Welcome to Expound, a verse by verse study of God's word. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God by explaining the word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
Let's pray together. Father, we now calm our hearts. We take every thought captive. We place intentionally our thoughts on you like we have in worship, but now on learning from you and hearing your voice through the reading, the exposition, and the application of your word, the scriptures to our lives.
Lord, some of us have grown up in church. We've been a part of maybe even this church for a long time. And anything, even something good, can become routine, and we immediately start tuning things out just because we've done them over and over again. But we're reminded that we are meeting with the living God, the one and only true God over the pages of the only true revelation of God in this world, the Bible. So Father we pray that you would make yourself known to us. Give us ears to hear, a mind to understand, hearts and lives to apply. In Jesus name, amen.
In Psalm 8, David, who was a shepherd spent a lot of his time looking up at the stars asking an important question. He said, when I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon, and the stars which you have ordained, what is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you would even visit him? David must have looked out at the Milky Way galaxy not knowing it would be called that, looking at that vast array of stars in the Judaian hill side when there was no light pollution, and he looked at that canopy of stars and he just got the idea of how small he was in the cosmic setting of the universe.
Why do you even think about us? What is man that you are mindful of him or the son of man that you would care to even visit him? I don't know if you ever think that way, if you ever think of yourself in relationship to your world. You and I, we are a few people of 7.3 billion other people that live on this sphere we call the earth. Now this earth is a planet, as you know. It's 8,000 miles in diameter, and it is rotating on its axis at about 1,000 miles per hour as it rotates. But then it is making a journey around the sun careening through space 45,000 miles per hour as it makes a 365 and a third day journey around the sun.
We're just one of those 7.3 billion other neighbors that live on that spherical dirt clod called the Earth. But the earth is small in relation to the universe. We have come to understand that. We understand that we are in a solar system that is in a small corner of the Milky Way galaxy. We have eight planets, some think nine that revolve around the sun. The sun is 93 million miles away from the Earth, and the sun compared to us is much larger than we are. We are 8,000 miles in diameter. The sun is 86,000 miles in diameter, and you could fit 1 million 200 thousand spheres the size of the Earth inside the sun.
But as you look out at the stars in our galaxy, you are seeing just a few of 100 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy. And take it a step further the Milky Way galaxy is only one of 100 billion other galaxies that exist. So now think of David's question. When I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers, the sun or the moon and the stars which you have ordained, what is man that you are mindful of him or the son of man that you would consider him? And yet, David in making that consideration also knows that God who made it all is intimately concerned with you to the details of your life.
He wrote another Psalm, Psalm 139 in which David said, your thoughts toward me are precious. Great is the sum of them. If I were to count them, they are more in number than the sand. Now, some of you might think, well, OK, God thinks about me, but what kind of things is God thinking of me. Good things. Jeremiah, the prophet, said to the people of Israel who sinned against God, God speaks through that prophets saying for I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace not of evil to give you a future and a hope.
Now why am I setting up our study in Joshua with that as a background? Simply this, here we get a little bit of a taste of the kind of detailed love that God has for his people. You see this section of the book of Joshua is regarded as well boring by a great number of people. They like Joshua, but when they get to this section of Joshua when it's that city and this city and this tribe and that tribe, and here's the border and there's the border, it's like dude you lost me. Who cares. Well, obviously God does.
And you say, well, I don't care. You wouldn't care unless your name is in it. Your tribe, your family, the city you live in is in it, and for lots of people in Israel it showed them God really is concerned. He is a God who loves people with what is called a covenant love. The Hebrew word chesed, which is an abiding love based on a covenant, and it's a detailed love.
So we have Joshua doling out the land to the tribes. We have already seen a few of them, but there are seven left. And we're not going to go through all the details of every border of every city of every village, but we're going to make some summaries as we go along. Chapter 18 verse 1, "now the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh." Please notice that word, that name, that city, Shiloh. "And set up the tabernacle of meeting." please note that. You remember that from the earlier studies in the first five books of Moses.
"And the land was subdued before them." Shiloh was on a hill in the tribal allotment of Ephraim. It is about 20 miles north of Jerusalem, and just a few miles north of the city of Bethel where Jacob laid his head at night when he saw the vision of the angels of God descending and ascending. He called it the house of God, Bethel. This is where God hangs out. I had a vision of that last night.
So they're on a hill. The Tabernacle is set up. The Tabernacle that they set up through the wilderness is now in its first permanent location within the confines of the land God gave them. And it will be there for the next 369 years. It will become the center of worship, the center of the national community. Before it goes to Jerusalem, it is at Shiloh right in the middle of the land.
