Bible Readings for July 12th
In Joshua 16–17, the apportionment of the Promised Land to the tribes of Israel continues. In Joshua 15, Judah had received their inheritance, and now in Joshua 16–17, we read about the inheritance of the two half-tribes descended from Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim. While all of the other tribes are named after the direct descendants of Jacob, the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim are named after Jacob’s grandchildren. As you may recall, Jacob had adopted Joseph’s two sons as his own in order for Manasseh and Ephraim to each receive an entire portion of Jacob’s inheritance, rather than dividing Joseph’s single portion of Jacob’s inheritance (Gen. 48:5–7).
This story is behind the question of the two tribes of Joseph in Joshua 17:14: “Then the people of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, ‘Why have you given me but one lot and one portion as an inheritance, although I am a numerous people, since all along the LORD has blessed me?’” If we don’t know the backstory, we might read this and think the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim were simply being greedy and selfish, going behind the backs of the other tribes to ask for a special blessing. But in fact, the tribes of Joseph were asking for the double blessing they had originally been promised by Jacob himself.
Joshua’s response, however, is fascinating. Rather than simply giving the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh another, conquered portion of the land, Joshua points them to the land they have already been given and urges them to clear the forests in the hill country of Ephraim and to drive out the remaining Canaanites from those regions (Josh. 17:15, 18). But sadly, the tribes of Joseph do not finish the conquest and instead allow Canaanites to continue living in their land (Josh. 16:10, 17:12).
Brothers and sisters, through this story, Jesus calls us to complete the conquest. He has inherited all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18), but he must reign in order to put every enemy under his feet (1 Cor. 15:24–28). Toward this end, he has established his church on the earth to be the place where his reign and rule flourishes. In his church, Jesus is building his kingdom—a kingdom against which the gates of hell cannot prevail (Matt. 16:18).
But Jesus calls for the patient endurance of his saints (Rev. 14:12). Let us press on in the power of God’s Holy Spirit, armed with the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10–20), doing the work that our heavenly Father has called us to do as Jesus builds his kingdom on earth. Do not leave the conquest unfinished, but press on until the day that Jesus Christ appears with his army of saints to bring the war to its end.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.