All Lives Matter–Joshua 20

Cities of Refuge were an amazing departure from the Eastern Culture.  The value of Life was considered very high and the major deterrent to killing was the concept of avenging the death.  A member of the victim’s family was named “avenger of blood” and his duty was to kill the killer. The cities of refuge were designated for those cases that were accidental killings.  They served as an alternative to senseless killing to avenge the death.

The killer had to make the case for why the killing was not a murder.  If the case could be made, the person would be admitted and given a place to live and a way to make a living.  If the avenger of Blood came to complete his duty, the city’s inhabitants would guard and protect the lives of their own.  The inhabitants would then be tried for their act and if found innocent, they would still remain until their city’s High priest died.

 Two things stand out in today’s world-1st, God places a high value on Human life. He allowed death’s to be avenged, but, made provision for those who accidentally killed another.  No special treatment was given to anyone.  The killer had to show the act was not intentional and still had to be separated from his lifestyle, family and friends.  In addition, each killer had to stand trial in a neutral place and prove their innocence or they would be executed. It was a pretty seamless system that protected victim’s rights and prevented useless vengeance.

 2nd– God always paid attention to detail.  In every aspect of building the culture, God considered what was right and what was fair.  From the division of the lands to the protection of individuals, God always made provision to set his people apart as both special and holy among the peoples of the world.  He still does that today.  We are called to be separate.  We are to live in the world, but not allow the world to live in us. We are to value life as much today as he did 4000 years ago.  We cannot be sucked in to the lie that says life is only important if it is a puppy or it is convenient.  Truly, all lives matter! The only alternative is that NO lives matter.

 God Bless You

The Lord said to Joshua: “Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses, so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally(B) may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood.(C) When they flee to one of these cities, they are to stand in the entrance of the city gate(D) and state their case before the elders(E) of that city. Then the elders are to admit the fugitive into their city and provide a place to live among them. If the avenger of blood comes in pursuit, the elders must not surrender the fugitive, because the fugitive killed their neighbor unintentionally and without malice aforethought. They are to stay in that city until they have stood trial before the assembly(F) and until the death of the high priest who is serving at that time. Then they may go back to their own home in the town from which they fled.”

The Last Shall Be First–Joshua 19

The sign of a great leader is his ability to go last.  In all walks of life, the greatest among us are usually remembered for their humility and selflessness as much as they are for their accomplishments.  Those that are truly great have no need to announce it.  Washington, Lincoln, Sam Walton and Billy Graham all men that are great and had no need to be first.  Joshua was such a man.  He served Moses the 40+ years they wandered the desert.  He served  God as the successor to one of God’s best friends.  He served the people by leading the charge to regain their inheritance and he selflessly waited to the end to pick his land to call home.

The people gave Joshua the exact land he wanted—in and among them.  It was not set apart or raised as a place of special honor—no it was right in the midst of the folks, right where a great leader wants to be.  They saved the best for last.  The funny thing was—the happiness felt by the Israelites probably exceeded the overwhelming joy that Joshua felt.  Because, even though he was humbled and grateful for the gesture—the people were able to say thank you in a way that honored God and honored Joshua.

In our lives, we need to come to the place—where we rush to get in the back of the line.  Our hearts need to race when we are serving and stand humbly when we are being served.  If we can become transformed in that way, we will enjoy the blessings of being selfless and we will leave a legacy of greatness that is shared by a small minority of folks walking on this journey.  Few of us can remember the NFL MVP for the last 10 years.  Few of us can remember the NBA’s top scorer. But all of us can remember those few people that poured their lives into ours and made us the perople of faith we are today—(Thanks Kim, Jon, Charlie, Pastor Gephart, Jonathan Pederson, Brian, Jorgy and my wonderful bride)—Just to name a few!!

God Bless You

When they had finished dividing the land into its allotted portions, the Israelites gave Joshua son of Nun an inheritance among them, 50 as the Lord had commanded. They gave him the town he asked for—Timnath Serah[d] in the hill country of Ephraim. And he built up the town and settled there.

51 These are the territories that Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun and the heads of the tribal clans of Israel assigned by lot at Shiloh in the presence of the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting. And so they finished dividing the land.

Joshua 18–What Are You Waiting For

It was time to take their inheritance.  Israel had seen God clear the land for them.  He started the work of dividing the land.  Now seven of the tribes were simply sitting and watching  and somehow hoping that the land would settle itself.  Joshua knew that it was easier to do nothing than to claim the inheritance God provided. So, as God’s leader he did what any good leader would do—he sent the people out to take their lands. It was no easy task to divide the lands in a way that made everyone happy, but, he involved the people and the Lord to make the process as objective as he could.

In our lives, God gives us opportunities to trust him and he provides us with blessings.  Often, we sit back and fail to claim the blessing he has already provided–simply because we find it easier to complain than to act.  God tells us as he did Israel—what are you waiting for—go inherit the land.  If we will humbly trust him and move forward, he will amaze us with the blessing he pours out.  We need not fear, we simply follow his lead and allow him to execute his plan for our lives.   Help me, Lord, to claim what you have bestowed upon me.

