Thursday, 27 March 2014

(87) March 28: Joshua 19-20 & Luke 5:17-39

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider how Israel’s failure to fully take the land is hinted at.

To ponder:
In the lot to allocate the surveyed land to the remaining seven tribes, Benjamin is drawn first, then Simeon, and so on. Simeon’s share is part of that given Judah. This may reflect Jacob’s prediction that because of Simeon’s violence in Genesis 34, his descendents will be “scattered” and “dispersed” in Israel (Gen 49v7). Whatever the case, the inheritance is allotted fairly, according to number. Judah have too much, so Simeon gain some of their portion.
            We’re told Dan have “difficulty in taking possession of their territory,” once more implying a degree of faithlessness on their part. This is given as the reason for their taking of Leshem and renaming it Dan. It seems this was acceptable, as this city was included in their inheritance (19v48).
            The allocation ends with Joshua being given his portion. As with Caleb, it seems God’s “command” was simply that he receive an inheritance, allowing him to choose where it is. So Joshua gets “what he asked for,” a special mark of God’s favour to him.
The NT hints that our experience of our eternal inheritance may depend on our faithfulness too (Lk 19v11-19, 1 Cor 3v12-15). But however it is allocated, it will be done fairly.
            The account of the allocation of the land ends with it being affirmed once more that all this was done in God’s presence and with Joshua, Eleazar and the tribal heads as witnesses. It may have been in this context that God instructed Joshua to tell the Israelites to “designate” the “cities of refuge” to which those committing manslaughter could flee to escape those who might avenge what they’ve done. What’s added to previous instructions on the cities is the requirement for the perpetrator to state his case to the elders at the entrance to the city. This seems to be a preliminary hearing prior to a later one before a more formal assembly (Num 35v12, 24). This may anticipate elders from the town where the killing occurred reporting it as a murder before the man arrived (Deut 19v11-12). This might require the elders of the city of refuge to immediately hand the man over to them. Certainly, if the act was one of unintentional manslaughter without “malice aforethought”, the elders are instructed not to hand the man over to the avenger. And such refuge is to be provided for aliens as well as Israelites. So the impartiality of God’s justice is to be displayed and ensured.
            Interestingly, God had said that if Israel managed to take more territory, they were to designate a further three cities (Deut 19v8-9). The fact that these are not mentioned, shows Israel have not done all they might have.

Praying it home:
Thank God that his justice is impartial and right. Pray that you would prove faithful in seeking to achieve much for the Lord.

Thinking further:
None today.

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