Feel Like A Rest? Joshua 18
Do You Feel Like A Rest ?
Stephen Caswell © 1999
Do You Feel Like Quitting’? Seven Of The Tribes Did!
Tennis champion Hana Mandlikova was once asked how she felt about defeating great players like Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert Lloyd. She responded, “ Any big win means that all the suffering, practicing, and travelling are worth it. I feel like I own the world. ” In the same way 5 of the tribes must have felt this now that they had received their inheritance. But 7 tribes were reluctant to receive their inheritance, they were tired. They wanted to rest.
Chapter 14 records how Joshua gave the land to the 9 1/2 tribes. God determined the inheritance that each tribe would receive. Caleb’s request for the city of Hebron provided a wonderful example of what could be accomplished through faith in God. Chapter 15 records the territory that Judah received. They conquered all their territory except for the city of Jerusalem, which remained in the hands of the Jebusites [15:63] until David conquered it. Chapter 16 records the territory that Ephraim received. They also conquered all their territory except Gezer. This was finally conquered by the king of Egypt and given to Solomon as a wedding present when he married the king’s daughter. Chapter 17 describes the portion assigned to the 1/2 tribe of Manasseh. They took some of their territory but failed to drive out the Canaanites from many of their cities. They should have destroyed them completely.
I Consecration - At Shiloh
Joshua 18:1 Now the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of meeting there. And the land was subdued before them.
Joshua set up the tabernacle at Shiloh to encourage the spiritual life of the people. They had been involved in 7 years of conquest. Until now the tabernacle had not been set up in Canaan. So Israel set it up now that the land had been subdued. The word subdue here has the idea of treading down or placing into bondage the people of the land. Israel also needed a reminder of their deliverance from Egypt. They needed to focus their attention on the Lord again. Therefore Joshua set up the tabernacle in Shiloh which was central to all Israel. He wanted the people to be consecrated to the Lord. He wanted them to focus on Him, for then they would have sustained blessing and contentment. Joshua probably did this to overcome two other problems that had recently surfaced. Complaining & Complacency
Joshua 17:14 says that the children of Joseph complained to Joshua about their inheritance. They complained that it was too small. They were not content with the Lord’s provision for them and complained about it. Joshua gave them further territory in the hill country. Which he told them they could take even though there were great giants there. He told them they could defeat them even though the people of the valley had iron chariots. The fact of the matter is that both of these 2 tribes failed to claim all their inheritance anyway. By setting up the tabernacle Joshua sought to focus the people’s attention on the Lord and not on their own selfish desires. He wanted them to realise that God had divided the land and was presently watching over them. He saw their complaining. Joshua didn’t want this to spread any further.
The same is true today. People usually complain when they are out of fellowship with the Lord. They aren’t looking to Him and therefore find fault in everything but themselves. It is only when we are consecrated to the Lord and focussed on Him that we see things in a balanced perspective. Because God helps us to think of others and not just ourselves.
Joshua 18:2-3 But there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes which had not yet received their inheritance. Then Joshua said to the children of Israel: “How long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers has given you?
The second problem was complacency. 7 tribes hadn’t come to Joshua at Gilgal to receive their inheritance by lot. The word receive means to share, to determine or divide, to measure out or decree. Probably these 7 tribes were weary from all the fighting. After all, seven years of constant warfare is enough to make any soldier weary. They just wanted to have a break. They were content to dwell in Ephraim’s territory and enjoy the richness of the land. They were content to live a nomadic lifestyle. They weren’t interested in knowing about their inheritance since this would involve further warfare and effort. They had decided to retire from the fight and relax. The sad thing is that they were so close to completing their task.
Not only had these tribes not received their inheritance. They hadn’t even gone up to Joshua at Gilgal to determine what it was. Some time had passed since Judah, Ephraim and Manasseh had received their inheritance from Joshua at Gilgal. This is why Joshua rebuked them for the neglect of their duty. The word neglect means, one showing himself slack. Joshua challenged them for their dereliction of duty. The land had been subdued. The enemies back had been broken. This final part of conflict was the easiest. They were at last fighting for their own inheritance. That should have been enough incentive to keep going. But it wasn’t for these weary soldiers. They weren’t prepared to possess the land that the Lord had given them. God had given it into their hands, all they had to do was take it.