God Bless You

The whole assembly of the Israelites gathered at Shiloh and set up the tent of meeting there. The country was brought under their control, but there were still seven Israelite tribes who had not yet received their inheritance.

So Joshua said to the Israelites: “How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given you? Appoint three men from each tribe. I will send them out to make a survey of the land and to write a description of it, according to the inheritance of each. Then they will return to me. You are to divide the land into seven parts. Judah is to remain in its territory on the south and the tribes of Joseph in their territory on the north. After you have written descriptions of the seven parts of the land, bring them here to me and I will cast lots for you in the presence of the Lord our God. The Levites, however, do not get a portion among you, because the priestly service of the Lord is their inheritance. And Gad, Reuben and the half-tribe of Manasseh have already received their inheritance on the east side of the Jordan. Moses the servant of the Lord gave it to them.”

The people of Joseph said to Joshua, “Why have you given us only one allotment and one portion for an inheritance? We are a numerous people, and the Lord has blessed us abundantly.”

15 “If you are so numerous,” Joshua answered, “and if the hill country of Ephraim is too small for you, go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites.”

16 The people of Joseph replied, “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the plain have chariots fitted with iron, both those in Beth Shan and its settlements and those in the Valley of Jezreel.”

17 But Joshua said to the tribes of Joseph—to Ephraim and Manasseh—“You are numerous and very powerful. You will have not only one allotment 18 but the forested hill country as well. Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours; though the Canaanites have chariots fitted with iron and though they are strong, you can drive them out.”

When Grateful Turns to Hateful–Joshua 17

The people of Joseph were given adequate lands.  They , like many of us wanted more.  This was the first of the tribes to complain about the inheritance they were given.  Joshua, in  his wisdom, offered the part of the Hill Country.  They did not want it because they would have to battle Canaanites to clear it—and they were scared. What an interesting scenario.  They watched God clear the land before them.  The very land they were complaining about was cleared by God.  Yet, despite the miracles and the provision they had been a part of their entire life, they could not trust God to do his work.

In our lives, we are the same.  God provides for us, he protects us and he prepares us for the battles ahead.  Still, after all he has done, we worry, fret and complain because he is doing it his way and not our way. We have to live lives that demonstrate humility and a grateful heart–even and especially when the circumstances are not as we have planned.  It is in the times we are least secure, that we have to rely upon his promise the most.  When we complain and are not satisfied, it shows our fear and lack of trust.  He is God! His plan will work for our good and deliver us to where we need to be with what we need to live on.

God Bless You

The people of Joseph said to Joshua, “Why have you given us only one allotment and one portion for an inheritance? We are a numerous people, and the Lord has blessed us abundantly.”

15 “If you are so numerous,” Joshua answered, “and if the hill country of Ephraim is too small for you, go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites.”

16 The people of Joseph replied, “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the plain have chariots fitted with iron, both those in Beth Shan and its settlements and those in the Valley of Jezreel.”

17 But Joshua said to the tribes of Joseph—to Ephraim and Manasseh—“You are numerous and very powerful. You will have not only one allotment 18 but the forested hill country as well. Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours; though the Canaanites have chariots fitted with iron and though they are strong, you can drive them out.”

Joseph finally receives his Just Reward–Joshua 15

God does not forget.  Joseph’s efforts and faithfulness had not been in vain for he and his family.  At age 17, he was sold into slavery by his brothers.  He was then made the trustee for the estate of the Captain of the Guard for Egypt.  He blessed the family and did so well that Potifer left it to him.  He was wrongfully accused and imprisoned.  Throughout his stay, he made such a difference they left it to him.  Then, he was made co-regent of Egypt and literally saved the Egyptian world and the nation of Israel.  The most exceptional part of the story was that Joseph’s faith carried him through thick and thin.  It also allowed him to do all humbly and without looking back.

Now centuries later, God was rewarding his family with the inheritance they deserved.  They were second in line—only behind Judah.  They were given double portions and the prestige of being in the place of honor.  There was nothing exceptional about Ephriam or Manassah as a people, but they were given much due to their lineage.

Our lineage is also significant.  As his chosen, we are part of the lineage of the Savior.  Even though our accomplishments are not exceptional, the life and sacrifice of Jesus provides us with an inheritance unmatched by any other man.  Eternal life and a full and meaningful journey are gifts we can only receive by surrendering to him and humbly following Christ.  Like the tribes of Joseph, we only have to accept the reward he provided. We will never fully appreciate the depth of love or the greatness of our reward for following Christ.

God Bless You

The allotment for Joseph began at the Jordan, east of the springs of Jericho, and went up from there through the desert into the hill country of Bethel. It went on from Bethel (that is, Luz),[a] crossed over to the territory of the Arkites in Ataroth, descended westward to the territory of the Japhletites as far as the region of Lower Beth Horon and on to Gezer, ending at the Mediterranean Sea.

