Joshua 16-17 (Part 1) – 30 Minutes of Wonderful vs. A Lifetime of Nothing Special…

Posted: July 6, 2017 in 06-Joshua
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Joshua 16:1-17:18 (Part 1 of 2)
The Land Given to Ephraim and West Mannasseh

There is a line from that wonderful movie that I adore about Southern women, the most wonderfully complex creatures on the planet, that seems to ring true for all of us. Shelby tells her mom, “I would rather 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special!” Her mom was arguing vehemently against her having a child (Shelby was a diabetic) because it could kill her during pregnancy, childbirth, or simply cut short her life even though she might be able to deliver the child. Shelby was telling her mom that the risks were worth getting the reward of having a child. So many times in life, we will shy away from some big prize because the work to get there may be risky or too hard.

Some of us may want to be doctors when we are kids but then we find out that there is a whole lot of school that you have to go through to get there. We rationalize away that we cannot afford it. We rationalize away that it would be too difficult to not only go to college but to medical school, do an internship while in school, and then do a residency after medical school and all that before you can begin earning a living as a doctor. It is a long, hard rode that few choose and even fewer succeed at. However, the rewards for those who make it through the grueling process. You are typically set financially if you are just even an average doctor. However, the primary reward is to be able to help people in times of sickness about which they can do nothing for themselves. Some of the most joyful people that I encountered growing up were the doctors who dotted the churches that my dad served. These were people who truly cared about helping people while balancing that against making a living for themselves so that they could do good for their families and their churches.

Some of us dream of being missionaries or ministers as second careers. Some of us want to fight against injustice in the world in the name of Jesus Christ. Some of us want to go to Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, India, Eastern Europe, or anywhere to fight against sex trafficking and modern slavery. Many of us envision ourselves as going to the Middle East to predominantly Muslim countries to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of us envision ourselves as missionaries in third world countries such as Haiti or in any of the countries of the continent of Africa. Many of us envision ourselves as pastors because we love God and His Word and we study it daily and incessantly. We may say that we want to serve the Lord full time and whine about why it is not happening. But when it comes down to it, are we willing to make the sacrifices to do what we are called to do.

Are you willing to give up your current life to follow God’s calling on your life. Or are you postponing away your life with excuses? Are you impassioned about ending sex trafficking to the point of wearing a Red X t-shirt and show how hip you are to current causes? However, are you willing to risk it all, leave the cushy lifestyle here in the United States and go to India and live in abject poverty to help prevent 12 year old girls from being sucked into or sold into sex slavery or once there help them get out? Is it that passionate for you? Or would you rather feign support for the cause and maybe even throw money at it but tolerate its existence by saying there is nothing that I personally can do.

Are you willing to give your all to plant a church or seek out a ministry position and see yourself preaching and teaching as God has called you to do? Has God called you and given you a passion for being a missionary to a third world country or to a nation dominated by another religion than Christianity? Are you willing to make the sacrifices to make that happen when it comes down to crunch time? You may use excuses such as financial situations, such as an unsupportive spouse, such as having kids locked into a materialistic culture that would revolt against you if did this.

God does not give us a calling for the simple. God does not give us a calling for the easy. A calling is a calling because it is hard. It is difficult. It will require sacrifice. God’s callings on our lives will be the toughest thing we will ever do.

That idea of shying away from what God calls us to do is what came to mind when I read these two chapters and again I read about not following God’s explicit instructions to drive out the pagan cultures of Canaan. Each tribe failed in this directive in one way or another. It reminds me of us, those who talk a big game but are not willing to do the hard work. Let’s look at these two chapters now:

16 The allotment for Joseph began at the Jordan, east of the springs of Jericho, and went up from there through the desert into the hill country of Bethel. 2 It went on from Bethel (that is, Luz),[a] crossed over to the territory of the Arkites in Ataroth, 3 descended westward to the territory of the Japhletites as far as the region of Lower Beth Horon and on to Gezer, ending at the Mediterranean Sea.

4 So Manasseh and Ephraim, the descendants of Joseph, received their inheritance.

5 This was the territory of Ephraim, according to its clans:

The boundary of their inheritance went from Ataroth Addar in the east to Upper Beth Horon 6 and continued to the Mediterranean Sea. From Mikmethath on the north it curved eastward to Taanath Shiloh, passing by it to Janoah on the east. 7 Then it went down from Janoah to Ataroth and Naarah, touched Jericho and came out at the Jordan. 8 From Tappuah the border went west to the Kanah Ravine and ended at the Mediterranean Sea. This was the inheritance of the tribe of the Ephraimites, according to its clans. 9 It also included all the towns and their villages that were set aside for the Ephraimites within the inheritance of the Manassites.

10 They did not dislodge the Canaanites living in Gezer; to this day the Canaanites live among the people of Ephraim but are required to do forced labor.

17 This was the allotment for the tribe of Manasseh as Joseph’s firstborn, that is, for Makir, Manasseh’s firstborn. Makir was the ancestor of the Gileadites, who had received Gilead and Bashan because the Makirites were great soldiers. 2 So this allotment was for the rest of the people of Manasseh—the clans of Abiezer, Helek, Asriel, Shechem, Hepher and Shemida. These are the other male descendants of Manasseh son of Joseph by their clans.

