In Genesis, we read about creation. God created man for his own good and God’s glory. But man (represented by Adam) doubted God’s love for him when he was tempted by the serpent. “Did God really say…?” At that moment, doubt and sin and death entered into the world. But God’s plan also entered the world, and from that moment God began to reveal His plan to restore man back into relationship with Him.
The purpose of Genesis is relationship with God, and redemption through Jesus is God’s plan to restore our relationship with Him. This is also what we see in the book of Joshua. Moses delivers the people from slavery in Egypt and they cross the Jordan, baptized into new life. Jesus is the greater Moses, who delivers us from bondage to sin and brings us into new life. In Chapters 18 and 19, we see God’s presence working in the midst of His people, and we are reminded that He is for us, not against us.
Then the whole congregation of the sons of Israel assembled themselves at Shiloh, and set up the tent of meeting there; and the land was subdued before them. There remained among the sons of Israel seven tribes who had not divided their inheritance. So Joshua said to the sons of Israel, “How long will you put off entering to take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you? “Provide for yourselves three men from each tribe that I may send them, and that they may arise and walk through the land and write a description of it according to their inheritance; then they shall return to me. “They shall divide it into seven portions; Judah shall stay in its territory on the south, and the house of Joseph shall stay in their territory on the north. “You shall describe the land in seven divisions, and bring the description here to me. I will cast lots for you here before the LORD our God. “For the Levites have no portion among you, because the priesthood of the LORD is their inheritance. Gad and Reuben and the half-tribe of Manasseh also have received their inheritance eastward beyond the Jordan, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave them.” Then the men arose and went, and Joshua commanded those who went to describe the land, saying, “Go and walk through the land and describe it, and return to me; then I will cast lots for you here before the LORD in Shiloh.” So the men went and passed through the land, and described it by cities in seven divisions in a book; and they came to Joshua to the camp at Shiloh. And Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD, and there Joshua divided the land to the sons of Israel according to their divisions. Joshua 18:1-10
This morning we will look at four things from this passage: God dwells with His people, God’s presence brings unity, God’s presence brings about His purposes, and God calls his people to walk with Him.
1. God dwells with His people
Then the whole congregation of the sons of Israel assembled themselves at Shiloh, and set up the tent of meeting there; Joshua 18:1
At Shiloh, they set up the tent of meeting and Joshua cast lots in the presence of the Lord. Once again, we go back to the purpose of this book: God’s desire to be glorified and to be made known through His people. The tent of meeting, which would become the tabernacle, was set up at Shiloh in the center of the land. God wanted to dwell in the middle of His chosen people, just as the Ark represented the presence of the Lord among His people. Scripture tells us that God loves and delights in His people:
You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, And a royal diadem in the hand of your God. It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken,” Nor to your land will it any longer be said, “Desolate”; But you will be called, “My delight is in her,” And your land, “Married”; For the LORD delights in you, And to Him your land will be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, So your sons will marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So your God will rejoice over you. Isaiah 62:3-5
“The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. Zephaniah 3:17
God rejoices and exalts over you! We don’t feel worthy of it and we’re not, but we were created in His image and we have His attributes – we can love, we can reason. God is holy and perfect, and out of His great love, He sent Jesus to take on our sin and restore us into right relationship with Him. Now God looks at us and sees Christ’s righteousness.
The tabernacle was eventually replaced by the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. What went on at the tabernacle is a great picture of what was to come in Christ, the sacrifice once and for all to restore us unto Himself. Christ came and dwelled among His people: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). This word for dwelling is the same word for tabernacle in the Old Testament – God came in flesh to tabernacle among His people. In the New Testament, Jesus Himself fulfilled the picture of the Old Testament tabernacle. He dwells within us and we are His temple:
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 1 Corinthians 6:19
Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. 2 Corinthians 6:16
God’s presence is with His followers at all times. There are times we may be more aware of His presence, but He is always with us and He wants us to know that. When Jesus commissions His disciples to go (including us), He reminds them that He will aways be with them.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
Our confidence should be in Him. You can have confidence in whatever God is calling you this morning because He is with you!
