Joshua 15:20-63 – That Wad of Paper Stuck Behind the Chest of Drawers

Posted: July 5, 2017 in 06-Joshua
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Joshua 15:20-63
The Towns Allotted to Judah

There are certain memories from your early childhood that stick with you while others vanish into the mist of time. Many of our experiences from birth to around age 6 are like this. There are seemingly random, disjointed memories that stick while others do not. They say that our best retained memories are those that have emotions attached to them. One of my memories from age 6 (in the first grade) is like that. There must have been high emotion attached to it. I remember the sequence of events to this day.

I remember that there was this page of almost like comic strip rows of figures that we were supposed to take the time to color with our crayons. Somehow, that day, I had been paired up with a kid whom I do not remember his name but he influenced me that day. He must’ve been an angry sort of kid so he did not follow the instructions to tediously color the characters in the rows of action scenes on the printed paper. He just marked back and forth across the page on each row of characters until the row of characters was not recognizable. One row was a purple blob. The next red and so on. So, instead of being the good little student that I was, I allowed the influence of taking the easy way out take me over and I did the same thing. And I turned the paper in. I remember the next day the teacher gave us our papers back. Of course, she gave me a failing grade and had a note stapled to it that I had to get my parents to sign. I remember being fearful of the repercussions at home so I balled the papers into a small circular wad and stuck it behind my chest of drawers in the bedroom that my brother and I shared. My dad was pastoring three churches in this rural area south of Sumter and Camden, SC called Rembert, SC (yeah, try finding that on the map – even today!). I don’t remember how I kept avoiding the returned of parentally signed paper back to the teacher for I remember being more than a couple of days. It may have been a week! Only when my mom and dad did their major housecleaning on Saturday mornings was this wadded up set up papers found. I felt like Lucy on I Love Lucy when Ricky would say, “Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do!” and she would go “ewwwwww!” as only Lucy could do. I had some splainin to do to my mom and dad about this shortcut I took at school and then the fact that I tried to cover it up.

There were so many things that my dad and mom were upset with me about. First, that they raised me better than that than to not respect authority and do what you were told. Second, that I was smarter than the work that I had produced. Third, I took the easy way out instead of doing the hard work necessary. And, finally, that I did not confess what I had done wrong and tried to cover it up. I was in deep doo-doo as a 6 year old. It was not like my parents did not invest in us when it came to school work when we were little. They actively participated in our studies when we were little kids. They invested much in us and it showed in how well we did in school. Much was given to us by our parents when it came to our schooling. So, much was expected. This early act of defiance was unexpected and it remains memorable to this day. I let some kid who I rarely sat beside in school influence me. I don’t even remember the kid’s name or his face. I do remember the influence I allowed him to have over me that day – to this day.

It was this idea of much being given and then not following through on expectations was what I thought of this morning as I read this rather mundane set of verses in Joshua 15:20-63:

20 This is the inheritance of the tribe of Judah, according to its clans:

21 The southernmost towns of the tribe of Judah in the Negev toward the boundary of Edom were:

Kabzeel, Eder, Jagur, 22 Kinah, Dimonah, Adadah, 23 Kedesh, Hazor, Ithnan, 24 Ziph, Telem, Bealoth, 25 Hazor Hadattah, Kerioth Hezron (that is, Hazor), 26 Amam, Shema, Moladah, 27 Hazar Gaddah, Heshmon, Beth Pelet, 28 Hazar Shual, Beersheba, Biziothiah, 29 Baalah, Iyim, Ezem, 30 Eltolad, Kesil, Hormah, 31 Ziklag, Madmannah, Sansannah, 32 Lebaoth, Shilhim, Ain and Rimmon—a total of twenty-nine towns and their villages.

33 In the western foothills:

Eshtaol, Zorah, Ashnah, 34 Zanoah, En Gannim, Tappuah, Enam, 35 Jarmuth, Adullam, Sokoh, Azekah, 36 Shaaraim, Adithaim and Gederah (or Gederothaim)[a]—fourteen towns and their villages.

