Joshua Charges the Tribes

The seven remaining tribes need a little encouragement.

Joshua 18-21 (1)

Read Joshua 18.1-10.

1.  What significance should we attach to the fact that the congregation of the children of Israel set up the tabernacle of the Lord at a place called Shiloh (cf. Gen. 49.8-11)?

2.  The rest of the tribal allotments would be arranged according to lot around the allotments given to Judah and the sons of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh). Why did this make sense?

Think about it.
It is significant that Joshua chose Shiloh as the place to set up God’s tabernacle and finish assigning the allotments to the remaining seven tribes. The word Shiloh is a contraction in the Hebrew language of three words, which translates literally as “which to him” and means something like “Him Whose it is.” In Genesis 49.8-11, Shiloh is envisioned as a Person, the last in the line of kings descending from Judah. Shiloh is our Lord Jesus Christ, and “it” – the Kingdom and promises and people of God – belongs to Him. God pitched His tabernacle in Shiloh (Jer. 7.12; Jn. 1.14), and from Shiloh the promises of God are distributed among His people.

The people had stalled in securing the portion of the land allotted to them. They were not laying hold on God’s promises, and so were in danger of languishing, and of allowing the promised land to remain in pagan hands. Joshua exhorted them to continue striving to gain their inheritance; and to motivate them, he commissioned men from the remaining tribes to survey the land and bring back a report. He would use that report to assign the allotments for the seven remaining tribes.

We are not likely to take the risk or make the effort to gain the promises of God unless we see those promises as desirable above all else. All the promises of God are Yes and Amen in Jesus Christ. Like those 21 surveyors sent out by Joshua, we must work at enlarging and clarifying our vision of Jesus, and of what our world will look like as He fills all things with Himself (Eph. 4.8-10), outlining in detail the promises of God and preparing to undertake the work of securing them. God’s shepherds are appointed to scout out the promises of God for us and to show us how lovely everything will be as Jesus fills the world with Himself. This is the work of leading the sheep which Jesus appointed to His shepherds (Jn. 10.1-5). The shepherds must further equip, exhort, organize, and direct us in laying hold of the promises of God in our own Personal Mission Field. 

Then, our vision of Jesus and His promises firmly in mind, and our desire for Him heightened, we will, like those remaining seven tribes, take up the hard work of claiming those promises and resting and rejoicing in Him.

Meditate and discuss.
1.  In the word Shiloh, “it” includes the Kingdom, promises, and people who believe in Jesus. What are the implications of this for you?  

2.  How clear in your mind are the precious and very great promises of God (2 Pet. 1.4)? Would you say that these promises guide your daily planning and activities? Explain.

3.  What is your responsibility for equipping and exhorting your fellow believers to take up the work of laying hold on the promises of God?

“But although a station for the ark was then chosen, it was not a perpetual abode, but only a temporary lodging. For it was not left to the will or suffrages of the people to fix the seat where God should dwell, but they behooved to wait for the period so often referred to in the Law, when he was to establish the memorial of his name elsewhere.” John Calvin, Commentary on Joshua (1509-1564 AD)

Lord, I belong to You, and Your promises belong to me! Help me to gain more of Your precious and very great promises as I…

Pray Psalm 44.1-8.

Thank God for the way Joshua led Israel to lay hold on the promised land, and for how our greater Joshua – our Lord Jesus – has opened the way through Himself into the precious and very great promises of God. Ask the Lord for victories today in gaining more of His promises.

Psalm 44.1-8, 23-26 (Faithfulness: Great is Thy Faithfulness)
O God our ears have heard, ancients have taught us, 
All that You did for them long years ago, 
How by Your hand You defeated the nations, 
And to the promised land let Israel go.
Refrain vv. 23-26
Rise up, awake, O Lord! Hide not Your face from us, 
See our affliction, our suffering and pain!
See how our soul is sunk down with oppression; 
Rise up and help and redeem us we pray!

Not by their sword did they drive out the nations; 
Not by their arm did they settle the land.
Your saving mercy and light triumphed for them:
Victories for us, our King, please now command.

Through You shall we all our enemies vanquish; 
Them will we trample in Your mighty Name.
We will not trust in our strength or our wisdom;
Jesus will save us; we’ll boast of His fame!

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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