【Bible Study】Joshua 22: Do you truly trust in God?

Bible Study: Joshua

Truly Trust in God

This passage from Joshua 22 might leave you feeling a bit confused, and I feel the same way after reading it. It's not just you; leading a Bible study is not simple. Sometimes, we genuinely struggle to understand, reading and rereading it again and again... It's not a pleasant feeling at all.

When faced with such difficulties, do you still trust in God? I believe that my God is still a revealing God. In the past few years, these kinds of things have happened frequently. For example, during our gatherings, we would meet at two o'clock and everyone would come, and we would have pre-meeting prayers. We still maintain this habit today.

Before the pre-meeting prayer in the morning, it's already 10:30, and I haven't written a single word of the sermon. It may sound exaggerated, but even the topic written on the sermon doesn't feel like a topic, and it's really tough.

The question then arises: Do you still trust in Him? I still thank my God, as I often experience such things even today. Of course, preaching and leading Bible studies won't cost you your life. Even if I finish preaching and it turns out to be nonsensical, it won't cost anyone's life because our God is still in control. So when I go through such experiences in the past, I genuinely feel that wholeheartedly trusting in God is truly wonderful. Even if I lead the Bible study wrongly, do you think God is still in control? God is still in control.

So don't trust in me, trust in God. In fact, when I read Joshua 22, I had no idea what it was talking about, and I believe you feel the same way. But it's okay because God is forever faithful. I think the title of this chapter could be "Do you truly trust in God?"

By fully trusting in God, our way of life changes completely

What story does this chapter tell? When Joshua and the Israelites finished fighting their battles, the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, who had received their own portion of land east of the Jordan in Canaan, divided the land among themselves.

After receiving this land, did they become petty? We can't say for sure whether they thought, "We've got what we wanted, do we still need to help our other brothers fight west of the Jordan?" They didn't say it, and if they wanted to say it, they would have said it long ago. So who said it? It was Joshua who requested them, and they stood up as if they were willingly doing it, but whether they truly were willing or not, we can't tell because it's not mentioned.

The Reubenites, Gadites, and half-tribe of Manasseh all crossed the Jordan with the other tribes of Israel and experienced the mighty power of God as they crossed the dry land, and then they began to conquer and take possession of the land west of the Jordan. When Joshua grew old and most of the battles were over, he called these two and a half tribes:

Then Joshua summoned the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh and said to them, “You have done all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded, and you have obeyed me in everything I commanded. For a long time now—to this very day—you have not deserted your fellow Israelites but have carried out the mission the LORD your God gave you. Now that the LORD your God has given them rest as he promised, return to your homes in the land that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you on the other side of the Jordan. (Joshua 22:1-4 NIV)

Actually, serving in the army, fighting battles, and living in two different places for a long time is no small matter. But Joshua had a lot to say to them, and in the end, he said this: "But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.

But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
Then Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went to their homes. (To the half-tribe of Manasseh Moses had given land in Bashan, and to the other half of the tribe Joshua gave land on the west side of the Jordan along with their fellow Israelites.) When Joshua sent them home, he blessed them, saying, “Return to your homes with your great wealth—with large herds of livestock, with silver, gold, bronze and iron, and a great quantity of clothing—and divide the plunder from your enemies with your fellow Israelites.” (Joshua 22:5-8 NIV)

This is interesting. The Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh should tell Joshua, “The wealth we brought are to divide with our fellow Israelites.” But it’s Joshua who told them, because he is afraid that they will take everything their own.

Joshua was concerned about two things about them. The first was whether they truly loved the Lord their God, walked in His ways, kept His commandments, relied on Him, and served Him with all their heart and soul. The second was whether the wealth they brought back would be shared with their fellow Israelites. Do we truly trust in God? This is an interesting question because if we wholeheartedly trust in God, it will completely change our actions and behavior. When we trust in God, our perspective on wealth and our commitment to keeping His commandments will also change.

We spend a lot of time studying God's Word, serving others, and helping our brothers and sisters. However, if we spend so much time fighting spiritual battles, do we share the blessings we receive with our fellow believers? This depends on one thing: whether we trust in our God or not.

