“Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, ‘The Lord your God is giving you rest, and will give you this land.’ Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land which Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but you shall cross ahead of your brothers in battle formation, all your valiant warriors, and shall help them, until the Lord gives your brothers rest, as He is giving you, and they also possess the land which the Lord your God is giving them. Then you may return to your own land, and take possession of that which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.
“They answered Joshua, saying, ‘All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you; only may the Lord your God be with you as He was with Moses. Anyone who rebels against your command and does not obey your words in all that you command him, shall be put to death; only be strong and courageous.’” (Joshua 1:13-18 NASB)
In this first chapter of Joshua, God is giving incredibly important instructions to Joshua regarding the fulfillment of His covenantal promise to Abraham. This agreement with Abraham was not about a favored people whom God loved more than other humans. It was a covenant He initiated in order to use Abraham and his offspring to help Him save the world. The Messiah would come through them.
The book of Joshua is another step in that process. It is not just about a special people receiving their extraordinary inheritance; it’s about a calling, an assignment, an inheritance needed to help save the world. That’s big stuff! And it makes the instructions God gave Joshua regarding this important next step very significant. As He lays out the important commands and encouragements, God mentions one that may seem a bit unusual.
In the above verses, He reminds 3 of Israel’s 12 tribes of a promise they made Moses 40 years ago. Shortly after leaving Egypt, they came to a land that suited their ranching lifestyle, whereupon they asked Moses if that could be their inheritance, rather than a portion of land in Canaan, on the other side of the Jordan. It was agreed to, as long as the men promised to temporarily leave their homes and ranches to assist the remaining tribes possess their inheritance, when the time came. They wouldn’t be allowed to sit comfortably and enjoy their inheritance while their brothers and sisters warred for theirs. Though the promise had been made 40 years earlier, reminding them of it and insisting it be honored ranked toward the top of Joshua’s instructions.
Though the book of Joshua can be read in a couple of hours, the conquest of Canaan took 7 years. The commitment these tribes had to keep was no simple task; it wasn’t just a couple of months or a few weekends here and there. It was 7 years! I’m not sure how they did this while protecting their families and possessions back home. Perhaps they alternated - a month on, a month off. Certainly, the women and kids had to pick up the slack and take over some of the responsibilities of caring for the livestock and land - for 7 years! Whatever the plan, it was a significant commitment.
This was very important to God. Failing to fulfill the commitment was punishable by death. Since what occurred with Israel was written for our instruction (1 Corinthians 10:11), we can assume it is important for us, also. What if, rather than the demonic and disgusting competitive spirit existing in today’s American church, we took seriously the command to help one another? What if, rather than making great efforts to transfer sheep from another pasture (local church) to ours, we worked together to grow everyone’s congregation? What if, instead of attending Church Growth conferences (Sheep Transferring conferences), we attended “How Can I Help My Fellow Believer Take His/Her Inheritance” conferences?
What if pastors and ministry leaders who have successful ministries, large facilities, good salaries, etc., decided to help their fellow “countrymen” possess their inheritance? I’m not talking about a pat on the back, or a hundred bucks once in a while. I’m talking about commitment, Joshua 1 stuff - fighting for them, sharing resources, building buildings, etc. What would it look like if every larger church in America paid the salary of a pastor pioneering a church - a church that isn’t in their network or carrying their name, by the way? What if they supplied them with a worship team? A children’s pastor? What would happen?
Well fortunately, we don’t have to wonder. Jesus told us in John 17:21: “That they may all be one; just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
He also told us in Psalm 133: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to live together in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard, as on Aaron’s beard, the oil which ran down upon the edge of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon coming down upon the mountains of Zion; for the Lord commanded the blessing there— life forever.”
Interestingly, the word “good,” describing unity, is the exact same Hebrew word as the “precious” anointing oil of Aaron’s priesthood. God places unity on the same level as His anointing. And this unity included working together, by the way, not just well-wishing. The passage makes it clear that blessings were being exchanged - Mt Herman was watering Mt Zion. Maybe if we did more helping one another we’d see more anointing. Holy Spirit said in this passage He would be able to command more eternal life to be released. And according to Christ, the world would believe.
Satan is not our biggest problem. We are.
Pray with me:
Father, please forgive us for our arrogance in thinking that what You want to do through us is more important than what You do through others. Forgive us for our divisive activities and ways of thinking. Forgive us for the place in our hearts that allows competition with our brothers and sisters to occur.
We ask You to replace these attitudes, this sin, with hearts that are willing to prefer one another in love (Romans 12:10). Give us hearts that are willing to serve our brothers and sisters and war for their inheritance. Tear down every wall that has been built by religion and pride. Give us the heart of Jesus, who made of Himself no reputation, laying everything down for others.
Bring the greatest revival of unity and love the church has ever experienced. May we take joy and rain down blessings on mountains/ministries which belong to others. Please tear down every man-made kingdom, until only Yours stands.
As we move forward into this great awakening, may it be marked by a generation of believers that gloried in warring for others’ success and inheritance. We ask this in Christ’s name. Amen.
We decree that we will allow the unselfish heart of Jesus to rule and reign in ours!
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