God’s house comes to rest. No more will it be moved about as Israel wanders. Now it’s time for the rest of Israel to find their homes. Seven tribes remain without an assigned inheritance.
God chose Shiloh for the resting place of the Tabernacle. It will stay here until David brings it to Jerusalem. This is where the sacrifices are to be made. This is where the presence of the Lord will rest. This is where the WHOLE congregation gathers for the appointed feasts. This is where the commands of the Lord are to be heard.
When Caleb and the tribe of Judah approached Joshua about their inheritance it was at Gilgal. This is where Israel returned to after their campaigns. It was the first camp they had when they entered the Promised Land. It held the memorial that was set up after crossing the Jordan. I don’t think this camp remained in operation during the campaigns as we are told that “the whole of Israel” stopped at various locations. But this was an important location to the people.
We are not told where the people of the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim approached Joshua. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it was at Gilgal too. But the rest of the tribes let things be as they were. They didn’t ask “what about me” when the tribes who were granted territories packed their tents to leave. They kept on doing what they had been doing from the beginning; staying near Joshua and the Tabernacle.
Did they feel safer this way? Were they afraid of being attacked when they weren’t in the big group? Had they grown comfortable with things as they were that they had no desire for change? I’m assuming that the warriors from the tribes on the east side of the Jordan had already headed home. All that remained at Gilgal were the seven remaining tribes. The north side of the camp and the Levites section were the only full complements by now.
God had promised the people that He would choose a spot for His Tabernacle to reside. He chose Shiloh. Joshua reassembled all the people for this move. I have no doubt that there was a big dedication ceremony to commemorate this. We will probably hear about it later in our reading.
After everyone was assembled Joshua addressed the remaining seven tribes. “How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you?” (verse 3b). In other words, “It’s time you moved out and found a place of your own.”
God had given this land to the people. He had promised ALL of it to them, even though it wasn’t all conquered yet. He wasn’t sending them out to fend for themselves but to live in the promise that He had provided. They needed to step into that promise.
Joshua called for three scouts from each tribe to do the work of dividing up the land. I don’t know if they each made their own logbook, if each tribe made a book or if all 21 worked together to make one book. However they did it, they were able to identify seven distinct sections of the land that could be clearly marked and divided.
THAT had to be a ‘God thing’ in and of itself. The obvious divisions and the agreement on where those divisions lay. When I try and sort things, unless the only distinction is color, choosing ONE feature for division can be difficult. Even in sorting by color families things can get complicated, so 21 men agreeing on how to divide the land is pretty amazing! (I would HATE to think what would have happened if 21 women had been given this task!) Good thing God was in charge!!!
After all the scouting, mapping, and dividing was done all that was left was for God to assign those portions to the people. God was in charge of this whole process. He would assign the sections for each tribe. I wonder if He kept in mind the tribes that got along better than others. Did He consider which tribes would be more beneficial to one another?
Did you notice that the tribes who took the initiate to approach Moses or Joshua received more land than those who waited? Manasseh even asked for more. Was this due to a different kind of attitude between the tribes? Maybe a different level of faith? The earlier tribes didn’t need to be ‘pushed out of the nest.’ They saw what God had set before them and were ready to reach out and take hold of it. It didn’t matter that there would be work involved. They were ready.
That doesn’t make the seven remaining tribes weak or wrong for exercising patience. Patience has its place but it also has its limits. God had told them what was to come but hadn’t said ‘go’ yet. They had seen firsthand the problems that could arise when they got ahead of God’s timing. The battle of Ai was a prime example of that.
Once God gave them the word through Joshua that it was time to get moving to the next step they didn’t balk at it. They faithfully did as Joshua commanded and were ready and waiting when their number was called.
I have to admit that I’m more of a Caleb type of person than one like the seven remaining tribes on MOST things. I hear God’s promise and want to go for it. Caleb waited until it looked like the ground work was done before he asked permission to move on into the promise. Sometimes I forget to wait that long even and wind up in trouble. Very seldom do I wait until everything is laid out and it looks like smooth sailing before moving out. I’m kind of the ‘Beta tester’ in this area.
I take the wait for instructions route, like the seven tribes, when it comes to critical things (and electronics). I like knowing all the bugs are out before putting my life on the line. Even in those times I have been known to ask those in charge if they needed any ‘help’ from me to move the process along.
Father God, I’m thankful for Your promises no matter how You chooses to let me move into them. Sometimes You let me go with just a ‘big picture’ and we figure it out along the way. Sometimes You hold my feet and hands still while You work it out. Sometimes You don’t let me see what is going on until You are ready to give it to me. Sometimes You, by some miracle, get me to sit still and wait. You know my heart Lord. You know my patience quota. And You work with me on both issues all the time! Thank You for never giving up on me. Thank You for teaching me every day the things I need for tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. Thank You for the patience You have given me in waiting for Jesus’ return. THAT is one area where I’m more than happy to wait until YOU tell me it’s time.