The children of Joseph were Ephraim and Manasseh. We begin with their allotment of land. We read of many cities, and bodies of water, borders, and boundaries, but then we read those words in:
Joshua 16:10 (NKJV) “And they did not drive out the Canaanites who dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites to this day and have become forced laborers.”
The tribe of Ephraim DID NOT drive out the Canaanites. This was contrary to the will of God. God’s command was for the children of Israel to drive out and utterly destroy the inhabitants of the land, but we will see as we continue our journey the lack of faith and incomplete victory for the people of God. It’s a lesson for me – how I also lack faith at times, and fail to drive out sin from my life.
Once again we come across the daughters of Zelophehad and their inheritance of land because of the fact that they had no brothers – the land would remain in the family. We read their story in Numbers 27, Numbers 36, and here in Joshua 17. Repeated for emphasis, repeated for clarity, it was very important to God that the land remain in the family, as well as the value and equality of women. God has different roles for men and women, may we embrace them according to design, but may we always know that in God’s eyes, none are better than the other.
We continue to discover the details on the division of the land, next is the half-tribe of Manasseh on the west side of the Jordan. You may have noticed how large of an area they inherited, but again we read those words of defeat:
Joshua 17:12–13 (NKJV) “Yet the children of Manasseh COULD NOT drive out the inhabitants of those cities, but the Canaanites were determined to dwell in that land. 13 And it happened, when the children of Israel grew strong, that they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out.”
We read earlier that Ephraim DID not drive out the Canaanites; here we read that the tribe of Manasseh COULD not drive out the Canaanites. This is what happens when we fight according to our own will and in our own strength.
The children of Joseph asked for more land and Joshua challenged them to go get it, but they lacked faith and courage, for their foes were formidable, the Canaanites who dwelt in the land had iron chariots. Last time I checked there was nothing too hard for God, but O the excuses we make! (Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:27; Matthew 17:20; Luke 1:37)
There were still seven tribes who had not received their inheritance. Joshua identified their problem – “Neglect!”
Joshua 18:3 (NKJV) “Then Joshua said to the children of Israel: ‘How long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers has given you?’”
Neglect means to disregard, to fail to pay any attention to – in this case, to the land that God their Father had GIVEN them! Joshua took the lead, he had men go and survey the land, divide it with sensible geographical boundaries, and then they began to cast lots, the Lord then determined their inheritance.
Joshua 18:10 (NKJV) “Then Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD, and there Joshua divided the land to the children of Israel according to their divisions.”
It’s good to let the Lord decide the boundaries and responsibilities in our lives. Today we have the full counsel of God (the Bible), and the Spirit of God, so we don’t use lots, but in the Old Testament God frequently used them.
Proverbs 16:33 (NKJV) “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”
Zacchaeus must have been very vertically challenged (short). He couldn’t see Jesus because he was unable to see over the crowd around Him. Apparently, Zacchaeus had heard a lot about the Lord, something’s stirring in his heart to see Him with his own eyes, so He does something very unorthodox. He runs ahead, and climbs a tree, just to get a view of Jesus! When was the last time you saw a grown man climb a tree? Jesus sees beyond the sins of the sinner, He sees an empty and hurting heart, a seeking heart, so Jesus invites Himself to STAY at Zacchaeus’ house. Luke 19:10 is illustrated in the way Jesus saved this little man who was a big sinner…one of my favorite passages in all the Bible
Luke 19:10 (NKJV) “…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Zacchaeus is legit in his conversion – we know this because of his vow to give half of his goods to the poor, and to restore four-fold anyone he had cheated as a tax collector. This is important, as Pastor Chuck said, “If God is working in your life, there will be a definite change.” C.H. Spurgeon said something similar, “A faith that does not change my behavior, will never change my destiny.” Is there a change in my life? Your life? Not just in reference to religious rut and routine, but how about character change? If not, one’s salvation may not be legit.
The people were under the impression that Jesus was just about to set up His Kingdom, but that time had not yet come – so Jesus shares a parable to illustrate this. It wasn’t time to rule, it was time to work. The parable of the Minas teaches us that we have all been given responsibilities to work and invest in the Kingdom of God. When Jesus returns we will give an account of our stewardship. If you’re faithful with God’s work, you’ll be rewarded with more work.
As William MacDonald said, “It is a fixed principle in the spiritual life that those who love Him and serve Him passionately are given ever-widening areas of opportunity.” Or William Barclay, “The reward of work well done is more work to do.” We must guard our hearts from playing it safe and “protecting” our minas, no, God wants us to invest it for His glory.
I like the way Warren Wiersbe summarizes the parable, “There are three possible relationships with the King. You can reject His rule and be an enemy, but that leads to judgment. You can accept His rule and be unfaithful, but that leads to loss of reward. Or you can accept His rule, do His will faithfully, and receive His reward.”
One last thing that I’ve noticed. In Matthew 25 Jesus shares the parable of the talents, and to each person a different amounts of talents were given. We all have differing gifts, talents, and opportunities, some may even have more gifts and talents. It matters not the number, what matters most is faithfulness. But here in Luke each servant is given only one mina. In a secondary sense we might mean that we’ve all been given only one life, let’s use that life for the Lord, as C.T. Studd infamously said, “Only one life, soon it will pass, only what’s done for Christ will last.”
This Psalm is all about the city of Jerusalem, specifically this place called Zion, ultimately symbolizing our future home in heaven one day.
Her foundations are holy, the LORD loves her gates – more than all other dwellings, glorious things are spoken of Jerusalem (Revelation 21:9-27).
Some people brag about the city of their birth (Psalm 87:4) but to be born in Jerusalem, to be born from above, is the only location that really matters.
John 3:3 (NKJV) “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’”
When we’re born again we’re registered in heaven (Hebrews 12:23).
Psalm 87:6 (NKJV) “The LORD will record, when He registers the peoples: ‘This one was born there.’ Selah”
There are many criminals out there making millions of dishonest dollars; I’ve even had friends go to jail for this – and they literally had to “pay the price.”
Work hard, be honest in business (to the penny), and watch what God does in time and eternity!
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.