##Sharing Wealth and Blessings with Fellow Believers
Brothers and sisters, let's analyze it carefully. Joshua's two pieces of advice are not complicated. The first is that serving our God is not difficult when we trust in Him, and it is not a burdensome task. The second is that gold, silver, and possessions can be shared with our fellow believers, and if we trust in our God, we will not be impoverished.

In other words, we can easily fall into two pitfalls. First, when we worship and love our God, trust in Him wholeheartedly and serve Him with all our effort, we will not consider it a burdensome task. Second, the wealth and blessings we receive will be shared with our brothers and sisters. This is a basic principle.

During David's time, when he went to war with his soldiers, some of them became weary and said they could not continue. David allowed those who were tired to stay behind while the rest continued to fight. After the victorious battle, David said, "The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike."

At that time, some of the soldiers who fought with David did not understand. They thought, "We risked our lives in battle, while they stayed behind and now we have to share with them? This is unfair." But this is what our God requires! Why did David become someone who pleased God? It was because David deeply understood the heart of God.

Today, whether we serve or not, we share the plunder equally with our brothers and sisters. This is the work of our God. Why? Because it is called trusting in Him! So when Joshua finished giving them these instructions, what was he really saying? He was saying, "You must trust in God wholeheartedly, not in your wealth. Do you understand? Do not trust in your own efforts."

When we serve God with all our heart and soul, it will require our time. If we faithfully observe and keep the statutes, ordinances, and commandments that God has given us, we will have to sacrifice some of our own benefits. But if you wholeheartedly trust in Him, you will consider it natural and right!

So, brothers and sisters, when you carefully read it again, you will realize that it was not easy for the Reubenites, Gadites, and half-tribe of Manasseh to return. Because when they came, they crossed the Jordan River on dry ground, but how did they return? The Bible does not mention it, but they had to find boats and overcome many difficulties to return to the east of the Jordan River. And when they arrived, they still carried a lot of wealth. However, once they arrived, they discovered that someone had to cross the Jordan River to be united with them, and it was not an easy task to overcome the river. Would this river separate God from us?

People’s minds are interesting. People often assume that others' thoughts are the same as theirs. Joshua said, "Share the wealth you have brought with your fellow Israelites." Did they feel any reluctance in their hearts? Yes! Over the years, we have fought hard, and now we have to share with our brothers and sisters. This is indeed a difficult matter! Now they are also thinking about the people west of the Jordan River. They have the altar of the Lord and the tabernacle of the Lord. Every year, they have to cross the Jordan River to worship God according to the appointed festivals. They find this task challenging.

They might think about the fact that their descendants are separated by a river from the descendants of the other tribes. Will the other side be willing to share their God with us? What if their descendants say, "God is our God, not yours!" What should we do then? In reality, the thoughts of the Reubenites, Gadites, and half-tribe of Manasseh are quite strange. Why are they so concerned that their future descendants may not trust in God because of the influence of others? What kind of mindset is that?

Today, among us, brothers and sisters, there are also similar thoughts: "I stumble because you caused me to stumble." However, as I searched through the Bible, I found that stumbling is caused by our own actions. If you are willing to stumble, won't you stumble? When someone says something to you, and you fall, don't you know that trusting in God will keep you from falling?

So, after reading it many times, I realized that these people started eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil after crossing the Jordan River because crossing the river was a difficult task. But if we still trust in God, even if there is a river or a great river separating us, even if there are insurmountable obstacles, can anything stop us from trusting in God? We need to ponder this!

This is the first point. Now, the second point, will anyone hinder us from trusting in God? Actually, whether we trust in God or not has nothing to do with others. This matter is interesting. People tend to attribute their problems to others. Let me ask you, even though the Israelites were separated by a river, if they trust in God alone, who can stand against them? If we trust in God, He will not let us be put to shame, right?

When the Israelites on the west side of the Jordan saw that the Reubenites and Gadites had built an altar, they became concerned and sent Phinehas and the leaders of the tribes to investigate what they had done. If it was a crime, they would go and attack them. So, how did the representatives of these two tribes respond?

