Joshua 13:8-23 (NIV) 8 The other half of Manasseh, the Reubenites and the Gadites had received the inheritance that Moses had given them east of the Jordan, as he, the servant of the LORD, had assigned it to them. 9 It extended from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Gorge, and from the town in the middle of the gorge, and included the whole plateau of Medeba as far as Dibon, 10 and all the towns of Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon, out to the border of the Ammonites. 11 It also included Gilead, the territory of the people of Geshur and Maacah, all of Mount Hermon and all Bashan as far as Salecah– 12 that is, the whole kingdom of Og in Bashan, who had reigned in Ashtaroth and Edrei and had survived as one of the last of the Rephaites. Moses had defeated them and taken over their land. 13 But the Israelites did not drive out the people of Geshur and Maacah, so they continue to live among the Israelites to this day. 14 But to the tribe of Levi he gave no inheritance, since the offerings made by fire to the LORD, the God of Israel, are their inheritance, as he promised them. 15 This is what Moses had given to the tribe of Reuben, clan by clan: 16 The territory from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Gorge, and from the town in the middle of the gorge, and the whole plateau past Medeba 17 to Heshbon and all its towns on the plateau, including Dibon, Bamoth Baal, Beth Baal Meon, 18 Jahaz, Kedemoth, Mephaath, 19 Kiriathaim, Sibmah, Zereth Shahar on the hill in the valley, 20 Beth Peor, the slopes of Pisgah, and Beth Jeshimoth 21 –all the towns on the plateau and the entire realm of Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled at Heshbon. Moses had defeated him and the Midianite chiefs, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur and Reba–princes allied with Sihon–who lived in that country. 22 In addition to those slain in battle, the Israelites had put to the sword Balaam son of Beor, who practiced divination. 23 The boundary of the Reubenites was the bank of the Jordan. These towns and their villages were the inheritance of the Reubenites, clan by clan.
On verses 8-23: These verses as well as verses 24-33 describe the land east of the Jordan River that was given to 2.5 Israelite tribes, namely, Reuben, Gad and half of the tribe of Manasseh. Moses had led the Israelites in conquering these lands, taking them from kings like Og king of Bashan (v12) and Sihon king of the Amorites (v10). Verses 15 to 23 describe the lands allotted specifically to the tribe of Reuben.
What can we learn from this?
1. Make the most of every blessing. Notice what verse 13 says:
13 But the Israelites did not drive out the people of Geshur and Maacah, so they continue to live among the Israelites to this day.
God had given the Israelites the land belonging to the people of Geshur and Maacah, but because the Israelites did not drive out the people of Geshur and Maacah from the land, the people of Geshur and Maacah continued to occupy the land. The lesson here is that when God blesses you with something, you want to take it over and use it fully. If you don’t, others will take it over and use it, and you will have forfeited your use and enjoyment of that blessing. Is there a blessing, a talent, an opportunity that God has given you that you are not using to the fullest?
2. The greatest treasure in your hands is your relationship with God and your calling from Him. Notice what verse 14 says about the inheritance given to the tribe of Levi:
14 But to the tribe of Levi he gave no inheritance, since the offerings made by fire to the LORD, the God of Israel, are their inheritance, as he promised them.
Whereas the other tribes of Israel got real estate, the tribe of Levi got something else: the Levites got to be the priests and worship leaders for all of Israel, representing all the other tribes before God. In addition, the offerings that the Israelites gave to the Lord by fire belonged to the tribe of Levi (Deuteronomy 18:1). For those of you who like owning land, you might think, “Levi got the short end of the stick.” But the Levites received a calling and a closeness with God that the other tribes did not get to enjoy (Numbers 16:9-10). The treasure of this kind of relationship with God was more valuable than any land the Levites could receive.
Similarly, all of us who have placed our faith in Jesus Christ are called priests in God’s kingdom: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9) As priests in God’s kingdom, we have a calling and a closeness with God that is unique and qualitatively different from what the rest of the world has. It’s a reminder that the greatest treasure we will ever have in life is not our material possessions or the land that we own, but the calling and relationship with God that we get to have.
Also, just as the tribe of Levi did nothing to earn this calling and relationship with God, so we did not earn this calling and relationship with God by our own good works; rather, it’s because of God’s special grace and mercy on our lives.
3. Don’t put money over God and God’s people. Notice what verse 22 says:
22 In addition to those slain in battle, the Israelites had put to the sword Balaam son of Beor, who practiced divination.
Balaam was a sorcerer who practiced divination. In exchange for money from Balak king of Moab, Balaam on numerous occasions agreed to try to place a curse on the Israelites. However, God thwarted Balaam’s attempts to curse the Israelites and turned his attempts to curse Israel into blessings spoken over Israel (Numbers 22). From then on Balaam would be known for his love of money (2 Peter 2:15). In the end Balaam’s life came to a bloody end.
What can we learn from this? You can either use money and love God and people, or you can love money and use God and people. If you use money and love God and people, your life will be blessed. If you love money and use God and people, you will end up living in regret.
Heavenly Father, thank You for every blessing, talent and opportunity You have given me. May I not take them for granted or let them go to waste, but may I use them and enjoy them to the fullest. Thank You also that the greatest treasure I have is my relationships: first of all, my relationship with You, and secondly, my relationships with others. May I not prioritize money over my relationship with You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!