OK, something to make a note of. The headquarters was up to this point once they crossed the Jordan River in a little place, do you remember the name of it? I'm testing you now. Gilgal, that's the name of it. Gilgal was in that desert region just to the east of Jericho. Right in the plains of Jericho as you cross the Jordan River in that flat area, that's where they camp. But now they're moving the community, the center to Shiloh. Why? Well, this isn't the place the Tabernacle's going to stand permanently, just 369 years. It's not the place God has chosen to put his name, as Moses said. That will be Jerusalem, we will find out.
But probably they move it from the flat land, one of the lowest places in the world, up to Shiloh probably for military reasons. It's elevated. You get a good view of anybody coming your way. So the center of the worship of Israel takes place now in Shiloh and will be for some years to come. The problem with Shiloh today is you don't go there on a tour. I'd love to take you there on a tour, but it's that contested area. It's not safe for tourists unless you take a very small group with a special tour guide.
Last time, I was there which was a couple of years ago, I saw a car that was a suicide bomber up by the wall all black in flames, scorched wall. So I thought this is why we don't take tours to this area. But I do remember my first visit to Shiloh. I always wanted to go to that central area of Bethel and Shiloh and where the Tabernacle stood, but my tour guide said you can't go there. So we were in Galilee, and our tours always followed the route. You end-- or you start on the Mediterranean Sea on the Western coast of Israel. You go up and see Galilee for a few days, then you take the bus straight down the Jordan Valley to Jerusalem.
I told my tour guide, hey, I'll meet you in Jerusalem. He said, what do you mean you'll meet me in Jerusalem? I said I'll meet you in Jerusalem. I'm going to rent a car and drive down there. So I didn't tell him, but my plan was to go through this contested area, Shiloh. I wanted to see it. So knowing that it was dangerous, I decided to pick up-- there's always hitchhiking soldiers in Israel, and I love to pick them up and take them where they want to go, because they're standing by the side of the road looking for a ride. And they always carry a nice machine gun with them.
So before I entered that land, I picked one up, and I said, look, here's the reason I'm picking you up. I want you to go to where you want to go, but I need protection. I may need protection. Do you mind taking a little bit of a Detroit. And he goes, no. No problem. So I got to scope out the land and go there and see it, and then meet the group in Jerusalem. I don't know why I shared that, but it comes to my mind.
Now, notice what it says in verse 1. It says the tabernacle was set up. The tabernacle of meeting was there. I can't tell you enough times how important the Tabernacle is. We studied it, and we're not going to go rehash it. But let me just remind you back in Exodus chapter 25 after the children of Israel spoiled the Egyptians when they came out of Egypt across-- through the Red Sea. They spoiled the Egyptians. They took from them as God told them to, and the Egyptians gave it to them. Take it. it's yours. Get out of here.
The reason being is God took or received I should say a very important offering. He took an offering from them so that with the proceeds of the offering they could build a tabernacle. Now you say, well, the Tabernacle couldn't cost much. It was cloth. It was a portable structure. How much could cost? Well, interesting that you asked that question, because if you were to tally up just the gold, silver, bronze, and ornate hangings that was in the Tabernacle, it would cost today to rebuild the Tabernacle, guess how much, $50 to $55 million dollars.
The gold, the silver, the bronze that was in that tabernacle alone, and that was a portable structure they carried through the wilderness, and this is the first time it is there. Now, why is it tabernacle such a big deal, and it is a big deal? The Tabernacle occupies more biblical real estate, I mean, words in chapters than any other single subject in scripture. Example, the creation of the world occupies two chapters. That's a significant event, right. The Tabernacle occupies 50 chapters.
You say, well, why? Why would it? Well, obviously, it's important. Why would it be important? Because in stepping into the Tabernacle, you are stepping into a model of something. Do you know what it is? It's a model of heaven. According to the writer of Hebrews in a few different places, but my mind goes to Hebrews 9, it says the earthly sanctuary, the tabernacle was a copy of the true sanctuary in heaven. So somehow, probably just in orientation, the tabernacle was a model. So God gave very specific detail on how it was to be built, and it becomes the center of life for the community of the children of Israel. So one of the first things they do is they set it up.
Verse two, "but there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes which had not yet received their inheritance. Then Joshua said to the children of Israel how long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers has given you." It's an interesting question. It seems that Joshua expected a certain amount of incentive once they were in the land, a certain amount of personal tribal incentive to go occupy the land, to go take it, to walk through it, and to occupy it. But it seems like you have seven tribes standing around with their hands in their pockets, kind of, just going, well, like, now what? Like, what about us?
