Scripture: Joshua 22:1-9
Studies in Joshua #31
The events recorded here occur when the land has been conquered and the tribes have been allocated their inheritances. A number of years have passed since their entrance to Canaan. The tribes which had inherited on the other side of Jordan are now to return home, their duties completed.
Their obedience is commended by Joshua. God’s people should ever be concerned as to whether or not what they do is in fact commendable. Cp 1 Cor 11:2, 17, 22, 2 Cor 10:12. We must live as those who will be called to account for our actions, James 2:12.
I COMMENDATION COMES.
- When their own work is finished. These men had crossed Jordan with the other tribes and been prominent in the battles of the past years, 4:12-13. All these years there has been no specific mention of them whatever in the battles fought. Until now. Various levels of obedience are especially noted by Joshua:
- Moses, v2. He had given the original instruction to these tribes. Moses has been dead for some years at this point, yet they had continued faithful to the instruction he had given. At this point the relevant instructions from Moses are to be found in the Scripture he had written. Even when the man who gave the word dies, his word is to be obeyed.
- Joshua, v2. The implementation of Moses’ instructions fell to Joshua. He is the currently serving leader in Israel. Despite the change in administration they had continued to obey. Sometimes God’s people have issues with obeying the men God has raised up—not these men.
- The Lord, v3. Beyond the human authority, they had obeyed God. This is the most important feature of their obedience. They had served the Lord their God.
- When God’s people have entered into rest, v4. This was the terms of their original possession of the territory to the east of Jordan. Cp Num 32:16-22. There is an illustration here of the service of the Christian. We must continue to labour in the battle and not expect a ‘well done’ till our work is over and all the people of God have inherited their possession in Christ. Cp Heb 11:39-12:1
- The commendation involves a blessing, v6. These men receive a blessing from Joshua at Shiloh, v9. Being the seat of the Tabernacle, the clear inference is that this is the pronounced blessing of God. Blessed > ‘to kneel’. Blessing is always the favour of God that is obtained by humbling ourselves before Him. They had humbled themselves before God and leave blessed by Him.
II WITH THEIR COMMENDATION COMES A FULL ENJOYMENT OF THEIR OWN POSSESSIONS.
- They return to their own portion. By putting God first they secured their own best interests! Cp Matt 6:33. Now they return to what had been left those years before for the greater collective good of God’s people.
- They return greatly enriched by the spoils of victory, v8. No man is a loser by putting God first! They return with the fruits of labour and war.
III A TIMELY WARNING GIVEN.
- A call to vigilance, v5. Joshua has a word of warning here for these men. Past faithfulness does not preclude such an urgent warning. Cp 1 Cor 10:12. Here is the danger of commendation in this life—it tends to make us careless!
- Prescribed duties, v5. There are a number of matters that Joshua emphasizes here that cannot be relaxed even when there has already been commendation. Obeying God’s law is defined in a number of ways. Each of the stated duties is seen to relate directly to the Lord Himself.
- To love the Lord. Love for God is the expression of belonging to Him. If He is your God then you must love Him. It is a duty voluntarily complied with. Love is the chief duty of the law. Cp Matt 22:38-40
- To walk… Here is how love shows itself. There is progress with God, walking with Him in all His ways.
- To keep… They must guard carefully the words of God. They recognized them as authoritative—commandments. Their eye, like a prison officer, must ever be on the words to make sure they do not slip away, Heb 2:1
- To cleave… They were to be glued to the Lord, stick to Him. Closeness to the Lord is a vital part of continuing to serve Him. We must let nothing separate us from Him and His company, or cause us to follow afar off like Peter (Luke 22:54).
- To serve… Full devotion to the service of God was to continue. Everything they were and had was to be engaged in the service of God.
These words of warning and exhortation must continue to ring in our ears. We must not allow any thought of commendation to distract from duty. We must press on till our work is done.