Joshua 18:1-10 – Wouldn’t It Just Be Easier To Not Do What God Called You To Do?

Posted: July 8, 2017 in Book fo Joshua
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Joshua 18:1-10
The Allotments of the Remaining Land

The professor for my next semester in my doctoral program for my Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree released the syllabus for the upcoming semester. As is with this program, there is a lot of (and I mean a lot) of reading. There are two required texts which I guess would be considered the textbooks for this class since we all have to read these two books. In addition to that you have to read at least one book from each of five different categories from which we have to select. With the books, I have selected for the semester and the required texts, I will be reading a total of 2,104 pages. Because I am not necessarily the fastest reader in the world. I cannot wait until August 7th or 14th when North Greenville University’s fall semester officially begins. I must begin now, tomorrow, in fact.

Being the geeky accounting type that I am, I, of course, have a spreadsheet for all of this study. I sat down Thursday night and developed my study calendar (giving myself weekends of and such). I figured out that for my reading I will have 45 study nights beginning this Sunday and ending on Thursday night, September 7th. Then from September 10th through September 21st, I have ten nights to write and complete an essay, a book critique/review, and a research paper. All of these papers have to be turned in electronically by 11:59pm on Tuesday, September 25th. Then, the week of October 2nd-6th, we have what the university calls a “weeklong intensive” where we are on-site, on-campus from 8am-5pm that entire week. During that week, we give presentations on our work during the first half of the semester and listen and participate in group discussion about what we have learned so far. Then, after the weeklong intensive, we must complete the second half of the semester which will have its own reading and its own assignments.

Man, sitting on this side of the work where all the work for this, my second semester in the program out there in front of me, it seems like a burden that is too great to bear. It just seems like too much. The easy thing to do would be to take the path of least resistance and not do it at all. The things that you hear in the back of your mind are “Why are you doing this?” or “This is just added expense to your life, why do it?” or “What’s going to come from this? You are simply going to be the best educated church member (not preacher) there is!” or “This is just too much work and we are not going to have anything to show for it?” or “You are just delaying the inevitable realization that you will not being going into full-time ministry anywhere, anyplace!”

These are the struggles that go on in your mind when you are acting on faith. Satan will create doubt. Satan will try to make you bitter about what you are doing. Satan will make you question yourself. And, then, there is just this sheer volume of work to be done. For sure, I love being a student. I love learning. I love the climb the mountain and grab the flag accomplishment orientation of school work where there are goals established and goals achieved. I love that stuff (standing on the mountaintop after a multi-faceted task has been completed). However, at the same time, I still have my job at Fujikura America, Inc. that is as demanding as any finance job out there. It requires lots of my time even if I did not do anything else. Then add to that I am heavily involved in the leadership of our church from a financial management perspective as well as from a teaching perspective. Then, add to that I am a husband to my wife who needs my attention too. Then, I am a parent and a grandfather. Add to that I have to workout to try to get rid of this big ol’ bellay! Where’s the time. Time has to be made and carved out. Why? Wouldn’t just be easier NOT to pursue this degree that may have no visible effects once you have completed it? Why do it?

It is these doubts about what I am doing in the doctoral program at NGU and about how much easier it would be for me all around just to not do it that came to mind this morning as I read through this passage about the tribes not wanting to go and execute the plan to take their land. I could identify with their doubts and struggle of not wanting to tackle a great big old problem. Let’s read the passage together, shall we:

18 The whole assembly of the Israelites gathered at Shiloh and set up the tent of meeting there. The country was brought under their control, 2 but there were still seven Israelite tribes who had not yet received their inheritance.

3 So Joshua said to the Israelites: “How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given you? 4 Appoint three men from each tribe. I will send them out to make a survey of the land and to write a description of it, according to the inheritance of each. Then they will return to me. 5 You are to divide the land into seven parts. Judah is to remain in its territory on the south and the tribes of Joseph in their territory on the north. 6 After you have written descriptions of the seven parts of the land, bring them here to me and I will cast lots for you in the presence of the Lord our God. 7 The Levites, however, do not get a portion among you, because the priestly service of the Lord is their inheritance. And Gad, Reuben and the half-tribe of Manasseh have already received their inheritance on the east side of the Jordan. Moses the servant of the Lord gave it to them.”

8 As the men started on their way to map out the land, Joshua instructed them, “Go and make a survey of the land and write a description of it. Then return to me, and I will cast lots for you here at Shiloh in the presence of the Lord.” 9 So the men left and went through the land. They wrote its description on a scroll, town by town, in seven parts, and returned to Joshua in the camp at Shiloh. 10 Joshua then cast lots for them in Shiloh in the presence of the Lord, and there he distributed the land to the Israelites according to their tribal divisions.

Here, in this passage, we see that seven tribes had not yet been assigned their land. They gathered at Shiloh where Joshua cast lots to determine which areas would be given to them. Using the sacred lottery, God would make the choice, not Joshua or any other human leader. By this time the Canaanites were effectively so weakened that they were no longer a threat. Instead of fulfilling God’s command to destroy the remaining Canaanites, however, these seven tribes would often take the path of least resistance. As nomadic people, they may have been reluctant to settle down, preferring to depend economically on the people they were supposed to eliminate. Others may have grown weary of the constant state of warfare that the Israelites had been in for the past 6 or 7 years. Trading with Canaanites was seen as easier and more profitable than the destroying the suppliers and having to fend for themselves.

As well in this passage, we see Joshua asking why some tribes were putting off the job of possessing their land. Often, we delay doing jobs that seem large, difficult, boring or disagreeable. To continue putting off the taking of the land showed lack of discipline and disobedience to God.

That the thing that rings true here for me is that sometimes God calls us to do things that are difficult and seemingly insurmountable. He rarely calls us to do things that do not require a stretch. He calls us always outside our comfort zone. We could take the path of least resistance and continue to live in our comfort zone where it’s easy and known. Like the tribes here would rather trade with the enemy rather than go through the tough task of waging war to cleanse the land of the evil people, we sometimes shy away from what God has called us to do. God calls us to do what He has designed for us to do. He calls us to do what is hard for us so that we will realize a dependence on Him and express that through living in faith that God will provide us the strength, the stamina, the courage, etc. that we will need to accomplish our calling.

That’s about all that I can say to Satan or anyone else, even myself, that may question why I am pursuing my D.Min. degree – Because God has put it on my heart to do it. Whether it makes sense or not to others, whether it makes sense to me or not, He has called me to do this and I am going to do it. I can’t see what God has for me on the other side of this. That’s where faith and trust comes in. I know that whatever hardships I will encounter over the remaining 2 ½ years of D.Min. program, God will use it somehow and in some way that I cannot even see right now. When I get to the other side of this program, God will have something there that will have made all the pain and heartache of the studies worth it and make all that study useful in some way for the kingdom. I must trust that. I must then act on what He has called me to do. Anything less would be disobedience. I don’t get a choice in obedience to God. It is simply something that I must do in order to have a deeper and more dependent relationship with my Father in heaven.

 

Amen and Amen.

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