【Bible Study】Joshua 18-19: Inheriting the Promised Land
Bible Study: Joshua
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 00: Introduction
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 01: You Will Lead The People To Inherit The Promised Land
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 02: Anyone Who Seek God Will Also Inherit The Promised Land
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 03: God Will Honour His Established Leaders On The Way of Possessing the Land
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 04: Commemorating the Works of Our God
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 05: God is Our Victorious Marshal
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 06: God Has Already Put the Enemy in Our Hands
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 07: The Devoted Things are the Cause of Failure in Spiritual Warfare
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 08: Blessings and Curses Determine Victory and Defeat
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 09: All Who Do Not Resist God Will Survive
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 10: All Those Who Are Enemies of God Will Perish
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 11: Left Nothing Undone
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 12: Live Victoriously on Earth
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 13: There Are Still Very Large Areas of Land to be Taken Over
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 14: Follow God Wholeheartedly, and You Will Acquire the Promises
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 15: Be Bold Enough to Ask God
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 16: Enter the Promise Land Need a Resolute Attitude
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 17: Properties are Obtained Through Striving and Seizing it
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 18-19: Inheriting the Promised Land
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 20: Designate the Cities of Refuge
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 21: Not One of All God's Good Promises Will Fail
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 22: Do you truly trust in God?
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 23: Warning the Israelites the Consequences of Turning Away from God
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 24: You Shall Serve God Wholeheartedly
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 25 Conclusion: Serve God Wholeheartedly
Let's look at Joshua Chapter 18 and Chapter 19. If you were to ask me about the theme of these chapters, I would say it is about "Inheriting the Promised Land."
The matter of inheriting the Promised Land is something worth pondering. Did the Israelites deserve this land? The Israelites received this land because God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. However, how did this group of Israelites behave? Their behavior was mediocre and far from exemplary. While reading the Book of Joshua, we can't help but notice some peculiar aspects. For example, what is mentioned in Joshua Chapter 18? It is quite interesting:
So Joshua said to the Israelites: “How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the LORD , the God of your ancestors, has given you?
(Joshua 18:3 NIV)
Let's carefully consider this passage: " How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the LORD , the God of your ancestors, has given you?" After reading this statement, we realize that the Israelites were quite passive. We see earlier in the chapters that several women from the tribes of Judah and Manasseh went to Joshua to claim their inheritance. Even the other tribes, regardless of the approach they took, were actively seeking their portion of the land, including the Ephraimites.
However, there were seven tribes who remained silent. What were they waiting for? They waited until Joshua said, "How long will you wait before taking possession of the land?" In other words, these individuals were somewhat passive. You see, even though they all received their portion of the land, each person's approach was different.
In the Old Testament, as we reflect on the Bible, we find that the sun shines on both the good and the wicked. God shows grace to both the righteous and the unrighteous. Regardless of who you are, even those who betrayed Moses and were struck down in the wilderness, they all ate the manna and received grace. But these people were not the ones whom God delighted in.
These seven tribes were extremely passive. I believe God doesn't really favor passive people. From the Old Testament to the New Testament, if you carefully read it, I have never seen God favoring passive individuals. Even if you make mistakes when you are proactive, it's still better than being passive!
For example, in the previous chapter, the Ephraimites went to Joshua and said, "Our territory is too small. Please give us more." They kept striving and arguing, but Joshua's response was, "Go and clear the forested land for yourselves in the hill country." He instructed them to cut down trees and expand their territory, to fight against the people in the plains, even if they had iron chariots. Joshua assured them that they would surely be victorious.
But these passive people were not the ones whom God delighted in. Did they receive their allotted territory? Yes, they did. Did they receive the promised land? Yes, they did. But why did they receive it? It was not because they were deserving, but because God remembered Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Brothers and sisters, what kind of mindset should we have in our faith in the Lord? It should not be a passive mindset, but an active one! Many things in life are achieved through striving and pursuing. And the result? Striving is always better than not striving.