“The Mighty One, God, the LORD ! The Mighty One, God, the LORD ! He knows! And let Israel know! If this has been in rebellion or disobedience to the LORD , do not spare us this day. If we have built our own altar to turn away from the LORD and to offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, or to sacrifice fellowship offerings on it, may the LORD himself call us to account.
“No! We did it for fear that some day your descendants might say to ours, ‘What do you have to do with the LORD , the God of Israel? The LORD has made the Jordan a boundary between us and you—you Reubenites and Gadites! You have no share in the LORD .’ So your descendants might cause ours to stop fearing the LORD .
“That is why we said, ‘Let us get ready and build an altar—but not for burnt offerings or sacrifices.’ On the contrary, it is to be a witness between us and you and the generations that follow, that we will worship the LORD at his sanctuary with our burnt offerings, sacrifices and fellowship offerings. Then in the future your descendants will not be able to say to ours, ‘You have no share in the LORD .’
“And we said, ‘If they ever say this to us, or to our descendants, we will answer: Look at the replica of the LORD ’s altar, which our ancestors built, not for burnt offerings and sacrifices, but as a witness between us and you.’
“Far be it from us to rebel against the LORD and turn away from him today by building an altar for burnt offerings, grain offerings and sacrifices, other than the altar of the LORD our God that stands before his tabernacle.” (Joshua 22:22-29 NIV)

Therefore, the priest Phinehas considered this to be a good thing, and the Reubenites and Gadites named the altar "Witness," meaning that the altar among them would testify that the Lord is God. What do you think of this? In retrospect, I find this matter very interesting. They said, "Lest your descendants say to our descendants, 'What relationship do you have with the Lord?'"

"Lest"? Can't God manage this matter? In fact, when the Israelites entered the land beyond the Jordan, their first battle was against the city of Jericho. There was a family in Jericho that was saved, and their name was Rahab! The story of Rahab and her family became a beautiful story among the Israelites. Even though they were originally among those who were to be destroyed, if someone truly trusted in God, He would save them in a miraculous way! Two spies were specially sent into the city of Jericho and they did one thing: they told Rahab to hang a red cord in her window and on her door, and her family would be protected. That's all they did, and then they returned.

As a result, Rahab's entire family was saved because of their trust in God. They were originally among those who were to be destroyed, but they received salvation. So today, let's ask ourselves, are we wholeheartedly trusting in God? If we wholeheartedly trust in God, will we say, "Lest something happens in the future?" I tell you, this person is particularly fond of eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Among us brothers and sisters, we need to be aware that once you have the thought of "lest," you will do a lot of useless things. The altar they built as a testimony was never mentioned again later, and even Jesus didn't bother to mention it. In fact, Jesus often crossed the Jordan River back and forth, but He didn't talk about any witness altar! Is this thing really useful? In reality, it is completely useless.

What will happen if a person often does useless things? Will it be good for them? Can that altar prove that the Lord is God? I don't think it can! The altar they built was tall and large, but it was just an altar. That altar is not important; God is the most important. Does man need to use an altar to prove that the Lord is God? Actually, there is no need. He is God in the first place and doesn't need us to prove it!

In fact, the Reubenites, Gadites, and half-tribe of Manasseh did one thing after crossing the Jordan River—they began to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil! People are very fond of eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but they don't realize that as long as they wholeheartedly trust in God, no one can make them stumble! Don't these Israelites know the story of Joseph? How could they not know the story of Joseph? Joseph was sold into Egypt, yet he did not stumble or lose his bright future!

What kind of prospects could there be for someone who was sold into slavery in Egypt? From a human perspective, it would be a complete disaster! But God miraculously made Joseph the prime minister of Egypt and the savior of his family in such a situation! Isn't it because of this that the subsequent story of the Israelites leaving Egypt happened?

Be Careful with Alternative Knowledge of Good and Evil

We need to be very careful with alternative knowledge of good and evil because it is everywhere today! If you want to eat it, it is readily available. There is an abundance of alternative knowledge of good and evil. Phinehas was a priest whom God loved, so why did even Phinehas consider it a good thing? Because on the surface, it indeed seemed like a good thing, but in reality, it was the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil!

Today, brothers and sisters, are we wholeheartedly trusting in God? If you wholeheartedly trust in God, do you need to build an altar and tell future generations that by looking at the altar, it proves God's presence? No, you don't!