So he, kind of, says, how long are you guys just going to stand around? We've got to get this thing done. It's an interesting thing about the land they occupied. Sort of like a gift, if I give you a present, it's one thing for me to give you the present. It's another thing for you to unwrap the present. God gave them the land. It was a free gift. God said, the land is mine. I'm giving it to you. I'm going to dispossess the people from it. It is a covenant gift to you, but you, you children of Israel, you have to unwrap it. How do you unwrap it? You walk through it. You settle it.
You remember the promise in Joshua chapter one. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread on I have given to you. So you've got to tread on it. You got to walk on it. You only occupy whatever you walk on, whatever you stand on. If I were to ask you, what do you do with God's promises? Some of you would answer I memorized them. Oh, nice. Good for you. I'm glad. You're word I've hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you. Good move.
Some others might boast and say I underline them in yellow and orange and green. I have a color coded system for all the promises of God. Good for you. But I hope somewhere down the line you say I actually use them. I live by them. I apply them to my life. I walk in them. They are my bread. Charles Spurgeon-- this is one of the first things I ever read that he wrote when I was a brand new Christian. Charles Spurgeon said, some Christians as to the river of experience are only up to their ankles. Others Wade in the stream up to their knees. A few others find it breast high, and a few, oh, how few find it a river to swim in, the bottom of which they cannot touch.
What are you like when it comes to God's promises, God's truth for you? Do you just, sort of, get in and wade to your ankles? Oh, this is nice, kind of, cool. I got my toes wet. Or do you go up to your knees, or do you just plunge in? You take the plunge, man. You can't find a bottom to it. You're all in. Joshua's, sort of, saying that to them. Jump in. Dive in. Unwrap the gift. Walk through the land. How long will you neglect to go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers has given you?
Pick out-- verse four, "pick out from among you three men for each tribe, and I will send them. They shall rise and go through the land, survey it according to their inheritance, and come back to me, and they shall divide it into seven parts. Judah shall remain in their territory on the south. The house of Joseph shall remain in their territory on the north. You shall survey the land in seven parts and bring the survey here to me that I may cast lots for you before the Lord, our God.
But the Levites have no part among the priesthood-- or among you-- for the priesthood of the Lord is their inheritance, and Gad, Reuben, half tribe of Manasseh have received their inheritance beyond the Jordan on the east, which Moses, the servant of the Lord, gave them. Then the men arose to go away, and Joshua charged those who went to survey the land saying go, walk through the land, survey it. And come back to me that I may cast lots for you here before the Lord."
Notice that, because I don't want you to get the idea that, well, they're just, sort of, like, throwing dice. People, kind of, read that into the casting of lots. You just, sort of, like tossing dice. Oh, OK, well, you get this part. It's before the Lord.
In Shiloh, verse nine, "so the men went, passed through the land, and wrote the survey in a book in seven parts by cities, and they came to Joshua at the camp in Shiloh. Then Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the Lord, and there Joshua divided the land to the children of Israel according to their division." So 21 surveyors were to go to seven parts of the land and bring back a geographical and topographical description of the land. Lots would be cast. Why lots? Because that's what God said to do in previous books through Moses. You will cast lots.
What are lots? We're not quite sure. Some believe it was those stones that the high priest had, the urim and the thummim, the black and white stone. Others believed they were just stones with markings on it or pieces of wood that are different lengths, whatever. Now when you read that and when you hear that, you might think, well, that's, kind of, a weird way to discern the will of God. Yes, unless it's before the Lord.
Here it is before the Lord, and what does it say in Proverbs 16? The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. So evidently God superintended this exercise, so that they went, they settled precisely where God wanted them to do it. The casting of lots will continue even into the New Testament when they cast lots after Judas killed himself. They cast lots for the next succeeding apostle. But after the Holy Spirit comes upon them at Pentecost there never is a single incident in which God's people cast lots. No need. The Holy Spirit living and abiding in you is your guide, and Jesus said, the spirit of God will guide you into all truth.
They cast lots. Verse 11, "now the lot of the tribe of the children of Benjamin came up according to their families, and the territory of their lot came out between the children of Judah and the children of Joseph." So from verse 11 down is the tribal allotment with the cities, with the borders for the tribe of Benjamin. Now Benjamin is a small tribe or was a small tribe. It's just to the north of Judah. And, interestingly, it's between Judah and the tribe of Ephraim. I think that's interesting, because as time goes on a rivalry breaks out between Ephraim and Judah.
