Joshua 18: 1-10
Humans have a desire for a peaceful life. Yet as a race, humanity is fascinated with war. But there are times when we just need to get on with life. Joshua here has to manage the mundane. But there’s more going on here then first glance. We may feel our lives are mundane but we serve a great God.
Here, in this chapter, deciding on the allotment of the land seems mundane. But to the Jews this was exciting as they saw the fulfilment of the promise of God to Abraham in Genesis, generations beforehand. In the beginning of the section in 13:1 Joshua was told he’s old but there was an awful lot to do. This was followed by a list of lands to be divided as an inheritance. God will drive the people out so the Israelites can occupy it. In chapter 18 we might think this is slightly confusing, ‘The land lay subdued before them’ (Joshua 18:1). There was peace, yet 7 tribes had not received their inheritance. This parallels with Christian life. The Israelites did occupy the land but pockets of resistance existed. We have been liberated yet still have sin in our lives.
‘So Joshua said to the people of Israel, “How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given to you?”’ (Joshua 18:3). The Israelites had been slack; God had given land but 7 tribes had not occupied it. Joshua galvanises the people into action. He knew exactly what to do.
‘And Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD. And there Joshua apportioned the land to the people of Israel, to each his portion.’ (Joshua 18:10). ‘Before the Lord’ is a significant phrase. The Israelites were to worship God alone. They were in Shiloh. This was important. Why? Because until now Israel had been a nomadic people but now Shiloh is set aside for the tabernacle. It was their spiritual home (Deuteronomy 12:8-11). The prophecy was now fulfilled, the tabernacle was settled in Shiloh. It was here that God would meet with His people through His chosen mediator – now Joshua. Shiloh was geographically central and now spiritually central.
God’s will is to be obeyed. When Joshua commissioned a survey, it was simply a necessary act for him to do the will of God. Joshua is doing what God required of it. Joshua is also motivating the people to do the task, to live holy lives before God – just as pastors today lead their team. The people complained. They were looking to their own strength not looking to God. Joshua stands firm. When we obey God’s will then He will supply us with the strength to do His Will.
Surrendering to God’s Will. Joshua was not the one who as deciding who had to do what. The primary person involved in choosing the land was God. The casting of lots was revealing God’s Will. The Israelites were accepting God’s choice of land they would be given as their inheritance (Proverbs 16:33). God is sovereign. The Israelites are relying on God’s sovereignty to make the decision. This is a parallel to our inheritance in heaven. We don’t choose. ‘In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?’ (John 14:2). Where we go in heaven is Christ’s choice alone. We will have a place given to us, selected for us by the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to strive for holiness here on earth. What lies before us should sustain us in our lives in the here and now.
God alone is to be worshipped. God’s Will is to be obeyed. We are to surrender to His Will. Do we trust God enough to do His Will? If we do, we will surrender to His Will. We continue to live on this earth but our ultimate inheritance is in heaven. Look to the inheritance to encourage us in our life now.