Today’s GAME passage is Joshua 17:11-18. Let’s go!
Joshua 17:11-18 (NIV) 11 Within Issachar and Asher, Manasseh also had Beth Shan, Ibleam and the people of Dor, Endor, Taanach and Megiddo, together with their surrounding settlements (the third in the list is Naphoth). 12 Yet the Manassites were not able to occupy these towns, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that region. 13 However, when the Israelites grew stronger, they subjected the Canaanites to forced labor but did not drive them out completely. 14 The people of Joseph said to Joshua, “Why have you given us only one allotment and one portion for an inheritance? We are a numerous people and theLORD has blessed us abundantly.” 15 “If you are so numerous,” Joshua answered, “and if the hill country of Ephraim is too small for you, go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites.” 16 The people of Joseph replied, “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the plain have iron chariots, both those in Beth Shan and its settlements and those in the Valley of Jezreel.” 17 But Joshua said to the house of Joseph–to Ephraim and Manasseh–“You are numerous and very powerful. You will have not only one allotment 18 but the forested hill country as well. Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours; though the Canaanites have iron chariots and though they are strong, you can drive them out.”
On verses 11-18: The tribe of Manasseh was supposed to drive out the Canaanites from the land they had been allotted, but the Canaanites were too strong for them (v12). Eventually when they are able to subdue the Canaanites, rather than driving them out as Deuteronomy 20:16-18 commanded, they subjected them to forced labour instead (v13). Then the people of Joseph (i.e. the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim together) approach Joshua, complaining that Joshua has given them too little land for a people as numerous as them (v14). Joshua turns their complaint into a challenge for them: “if you are so numerous, then go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there” (v15). The people of Joseph further complain to Joshua that they are scared of the Canaanites who live in that area and their iron chariots (v16). Joshua encourages them, telling them that they are numerous, powerful and capable of taking that land (v17-18).
What can we learn from this?
1. The people of Joseph were complaining that Joshua had given them too little land, when in fact a noteworthy reason why the people of Joseph felt squished in their current allotment was because they had failed to drive out the Canaanites from their allotment as they had been commanded to do (v12-13; Deuteronomy 20:16-18). The people of Joseph were blaming their leader Joseph for their problem (“Why have you given us only one allotment and one portion for an inheritance?” – v14) when really their problem was rooted in their own disobedience and fear. Take a good look in the mirror before you throw blame on others. Ask yourself, “Is the problem really all with them or is it actually with me?”
2. The people of Joseph were not the first people to approach Joshua and ask for land. Caleb also approached Joshua in Joshua 14, and Caleb’s family in turn approached Caleb in Joshua 15. But the way in which the people of Joseph approached Joshua and the way Caleb and his family approached the issue were completely different. Caleb and his family’s approach came from a posture of humility and respect (see for example Joshua 15:18-19). Caleb and his family made requests on the basis of faith in God’s already spoken promises (see Joshua 14:6-15). On the other hand, the people of Joseph approached Joshua from a posture of complaining, grumbling and a childish sense of entitlement. Instead of faith, their demands were fueled by fear. What can we learn from this? When you approach others with a request, check your attitude, your motives and your faith.
3. There is another way in which the people of Joseph differed from Caleb and his family. Caleb and his family had a can do attitude when it came to tackling the obstacles in front of them. You can hear Caleb’s can do attitude in Joshua 14:12: “Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”
Compare Caleb’s can do attitude to the fearful, passive attitude of the people of Joseph in verse 16. The people of Joseph complain that they can’t take over the forested hill country because “all the Canaanites who live in the plain have iron chariots, both those in Beth Shan and its settlements and those in the Valley of Jezreel.” (v16)
What’s going on here? The people of Joseph wanted more land but they didn’t want to work for it or fight for it. They had this childish sense of entitlement where they just expected more land to be handed to them. It’s no wonder we never hear about the people of Joseph actually taking over the extra land they wanted.
What can we learn from this? So much depends on the attitude with which you approach your challenges. If you approach your challenges with a fearful, passive attitude, often making excuses for why you can’t do something, you will accomplish very little in life. If you approach your challenges with a can do attitude, believing that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you, you will accomplish great things.
Heavenly Father, I pray that I would take a good look in the mirror before I blame others for the problems I face. I pray that when I make a request, I would always do so with a pure heart, good motives and a respectful attitude. I pray that like Caleb I would have a can do attitude when approaching challenges, believing in Your promises and trusting in Your strength. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!