Once the kingdom splits in 1 Kings chapter 12, once that splits, once that happens there's this rivalry, so the Benjamine-- Benjamine-- the Benjamite tribe, the Benjamites become sort of a buffer between these two. Go down to verse 28 where all the cities are given, and it says, "Zelah Haeleph, Jebuse." Note what it says in parentheses, which is Jerusalem. That's included in their allotment. "Gibiah and Kiriath, the 14 cities with their villages. This was the inheritance of the children of Benjamin according to their families."
So Benjamin is a small tribe, but even though it's small, there are significant cities within it. Jericho is in the tribe of Benjamin. The city of AI, spelled AI is in the tribe of Benjamin. Gideon is in the tribe of Benjamin and Jerusalem. I mentioned that a couple of weeks ago. Jerusalem is shared by Judah and Benjamin. The border goes right there at the valley of Hinnom. So this very important city that used to be called Jebuse, because it was occupied by Jebusites. Very good, and they were called Jebusites, because the name of their city was Jebuse. Right, you got it. So that was the previous city before David took it over, and it was called Jerusalem, the City of Peace.
Now an interesting thing about Benjamin, they become men of war. They become known as people of valor. Great men who wax valiant and strong in battle. And I bring that up to you, because on his death bed Jacob goes through all the tribes, right, all of the sons, and he gets to Benjamin, and he says, Benjamin is a ravenous wolf. In the daytime, he'll devour his prey. At the nighttime, he'll divide his spoil.
So it's interesting that the book of judges will highlight the fact that many warriors come from the tribe of Benjamin, and a man of power and valor is the man called Kish. Does that ring a bell? Kish is the father of King Saul. The first King of Israel is a Benjamite. Another Saul who is probably named after the King was a Benjamite, Saul of Tarsus. When he gives his testimony, his background in Philippians he says, I'm a Hebrew of the Hebrews of the tribe of Benjamin. So, sort of, like bragging rights. A small tribe, but a very brave and a tribe known for their valor.
Now, something else you need to know. Eventually, the kingdom is going to split. You know that, right? The kingdom is going to divide into two kingdoms, the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom. How many tribes are going to be in the northern kingdom, anybody? 10 tribes. How many in the south? Two. Good math. OK, so two tribes. The two tribes will be Judah and Benjamin, because they share Jerusalem. So when this split happens, 10 tribes go to the northern kingdom under a guy named Jeroboam, 1 King 12, and then the southern will be loyal to the house of David.
Chapter 19 verse 1, "the second lot came out for Siemian, for the tribe of the children of Siemian according to their families, and their inheritance was within the inheritance of the children of Judah." Now, this is, sort of, wild, because the tribe of Judah is given a huge allotment of land down south. And then Siemian is placed right in the middle of that. So all around Siemian-- not next to it, but around them is the tribe of Judah. They get the southern, I mean way, way down south in the desert area, Beersheba, the wilderness area. That's where they get way, way down south.
Go down to verse 9, "the inheritance of the children of Siemian was included in the share of the children of Judah for the share of the children of Judah was too much for them. Therefore, the children of Siemian had their inheritance within the inheritance of that people." Can I jog your memory for a minute. Back in Genesis 34 there was an incident between two sons of Jacob over a sister they had named Dinah. Dinah had problems with the people of Shechem. A guy, sort of, forcibly laid with her, and her brothers found out and they were upset.
So two of them exacted revenge. Do you remember who they were? Siemian is one of them, and Levi was the other. Slaughtered them. So by the time Jacob on his deathbed gets to these two characters listen to what he writes about them. He says about these two brothers, Siemian and Levi are brothers. "Instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place. Let not my soul enter their counsel. Let not my honor be United to their assembly. For in their anger, they slew a man, and in their will, there self-will they ham strung an ox. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce, and their wrath, for it is cruel." Now listen to the prediction. "I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel."
It's interesting that when Joshua gives them the land, they get land in the middle, right in the center of Judah. So they're surrounded. And the tribe of Levi-- this is before the priesthood was even developed-- they get scattered in levitical cities peppered throughout the whole land. They don't get their own land allotment. Now this will turn out to be a blessing, but right now in Genesis it's seen as a curse. So Judah has too much land, because the tribe didn't have that many people, so Siemian is given a portion of their land right in the middle of their tribe. It split up. It's divided.
Now there's a problem that came to my mind. I'd never really noticed it until this-- until the last couple of days when I was studying this. Later on when the kingdom splits, there are 10 tribes up north and two down south. OK, so if I'm looking at the map, and I see where Siemian settled right in the middle of Judah, like, a polka dot right in the middle of the land, that leaves three tribes down south, instead of two. So what happens to Siemian?
