Joshua, chapters 21-24

“Today we know that Jehovah is among us, because you have not committed this act of unfaithfulness against Jehovah.  […]”
Joshua 22:31

The chieftains of the tribes that had settled to the West of the Jordan River were upset at the Reubenites, Gadites and half tribe of Manasseh on account of an altar these tribes had built on the edge of the river.

Even though they received their loyal help through the entire time Israel was fighting the Canaanites, these Western tribes were ready to go to war against their brothers as soon as they heard of about the altar.

It was never the Eastern tribes’ intention to separate in worship, however, as they patiently explained.

“If we were rebellious and unfaithful to Jehovah, do not spare us this day. […] No, it was because of another concern that we did this, for we said, ‘In the future, your sons will say to our sons: “What do you have to do with Jehovah the God of Israel?”‘” (Jos. 22:22-25).

The tribes of Western Israel heard out this reasoning and then proceeded ‘to praise God, and they said nothing more about going to war,’ (Jos. 22:33).

Thus we learn that it is always better to assume the best in others.
Even when we are thrown off by certain actions they decide to take, we cannot see what reasoning or underlying motivation they have.

Hence the wise words:
“Do not be quick to take offense, for the taking of offense lodges in the bosom of fools,”
(Ec. 7:9).

Joshua, chapters 16-20

Thus they finished dividing the land for inheritance by its territories. Then the Israelites gave Joshua the son of Nun an inheritance in their midst.
~Joshua 19:49

Joshua had to put the nation’s interests before his own.

He selflessly waited until the tribes had received their land assignments before proceeding to accept his family’s inheritance.

This reminds me of the self-sacrifice Christian elders demonstrate in the congregation and the patience that is expected of them and their families.

Today’s elders may never see physical blessings until God’s paradise fills the earth, yet they continue to selflessly put the congregation’s interests first, tirelessly concentrating on serving those commended to their care (Isa. 65:21,22; 1 Pet. 5:1-4).

Joshua, chapters 12-15

Caleb then said: “To the man who strikes Kir′i·ath-se′pher and captures it, I will give my daughter Achsah as a wife.” And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s brother, captured it. So he gave him his daughter Achsah as a wife.
~Joshua 15:16,17

Othniel came to be Israel’s first judge after Joshua, but in this passage we see him rise from anonymity, transforming himself into a valiant man, building his reputation, fighting for his loved ones and what he believes in (Jg. 3:9-11).

Growing up in the shadow of his uncle Joshua, who was very diligent when it came to matters of faith, was without a doubt a strong positive influence on young Othniel.

This is a laudable example of how adult behavior and companionship can have a great, long-lasting effect on the attitudes and confidence levels of the children who look up to them.

Therefor, even those of us who are not parents should take our roles as aunts, uncles, confidants, mentors and role-models very seriously.

Joshua, chapters 9-11

“It was Jehovah who allowed their hearts to become stubborn so that they waged war against Israel, in order for him to devote them to destruction without any favorable consideration.”
~Joshua 11:20

Jehovah did not decide the fate of the Canaanites for them.

The previous verse clearly states: There was no city that made peace with the Israelites except the Hivites inhabiting Gibeon. They conquered all the others by war,” (Joshua 11:19).

Despite Jehovah’s instructions ‘not to make a covenant with them,’ the Israelites had unintentionally established a treaty between themselves and the people of Gibeon (Ex. 34:12; Jos. 9:6-15).

Then, when the other cities attacked Gibeon, the Israelites rightly felt a moral obligation to defend them (Jos. 10:6-8).

Gibeon was spared the peril that the rest of the country suffered because, in their own words, they were ‘plainly told that Jehovah […] commanded Moses his servant to give Israel all the land and to annihilate all its inhabitants,’ (Jos. 9:24).

Thus, instead of arrogantly waging war against God himself, they laid themselves at the mercy of Israel and were indefinitely assigned the role of temple servants (Jos. 9:25-27).

