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Sunday, June 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 17

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-18

Let's turn now to Joshua, chapter seventeen, as we begin our study this evening.

As we get into the seventeenth chapter, we find that the land has continued to be divided by Joshua, and the portion that was to be given to a half of the tribe of Manasseh. Now Manasseh took part of its inheritance on the other side of the Jordan River, a half of a tribe. And then the other half was to settle on the western bank on what is actually the west bank today in the land of Israel. Part of that did belong to Manasseh at the time of the dividing of the land.

When we get down to verse twelve we read again of the failure of the children of Israel to completely drive out the enemy.

Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities; but the Canaanites would dwell in the land. Yet it came to pass, when the children of Israel were stronger, that they put the Canaanites to tribute; but they did not utterly drive them out ( Joshua 17:12-13 ).

This was a failure on the part of the children of Israel to enter into the complete victory and the complete conquering of the land.

Now we have pointed out to you in the past how that the whole experience of the children of Israel coming out of the bondage of Egypt, passing through the wilderness, coming into the Promised Land, is a spiritual allegory. It is representative of we as Christians coming out of Egypt, the bondage in sin. The Red Sea is equivalent to our baptism coming into a new relationship with God. How that God has promised unto us, a life of victory over our flesh, coming into the walk and the life of the Spirit that God wants each of you to experience and to know. He desires that we take full victory over every area that the enemy has had a stronghold in our lives. If we allow any of these strongholds of the enemy to remain, they are going to be a continual and constant problem to you in your spiritual growth.

Now many of these areas of our flesh, maybe it is a bad temper, maybe it is anger, maybe it is other types of characteristics, pride or whatever that you have to deal with in your life. Now God wants to give you complete and full victory over these areas of your flesh. He has provided all that you need. But many times, even as the children of Israel failed to utterly drive out the enemies, but yet in time to come, their failure to drive out the enemy utterly worked to their own disadvantage. So many times in our own lives where we fail to enter into the full victory of that very area where we haven't really gone in and laid claim to our victory in Christ, is the very area where we find ourselves attacked by Satan in the future, and oftentimes defeated in the future because we failed to fully take the promise that God has given to us and lay claim to the full victory that we can have as we walk in the Spirit.

So the failure of complete victory is one of the sad tragic, well one of the little notes of Joshua all the way through. You see that they did not utterly drive out the inhabitants, that they did not take fully the land. That they did not conquer all that God had given, and it later worked to their own harm. So let us not follow after the same example, but let us impressing into our walk in the Spirit, enter into the fullness.

I was talking with a group of ministers yesterday from Germany that were visiting here some sixty Lutheran ministers from Germany, and I told them that I desire to be totally open to God for all that God has for my life. I don't want to close any doors to God by my presuppositions, by my theological background, or training, I don't want to have any closed doors to God. I want to be totally open for whatever God might have in mind for me, for my life. Because number one, I need every bit of help I can get. Thus I don't want to fall short of anything that God may have for me. I want to be open to it. I want to always have a total openness when I approach God. "God, whatever You have in mind, whatever Lord, You have there to give to me, Lord, I desire it. I need it. I want it."

I feel sorry for many people who have such a concept of God that they can't open themselves totally up to God. But they put the limitation. "Now God, I really don't want this. Lord, I don't need that."

They'll put limitations on God, as though God is going to give something to me that is not going to really be a benefit or blessing to me. I don't want to put any kind of strings upon what God might want to do for my life, in my life, or through my life. I want to be totally open before God in all things. So I want to gain every victory that God has for me. I want to possess all of the promises that God has given to me. I want to claim the whole land. Why should I come short of the fullness that God wants to work in my life? Why should I stop short when God is urging me to go on? Why should I allow or tolerate an area of my flesh that is still not committed to the Spirit and under the control of the Spirit? Why should I set up a peaceful co-existence with some weakness of my own flesh? I desire to know the full complete victory of Jesus Christ in every area of my life. I want to keep pressing on and laying claim, until I have conquered through Christ all that has been promised to me. God laid out the borders and I don't want to come out short of anything that God has for me.

But the children of Israel tragically did. They did not conquer all of the land. They left enemies and pockets of the enemies within the land. When they became stronger rather than driving them out, they just taxed them, and made slaves of them. But there was a failure. Verse fourteen,

The children of Joseph spake to Joshua, saying, Why has thou given us but one lot and one portion to inherit, seeing that we are a great people, forasmuch as the Lord has blessed me hitherto ( Joshua 17:14 )?

Now Ephraim and Manasseh were two of the larger tribes, and they were the sons of Joseph. So that when it refers here to the tribe of Joseph, it is actually referring to the double tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. Because they had so many they said, "Why have you just given us one lot? We really are so big we should have two lots." That is in the casting of lots they would, they divided off the land, they made a map and divided off the map, and then they would cast lots, who would get this portion, and they said, "We've got so many people we really need two lots for the tribe of Joseph.

So Joshua agreed to it that there should be two lots given to them. So they drew another lot so that Manasseh was dwelling next to Ephraim on the West Bank, and the other part of Manasseh, of course, was over on the east bank on the other side of the Jordan River.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Joshua 17". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/joshua-17.html. 2014.
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