Posts Tagged ‘godly character’

Joshua 15:1-12
The Land Given to the Tribe of Judah

Too often today, we hear people blame their circumstances on their parents, or what their starting place economically was. Too often, parents do not think that the character they display in front of their children matters.

Children can say another child is favored and that’s why they have lived a jealous, angry life. Children can say that they have had to grow up hard because of deaths in the family as the reason that they never reached their potential. Children can blame their parent’s divorce on why they had to deal with stuff that they should not have had to deal with at an early age. Children can say that because of lack of resources they cannot be blamed for their crimes or lack of willingness to achieve. Children can be rich and handed everything and be spoiled brats that never achieve anything significant because they expect the world to be handed to them on a silver platter. There are all kinds of things that we can blame our lot in life on as children of our parents or because of where we started economically. You name it. We can blame others for it.

Also, parents often wonder why their kids turned out the way they did. When we take ethical shortcuts as parents in front of our children, why does it surprise us when our kids do the same? When you demonstrate disregard for the law in front of them, why does it surprise us when they do the same? When we as fathers show that we see women as sex objects that are to be played with and thrown away, why then is it shocking that there are so many baby daddies out there and so few fathers? When we as mothers demonstrate to our daughters that we use our bodies and the fact that men are such fools for feminine charms to get what we want, why are we shocked when our daughters present themselves to the world as sex objects. When we as parents have multiple sexual relationships that do not have marriage surrounding them and its one guy or gal after another in our beds, why is it that we get all shocked at the fact that this generation sees sex as recreation not as intimacy. What we do in front our kids resounds for generations.

These two thoughts came to mind this morning when we read what seems a mundane passage about the boundaries of the land of the tribe of Judah. But when you take a closer look at this tribe two truths jump up at shout at you as you look at the boundaries of this land on the ancient Middle Eastern maps and think back to the Genesis stories of the twelve sons of Jacob. Let’s read Joshua 15:1-12 now:

15 The allotment for the tribe of Judah, according to its clans, extended down to the territory of Edom, to the Desert of Zin in the extreme south.

2 Their southern boundary started from the bay at the southern end of the Dead Sea, 3 crossed south of Scorpion Pass, continued on to Zin and went over to the south of Kadesh Barnea. Then it ran past Hezron up to Addar and curved around to Karka. 4 It then passed along to Azmon and joined the Wadi of Egypt, ending at the Mediterranean Sea. This is their[a] southern boundary.

5 The eastern boundary is the Dead Sea as far as the mouth of the Jordan.

The northern boundary started from the bay of the sea at the mouth of the Jordan, 6 went up to Beth Hoglah and continued north of Beth Arabah to the Stone of Bohan son of Reuben. 7 The boundary then went up to Debir from the Valley of Achor and turned north to Gilgal, which faces the Pass of Adummim south of the gorge. It continued along to the waters of En Shemesh and came out at En Rogel. 8 Then it ran up the Valley of Ben Hinnom along the southern slope of the Jebusite city (that is, Jerusalem). From there it climbed to the top of the hill west of the Hinnom Valley at the northern end of the Valley of Rephaim. 9 From the hilltop the boundary headed toward the spring of the waters of Nephtoah, came out at the towns of Mount Ephron and went down toward Baalah (that is, Kiriath Jearim). 10 Then it curved westward from Baalah to Mount Seir, ran along the northern slope of Mount Jearim (that is, Kesalon), continued down to Beth Shemesh and crossed to Timnah. 11 It went to the northern slope of Ekron, turned toward Shikkeron, passed along to Mount Baalah and reached Jabneel. The boundary ended at the sea.

12 The western boundary is the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea.

These are the boundaries around the people of Judah by their clans.

In this passage, we see that the tribe of Judah was given the largest portion of land. Judah was only the fourth of the sons of Jacob. He was not the firstborn son. He was not even the baby boy of the sons of Jacob. He was just the middle of the pack son. The tribe of Judah stands out among the twelve tribes because of its associations with the house of David, the southern kingdom of Judah, and its capital in Jerusalem. The early stories in the biblical narrative establish the importance of the tribe’s founding father, Judah, and by extension, the tribal members. In Gen 37:26-27, Judah saves his brother Joseph’s life by convincing the other brothers to sell Joseph to some Ishmaelites rather than kill him. He then pledges responsibility for Benjamin in Gen 43:3-10 and pleads with Joseph for Benjamin’s life in Gen 44:18-34. Judah’s leadership and his acceptance of the primacy of law in his dealing with his daughter-in-law Tamar (Gen 38) propel him to prominence among the tribal leaders.

That’s the thing that jumps out at you when examine the ancient Middle Eastern maps and see what land the tribe of Judah was given. It was not simply a matter of that tribe being the most populous of the tribes as some suggest but it is a reflection of the character of the founding father of the tribe and qualities that he passed down through the generations.
It brings us two thoughts about what the tribe of Judah demonstrates for us. First, the founding father of this tribe, Judah, demonstrates to us what Jesus, who comes from this tribe, will do for us. Judah was willing to give His life to save the baby boy of the Jacob’s son, Benjamin. That act was symbolic of what Jesus Christ, a Judahite tribe member, did for us on the cross. He layed down His life as a replacement for us so that we would not have to suffer the penalty to be paid for our sins. He loved us so much that He gave His life up willingly so that we could be safe from God’s righteous wrath against sin. He cared more for our eternity, our safety, than He did for His own earthly safety. That Judah did the same for Benjamin is a reflection of the character of the traits that he passed along to his tribe. It is no wonder that Jesus was sent to us from this particular tribe. Judah possessed and foretold the character of Jesus Christ. Character matters. It is the one thing that we can pass on to our children that has nothing to do with birth order or circumstances. We can pass on Christ-like character to our children and grandchildren. Let us live lives of integrity, honor, and Christ-likeness in front of our children. Those traits are observed and internalized even when you don’t think they are watching you.

The second thing that it brings to mind is that it does not matter where you start in life that matters. It is what you do with the life that is given to you. Judah could have easily sunk into the background of the twelve sons of Jacob. He was not the oldest. He was not the youngest. He was fourth in line in inheritance which means he was nothing special when it came to the traditional family hierarchies of the ancient Middle East. Oldest sons got double portions. Fathers often favored their youngest sons too. Those in the middle of the pack were just there. Hanging around in the background. A life of often not much notoriety. However, it was the tribe of Judah that was instrumental in the history of Israel. It was Judah from which David and Solomon come forth. It is from Judah that Jerusalem becomes the seat of Israel’s government. It is Jerusalem that is and will be the center of God’s plan of redemption of the world and it will be the focus of all of the end times activities. It demonstrates that it was the character of Judah, the fourth son of Jacob, that determined his tribe’s inheritance in the Promised Land and it is his tribe that gives forth the greatest kings of Jewish history and it is from this tribe that the King of Kings emerges into human history. It is from this tribe’s allotted lands that the most important city in the history of mankind both past and future, Jerusalem, resides. It is your character that matters. Not where in line you were born in your family. Not where you were born. Not how much or how little your family has. It is what you do next that matters. We can blame our lot in life on others or our parents or whatever but ultimately we can rise above our circumstances. It is similar to where we stand in Christ. We can have the worst beginnings to our lives. We can have lived the worst life, full of sinful deeds, evil, and just plain out meanness. But Jesus can redeem it and make it whole and new and worthy and can change your direction in life. All we have to do is reach out to Him. It doesn’t matter where you start. He can redeem us and make us useful in His kingdom.

Amen and Amen.