What happens is it seems that they didn't like being surrounded by Judah, and so they migrated north. So when the split came between Jeroboam and Rehoboam-- Rehoboam was the son of Solomon who overtaxed the people. The people rebelled under Jeroboam-- It would seem that even though geographically Siemian was part of Judah, ideologically they were not. So they migrate to the north, and they settle in the northern kingdom of Ephraim. And we see them emerge in 2 Chronicles chapter 15. You can write that down. You can look at it later. If you can remember it, great. I admire you.
But in 2 Chronicles 15 when King Asa of Jerusalem assembles the people of Ephraim and the people of Benjamin, it says that there were Siemianites who had settled among them. Not a good move. Stupid move. They should have been loyal to David's house. Why? Because the Assyrians are going to come down in 722 BC, 150 years before Judah goes into captivity with the Babylonians and take the 10 northern tribes, including Siemian who moved to Assyria decimating the country. So that's sort of a nutshell of the history of Siemian.
Now verse-- I already read verse 9, verse 10, "the third lot came out for the children of Zebulon according to their families, and the border of their inheritance was as far as Sarid." There border blah, blah, blah down to verse 16. "This was the inheritance of the children of Zebulon according to their families." These cities that I didn't read-- If you want to have a fun exercise in trying to pronounce them, have fun. "According to their families, these cities with their villages."
Now Zebulon, if you look at a tribal map, was landlocked. They don't have any seacoast at all, which is interesting because the prophecy given by Jacob on his deathbed for this tribe is that they will become a haven for ships. How do you do that, if you're not located by the sea? Well, even though most tribal maps don't show it, the geographical, topographical descriptions do show that there was one little strip of land attached to the Mediterranean Sea.
So that prophecy eventually did become fulfilled, but the tribe described in these verses on down to verse 16, the tribe of Zebulon is just north of Megiddo. if you've been to Israel, you've been to Megiddo. It's where the valley of Armageddon is named after. So north of Megiddo and west of Mount Carmel-- east of Mount Carmel, excuse me. So how many of you have been to Israel? Raise your hands proudly. Oh, good, so this-- you'll find this meaningful.
When we go to Nazareth, which by the way is in the tribe of Zebulon. That's his most notable village is where Jesus grew up in that tribe, and you stand on a mountain we call Mount Precipice. Do you remember Mount Precipice? Remember that commanding view of Nazareth? As you look out, and especially toward your left, you see the tribe-- the tribal allotment of Zebulon, which takes us to the next tribe. Because if you look to the right, you see the next tribe.
It says in verse 17, "the fourth lot came to Issachar. For the children of Issachar according to their families." and And they are mentioned and the cities are mentioned afterwards. Now Issachar gets one of the most beautiful places you've ever seen, The valley of Jezreel. The valley of Jezreel is the breadbasket of that entire part of the world.
In fact, if I were, like, Siemian or Benjamin or any of these guys and I saw what those guys got, people of Issachar go man I wish I was in that tribe. I want what they got. They get the tribe of Issachar. They get the valley of Jezreel. It's huge. It's fertile. You can grow anything there. Best farms in Israel today are in the valley of Israel. But if you say that's where I want to be-- and so often that is human nature, I want what I don't have. I wish I had a different allotment in life-- understand the value of Jezreel goes by another name, and that's the valley of Armageddon.
The valley of Jezreel will become and has become, as I look back in history, a place where most of the notable battles took place. Battles of civilizations took place there. All the way up to Napoleon Bonaparte. All the way up to the 1900s battles were taking place in the valley of Armageddon. And the greatest battle of all will take place there in the future. So just let that be a lesson when you look at other people and you see what they have or what they get to do or where they get to go or what they get to have and you say, man, I wish I had that or I wish I had that tribal allotment, be careful, because you don't know what the future holds. God has given us the future of this tribe and that valley.
Go all the way down now to verse 24, "the fifth lot came out for the tribe of the children of Asher according to their families." Now I love what Asher got. They get a huge chunk of the Mediterranean beach and coast land all the way up to Tyre and Sidon. And as beautiful as that was, they're in a position where they're going to be attacked by Phoenicians and by Philistines, because the Philistines came from islands in the sea before they settle down in Israel. Tried to go to Egypt, were kicked out, and they settled down in the southern part of Israel.
But so they have to fend off those enemies, and honestly, you don't really hear much about Asher at all. They didn't, like, do a whole lot. They really weren't all that significant. Not a whole lot of people go I'm an Asherite. People go so what. That's like way in the heck up there. Nobody cares.
