Joshua 18-20
(Final Allotment)
March 9th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verses

They completed the dividing of the land as inheritance and the setting of its boundaries. The People of Israel then gave an inheritance among them to Joshua son of Nun. In obedience to God’s word, they gave him the city which he had requested, Timnath Serah in the hill country of Ephraim. He rebuilt the city and settled there.

- Joshua 18:49-50 (MSG)

Summary of Chapters

In these three chapters, Joshua finishes the allotments for tribes that would manage their own land. Joshua also designated cities of refuge. The remaining seven tribes were slow to take the necessary actions to occupy their land, so Joshua sent them out to survey the remaining parts and then used a method to determine their allotments.

    Joshua addressed the People of Israel: "How long are you going to sit around on your hands, putting off taking possession of the land that God, the God of your ancestors, has given you? Pick three men from each tribe so I can commission them. They will survey and map the land, showing the inheritance due each tribe, and report back to me. They will divide it into seven parts. Judah will stay in its territory in the south and the people of Joseph will keep to their place in the north.

    - Joshua 18:3-5 (MSG)

At the end of this process, all of the tribes except the Levites had been granted specific areas of land. The Levites would be distributed among each tribe and would be given small plots within those tribes’ areas, as described in tomorrow’s study. The last big tracts of land were divided as follows:

    Last Allotments

    Benjamin: Land sandwiched between Judah (to the south) and Ephraim (to the north - one of the two half-tribes of Joseph), extending from the Jordan to some of the hills in the west, but not all the way to the Mediterranean; this land included Bethel and Jerusalem

    Simeon: Joshua gave a southern portion of Judah to Simeon “because Judah’s portion was more than they needed (Josh 19:9 - NIV).” Simeon became the southern-most tribe on the western side of Israel.

    Issachar: Small slice of land directly north of the western tribe of Manasseh

    Asher, Naptali, Zebulan : Northern-most areas of land, with Asher on the far west, extending to the Mediterranean and up to the heavily fortified city of Tyre

    Dan: Dan was given land near Benjamin and Judah, but lost it to other people and acquired a city in the north east part of Israel, just above the eastern tribe of Manasseh.

Reflection and Application

Some tribes, such as Dan, were slow to occupy the land because they still had to conquer some of the people – we should have faith that God is great enough to tackle our most difficult situations.

It’s not clear exactly what Joshua used as the method of determination. It may have been the Umin and Thurmin first introduced in Exodus 28. These were objects that the high priest used to determine God’s will in certain situations. They were intended to remain in the priests robe until needed, then somehow the removal or rolling of the objects would determine God’s yes or no answer. We don’t have any objects like this in our modern church.

Our best method for determination is reflective prayer and patient waiting. Sometimes the answer returns to us loud and clear, like a voice that only we can hear, instructing us what to do next. Other times we might think we heard an answer or think we know the answer, but are not fully confident. God may send us an additional affirmation or warning from trusted friends and advisors, or even a stranger. In other cases, we might have a physical feeling that the path we are headed down is right or wrong. For example, we might have a physical pain or some other type of discomfort that alerts us to the incorrectness of our course. Most importantly, if we often return to God in prayer and study of his word then we have our best chance of accurately discerning his will for us.

The city of Tyre mentioned in these chapters persisted as an independent city-state for many generations but was eventually punished by God for taking advantage of Israel, as prophesized by Isaiah and Ezekiel:

    The LORD says to Tyre that he “ ‘will make you a bare rock, and you will be a place to spread fishnets. You will never be rebuilt’ ”

    - Ezekiel 26:14 (NIV)

The experience of Tyre is an example of the limit of God’s patience and tolerance. If we determine we are not on the right track we ought to seek forgiveness and re-calibrate our lives before God loses patience with us.

For further reflection on these chapters we recommend a brief sermon by the 19th Century preacher, C.H. Spurgeon (19 June 1834 – 31 January 1892), who was nicknamed the "Prince of Preachers:" "DRIVING OUT THE CANAANITES AND THEIR IRON CHARIOTS," C.H. Spurgeon, July 12th, 1888

Steven Curtis Chapman (November 21, 1962 - current) composed a beautiful song about some of they ways that God's messages can come to us. You can hear him perform this song by clicking on the object below:

"Sometimes He Comes in the Clouds," performed by Steven Curtis Chapman

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What are your favorite games of chance?
    2. What has God been waiting for you to do?
    3. What step is he directing you to take today?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we praise you for your patience and confess that we have procrastinated our fulfillment of your will. Please help us to be hear you directions and give us the wisdom and courage to take the steps that you want us to take.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Joshua 21-22 (First Controversy)

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