I am sure that is why Joshua assembled all the people together at Shiloh. Here they would renew their worship services and sacrifices. Here they would remember God’s salvation and goodness to them. After consecrating the people to the Lord, they would be ready to complete the task, claiming their inheritance. He would give them new strength and vigour for the task.
Who’s In The Front Seat?
I heard about a believer in Christ named Chuck who loves to tandem bike ride with his wife or son. He’s a dynamic business executive, a man of action and decision. Although Chuck had grown up in the church, he was holding back from committing certain aspects of his life to the Lord. He always had to be in control. But the consequences of his stubborn pride and self-sufficiency were making his life miserable. His relationships with his business partners, with his family, and with God were breaking down. One morning, unable to take it any longer, he went on a solitary bike ride to think things through. He was gone so long that his wife began to worry. When he returned, his face was tear stained but he was smiling. He told his wife, “I put God on the front seat this morning.” Often we need to follow this example!
Have you become complacent in your Christian life? Perhaps you were once very involved in the Lord’s work but now want to relax. It’s just too hard, you feel that you are burned out! The first thing we must do is consecrate afresh our lives to the Lord. It is only as we appreciate afresh what God has done for us that we will have the right motive for service. Thankfulness for God’s past goodness is the very thing that will lead us to consecrate our lives to His service. God wants each of us to be involved. If you have quit or feel like quitting can I encourage you to remember a fresh God’s past salvation. Then He will give you renewed strength and vigour. Both complaining and complacency come from not focussing on God! Joshua’s first solution for complaining and complacency was consecration.
His second step was: II Consideration - Survey The Land
Joshua 18:4, 5a, 6, 8 “ Pick out from among you three men for each tribe, and I will send them; they shall rise and go through the land, survey it according to their inheritance, and come back to me. “And they shall divide it into seven parts. ” You shall therefore survey the land in seven parts and bring the survey here to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the LORD our God. Then the men arose to go away; and Joshua charged those who went to survey the land, saying, “ Go, walk through the land, survey it, and come back to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the LORD in Shiloh.”
Joshua commanded each tribe to send 3 men into the land to survey it. The word survey is used 6 times in these 10 verses. It is a key word in the chapter. The word survey means to describe or to map out the details of something. They recorded in a book the land that God was giving to them. Why did Joshua introduce this new method now? 2 Reasons
a. He Wanted Them To Consider Their Inheritance.
By causing representatives of the 7 tribes to view the land they got to see first hand just how good the land was. Up until now they hadn’t even bothered to find out where their inheritance was. This would help encourage them to take it. It would wet their appetites. A picture says a thousand words. They would see established cities, orchards and vineyards. They would see its pasture lands and streams. After walking through the land and surveying its details, they would desire to receive it. Joshua wanted them to see the Lord’s provision.
7 tribes of Israel didn’t know just how rich their inheritance was. Because of this they were ready to retire. They wanted to quit, it was just too hard. That is why Joshua wanted them to have a detailed description from people who had seen it. Are you tired from years of service? Do you want to retire and leave the work to others who aren’t so tired and weary? Then take a fresh look at you inheritance. 1 Cor 2:9-10 But as it is written: “ Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. God has revealed these things to us by His Spirit. John recorded some of this in Revelation chapters 21 and 22. I am speaking about this tonight. God has a wonderful inheritance prepared for us.
Will you push on through the struggles to receive a rich inheritance? If you are neglecting your service for the Lord can I encourage you recommit yourself to His work today. Romans 8:18-19 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. Our inheritance is worth waiting for.