Until you get to the New Testament. And there was an old lady 84 years of age from the tribe of Asher. Her name was Anna. Luke Chapter 2, she's in the temple every day. She's worshipping the Lord, and one day she sees a couple come into the temple with a little baby. Joseph and Mary carrying Jesus, and she knows that is Israel's messiah and she was one of the first ones in scripture to proclaim and preach Jesus in the temple. Ana the Asherite, no one notable but her. Pretty good pedigree.
Go down to verse 32. "The sixth lot came to the children of Naftli. For the children of Naftli according to their families." Now Naftli is the Galilee region, the Sea of Galilee and north of the Sea of Galilee. Capernaum is in this tribal allotment of Naftli. Kayna of Galilee where Jesus did the first miracle is in the tribal allotment of Naftli as well. The tribal allotment that they got way, way up North, Sea of Galilee and above, will be called the Galilee of the Gentiles. Why will it be called that? Because when other nations attack them from the north, they got the brunt of it.
Galilee was attacked by Assyrians, by Syrians, by Babylonians, that's the route that they took. So they took a lot of the brunt of the attack on the west side of the Jordan River, the galley of the Gentiles. And also a lot of the Gentiles settled there. Now what's significant about this tribe, the Galilee of the Gentiles, the Naftli is it is the subject of a messianic prophecy.
In Isaiah chapter 9-- a chapter you know well. Every Christmas somebody brings it out-- says this, "nevertheless, the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed. As when at first he lightly esteemed the land of Zebulon and the land of Naftli, and afterward more heavily oppressed her by the way of the sea beyond the Jordan in the Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
Those who have dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. The government will be upon his shoulder. His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Might God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace, there will be no end."
So this tribe that suffered so many attacks from Syrians and Assyrians, etc. will experience the deliverance as the messiah is sent to this region. And where does Jesus set up his headquarters? In this tribe, tribe of Naftli, Capernaum, right there on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Now down to verse 40, "the seventh lot came out for the tribe of the children of Dan according to their families. The territory of their inheritance was Zorah, Eshtaol, Ir-shemesh."
The tribe of Dan is given an area that is called the Philistine country. It's down in the south. If you want to know the problems that this tribe had with the Philistines, read the book of Judges. There's a guy who was a Danite from this area named Samson. Samson fights the Philistines. You know the stories. You learned them from Sunday school. He was a Danite.
The Danites, because the Philistines never occupied the land, so eventually they migrate to the north, way up north, and when we take you to Israel, we take you one day to a place called Tel-Dan. That's where the Danites moved. The Philistines were like, no, we don't want to mess with those dudes, so they just went way up north to a quiet little area called Laish. They took over that area, and they settled there. So that becomes the tribe of Dan. And by the way, what river is the main river in Israel? The Jordan. You know what Jordan means? Yardan means it descends from Dan. The Jordan River starts in the area of the tribe where Dan moved up to. That's where the Jordan River began.
So they were given a region down south. They couldn't hang with it, so they split way up north. Now verse 49 will conclude this chapter. "when they had made an end-- this is all seven tribes now. Guys stand around with their hands in their pockets are now settled-- when they made an end to dividing the land as an inheritance, according to their borders, the children of Israel gave an inheritance among them to Joshua, the son of Nun. Remember, Caleb got his own inheritance.
Now, Joshua their leader is the last to get one. Ever the servant, Joshua makes sure everybody gets their place. Last of all, he gets his. And where does he get? Joshua with the son of Nun we're pronouncing it. Remember, not Nun. We don't want to get in trouble with our Catholic friends. So we are giving it the Hebrew pronunciation Nun. According to the word of the Lord, they gave him the city which he asked for. He said, well, what city would that be? I mean, he's the leader. He's going to get something really cheri, really cool, like the best place in the land. Well, he asked for Timnath-Serah.
You go where is that exactly? Exactly. You've never heard of it. "In the mountains of Ephraim, and he built the city and dwelt in it." if I were to take you to where this is, you'd shake your head. You'd go he wanted that? That's ugly. It's barren. Nothing is growing. There it's wilderness. It's just-- you look at it and go, huh, that's what he asked for. Why not the beach? Why not the Sea of Galilee? Why that place? Well, the place itself Timnath-Serah means abundant provision. That's how he saw it. It's part of his tribe, his allotment.
He's going to go where the lot fell to his tribe and he's going to take that little spot and he's going to settle there, abundant provision. It's, sort of, like Abraham and Lot. Abraham could have said Lot, I'm Abraham and you're not. Your Lot, not me. I, your uncle, I get the best portion of the land. I get to choose first. No, he said, Lot, you choose where you and your family are to settle. I'll take whatever's left. If you go there, I'll go there. If you go there, I'll go there. You just pick the best, and so he chose the well-water plane of the Jordan. That's where he moved toward. And Abraham took the left over.