3 Now Zelophehad son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, had no sons but only daughters, whose names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah. 4 They went to Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the leaders and said, “The Lord commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our relatives.” So Joshua gave them an inheritance along with the brothers of their father, according to the Lord’s command. 5 Manasseh’s share consisted of ten tracts of land besides Gilead and Bashan east of the Jordan, 6 because the daughters of the tribe of Manasseh received an inheritance among the sons. The land of Gilead belonged to the rest of the descendants of Manasseh.

7 The territory of Manasseh extended from Asher to Mikmethath east of Shechem. The boundary ran southward from there to include the people living at En Tappuah. 8 (Manasseh had the land of Tappuah, but Tappuah itself, on the boundary of Manasseh, belonged to the Ephraimites.) 9 Then the boundary continued south to the Kanah Ravine. There were towns belonging to Ephraim lying among the towns of Manasseh, but the boundary of Manasseh was the northern side of the ravine and ended at the Mediterranean Sea. 10 On the south the land belonged to Ephraim, on the north to Manasseh. The territory of Manasseh reached the Mediterranean Sea and bordered Asher on the north and Issachar on the east.

11 Within Issachar and Asher, Manasseh also had Beth Shan, Ibleam and the people of Dor, Endor, Taanach and Megiddo, together with their surrounding settlements (the third in the list is Naphoth[b]).

12 Yet the Manassites were not able to occupy these towns, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that region. 13 However, when the Israelites grew stronger, they subjected the Canaanites to forced labor but did not drive them out completely.

14 The people of Joseph said to Joshua, “Why have you given us only one allotment and one portion for an inheritance? We are a numerous people, and the Lord has blessed us abundantly.”

15 “If you are so numerous,” Joshua answered, “and if the hill country of Ephraim is too small for you, go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites.”

16 The people of Joseph replied, “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the plain have chariots fitted with iron, both those in Beth Shan and its settlements and those in the Valley of Jezreel.”

17 But Joshua said to the tribes of Joseph—to Ephraim and Manasseh—“You are numerous and very powerful. You will have not only one allotment 18 but the forested hill country as well. Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours; though the Canaanites have chariots fitted with iron and though they are strong, you can drive them out.”

Throughout Joshua, you will see the phrase, “they did not drive out” the people of the land. The fact that they did not do so was against God’s explicit commands in Joshua 13:1-6. The failure to completely remove the pagan people and their idol worshiping religions from the land would cause many problems for the nation of Israel, though it does not seem that way here at the beginning. The book of Judges records many of these struggles. Another thing that you will notice in these two chapters is that there is a contrasting attitude toward settling the promised land by these two tribes compared to Caleb. Caleb took what God gave him and moved ahead to fulfill God’s plan for him. He was confident that God would help him drive out the wicked inhabitants and the he would soon fully occupy his land. In contrast, the two tribes of Joseph were given rich land and lots of it, but they were afraid to drive out the inhabitants and take full possession of the land. Instead, they asked for more land so that they would not have to fight to win full control of their allotted land.

Why is it that we will tolerate things that we know are evil because it is too hard to do the work to drive it out. Why do we talk about sex trafficking but tolerate its continued existence. Why the hell are we not mad as hell enough to en masse go do something about it. Why do we tolerate this evil? It took William Wilberforce a lifetime to get the British Empire to outlaw slavery in the empire. It took convincing an entire empire that slavery was wrong and could not be tolerated. It will take the same en masse conviction of entire nations, particularly ours as the most powerful nation in the world to end this modern slavery known as sex trafficking. Doing nothing is tolerating its existence and allowing its evil to exist and continue.

Are you willing to follow your calling into the ministry or to the missionary field? Are you willing to chuck it all and depend on God to provide for you and your family. Are you willing to trust that God will convince your spouse that it is the right thing to do. Are you willing to trust God to change the hearts of your spoiled American children entrenched in the gadgetry of our culture. Are you willing to trust Him yourself to guide you into the unknown most craziest, most unbelievable, thing you have ever done? What if God removes every roadblock in your life that you throw up to him as to why you can’t following His calling? One by one He removes them. What now? It is you and God, are you willing to do the hard work that may not even get mentioned in your church newsletter? Are you willing to dive into the deep end of the pool when all your excuses are gone? Are you willing to follow God’s call on your life – for real, not just talk, not just dreams, but for real?

We may die in the effort to bring the gospel to third world countries. We may die in delivering the gospel to Muslim and Hindu and Buddhist nations. We may go broke and die penniless in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. We may die in trying to save someone from the injustice of human slavery. We may feel as though we made no impact at all save a few girls that we helped smuggle out of slavery. We may serve for years without any visible evidence other than God called us to do it.

But at the end of the day, in following God’s call on our lives, wouldn’t you rather have had 30 minutes of wonderful rather than a lifetime of nothing special. It was Thoreau who said, “Most men live lives of quiet desperation!” Thoreau was saying the same thing as Shelby. We can regret our ways to the grave. All the things we should have done. The calling on our lives that we should have followed.

What is God calling you to do? What is that 30 minutes of wonderful that God has called you to do? Or are you going to make excuses such that it becomes a lifetime where you lived a nothing special life? God is calling each of us to real ministry whether its in our neighborhood, our town, our state, our region, our nation, our world? He is calling you to something? What is it? Are you willing to take the risks necessary to follow God?

30 minutes of wonderful or a life of nothing special, a life of quiet desperation? How much do you trust God? He is calling you to something wonderful….what’s it gonna be? 30 minutes of wonderful or a life of nothing special, filled with regret, that you did not follow God’s calling on your life…

Amen and Amen.

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