Illustration of Jim Elliot
Five missionaries went to the Auca Indians in the early sixties. All five were killed on arrival at the tribe. Humanly speaking we ask why? What a waste! Why would God allow such a thing to happen? The media reported this tragedy worldwide. What was the result ? Well for a start many felt called into missionary service and a great number of people went to the mission field. The widows of some of the men killed by the Aucas went to them to share the gospel. As a result many of the tribe came to faith in Christ. What seemed to us like a tragedy, God turned into a triumph. Jim Elliot made this statement before he left to work among the Aucas,. He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. Jim Elliot had considered his inheritance in heaven worth dying for. He is absolutely right.
b. He Wanted Them To Consider 5 Tribes.
Joshua 18:5b, 7 says: Judah shall remain in their territory on the south, and the house of Joseph shall remain in their territory on the north. “ But the Levites have no part among you, for the priesthood of the LORD is their inheritance. And Gad, Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh have received their inheritance beyond the Jordan on the east, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave them.”
Why did Joshua mention Judah and Joseph? Why did he bring up the 2 1/2 tribes on the other side of the Jordan? He spoke to the 7 tribes this way to remind them that 5 tribes had already received their inheritance. 2 1/2 tribes received their territory east of the Jordan. 2 1/2 tribes had received their inheritance west of the Jordan. The land they were to survey was joined to land that had already been taken by the other 5 tribes. Their victories would show these 21 surveyors that now was the time to gain the final victory over the Canaanites. It would make them realise that God wanted them to inherit their land too.
It was not impossible, these 5 tribes had already done it. 5 tribes had gone before them and been victorious. In fact, Shiloh where the tent of meeting had been set up, was located in Ephraim’s territory. Ephraim had just received this territory for their inheritance. Therefore they too should claim their inheritance. God was keeping His promises completely.
7 tribes thought it was just too hard. 7 tribes wanted to quit, they were sick of fighting. But 5 tribes had already received their inheritance. 5 tribes persevered, 5 tribes went ahead of them and showed it could be done. Do you feel that it is too hard? Do you feel that no one else is living for the Lord, so why should you? When you feel discouraged, can I encourage you to look at the cloud of witnesses who have gone before us. They have persevered till the end of their course. They have persevered to claim a rich inheritance. They didn’t quit, but received their inheritance, so you can too.
Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Illustration Of The American Pioneers
When America was first settled, most of the people lived on the East Coast. After a while scouts headed west and discovered rich farming land. People began to migrate west. The frontier was new and many dangers lay ahead of the pioneers. But they knew that the risks were worth it because of the richness of the lands waiting to be settled. Besides others had gone before them and made it safely. So they could too. The pioneers showed great courage and perseverance in opening up the west. In the same way the Christian life is like a long journey. We must keep our eyes fixed upon the glories of heaven so that we won’t give up along the way. Others have gone before us to show the way. Abraham looked for a heavenly city and lived on earth as a traveller, an alien. He pressed on to His reward. Are you?
Joshua’s last step was: III Completion - Seven Divisions
Joshua 18:9 So the men went, passed through the land, and wrote the survey in a book in seven parts by cities; and they came to Joshua at the camp in Shiloh.
a. Divided Into 7 Parts
The 21 men passed through the land and recorded all the details. They would have noted the boundaries of these 7 portions. They noted the cities and probably other relevant details like rivers and streams, lakes and mountains. These men actually divided the remaining land into seven parts as Joshua commanded them. Obviously they didn’t know which tribe would receive each part, since that was to be decided by lot. Most likely the men chosen were gifted in the task of surveying. Perhaps their fathers had learned these skills in Egypt when they built the treasure cities for the Pharoh’s. I am sure they never thought they would use these skills this way. The Lord guided these men to divide the land into seven portions.
The Lord overruled the division amongst the 7 tribes. He enabled Israel to complete their inheritance. He acted fairly and gave an appropriate inheritance to each tribe. We too should remember that God will give us the inheritance we deserve. The Lord will share with us the glories of heaven. However by serving the Lord we can store up for ourselves treasure in heaven. He will reward us according to our service for Him. He looks for faithfulness in His servants. Our faithfulness now determines our inheritance in glory.