So it's interesting the Joshua, this incredible man of God and this leader, chooses this spot. "These were the inheritance," verse 51, "which Elizarbe, the priest, Joshua, the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel divided as an inheritance by lot in Shiloh before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meetings, so they made an end of dividing the country." so these are-- these chapters that we have read are the allotments of the 12 tribes of Israel.
About 3/4 of your Bible have something to do with the tribes of Israel. Whether it's God's covenant to them or one of his many covenants to them or where they lived or whatever, but 3/4 of your Bible is concerning the tribes of Israel. Now the tribes of Israel have been dispersed. They were taken into captivity, two captivities, Assyrian, Babylonian. But fast forward all the way to the future. Book of Revelation, the angel is dispatched by God to mark on the foreheads 144,000 of the tribes of Israel. 12,000 members of each tribe.
It's significant that they show up in the end time, because they come to faith in Christ. 144,000 Jewish people from the 12 tribes of Israel in the future are going to believe that Jesus is their messiah. How will they come to faith? Well, there will be two witnesses that show up in the end times, tribulation period. We don't exactly know who they are. There's lots of guesses. But through their witness, through their miracles, through their testimony, 144,000 Jewish people will believe that Jesus is the messiah.
Then it goes from two witnesses to 144,002 witnesses. Now, I don't know if you've ever seen or been around a Jewish person who has been converted to Christ, but man they are-- they make it known. They're unafraid. They're bold. They're on fire. Imagine 144,000 messianic Jews turn loose during the tribulation period.
That's how I believe, because what follows that in the Book of Revelation is this multitude that no one can number of Gentiles who it would seem come to faith in Christ through the witness of 144,000 from 12 tribes of Israel who came to faith, because of two witnesses. That is coming in the end of time. So just think of what 12 messianic Jews did, 12 disciples, 12 apostles in turning the world upside down. Really 11, because one defected. Imagine 144,000.
OK, we have plenty of time to cover the next chapters. There's only nine verses, and I won't even cover all of them. Verse 1, "the Lord also spoke to Joshua saying speak to the children of Israel saying appoint for yourselves cities of refuge of which I spoke to you through Moses. That the slayer who kills a person accidentally or unintentionally may flee their, and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood. When he flees to one of those cities and stands at the entrance of the gate of the city and declares his case in the hearing of the elders of that city, they shall take him into the city as one of them and give him a place that he may dwell among them.
Then if the avenger of blood pursues him, they shall not deliver the slayer into his hand, because he struck his neighbor unintentionally. He did not hate him beforehand. And he will dwell in that city until he stands before the congregation for judgment. And until the death of the one who is the high priest in those days, then the slayer may return and come to his own city and his own house to the city from which he fled."
In those days, there were no prisons. Justice was meted out swiftly, and it was typically street justice. In that part of the world, there still is a designated person from many families or tribal areas called the avenger of blood. If somebody-- if you kill somebody in my family, I will designate somebody in my family to be the avenger of blood and kill you or somebody in your family. It still works that way, unfortunately.
A city of refuge was a place for judicial asylum, so you could get a fair trial. If you accidentally killed someone, you didn't hate them, but you, like, the ax slipped and you hit them in the head, and he fractured his skull and died, oops, you run. You run to a city of refuge. And the way they were positioned, there are six cities of refuge total, three on the west side, the on the east side of the Jordan River. They were positioned in such a way north, middle, and south, north, middle, and south, so that you were no more than one day's journey away no matter where you live from a city of refuge.
You would go there. You would be given asylum. Your case would be heard. If you did intentionally kill him-- it wasn't for capital cases-- you weren't protected. If you did it unintentionally, you could live there. And that's where you would live. You would be in a protected state, if you were innocent. Now if you decide, well, I'm tired of this place. I'm going to go out. Well, then who knows what might happen? There might be somebody waiting for you, and you take your life in your own hands and they could kill you and that's it. Your life's over.
So the cities are mentioned all the way down to verse 9. Now we have plenty of time actually for the next chapter, because we have eight minutes, don't we? So let's tackle it, so that we can get done with this. Verse 1 chapter 21, "then the heads of the fathers of the house of the levites came near to Elizarbe the priest to Joshua the son of Nun and to the heads of the fathers house of the tribes of the children of Israel, and they spoke to them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan saying, the Lord commanded true Moses to give us cities to dwell in with their common lands for our livestock."
