Joshua chapters 16-19 go into great detail of how the tribes of Israel received their inheritance beginning with Caleb (from the tribe of Judah) and ending with Joshua (from the tribe of Ephraim). Lots were cast before God’s presence in the tabernacle in Shiloh (Joshua 18:6). Casting lots for land distribution involved God in the process. Today’s equivalent would be casting dice or picking a slip of paper out of a hat with a choice written on it. How many of us today would attribute the casting of lots to divine providence?
Ephraim is given land before Manasseh even though the latter was the oldest child. This follows the order of Jacob’s blessing pronounced on Joseph two sons is found in Genesis 48. Jacob (old in years and blind) knowingly reverses his hands placed on the heads of his grandsons by Joseph and blesses Ephraim first. Jacob said, “his younger bother will become greater than he.”
This chapter chronicles the land given to Manasseh, which includes the daughters of Zelophehad. Back in Numbers 27:1-11, the inheritance of Zelophehad is in jeopardy because he has no sons, only daughters. Zelophehad appealed to Moses to grant his daughters their father’s inheritance. God instructed Moses to honor their request.
“Do we as Christians lack the boldness, assurance and confidence to lay hold of God’s provisions?” D.R. Davis
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
The opposite of bold faith is complacency. We find complacency clearly demonstrated by Israelites when they fail to completely possess the land, allowing the Canaanites to remain. The Canaanites worship of Baal would become a cancer to the Israelites and eventually cost them their inherited land.
Should Christians be complainers if, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
A fair amount of grumbling and complaining occurred as the land was being distributed by the casting of lots. It became necessary to have the lots cast before God’s presence in the tabernacle. Joshua exhorts the remaining seven tribes to stop procrastinating and possess their inheritance.
The last allotment taken was for Joshua. He received the town, Timnath Serah, which is what he asked for.
Judges 2:4, “The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua…”
The territory dispersed began with Caleb and ended with Joshua, two of the twelve spies who gave a good report when the Israelites spied out the land of Canaan (Numbers 13-14). The remaining spies gave bad reports. The same pattern continued after the Israelites entered the promised land and possessed it.
Christians are not perfect and need to go about the business of giving a positive report to the dying world around them. True believers will one day receive their inheritance. In the meantime they should not see themselves as the “elite,” rather, humbly live out their lives in a manner pleasing to God.