Worthy Of Reward
The story is told about a sidewalk that comprised of several slabs. On each of those slabs was engraved A. Anderson, 1903. The name and date were indelibly inscribed in the concrete, indicating the year it had been poured and identifying the man who did the work. If that contractor were still living, he could certainly be proud of his work. The concrete has not cracked in all those years. It has stood the test of time and brought no shame to A. Anderson, the man whose reputation was attached to the workmanship. As Christians, everything we do bears our name. Someday, depending on whether our works pass or fail the test, we will either receive praise and reward or experience regret and loss. How can we make certain that our service for Christ is the kind that endures? By building on the sure foundation of Christ.
1 Cor 3:11-15 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. This enables us to glorify Christ and extend His kingdom. Our motives will be kept sincere and our work will endure.
b. Divided Amongst 7 Tribes
Joshua 18:10 Then Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD, and there Joshua divided the land to the children of Israel according to their divisions.
Joshua, Eleazar and the heads of the tribes divided the land for the 7 tribes the same way they had for the other 2 1/2 tribes at Gilgal. Joshua 19:49-51 says this: When they had made an end of dividing the land as an inheritance according to their borders, the children of Israel gave an inheritance among them to Joshua the son of Nun. According to the word of the LORD they gave him the city which he asked for, Timnath Serah in the mountains of Ephraim; and he built the city and dwelt in it. These were the inheritances which Eleazar the priest, Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel divided as an inheritance by lot in Shiloh before the LORD, at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. So they made an end of dividing the country.
The process of dividing the land continues to the end of chapter 19. Every tribe received their own special inheritance. Everything was fair and right since the Lord guided the leaders in the division of the land. Caleb was the first person to receive his inheritance in Josh 14:6-15. Joshua the other faithful spy was the last person to receive his inheritance in Josh 19:49-50.
The 7 tribes did in fact receive their inheritance after they decided to take it. After being slack for a time they took up the work again and God blessed them for it. Not one tribe missed out on the Lord’s inheritance. God fulfilled His good word to all of them. God has promised every believer that He will complete His work in us. Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; The Lord will complete your work of salvation at His return. But this should not cause us to be complacent. Paul knew this yet had this attitude. Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Conclusion What is the cure for complaining and complacency in the Christian life? Three things, Consecration, Consideration and Completion.
a. Firstly, if you are complaining about other believers or the state of this or that, often it is because you are out of fellowship with the Lord. The cure for this is to focus your eyes on the Lord again and serve Him. He helps us to see things in right perspective and enables us to do something positive about the problems that may be there.
b. Secondly, if you are complacent about the Christian life, then you need to start by remembering afresh God’s past salvation. Then consecrate your life a fresh to the Lord. When we do this He will give us renewed vigour and strength for service. Complaining and complacency both come from not focussing on God.
a. Firstly when we feel like giving up we should consider the richness of our inheritance. God has a marvellous inheritance prepared for those who love Him. Abraham, Moses and many others looked forward to the inheritance that they would receive at the appointed time.
b. Secondly when we feel that we are the struggling and wonder if it is worth it all, let us consider that others have gone before us and persevered. Their perseverance should encourage us to persevere also. A great cloud of witnesses have endured and been rewarded.
a. Firstly, the Lord overruled the division amongst the 7 tribes. He enabled Israel to complete their inheritance. He acted fairly and gave an appropriate inheritance to each tribe. We too should remember that God will give us the inheritance we deserve. He will reward us according to our service. He is looking for faithfulness from His servants. Our faithfulness now will determine our inheritance in glory. Are you storing up treasure in heaven?
b. Secondly, God will complete His good work in us. He will give an inheritance to His people. The servants of the Most High shall possess the kingdom and reign with Him. The inheritance of each child of God is guaranteed. We all receive eternal life, we all receive the glories of heaven. And each one of us can serve the Lord and store up treasure in heaven.
About the time we are ready to give up, Jesus comes alongside and whispers, “ Don’t quit, keep going, keep your eyes on me, ” as He provides His gentle touch of grace, joy and love at just the right moment.
Benediction Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.