So the children of Israel gave to the levites from their inheritance the commandment-- at the commandment of the Lord these cities and their common land. So here's the deal, they don't get a big plot of land, a tribal allotment. Remember God says, I will divide them and scatter them in Israel, Siemian and Levi. 48 cities are designated as levitical cities. They're given these enclaves to live in, and they're given common lands.
What does that mean? It means that if you were to stand at the city wall, you would measure 500 yards in that direction, 500 yards in that direction, that direction, that direction. That would be the common land or the farmland. You could grow crops. You and your family could hang out, livestock crops. You would be taken care of within whatever tribe you're in.
According to one source, the levitical cities were never more than 10 miles away from anybody living anywhere. So what began as a curse for Siemian and Levi has become a blessing for the people of Israel. As now peppered true out all of the population on both sides of the river are the levites, the teachers of the law, the godly examples, the people you can consult with, counsel with are there in the midst as was spoken by Moses.
So all the way over the cities are given, the common lands are given. Verse 41, again, have fun reading all the names. Have at it. "All the cities," verse 41, "of the levites within their possession of the children of Israel were 48 cities with their common lands. Every one of these cities had its common land surrounding it, thus were all these cities. So the Lord gave to Israel all the land which he had sworn to give their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it." Notice that. They possessed their possessions. They unwrapped the package. The soles of their feet actually tread on these places, and they settled down in these places.
"The Lord gave them rest all around according to all that he had sworn to their fathers." I love that. "And not a man of all their enemies stood against them. The Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. Not a word failed. Please notice that. And if you're going to underline a promise, that's one to underline. If you're going to memorize a good verse in this chapter, that's a good one. "Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass."
Any notable people come to your mind who were levites besides Levi. Moses, he was a Levi. He was trained to be next in line for the throne of Egypt, but Hebrews said he considered all the riches of Egypt to not be esteemed, and he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God. He was a levite. His brother Aaron who became the high priest was a levite. Eli in 1 Samuel, a levite. Ezra, the scribe partnered later on with Nehemiah in resettling Jerusalem, a levite, and the most notable Levi of all, J the B, John the Baptist. You got it.
John the Baptist, Jesus said was the greatest man ever born. So don't feel so sorry. Oh, the poor levites, they didn't get their own land. They got the Lord of the land. They got the Lord of the land. They had a covenant of intimacy and service with the Lord. better than all earthly wealth. The Lord was their inheritance. John the Baptist, a levite, greatest man who was ever born.
So I want to close on that thought. Perhaps, if you were a levite you could say, you know my forefather Levi really messed up royally, and because he did that, the prophecy was that we would be scattered in Israel all because of his sin. Some of you look back to things your parents did or grandparents did. Maybe you're suffering repercussions of choices they made, and my poor lot in life. I don't have what I could have had or been what I could have been, and I was mistreated. Perhaps, but now it's time to see the cursing as becoming a blessing.
Now it's time to let the Lord get a hold of you, let the Lord be your inheritance, and watch what God can do in you and through you right where you're at. You can be a blessing to people like the levites were a blessing in those 48 cities scattered throughout the land. So we covered a lot of territory tonight, which let's us get toward the end of the book of Joshua where it really is wonderful and meaty, and, perhaps, a little more engaging for some. Read ahead in chapter 22, 23, and 24, and then after the book of Joshua, of course, we're going to go to the book of Acts. That'll be our next study on Wednesday night.
Next week, we're going to be outside, so what I'm going to do next week is pull something out of what I touched on tonight as a devotional for our communion outdoors. It's going to be a blast next week. Let's have a word of prayer.
Father, we want to just thank you for the loftiness of thought that we have been able to consider tonight. All of those cities and those people that never enter into daily conversation, that to the average reader would consider obscure, not relevant, certainly out dated, but you in your wisdom decided they should be included, perhaps, if just to demonstrate how detailed you are when you make a covenant with somebody. We marvel at that.
When we consider the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have ordained we could ask what David asked, what is man that you're mindful of him, or the son of man that you would consider him? And yet how precious are your thoughts toward us. How great is the sum of them, not only thoughts, but good thoughts to give us a future and a hope. No matter what our fathers or mothers or grandparents or aunts or uncles or whatever our background, you can bless us and you can make us a blessing to others.
I pray, Lord, that we would raise up our head from where we are and look to the future and imagine the possibility of a God who measures the heavens with the span of his fingers can do through ordinary clay like us. You did it with levites, like Moses, like Aaron, like Ezra, like John the Baptist. Would you do it with us as we make you our inheritance? We ask it in Jesus name, and everybody who agreed said.
For more resources from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig, visit Calvaryabq.org.