It is time for the tribe of Zebulun to receive their portion. This is the third portion allotted by lot to the remaining tribes.
By now you already know about my geography skills. They are VERY poor, especially when it comes to lands where I have never lived. Ask me to get around my own neighborhood and I’m fine. My town I’m fairly familiar with. Even my neighboring towns I don’t get too lost. But put me in bible times in a new country and I’m hopelessly lost!
As I was reading through Zebulun’s portion I’m accepting this unknown as standard for me. I rely heavily on the maps made by the scholars. Some of them I’ve rejected out of hand because their representations of the tribe of Judah didn’t fit with the few landmarks I can identify and that don’t change; especially the sea. But I’m completely thrown by the mention of one town in Zebulun’s territory; Bethlehem.
Was Bethlehem originally much farther north? Were there two cities with that name? How does Zebulun contain the birthplace of Jesus, or a city with its same name? I honestly don’t have an answer for this. I do know that the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali is where Jesus grew up. Zebulun is in the region of Galilei and Nazareth is contained in that region. Mathew 4 tells us of prophecy being fulfilled from the Isaiah 9 where the people walking in darkness have seen a great light. This is the light of Jesus.
When looking at God’s lot for Zebulun we see he is another tribe that has no room to expand. He is surrounded on all sides by his brothers. Zebulun is the fourth largest tribe but he has one of the smallest portions of land. I wondered why this was. I stumbled across another blog, Psalm to God, while looking into this question. I encourage you to check it out if you are so inclined.
Back to the question of ‘why’ though brings me to the prophecy I just mentioned from Isaiah. In the first verse of Isaiah 9 we see a possible reason. “In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan” (Isaiah 9:1b). God humbled Zebulun for a reason. Because HE would one day exalt him.
It is easy to expect important things from important people. It is something completely unexpected to see amazing things from ordinary people. Or at least this is how the world views it. God doesn’t view it this way. He LOVES to do the unexpected. He did it so many times in Jesus’ life. He chose a lowly family for His Son. Joseph and Mary were simple people. There was nothing special about them at the time. He chose shepherds as heralds of Jesus birth. No one listened to or even believed shepherds. He chose a stable in the city of Bethlehem as His birth place. A city with a past but a place of no glory. And He chose the town of Nazareth in the lowly area of Galilei as the place for His Son to grow up and begin His ministry.
By the time Jesus walked the earth Israel had been displaced from her home several times. She was under Roman rule at the time too. But the memory of the divisions of territories by God through Joshua has never left the people’s hearts. They LONG for the day when Israel will walk in the fullness of God’s promise. The people probably still remember the boundaries first laid down even if they can’t fine the original boundary stones. And they remember the landlocked tribes of “little importance.” Zebulun may not have figured prominently in the world’s eyes but God never forgot him. He got to hold the Son of God as He grew. He got to host Him in all His power. He got to give Him a place to call home on this earth. No, Zebulun wasn’t chosen as the tribe in which God would send His Son but he got to shelter Him from harm as a faithful watchman.
Thank You Father God for using even the lowliest of us in Your plans. I’m someone who has no great name. My life is lived in a quiet little town. Squirreled away from most people. I interact with so few people in the course of my day as I even work from home. But YOU let me reach out and touch the world with Your word. You let me share what You share with me with people around the world. THANK YOU for letting me be a part of Your family and reaching out to others in Your name. I hold NO titles of biblical scholar or training in missionary fields, yet YOU honor me with being able to walk the dusty roads with You. I LOVE where we have gone together and look forward to where we still have to travel. Keep me always Your humble servant. Don’t EVER let me “read my own press” and become boastful or proud. No matter where we go, please be my Leader always!