Joshua 17: Blessing and Obedience

Read: Joshua 17: Blessing and Obedience

Joshua 17 follows much of the same pattern as Joshua 15 and Joshua 16 – it talks about the dividing of the land for the inheritance of the people and makes some commentary on the particular inheritances. In Chapter 17, Joshua notes three things of interest. First, some of the descendants of Manasseh – one of Joseph’s sons – were able to receive an inheritance along with the sons. Typically, the inheritance was passed to the sons but in case the inheritances was passed to the daughters because there were no sons. Second, the tribe of Manasseh thought of themselves as blessed because they were the descendants of Joseph and also to numerous for the land allotted to them. Joshua said that could conquer the forest country that is part of modern-day Lebanon and take it for their inheritance. Third, it notes that when Israel became “strong enough” they subdued many of the cities and made them forced labor.

The language used in Joshua 17 seems to note a particular urgency of the tribe of Manasseh to receive their inheritance. They had been blessed by God through Joseph, no doubt. And for this reason, they have a particular boldness about them when they come asking for the inheritance for the daughters of Manasseh, citing the episode from Numbers 36 where Moses receive d instruction from God. Likewise, they say they are blessed and to numerous for the allotted inheritance in the hill country, so Joshua instructs them to take the forest land in what is modern-day Lebanon. But even as mighty in number and blessing as they were, they could not drive out a few Canaanite cities. And when they did, they disobeyed the order to drive them out anyways by making the Canaanites vassals. When the Israelites trusted God and obeyed his commands, God did the fighting for them. Apparently, Israel wanted the blessings of God but at the same time stopped obeying him.

The condition of Israel had still exists very much today: people come to God wanting to receive blessings from God but do not want to obey him. God gave the ultimate blessing through Jesus’ death and resurrection – the gift of eternal life by faith. For many, they want to receive this blessing and continue to live life as they did before they received it or receive it and forget about it. The appropriate response, however, should not be one of disobedience. Rather, God’s blessings should compel those who receive them to obey. Christians love God because he loved first (1 John 4:19). The ones who love Jesus show they do this by obeying his commandments. A truly blessed life is one that receives the general blessings of God and the blessings of obedience. This is what God had in mind for Israel and what he still has in mind for all those who follow him now.

Lord, I am most blessed when I obey you! Help me to do just this!