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
Nothing can separate us from Him. He wants to dwell with His people, and He delights over you because of who He is.
2. God’s presence brings unity
Then the whole congregation of the sons of Israel assembled themselves at Shiloh, and set up the tent of meeting there; and the land was subdued before them. There remained among the sons of Israel seven tribes who had not divided their inheritance….”They shall divide it into seven portions; Judah shall stay in its territory on the south, and the house of Joseph shall stay in their territory on the north….”For the Levites have no portion among you, because the priesthood of the LORD is their inheritance. Gad and Reuben and the half-tribe of Manasseh also have received their inheritance eastward beyond the Jordan, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave them.” Joshua 18:1-2,5, 7
Joshua was careful to mention every single tribe. Even though He was dividing the land of the seven remaining tribes, he did not neglect to mention Judah, Joseph and those who had received land on the east side of the Jordan, and the Levites. God was creating a holy nation, a people set apart for Him and His purposes. The 12 tribes were being divided, but were still one – God created them for a purpose:
That all the people of the earth may know the hand of the Lord is mighty, Joshua 4:24
As Israel focused on this greater purpose, there was unity. Purpose creates unity. Some people or groups of people find unity over common enemies. Some people find unity in a common sports team. We should find some sense of unity at our workplace as we gather around a common goal and purpose. We find unity over common experiences, and we can be unified over ideas. But unity for the sake of unity doesn’t work – there has to be a greater common purpose and goal. As we pursue Jesus, we find unity in Him. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and He never changes because He is perfect. When we focus on Jesus, He unifies us:
For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Romans 12:4-5
For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ….But now there are many members, but one body. 1 Corinthians 12:12, 20
There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; Ephesians 4:4
Sin disrupts unity because we take our eyes off Jesus and we look at ourselves. When we become the leader of our lives, it creates disruption and division in the Body.
3. God’s presence brings His purposes to pass
Then the second lot fell to Simeon, to the tribe of the sons of Simeon according to their families, and their inheritance was in the midst of the inheritance of the sons of Judah….The inheritance of the sons of Simeon was taken from the portion of the sons of Judah, for the share of the sons of Judah was too large for them; so the sons of Simeon received an inheritance in the midst of Judah’s inheritance. Joshua 19:1, 9
In this passage, we learn that the tribe of Simeon did not receive its own territory but was given areas or cities within the tribe of Judah. To understand why, we need to go back to Genesis. Before Jacob died, he blessed Simeon and Levi:
“Simeon and Levi are brothers; Their swords are implements of violence. “Let my soul not enter into their council; Let not my glory be united with their assembly; Because in their anger they slew men, And in their self-will they lamed oxen. “Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; And their wrath, for it is cruel. I will disperse them in Jacob, And scatter them in Israel. Genesis 49:5-7
The blessing was more of a curse, brought on by their decision to take vengeance into their own hands (Genesis 34:13, 30). When their sister was defiled, Simeon and Levi lied, murdered, and pillaged a town. They made a false vow, and so Jacob cursed them.
then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, “Whoever is for the LORD, come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered together to him. He said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Every man of you put his sword upon his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbor.'” So the sons of Levi did as Moses instructed, and about three thousand men of the people fell that day. Then Moses said, “Dedicate yourselves today to the LORD–for every man has been against his son and against his brother–in order that He may bestow a blessing upon you today.” Exodus 32:26-29
All the people of Levi stood against sin – they acted in obedience to God, and 3,000 people fell that day. The Levites stood for the Lord, but the tribe of Simeon did not, and they missed out on all that God had for them. But God’s grace did not count them out – they were still part of His chosen people.
4. God calls His people to walk with Him
So Joshua said to the sons of Israel, “How long will you put off entering to take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you? Joshua 18:3
The question for us today is the same question that Joshua asked Israel: How long will we put off what God is calling? We are His dwelling place and He will be with us wherever we go. How long will you wait? Will you take a stand for the Lord? Like Moses asked Israel at the foot of Mount Sinai, Jesus is saying to us today, “Whoever is for the Lord, stand up!”