If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Joshua 16–17, Psalm 148, Jeremiah 8, Matthew 22. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Joshua 16-17.
OK, so these can be tough chapters to read, with names like “Ataroth” (16:2), “Mikmethath” (16:6), and others. Also, since these chapters are describing the allotments of land for the tribes of Israel, it is tough to visualize what we are reading unless you have an old map of Israel handy.
So, don’t worry about all that stuff and, instead, notice this:
- “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” (16:10).
- “Yet the Manassites were not able to occupy these towns, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that region. However, when the Israelites grew stronger, they subjected the Canaanites to forced labor but did not drive them out completely” (17:12-13).
At the end of chapter 17, the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim (Joseph’s sons) began complaining 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” (v. 14). They wanted to reapportion the land of Israel within the existing borders. In other words, they wanted to take land away from neighboring tribes. Joshua was all for them having more land, but not at the expense of other Israelites. Instead, in verse 15, Joshua told them to enter the forests of the Perizzites and Rephaites, start clear-cutting, and defeat these people when they came out to defend their land. When I read the response of Joseph’s descendants in verse 16, it is difficult for me to hear anything but a whiny tone of voice: “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the plain have chariots fitted with iron…” But Joshua stood firm; they get no more land from their original allotment. If they want more land, go and take it from these other Canaanites. Although he conceded in verse 18 that “they have chariots fitted with iron” and “they are strong” he maintained that “you can drive them out.”
History repeats. Their fathers failed to take the land because they thought the Canaanites were too big, too strong, too entrenched to defeat. In other words, they were cowed by what they saw instead of trusting in the faithfulness of God’s promises. Though the next generation did receive the land, they too were cowed by those around them. They got their land but not nearly as much as God wanted them to have. Why? Because they did not act as if they believed God’s promises. If they had trusted God, they could have had more land and could have utterly defeated the Canaanites. Instead, they chose through cowardice and unbelief to settle for less than what God wanted to give them.
How often do we settle for low-level living? Do we believe that Jesus has all authority as he claimed in Matthew 28:19? If so, why don’t we go make disciples of all the nations as he commanded us to do? Do we believe that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us (2 Pet 1:3)? Then why do we let sinful habits remain in us instead of driving them out? The answer is that these things are not automatic. God’s promises are true but they are only activated by faith. And faith is not just an inner belief; it is an inner conviction that produces outward actions that demonstrate true trust in God. Where in our lives are we refusing to receive all the God has promised to us in Christ? Let’s take encouragement from Joshua’s confidence in these chapters and live by faith in that area today.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.