The fact that Jehovah did extend considerable mercy toward the people of Gibeon, even allowing them the privilege of performing duties directly related to sacred worship, highlights his willingness to set aside the execution of his own judgment in order to favor those who seek him out sincerely (Ps. 86:15).

It is different, though, in the case of those who ‘allow their hearts to become stubborn.’

We do not need to be Canaanites or God’s sworn enemies to fall into this trap of obstinate arrogance.

Whether or not we witness God’s saving hand does not depend on who we are or where we come from.

It depends on whether or not we individually heed his words to ‘cleanse our hearts and stop being so stubborn,’ (De. 10:16).

Joshua, chapters 6-8

“Israel took the livestock and the spoil of that city for themselves, according to the orders that Jehovah had given to Joshua.”
~Joshua 8:27

In God’s instructions regarding the siege of the previous city, Jericho, God had ordered Israel to devote everything to destruction.
Only precious metals were to be spared and offered into God’s tabernacle (Jos. 6:17-19).

It’s under these circumstances that the story of Achan and his household takes place.
Motivated by greed, they stole a garment and money, hiding it in their tent (Jos. 7:1, 21).
Consequently, when Israel initially attacked the neighboring city of Ai, Jehovah was not with Israel and they lost thirty-six men (Jos. 7:5, 11, 12).

It is curious that once the other Israelites removed the wrongdoers from among themselves, God proceeded to allow his warriors to partake in the spoil (Jos. 8:2).
But neither Achan nor his household saw any of it, for their sin was considered high treason and they were punished by death (Jos. 7:25).
Had they waited a few more days serving Jehovah faithfully, they would have rightfully had all the spoil they wanted.
Their impatience, however, coupled with their greed and blatant disregard for God’s explicit instructions, led Achan and his household to tragedy.

Despite enduring all the trials through the desert, Achan stands out as an example of stealing,  cheating, bad parenting and general deceit.

How sad it would be for us who serve God today to miss out on his promises because we put fleshly interests before our spiritual health.

A Thief in Israel My Book of Bible Stories

Achan stands out as an example of stealing, cheating, bad parenting and general deceit.

To listen to an Audio Play about the first few days Israel experienced in the Promised Land, click here and select “Jehovah Delivers Those Calling Upon His name.”
Achan’s story begins 39 minutes into the play.

Joshua, chapters 1-5

“Have I not commanded you? Be courageous and strong. Do not be struck with terror or fear, for Jehovah your God is with you wherever you go.”
~Joshua 1:9

These words were being repeated to Joshua, Israel’s new leader, since little before Moses died and up until Joshua commanded the men in some of the tribes to be ready for battle (De. 31:7; Jos. 1:6,18).

I have read these words countless times, seeking strength during times of high anxiety.

This time, I cannot help but wonder at how repetitive they are.

Was Joshua visibly reluctant or nervous?

He had already proved himself to be a fearless warrior, zealous guard, and loyal spy (Ex. 17:10; 33:11; Nu. 14:6-10).

Perhaps he had grown accustomed to his role of serving as minister to Moses.

Perhaps invading and conquering a foreign land as well as directing an entire nation suddenly seemed more daunting than it ever had before Moses’ death .

Or perhaps Joshua did have his worries under control and he was simply being reminded to remain calm no matter what.

Whatever the case, Joshua did not step back from the plate.

Chapter Two describes him sweeping into action, ordering spies into a city he is but days away from overtaking (Jos. 2:1).

This passage makes me ask myself: how do I react when I am given a new assignment in the congregation to carry out on my own?

It is normal to feel scared or nervous, but to reject a task simply because it is beyond my comfort zone would reflect a selfish, immature attitude lacking in faith.

Joshua was not born a leader. God trained him and gave him the resources he needed.

All Joshua had to do was stay optimistic, trusting in God, using his common sense.

He made mistakes. We all make mistakes. But his courage kept moving him and his people forward, and so God remained by his side.