Do you want to be like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or do you want to be like the descendants of Abraham during the time of Joshua? These descendants received their portion of the land. However, among them, very few were as extensively documented in the Bible as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Only Joshua and Caleb were wholeheartedly devoted to following God, which is why their accounts in the Bible are more prominent.
If we receive God's promises, just as God made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and He also makes a covenant with us, and then we become recipients of God's promises, many people will be blessed because of us. The reason why these Israelites obtained their inheritance of the land is not primarily because of them, but because there was once an Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob whom God delighted in.
Actually, the tribe of Judah was one of the earliest to receive their portion of the land because Caleb and the people of Judah were valiant warriors. The remaining seven tribes, although passive, eventually received their portions as well, but it doesn't shine as brightly. As I mentioned earlier, many people ate the manna, but what does that prove? It only proves one thing: God has abundant grace and mercy.
Can we be like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? The grace and mercy we receive will be different. I encourage all of you to ponder and consider what kind of person you should be. When I read the Bible, I often compare myself, and if you listen to my sharing, I encourage you to do the same. Reflect on yourself and strive to become the kind of person God wants you to be. Do you still need reminders to take possession of this land? That is a passive mentality.
If you ask me if we should be people who possess the land, of course we should, but what I desire even more is that many people can receive their portion of the land because of me. I often think in my heart, through God's remembrance of me, allowing you to possess the land, and I become a blessing to you. In fact, within my own family, many have received blessings because of me.
We need to bring out the proactive mindset within us and start living as people who align with God's will, people who delight Him! This is an incredibly important theme that I'm addressing. Don't ever think that it's enough to receive the promise. In fact, many people receive promises, and many people eat the manna, but that’s nothing. What truly matters is what kind of person you are.
So, what kind of person should we be? We should be proactive, striving individuals, not passive and waiting. And what else should we be? We should be people who bring blessings to many because of our relationship with God. It's not about receiving grace because of someone else's relationship with God; we ourselves must become individuals who align with God's will.
In chapters 18 and 19, it is clearly stated that the promised land was fully divided, but there was a group of people who did not receive an inheritance: the Levites. It is explicitly recorded:
The Levites, however, do not get a portion among you, because the priestly service of the LORD is their inheritance. (Joshua 18:7 NIV)
Despite all the discussions about the distribution of land, the Levites did not receive a portion because their inheritance was to serve as priests for the Lord. As we discussed earlier, we should strive actively, but the Levites did not take that initiative. Joshua explicitly stated that the Levites had no portion among the people, and they remained silent. However, their portion was to serve as priests for the Lord.
At this point, we may wonder: Is this fair? Their inheritance is to serve as priests for the Lord, but what about their land? What about their houses? While others received their portions and everyone got their land, how did the Levites feel? It must have been quite distressing for them. Others received their portions, but what about them? The Lord is their inheritance.
If you are serving as a priest before the Lord, I can tell you that even though obtaining land as an inheritance requires active effort, being a priest for the Lord is even better. When you serve as a priest for the Lord, He takes care of your needs. So, I believe that among the Israelites, regardless of whether they were active or passive, none could compare to the Levites.
Let me give you the answer: Did the Levites eventually receive an inheritance? Yes, they did! Moreover, they received even more. How is this calculated? There was a total of twelve tribes in Israel, excluding the tribe of Levi, which leaves eleven tribes. Each of these eleven tribes gave one-tenth of their portion to the Levites. In other words, each tribe had ten parts, and one-tenth was given to the Levites. This means that the eleven tribes gave a total of eleven portions to the Levites.
In terms of averages, the Levites received 20% or possibly even more than what the other tribes received. And what about the priests, the descendants of Aaron? They received even more. So, this is an interesting matter. The Levites have no portion among the people, for the priesthood of the Lord is their inheritance.
Now, let me ask you, do you want to be a priest of the Lord? If we become priests of the Lord, we transcend the state of being active or passive. The need to strive or not strive to obtain the promised land becomes irrelevant because, as a priest of the Lord, your portion is already reserved by God. Why? Because it is called destiny.
This is about the Levites, and they received much more than others.
