It Requires Determination

Joshua 16:1-10
1The allotment of the people of Joseph went from the Jordan by Jericho, east of the waters of Jericho, into the wilderness, going up from Jericho into the hill country to Bethel. 2Then going from Bethel to Luz, it passes along to Ataroth, the territory of the Archites. 3Then it goes down westward to the territory of the Japhletites, as far as the territory of Lower Beth-horon, then to Gezer, and it ends at the sea. 4The people of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, received their inheritance. 5The territory of the people of Ephraim by their clans was as follows: the boundary of their inheritance on the east was Ataroth-addar as far as Upper Beth-horon, 6and the boundary goes from there to the sea. On the north is Michmethath. Then on the east the boundary turns around toward Taanath-shiloh and passes along beyond it on the east to Janoah, 7then it goes down from Janoah to Ataroth and to Naarah, and touches Jericho, ending at the Jordan. 8From Tappuah the boundary goes westward to the brook Kanah and ends at the sea. Such is the inheritance of the tribe of the people of Ephraim by their clans, 9together with the towns that were set apart for the people of Ephraim within the inheritance of the Manassites, all those towns with their villages. 10However, they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites have lived in the midst of Ephraim to this day but have been made to do forced labor.

We’re deep into the part of Joshua that simply require grit and determination to plow forward. Many of the geographical landmarks mentioned in the text are difficult to translate, or simply don’t exist in the same way today due to our impact on the land. These words don’t speak of God’s love or plan of salvation. It’s just land allotment details. The next few chapters are going to be more of the same. But God included it in His Book, so we’ll dutifully read it.

This chapter deals specifically with the half-tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. These were the two sons of Joseph and together, they represent their father. Of greatest interest is the last verse of the chapter that tells us God’s people did not drive out the Canaanites, but instead they were made to do forced labor. This is not what God had told the people to do. They were instructed to drive the Canaanites out completely or kill them. Even though the Canaanites were turned into slaves, they remained in the land and had influence over the Hebrews, maintaining their pagan worship practices, which eventually, the Hebrews will take up for themselves. Manasseh and Ephraim were not the only tribes guilty of this practice and the entire nation will struggle in the future because of it.

It takes a strong person to stand up to what they know is wrong even when the vast majority of those around you are participating in the evil. We see it over and over in our own culture. And not only are you doing something different than the crowd, today you are castigated for it. Paul addressed this idea in his letter to the Romans, warning us against giving approval to that which we know is evil.

Romans 1:29-32
29They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Here is where determination is required. There is never a time when I have to give my approval to the sin of another and I pray that I don’t ask others to approve of my sin either. Today, I think that we are encouraged to simply see wrong as “different”. Different is okay and I’m willing to give approval to it. But sin is never just “different”. The ancient Hebrews fell into the belief that those pagan practices were just different, thus making them acceptable, and that belief proved to be destructive to their very lives. That belief does the same thing to us.