So Manasseh and Ephraim, the descendants of Joseph, received their inheritance.

This was the territory of Ephraim, according to its clans:

The boundary of their inheritance went from Ataroth Addar in the east to Upper Beth Horon and continued to the Mediterranean Sea. From Mikmethath on the north it curved eastward to Taanath Shiloh, passing by it to Janoah on the east. Then it went down from Janoah to Ataroth and Naarah, touched Jericho and came out at the Jordan. From Tappuah the border went west to the Kanah Ravine and ended at the Mediterranean Sea. This was the inheritance of the tribe of the Ephraimites, according to its clans. It also included all the towns and their villages that were set aside for the Ephraimites within the inheritance of the Manassites.

10 They did not dislodge the Canaanites living in Gezer; to this day the Canaanites live among the people of Ephraim but are required to do forced labor.

 

 

Judah’s Inheritance–Joshua 15

The next several chapters of Joshua relates to the inheritance of each of the families and each of the tribes of Israel.  Remember, this was well before Map Quest.  As the division of the land unfolded, the precision that God used was amazing for their time and for ours.  It is critical to note that the first allotment went to Judah.  By custom and by law, the 1st and double portion was the birthright.  It passed to the eldest male child.  In this case it would have been Rueben, but he lost his birthright because he slept with one of his dad’s women—Billah.  So his Birthright was given to Joseph’s Sons—Ephraim and Manasseh.  Interestingly, the duties as spiritual leader of the house passed to Judah—Jesus’ tribe.  That is why Judah’s allotment is mentioned first.

God’s plan is always precise.  There is no doubt that God knew how to divide Israel among his chosen.  He was not only fair but he was prophetic.  He knew what was coming and set up the land accordingly.  In our lives, the same occurs.  We have no idea how the journey will unfold.  But, after 4000 years of watching God execute his plan, we can be confident his plan for us will be precise and will be what we need to be prepared for an eternity with him. We can never lose hope.  We can never walk away—otherwise, we will miss out on the inheritance he has planned for us.  Trust him to be precise and to be more than fair as he protects, prepares and provides for your daily life. 

God Bless You

The allotment for the tribe of Judah, according to its clans, extended down to the territory of Edom, to the Desert of Zin in the extreme south.

Their southern boundary started from the bay at the southern end of the Dead Sea, crossed south of Scorpion Pass, continued on to Zin and went over to the south of Kadesh Barnea. Then it ran past Hezron up to Addar and curved around to Karka. It then passed along to Azmon and joined the Wadi of Egypt, ending at the Mediterranean Sea. This is their[a] southern boundary.

The eastern boundary is the Dead Sea as far as the mouth of the Jordan.

The northern boundary started from the bay of the sea at the mouth of the Jordan, went up to Beth Hoglah and continued north of Beth Arabah to the Stone of Bohan son of Reuben12 The western boundary is the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea.

These are the boundaries around the people of Judah by their clans

Caleb’s Inheritance–Joshua 14 Part 2

Make no mistake, God rewards faithfulness! The children of Israel inherited the land in 5 years. God took the battle to the different kings and used their own ruthlessness to wipe them out.  But, there was one debt left to pay.  The debt to Caleb. The two faithful spies that initially pushed to take the land were Joshua and Caleb.  Joshua’s repayment was obvious—he was the leader of the people.  But, what of Caleb?  Well, God knew Caleb.  He gave Caleb the two things he appreciated the most—the ability to be a warrior and a battle to fight.

The Lord intentionally left the Anakites-(The Giants) in the hill country of Hebron.  So Caleb, who had faithfully and silently followed for 45 years, asked for the land of the giants.  He was still a warrior and had been convinced that God could take them out.  So, the land of Hebron—the land of the giants, was awarded to Caleb and his family.  The passage says and it still his to this day.  Clearly, while little is said about the battle—God took the giants out! Just as Caleb had predicted 45 years before.

In our lives, we too will be rewarded for faithfulness. Proverbs 3:5-6, Isaiah 40:31, Matthew 6:33, and Philippians 4:6-7, 11-13 and 19–are just a few of the verses that promise God’s reward for faith.  Like Caleb, we have to be patient, trusting and ready to fight! If we are, then God will happily send us to take that which the faint of heart would never consider! We must grasp what Caleb knew—God sees all his enemies as the same.  He is neither impressed by size or by number.  If we could somehow get ahold of that concept—then like Caleb we would truly look forward to God’s answer to any issue.  Whether it relate to health, relationship, career or financial—like the giants, we know God will take it out.  Remember, God as a father—simply wants to give us a full and meaningful journey here and eternity with him in Heaven!!

God Bless You

Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly. So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.’[a]

10 “Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12 Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”

13 Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. 14 So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the Lord, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly. 15 (Hebron used to be called Kiriath Arba after Arba, who was the greatest man among the Anakites.)

Then the land had rest from war.