim and Manasseh (sons of Joseph), they had to actually take it. Similarly, all of the spiritual blessings that we have are truly ours, yet we still have to claim them. Forgiveness is offered, but it must be received. Salvation is available, but it has to be requested. And yes, sanctification is guaranteed, but it takes our active participation for to be realized. How many things has God given to us, but we don't benefit from them because we don't take the initiative (James 4:2).

Notice that the tribe of Ephraim did not completely conquer their Canaanite enemies. God's instructions had been clear. Total conquest was the demand, but Ephraim settled for a measure of domination. It would certainly cause problems later. Even so in our own lives, there is no substitute for the vigorous devotion that God expects from His children (Romans 13:14).

Friday, October 28, 2016

Friday - Joshua 15 - Judah's Property Description

In real estate there is a document called an abstract that includes the history of a particular parcel of ground. Within that abstract you will find a survey section delineating in meets and bounds exactly where the property lines start and stop. The information is certainly valuable in its proper context and is meaningful to a surveyor, or maybe to a lawyer or a real estate agent, but it's not the kind of thing you would put on the nightstand to read for inspiration in the morning.

Now, this is almost exactly what we have in this section of Joshua. This chapter amounts to a surveyor's tedious description... in ancient form.  Most of the space here (in the 63 verses which comprise Joshua 15) is devoted to listing the cities and distinguishing the borders of the land that was given to the tribe of Judah. If ever there were disputes about what area belonged to Judah and which areas were rightfully the possessions of their bordering tribes, this section of Joshua would have been of principle value in settling them.

Most of the details are general and apply to the whole tribe.  Those specifics were important for the sake of national peace and unity. However, there is one small section that was very much local and even familial in its importance. Remember how we just read yesterday that Caleb claimed a mountain which God had promised to him? Well, after he had taken it, he promised to give his daughter Achsah in marriage to whoever would help him by conquering Kirjathsepher. His nephew Othniel succeeded, and therefore got the girl. In this transaction we find that Caleb was not only a receiver of good things, he was also a giver. His daughter asked him (through her new husband) for some springs of water to go with their property.   Caleb complied.