There was another person named Joshua. By the time we reach the 19th chapter, everyone has received their portion of land. As a leader overseeing the Israelites, Joshua obtained the city of Timnath Serah in the hill country of Ephraim:
as the LORD had commanded. They gave him the town he asked for—Timnath Serah in the hill country of Ephraim. And he built up the town and settled there.
(Joshua 19:50 NIV)
As the Israelites possessed the land, and each person received their portion, the situation of every individual was different. People are indeed divided into various categories; it depends on their destiny. What kind of person do you want to be? Did Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob strive for a piece of land? No, they pursued God's covenant, and did they receive the land? They did. Joshua was a person who faithfully followed God, and did he receive his portion? He did, according to the Lord's command.
So, my brothers and sisters, which kind of person do you want to be? You can be like the descendants of Manasseh, the son of Joseph: the daughters of Zelophehad—Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah, and Tirzah. You can be like them. But being like them does not surpass being like Joshua or Caleb, nor does it surpass being a Levite. Do you understand?
I often encourage everyone to be a person with a destiny. What does that mean? I am not asking you to suffer loss; I am telling you to gain an advantage. How could being a priest of the Lord God result in a loss for you?
The Israelites are set above all nations on earth. Among the Israelites, we have Joshua, Caleb, and Moses. Moving further back in history, we have Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and then Joseph. Joseph's two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, received a significant portion of land. Can you guess why? It's because of Joseph! Shouldn't we strive to be like Joseph? Of course, we should.
Being like Joseph is wonderful! So let's examine and learn how Joseph lived. Among us, there are brothers and sisters who constantly complain. Some who have recently joined us, I often criticize them because they constantly carry grievances, feeling that others have wronged them. I ask them, "Were you sold into slavery in Egypt?". They reply, "No!" So what do they feel has been unjust?
Even though Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt, he didn't feel wronged. Wasn't it difficult? Yes, it was! Did he ever think he was unlucky? Yes, he did! But did he recognize good and evil? No, he didn't! Today, regardless of our circumstances, we should not recognize good and evil. That's why Joseph's descendants received such a great portion. It's remarkable. Then there were Joshua, Caleb, and the daughters of Zelophehad, along with the Levites. I tell you, if you serve God and love Him wholeheartedly, you will lack nothing in benefits.
Recently, I recorded a prayer audio titled "Devoted Love to God," and it received an overwhelming number of clicks. I thought the title "Devoted Love to God" was excellent! Some people suggested that the title should be "Devoted Love by God," as if being devoted is impossible. We can indeed be devoted to loving God, but we cannot make others devoted to loving us. That's a bit difficult.
You should be a person who wholeheartedly loves God. I tell you, God knows if a person loves Him or not. If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed! Do you think that's serious? What does it mean to wholeheartedly love God? It means giving yourself to God. Many people cried after listening to this prayer and then start praying along. Many illnesses have been healed.
Let me ask you, who receives more blessings, those who wholeheartedly love God or those who seek to be loved by God? It's those who wholeheartedly love God.
If a person loves God, they will diligently obey His commandments and refuse to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They won't care even if they are whipped, betrayed, or persecuted. Such a person is rare in this world. If you become a person who is rare in this world, God will surely reserve blessings for you on earth.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, after reading chapters 18 and 19 of the Book of Joshua, which mark the completion of the division of the Promised Land, what portion do you have? If your portion is the portion of Levi, that's great. If your portion is like that of Joshua or Caleb, that's also great. But if your portion is like that of Abraham, then that's even greater!
The twelve tribes of Israel entered the Promised Land because God remembered the covenant He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Many of these Israelites were not particularly exceptional people, yet they received their inheritance. How did God allow them to possess it? It was because God remembered the covenant He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The division of the land is quite interesting. These people divided the land into seven portions, and each tribe selected three representatives. In total, twenty-one people were chosen, and they began to draw the maps. After completing the maps, the land was divided into seven portions. However, when the land was divided, they did not assume that the portion they received was theirs for sure. There was another step: the casting of lots. Where did they cast lots? It was explicitly stated that they cast lots before Joshua.