Even to this day, among the Christians, there are various ways to prove that the Lord is God, but it is unnecessary! If we constantly need to prove that the Lord is God, then we are in trouble. In fact, our God will be with us, using His mighty arm and omnipotence, not only sustaining the universe, but also sustaining you and me! He makes people know that He is God! We don't need to speak for Him, defend Him, or prove that He is God!

The previous discussion was about the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh. Now, let's continue with the story from the west side of the Jordan River. Why did those tribes on the west side of the Jordan River go over to attack them? It was because our God, especially in Deuteronomy, said that you must worship Him in the place He chooses! Because that is where the presence of God is, and it is where God established the tabernacle.

Why did God require people to worship Him in a specific place? It is because God wants us to worship and offer sacrifices to Him in the place He has appointed. You cannot worship God in a place He has not designated; this is God's explicit requirement.

What happened next?

And when the Israelites heard that they had built the altar on the border of Canaan at Geliloth near the Jordan on the Israelite side, the whole assembly of Israel gathered at Shiloh to go to war against them.
So the Israelites sent Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, to the land of Gilead—to Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh. With him they sent ten of the chief men, one from each of the tribes of Israel, each the head of a family division among the Israelite clans. (Joshua 22:11-14 NIV)

Why did they have such a reaction? This is what they said:

Was not the sin of Peor enough for us? Up to this very day we have not cleansed ourselves from that sin, even though a plague fell on the community of the LORD ! And are you now turning away from the LORD ? (Joshua 22:17-18 NIV)

So, they were thinking like this: If you act in this way, the Lord God will become angry with the entire assembly of Israel, and we will be implicated as well. Then, what did they say next?

When Achan son of Zerah was unfaithful in regard to the devoted things, did not wrath come on the whole community of Israel? He was not the only one who died for his sin.’ ” (Joshua 22:20 NIV)

We carefully read these words, can you detect a selfish undertone in them? In fact, these people should have said: "You have offended God, why would you want to offend Him?" That would have been sufficient. But how did they say it? "You have offended God, and it has implicated us."

Their motive was they were implicated, but it also meant offending God. In reality, anyone who commits a crime bears responsibility. So why would Achan's sin bring the Israelites into sin? Well, God operates through layers of authority and holds them accountable. Sending them to investigate was a normal course of action because it was Joshua's responsibility. And what was his responsibility? It was to govern the assembly of Israel. As a result, when Phinehas and the others went.

Among us as brothers and sisters, we must gradually abandon all forms of distinguishing good and evil and focus on trusting God.

Are we individuals who wholeheartedly trust God? Do we truly trust Him? It is easy to speak about trusting God, but we unintentionally discern good and evil. Therefore, in any case, we must be especially cautious and always trust God alone. The Jordan River cannot hinder us from solely trusting God. No matter what happens or who tries to obstruct us from solely trusting God, even if we find ourselves ins cities and among crowds that should be destroyed, God will still provide great deliverance if we trust Him alone.

So, brothers and sisters, let us understand that we must love the Lord our God, walk in all His ways, keep His commandments, trust in Him, and serve Him with all our heart and soul. These words hold profound meaning. Do we trust Him wholeheartedly? Do we serve Him with all our heart and soul? Do we love our God? If we fulfill this, nothing can separate us from God. Because our God is searching for people like this, and when He finds them, He will sell everything to redeem and bring them into His kingdom.

I believe that among us as brothers and sisters, even until today, we are still a people who wholeheartedly trust God, regardless of how much time has passed or what circumstances we face, regardless of the bosses or customers we encounter. We still trust God wholeheartedly. No matter how difficult our current situation and circumstances may be, we have a victorious heart within us to overcome all challenges we face.

The Jordan River couldn't hinder the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and no one could prevent them from trusting God wholeheartedly. Let us never utter such words, never blame this or that. We are here to carry the destiny of this generation. We are meant to be a blessing to our families and to this generation!

We are meant to become the Abrahams, Isaacs, Jacobs, and Josephs of this generation. Even if no one esteems us, even if no one considers us worthy of such a calling, we still trust our God, love Him wholeheartedly, and trust Him alone. That is why we have come into this world, and for this purpose, we live and die.

May God bless you all!

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