February 26, 2023 - Joshua 20-24
After taking the land, it was time to allot the land among the tribes. Most of the rest of the book of Joshua relates all this in detail, boundary by boundary. In the midst of it all, the Lord provides the cities of refuge (ch. 20). Now, who, but God, would think to throw these in the mix? I suspect, for many who are concerned only with “What's in it for me?” that such a notion might never arise. However, our God is a God of justice and fairness. And not only does he provide for those who await a fair judicial process, he also provides for his ministers (cities and pasturelands given to the Levites, ch. 21).
The tribes – Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh – who had requested land east of the Jordan were given their land, and they settled there. After all was said and done, it was time for Joshua and the people to recommit themselves to the Lord (chs. 23,24). In these chapters, at several points, Joshua says to the people, “just as the Lord your God promised you” (23:5,10, 14,15). God had done so much for the people, just as he had promised. And yet, here’s the greatly puzzling thing; Joshua still had to say to Israel, “Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord, the God of Israel” (24:23). Why would Joshua have to command the people to put away foreign false gods? Those gods had done nothing for them! Never! Puzzling! On the other hand . . .
My pathway is not hid;
Thou knowest all my need;
And I would do as Israel did,--
Follow where thou wilt lead.
Lead me, and then my feet
Shall never, never stray;
But safely I shall reach the seat
Of happiness and day.
And, oh, from that bright throne
I shall look back, and see,--
The path I went, and that alone,
Was the right path for me. -- James Edmeston (1845)