Joshua said, "I will cast lots for you in the presence of the Lord our God." During the process of dividing the portions, did these people have any selfish intentions? Definitely. They might have thought, "Should I allocate this portion over there? No, if I allocate it there, what if I end up with a smaller portion? Many of them had such thoughts, although they didn't express them. But having such selfish thoughts wouldn't help them because in the end, whether they received something or not, it was all determined by God. It depended on their destiny.
What does that mean? It depends on whether you are pleasing to God. If you are not pleasing to God, then it becomes interesting. No matter which portions you receive, it won't be that great, although it is still a land flowing with milk and honey. There are distinctions within it, with different levels of quality. Depending on the lot you draw, it all comes down to your destiny. When the lots were all drawn and the divisions were complete, what was the result? No one could complain because you drew your own lot, so who can you blame? Casting lots is an interesting thing, and it is governed by God.
Brothers and sisters, we must know that the boundaries on the earth are drawn by God, and the territory He has given to us Chinese people is vast. China, with its population of over a billion, is remarkable! Even in ancient times, God had already determined the boundaries for us Chinese people. In fact, the Chinese people are more intriguing than the Jewish people. Why? Because some people say, "Wherever there are people, there are Chinese."
Although they are now called Chinese, generations ago they were already Chinese. Wherever there is land, no matter where it is, you can encounter Chinese people. Isn't that interesting? Chinese people have scattered throughout the world, and wherever there are people, there are Chinese people. This is something I have heard before. Why is this? It is because God wants to raise up the Chinese people in this generation.
I firmly believe that God wants to raise up the Chinese people in this generation. You can see that our Chinese nation is becoming stronger and stronger. Why is that? Some people explain it in terms of various factors, but God has a marvelous plan to raise up the Chinese people and make them a blessing to all nations in this generation.
The boundaries are drawn by God, so it is wonderful that God has given us Chinese people these boundaries! What do we have in our hearts? Are we only concerned about possessing the land as our inheritance? Or do we think about something else? I think if we focus solely on possessing the land, we should also think about how to obtain our destiny. Because hundreds of years ago, God made promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and after several hundred years, many people obtained the land because of them. So, who would you rather be? Of course, it is better to be like Abraham.
I encourage you to understand God's heart and what He is actually doing. What is God doing after dividing and allocating the land? In fact, God is accomplishing the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The tribes that received the land as their inheritance did so because Abraham was the source of blessing. Therefore, what does God say? God made Abraham a blessing to all nations and peoples on earth, and all nations on earth would be blessed through him. How wonderful is that!
If you become a channel of circulation, whether it's a business channel or a channel of blessings revealed by God in the Bible, it's a powerful thing. Therefore, as we talk about these things today, we must know what God is doing.
God allowed the Israelites to enter the promised land, where they inherited houses, they did not build and cultivated lands they did not prepare. Isn't it amazing? It may seem harsh towards the Canaanites, but if we were not harsh towards them, how could we obtain the land? So, brothers and sisters, as we strive and claim God's promises, if it is for our own benefit, it becomes troublesome. It is important for us to become a blessing to others!
So, after all is said and done, what kind of people should we be? Yes, the promised land has been fully divided, and those who are passive and proactive both have received their portions. But are we willing to rise above all nations of the world? Are we willing to become a blessing to all nations and peoples on earth? Let us no longer live with a selfish motive, nor should we live with the mindset of only wanting God to heal us.
There was a couple I once served who had many illnesses and issues. When we ministered to them and they were healed, they would go out to have fun. But after having fun, their illnesses would return. What is so enjoyable about that? Today, some brothers and sisters among us are still serving them. I find it pitiful! If a person only seeks their own enjoyment, will they ultimately find it? No, that is a curse.
If you only desire to be a blessing to others, it is difficult for you not to live well! What kind of person should you be? Be a wise person. Shift your focus away from possessing the land as your inheritance and start imitating Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Become people who please God. That is crucial. What kind of people please God? They are people who desire to be a blessing to others.
May God bless you!