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Week 8 Scripture: Joshua 16-20

Starting in Chapter 15 of Joshua, we have a long section of the book that is dedicated to describing how the Promised Land was allocated to God’s people. Remember—while God had promised this land to the Israelites and had opened the door for them to claim their inheritance by defeating the major city states, there was still work for them to do. They had to claim what God had promised them. We keep coming back to the term “dependent responsibility.” While we are dependent on God for the power to accomplish the victory, we have the responsibility to obediently step out in faith and claim the promise.

The Attitude of Settling:

In Joshua 15:63, we see three sinful attitudes displayed by the Israelites that prevents them from fully claiming their rightful inheritance. Unfortunately, if we are honest with ourselves and God, I think these attitudes show up in our lives as well.

This scripture tells us that the tribe of Judah failed to drive out the Jebusites and allowed them to dwell among them. What happened? Was God suddenly not able to defeat their enemies? No, the Bible tells us that though we are faithless, God remains faithful (2 Tim. 2:13). The tribe of Judah, which had more land than it needed, was content to claim the easy portions of their allotment. They had no issue leaving the tough challenges for another generation. They settled for “good” instead of “best.” In so doing, their complacency became disobedience, which exposed generation after generation to conflict and heartache.

The Attitude of Tolerating:

Joshua 16:10 and 17:12-13 shows us the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, two of the most populous tribes, also fail to drive out the Canaanites. But, unlike the tribe of Judah, the Bible tells us these tribes were able to enslave their enemies. If these Israelites had the power to enslave their enemies, they had the power to wipe them out as God commanded. Instead of removing temptation from their midst, they tolerated it. It’s as if they said, “I know God said this was dangerous and I need to remove it, but it’s ok. I can control it.” They could not control it, and their history was one of a constant struggle with pride and idolatry.

The Attitude of Complaining:

In Joshua 17:14-18, the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh strike again. God gives these two tribes the richest, most fertile land in all of Israel, but somehow it is not enough. “But, our lot is too small! But, God has blessed us with too many people! But, they’ve got iron chariots!” Joshua quickly points out to them the petulance and irrationality of their arguments. They are showing their mistrust of God and the goodness of His promises when they’ve done nothing to claim them.

In Psalm 34, David encourages us to “taste and see that the LORD is good!” I have a child who many times will complain about a meal without ever taking a bite. And, it is extremely difficult to get that child to even try the meal once his or her mind is made up. Oh, the good things that child misses! I sometimes wonder about the good things from God that I’m missing because of a complaining attitude. This keeps me from tasting the good things God has for me.

Joshua Week 8 Discussion Questions:

  1. What’s the danger of settling? What’s the difference between settling and contentment?
  2. We live in a culture that lauds tolerance as a virtue. What’s wrong with tolerance? Is tolerance ever good? What’s the danger of tolerance?
  3. Do you struggle with complaining? Are there any areas of your life where you complain about the blessings of God? Has a negative attitude ever impacted your ability to see how God has been working for your good?