37 Zenan, Hadashah, Migdal Gad, 38 Dilean, Mizpah, Joktheel, 39 Lachish, Bozkath, Eglon, 40 Kabbon, Lahmas, Kitlish, 41 Gederoth, Beth Dagon, Naamah and Makkedah—sixteen towns and their villages.

42 Libnah, Ether, Ashan, 43 Iphtah, Ashnah, Nezib, 44 Keilah, Akzib and Mareshah—nine towns and their villages.

45 Ekron, with its surrounding settlements and villages; 46 west of Ekron, all that were in the vicinity of Ashdod, together with their villages; 47 Ashdod, its surrounding settlements and villages; and Gaza, its settlements and villages, as far as the Wadi of Egypt and the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea.

48 In the hill country:

Shamir, Jattir, Sokoh, 49 Dannah, Kiriath Sannah (that is, Debir), 50 Anab, Eshtemoh, Anim, 51 Goshen, Holon and Giloh—eleven towns and their villages.

52 Arab, Dumah, Eshan, 53 Janim, Beth Tappuah, Aphekah, 54 Humtah, Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) and Zior—nine towns and their villages.

55 Maon, Carmel, Ziph, Juttah, 56 Jezreel, Jokdeam, Zanoah, 57 Kain, Gibeah and Timnah—ten towns and their villages.

58 Halhul, Beth Zur, Gedor, 59 Maarath, Beth Anoth and Eltekon—six towns and their villages.[b]

60 Kiriath Baal (that is, Kiriath Jearim) and Rabbah—two towns and their villages.

61 In the wilderness:

Beth Arabah, Middin, Sekakah, 62 Nibshan, the City of Salt and En Gedi—six towns and their villages.

63 Judah could not dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day the Jebusites live there with the people of Judah.

The first thing that you will notice here is that, compared to the inheritance of lands given to the other tribes, the list of cities and towns here is quite extensive. It takes 43 verses to list all the cities and towns. By comparison, the land given to the tribes of Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Dan, and Benjamin are pretty small and take only about 7 verses each. The last thing you will notice here is that, in v. 63, there is the mention that the tribe of Judah was not able to drive out Jebusites from Jerusalem (and that the Jebusites were still living among them at the time of the writing of Joshua).

Here, we see that Judah was given much. This tribe was given the greatest allotment of land. This tribe was not only the largest of the tribes of Israel but they were the most influential throughout much of Jewish history. It is from this tribe that David, Solomon, and Jesus come from. So, to say that the tribe of Judah was the most important of the tribes would be an understatement. Much was given. Much should be expected.

However, we see here, in the last verse, that they did not drive out the Jebusites from Jerusalem. They did not complete the job. They took a shortcut. They then stuck the wad of paper behind the chest of drawers and tried to ignore that they did not do what had been assigned to them. God directed them to do the whole job, whatever it took. They were to completely destroy and drive out the pagan Jebusites from their land. But they did not do it. Even after they had been given the most land, they could not do what they had been assigned to do.

Aren’t we that way sometimes? We wad up our papers of sin and stick them behind the chest of drawers of our lives – hoping no one will see that we are not being obedient to God. Outwardly we are doing and saying the right things, but we have this hidden secret of our disobedience to God’s Word. He gives us the instructions for living our life in His Word. However, sometimes, we want to take shortcuts so that we do not have to do the hard work of becoming more Christ-like. We want to keep our pet sins and keep them hidden. We want to say one way of behavior is OK even though it is against God’s Word because we do not want to give that behavior up. We think it is OK to take shortcuts around God’s Word so that we can continue reveling in our favorite sins.

Is it time for the Saturday morning cleaning in your soul? Is it time to come clean about the shortcuts that you take around obedience to God? Are you tired of wondering when you wad of sin hidden behind your spiritual chest of drawers will be found out? Or will that shortcut you take become a cancer to your spirit and drive a wedge between you and God. Will you let your disobedience grow like a cancer such that you cannot enjoy what God has given you?

What is your wad of paper of unconfessed sins of shortcuts taken that is stuck behind your chest of drawers that you don’t want anybody to see? We must bring it out in the open. Confess it. Drive it out. And seek restoration through the forgiveness of Jesus Christ!

Amen and Amen.

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