Joshua chapters 13-19 might at first glance be a bit of a yawner, but “there’s gold in them-there hills.”
These chapters are comprised of the tribal allotments to Israel. The various landmasses assigned to each are detailed. And as you know, 2 tribes (Reuben and Gad) along with 1/2 the tribe of Manasseh, received their portion on the east side of the Jordan – all the rest on the west side. The tribe of Levi however was given no real estate of their own, but merely cities to dwell in within each of the tribal regions. The Lord was to be their inheritance.
And it is at this point we begin to look at the Providence of God in His assignments to them, and also to you and me. For each of us, under His sovereign hand, have a certain lot in life. A place and a time where each of us were born and raised. And circumstances – most well beyond our control, and some within where we could make alterations, improvements, and even mishaps.
In all the divisions which are recorded here – a specific area for each tribe, I am reminded of God’s apportioning the parameters of each of our lives as He sees fit. And I wonder, as you and me, did the tribes find reason to wish they had what some other tribe had instead of what was assigned them? More water? Fewer hills? Better grazing land? Better farming land? etc., etc.?
No doubt some did.
And as we read later, some thought their lot too hard and sought for other. West Manasseh complained that they didn’t have enough land. Joshua reminded them they were simply unwilling to do the hard work of clearing out some particularly tough inhabitants to get all of what had been allotted to them. They wanted an easier road.
Or consider Simeon. As it turns out, their assignment was actually a territory not completely their own, but within the territory of Judah.
Some had coastland, others none. Some were completely landlocked between two or more other tribes. Some had good grazing, others better farmland. There were mountainous regions, and flatlands; arid and lush. Each had their own conditions both to wrestle with, and take advantage of.
But our God knew what was wisest and best in each case. What challenges were best for each group. What pluses and minuses would keep them looking to Him for what was beyond their own strength, ability and preferences.
And so it is with you and me beloved.
In His providence, He knows better how to bless His people than we know how to be blessed. No doubt, you might prefer your circumstance to be what mine are, and I might prefer someone else’s. But here, we must rest in the perfect love and wisdom of our glorious Christ and King in all things. Father really does know best.
The Father knows what sins you need to wrestle with. What comforts will not spoil you, and what difficulties will not crush you. He knows how to best arrange those places that will help you grow in grace, look only to Him and prepare you best for Heaven. He knows how hard some of what you face is. And He knows how to provide for you in those places. He is never oblivious to your cares and concerns. As Paul preached on Mars Hill: “he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “ ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “ ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ (Ac 17:26–28).
Now this is not to make us fatalists. It is not a place to throw up our hands and “whatever will be, will be.” This is not grin and bear it time, resignation to all things. As Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 7:21, “were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) And Joseph when in prison, sought consideration from the King’s Cupbearer to change his lot. It is rather to get our eyes upon His providential appointments, and seek out how it is He intends to bless us by them, what provision He has made for us in them, and how we are to respond righteously to them as we seek to improve, change, and be changed by them. In pain, we seek right remedies. In bounty, we seek avenues to bless others. In challenges, we seek to meet them in Christ’s character by The Spirit. In sorrow we seek Him as our comfort. In joy, we lift our hands to Him. In weakness, we look for His strength. In vigor, we look for opportunities to serve. In confusion we trust His providence. In clarity, we declare His truth to others.
But in all things: Father really does “know best.”