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7. Joshua Completes His Duties

October 2, 2009

Text:    Joshua 20:1-22:31

Key Verses:    Joshua 22:44-45

Outline:      I. Cities of Refuge                 Joshua 20:1-9

                         II. Cities for Levi                  Joshua 21:1-43

                        III. Promises Fulfilled       Joshua 21:44-45

                        IV. Mission Accomplished      Joshua 22:1-31

Context/Discussion/Comments:

     Now that the Promised Land has been divided, the Lord turns Joshua’s attention to assigning cities of refuge and cities for the Levites. The cities of refuge are to protect those who may have killed someone accidentally. They are to state their case before the elders at the gate and receive protection until they stand trial or the high priest dies and they can return home safely.

     Joshua appoints three cities as cities of refuge west of the Jordan River. They are Kedesh within Naphtali, Shechem in Ephraim, and Hebron in Judah. Three cities were previously appointed by Moses on the east side of the Jordan River. They were Bezer in Reuben, Ramoth in Gad, and Golan in Manasseh.

     Next the Levites approach Joshua, Eleazar, and the elders requesting their inheritance. There are three major clans of Levites; the Kohathites, the Gershonites, and the Merarites. The Kohathites received 23 towns, the Gershonites received 13 towns, and the Merarites received 12 towns.

     The Kohathites, who were descendents of Aaron, received 9 towns in Judah and Simeon including Hebron which was a refuge city and around which Caleb’s inheritance exists. They also received another 4 towns within Benjamin’s inheritance. The remaining Kohathites received 4 towns in Ephraim, including Shechem which was another refuge city, 4 towns in Dan, and 2 towns in the half tribe of Manasseh.

     The Gershonites were given 2 towns from Manasseh, 4 towns from Issachar, 4 towns from Asher, and 3 towns from Naphtali, one of which was Kedesh, the third city of refuge. The Mararites were given 4 towns in Zebulun, 4 towns in Reuben, and 4 towns in Gad.

     All 48 towns given to the Levites had pasturelands around them to support their livestock. Note that Jerusalem was not given to the Levites. Thus God fulfilled all His promises to Israel concerning the Promised Land.

     Next Joshua summons the fighting men of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh who were helping the other 9 1/2 tribes fight and conquer the land west of the Jordan River and commends them for keeping their promise to help their brothers. Joshua releases them to go home but also warns them to observe the Law and to love, obey, and serve God. Joshua blesses them and commands them to share their spoils with those left behind on the east side of the Jordan River as he sends them on home.

     These 2 1/2 tribes reach the Jordan River and build an altar on the west side of the river before crossing it. The tribes on the west side of the Jordan River learn of this altar, meet at Shiloh, and decide to war against their brothers. Cooler heads prevail and the leaders of the 9 1/2 tribes meet with the leaders of the 2 1/2 tribes but they still accuse them of being unfaithful to God and rebelling against Him. They cite what happened at Peor and with Achan and are concerned that God’s anger against the 2 1/2 tribes will include them. They even offer to give them some of their land west of the Jordan so they can all be together. The leaders of the 2 1/2 tribes set the record straight, telling the others that the altar does not represent rebellion against God or unfaithfulness to God. It isn’t even for sacrifices to God but strictly for a remembrance to future generations that the 2 1/2 tribes east of the Jordan River also belong with those on the west side of the Jordan River. It was built for the sake of unity, not separation. It is to be a witness that the Lord is God.

Lessons/Applications:

     1. God gives special consideration to those who minister full time for the Lord. They do not work the land but they work with the people. They are to sow God’s Word and be an example to the people. Their harvest is souls instead of grain. Therefore, we “grain farmers” are obligated to support them. See I Cor. 9:1-27.

     2. As ministers of God, we are to live and work among the people, encouraging them to remain faithful to God and grow in knowledge of Him.

     3. What God promises He fulfills. God is faithful to His People, those who place their faith in Him.

     4. Memorials are important reminders of the faith of those who went before us. Let us remember and not forget. Let us always be grateful to God for their faithfulness and obedience to His Will. Plan your memorial now. Don’t leave it to chance or to someone else.

     5. Some ministries end, some ministries begin, and some ministries continue forever. Regardless, our witness must always be:

                                                             The Lord is God.

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