Joshua 16-18

Much Remains Part 2

When the sons of Joseph receive their inheritance it seems the problems began. The sons of Joseph are Manasseh and Ephraim. Half of the tribe of Manasseh had already received an inheritance on the east side of the Jordan. When the other half of the tribe received their inheritance they were not strong enough to drive out the Canaanites but they eventually were able to put them under forced labor. For us, this would be like managing our sin rather than being set free from sin. Temptation is close by.

Meanwhile Ephraim saw that the tribe of Manasseh received two portions and felt they had been short changed. So Joshua gave them the hill country but when they saw the forest and the Canaanites they complained, saying they would be unable to take the land.

There are some spiritual lessons we need to learn from the sons of Joseph. It is clear their focus was on what they were going to get and not on the Lord. Instead, with their focus on the problems, they expected Joshua to act.  In Chapter 13:1 we read that Joshua was old and stricken (KJ) in years. In other words, he had come to his physical limitations. But that was not how the people saw him. To them he was the leader.

This happens in churches all too often. God will raise up a leader and many people will come to the Lord through his ministry but if they are not careful they will lose sight of God because they are focused on the leader. Jealousy, competition, and pride, can also arise among the people in this situation. Things like, which church is the biggest?  Which denomination is the true church? Which church is the most popular with my peer group?  Or which church has the best _____? You can fill in the blank. Whether the focus is on the leader or the "church" the focus is wrong. We say we are “going to church” but "the Church" has been made into a social meeting place. We may be doing what we think we were doing at the beginning but we have removed ourselves from the power of God and have relied on the momentum of the leaders and the accomplishments of the past. As the leaders move off the scene, if our focus has been on them and not God, we will find ourselves powerless and eventually fearful, clinging to the past, developing traditions that further weaken our relationship with God. The temptation will also be to make rules based on what has always been done, but rules do not fix the problem. In order to fix the problem WE must rekindle our relationship with our Lord. If we do not reconnect with the Lord, things will only get worse as we will soon read in the book of Judges. This is not only an Old Testament issue. The Church in Ephesus suffered from the same problem as did the Church in Sardis in Revelation 2:1-7& 3:1-6.

Joshua was aware of what was taking place. The enemy the tribes were afraid of was the same enemy he faced and had victory over. The difference was that his faith was in his Lord and he took his direction from Him. Obedience to God resulted in power from God to do God’s will. Joshua knew what the people needed to do so it was no accident the Tabernacle was set up in Shiloh which was located in the hill country given to Ephraim. Joshua did what he could do to get the focus of the people on God. He is leading them to God and setting the example of a fellow servant. (Joshua 24:16) 

To paraphrase an old saying, he is leading the people to Living Water, the question is will they drink?

What about you? Do you define your relationship with God by attending a certain church? Have you quit going to church because of something that happened or a bad experience? Is your relationship with the Lord growing or losing power?  Are you serving or seeking to be served?

Are you seeking and waiting on God or is God seeking and waiting on you?

God loves you and has a plan for you!

Pastor Dave