Welcome to the second installment in the Scripture study. This week should prove to have more application than last week, which had a lot of background information to set the context of the Israelites entering the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. You can check out the full post from last week at this link, and I’d love to hear your thoughts as I continue forward through the book of Joshua.
10 And Joshua commanded the officers of the people, 11 “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’”
12 And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh Joshua said, 13 “Remember the word that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, ‘The Lord your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land.’ 14 Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but all the men of valor among you shall pass over armed before your brothers and shall help them, 15 until the Lord gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession and shall possess it, the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.”
16 And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses! 18 Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.”
Verse 10: While Joshua could have given the commands himself to the people, he demonstrates effective command and leadership by passing along the message to his team of leaders, allowing them to spread his message so that he isn’t obligated to do it all himself. The delegation of tasks, such as this one, shows that Joshua had a clear understanding that he could not do everything himself. In the New Testament there is a clear example of the need for delegation, shown in the book of Acts (See Acts 6:1-7). It can be easy for us to fall into the trap of trying to do everything ourselves, which allows other priorities to either get partial attention or else get neglected completely. Many people in the Body of Christ have different talents (See 1 Corinthians 12:4-11), and an effective leader will try to let those with the spiritual gift in an area take command of that task.
Verse 11: Joshua is giving his people three days to prepare to cross the Jordan river. This is not a small tribe of people about to embark upon a journey, but rather a great multitude of people. It will take time for the people to prepare for the journey and tear down their camps.
Verses 12-15: Here Joshua is directing his words toward the men of three out of the twelve tribes of Israel: The Ruebenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. The context here is critical, so we must look at Numbers 32 to see why these three tribes are being singled out like this. These three tribes were all given land on that side of the Jordan River because the tribes had a great number of livestock and noticed that land was good for their livestock. They pleaded with Moses for those lands as their inheritance, under the condition that every fighting man would cross the Jordan and would fight until all twelve tribes had received their lands. They were able to establish a place for their livestock, children, and women, but when called all the fighting men must go. Joshua is calling upon them to not only remember the promise to Moses, but also to fulfill that promise made.
As Christians, we need to learn a lesson from these tribes. How easy it could have been for them to hold back and stay in the land promised to them and let the other nine tribes battle on their own. They could have taken a rest, enjoying a time of peace and ease. Instead they committed to going forth and helping the others. In out times of peace and ease, it becomes easy to become idle and enjoy those tranquil moments. Yet there are many around us who could use our assistance during our times of peace. Like these tribes, there is nothing wrong with making sure your own affairs are settled first, but when you see a need you should pursue it with the same vigor and passion as you would if it was affecting you or your family. Pray for those around you, whether in your family or in your neighborhood. Get on your knees and ask God to work on their hearts. Use that time of peace to become proactive with your prayers and actions. Find those needs and step in to fulfill them, such as taking meals to those who have need. Put those spiritual gifts to work and be the salt and the light that this world desperately needs.
Verses 16-18: Obedience is demonstrated here, with the people pledging to follow Joshua’s commands. It is not clear whether these are the tribes of the Ruebenites and Gadites and Manasseh, or if these are the leaders Joshua commanded in verse 10, but it seems most likely to be the latter. They were willing to follow Joshua so long as three things held true: the Lord was with him, he was strong, and he was courageous. The last two are echoes of God’s own command to Joshua in the preceding verses. These three things provide excellent benchmarks when looking for a leader. Signs of strength and courage inspire confidence among the people, although those traits can become corrupted when used apart from God. Which is why the first is the most important, that the Lord is with Joshua and therefore Joshua is walking along the path that God has chosen. As we’ll see in the coming studies, Joshua not only listens when God sends his commands, but he also seeks guidance from God and has a connection to God via his prayer life.
So we’ll close with a challenge to you: when a decision comes your way, do you turn to God for His guidance? This is an area where I need to continue to develop, seeking His approval before moving forward. This is a control issue for many people, as it requires us to let go of our own wants and desires and to seek what God has planned for us. Join me this week in praying more often to God, asking for Him to lead us when a decision comes our way.