Joshua 18:11-28 Traits of an influential organisation: discipline, loyalty and unity
Now the lot of the tribe of the sons of Benjamin came up according to their families, and the territory of their lot lay between the sons of Judah and the sons of Joseph. 12 Their border on the north side was from the Jordan, then the border went up to the side of Jericho on the north, and went up through the hill country westward, and it ended at the wilderness of Beth- aven. 13 From there the border continued to Luz, to the side of Luz (that is, Bethel) southward; and the border went down to Ataroth- addar, near the hill which lies on the south of lower Beth- horon. 14 The border extended from there and turned round on the west side southward, from the hill which lies before Beth- horon southward; and it ended at Kiriath- baal (that is, Kiriath- jearim), a city of the sons of Judah. This was the west side. 15 Then the south side was from the edge of Kiriath- jearim, and the border went westward and went to the fountain of the waters of Nephtoah. 16 The border went down to the edge of the hill which is in the valley of Ben- hinnom, which is in the valley of Rephaim northward; and it went down to the valley of Hinnom, to the slope of the Jebusite southward, and went down to En- rogel. 17 It extended northward and went to En- shemesh and went to Geliloth, which is opposite the ascent of Adummim, and it went down to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben. 18 It continued to the side in front of the Arabah northward and went down to the Arabah. 19 The border continued to the side of Beth- hoglah northward; and the border ended at the north bay of the Salt Sea, at the south end of the Jordan. This was the south border. 20 Moreover, the Jordan was its border on the east side. This was the inheritance of the sons of Benjamin, according to their families and according to its borders all around.
21 Now the cities of the tribe of the sons of Benjamin according to their families were Jericho and Beth- hoglah and Emek- keziz, 22 and Beth- arabah and Zemaraim and Bethel, 23 and Avvim and Parah and Ophrah, 24 and Chephar- ammoni and Ophni and Geba; twelve cities with their villages. 25 Gibeon and Ramah and Beeroth, 26 and Mizpeh and Chephirah and Mozah, 27 and Rekem and Irpeel and Taralah, 28 and Zelah, Haeleph and the Jebusite (that is, Jerusalem), Gibeah, Kiriath; fourteen cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the sons of Benjamin according to their families.
Benjamin was the youngest of Jacob’s 12 sons. His descendants were the smallest of the tribes. However, the Benjamin’s disciplined and pugnacious character was revealed by Jacob’s prophecy,
“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
In the morning he devours the prey,
And in the evening he divides the spoil.” Genesis 49:27
Biblical history serves up at least four great people from Benjamin’s tribe. First, Ehud, a great warrior and judge who delivered Israel from the Moabites (see Judges 3:12-30). Then, it was Saul who became Israel’s first king (see 1 Samuel 9:15-27). Mordecai and Esther (both from the tribe of Benjamin) delivered the Jews in Persia from death (see Esther 2:5-7). The apostle Paul in the new testament affirmed that he came from Benjamin (see Romans 11:1, Philippians 3:4-5).
In today’s devotion, we will discuss the Benjamites’ character and their impact in the biblical history of Israel. We learn that despite their small size, their influence by proportion of their population far surpassed that of other tribes. An organization’s influence has nothing to do with her size, but everything to do with being disciplined and united in vision. If an organisation strives to build unity, loyalty and discipline within her rank and file, she will in due time wield a formidable influence.
The descendants of Benjamin was apportioned land between Judah and Ephraim. Benjamin’s geography was strategic – it served to minimise tribal rivalry between Judah and Ephraim (see figure below).
Benjamite territory was home to cities that were important to biblical history – Jericho, Bethel, Gibeon, Ramah, Mizpah, and the Jebusite city, Jerusalem. The territory of Benjamin also functioned as a major gateway to central and southern parts of Canaan. As prophesied by Moses, the site of the future temple in Jerusalem was in the territory of Benjamin.
Of Benjamin he said,
“May the beloved of the Lord dwell in security by Him,
Who shields him all the day,
And he dwells between His shoulders.” Deuteronomy 33:12
Benjamin’s land mass was relatively smaller than all the other tribes due to its population size. However, her descendants and geography played important roles in shaping the history of ancient Israel.
Before an organization can begin to expand its circle of influence, its members must be disciplined, loyal and united.
The tribe of Benjamin has taught nations, organisations, churches and families never to be dispirited by one’s size and humble beginnings. It is possible for a small organisation to wield great influences over time. The Benjamites has taught us that an organisation cannot begin to expand its circle of influence unless individuals are disciplined, loyal to one another, and united in vision. Therefore, an organisation in her inception must take time to lay a proper foundation by choosing leaders that are likeminded, loyal and disciplined in their lifestyle. Some organisations did not wait for the right leaders to emerge and to be sufficiently trained, but launched out prematurely causing irreparable damage to themselves. Some churches suppose that grace has lifted the demands of the law down play obedience towards God’s instructions and to the leadership. In the same token, their members have little loyalty and commitment towards the church apart from the weekly service. Such churches make little impact to the society apart from the promise of blessings and more grace.
The Benjamites, determined not to be undermined by their size, trained their warriors to fight left handed so as to be able to wrong foot their enemies (see Judges 20:16). They were also reputed as being extremely disciplined, spirited warriors and skilled archers (1 Chronicles 8:40). They were fiercely united and loyal under the command of their leadership. However, solidarity and military superiority did not ensure the tribe’s expanding influence. Benjamin had its dark side. Their military prowess came out not only in defence of their country but also in depravity within their country. Israel sought vengeance against the Benjamites for the horrific abuse and death of a Levite’s concubine. Because of the Benjamites’ undying loyalty towards one another, they refused to give up their perpetrators. Hence, Benjamin took up offence against the other 11 tribes of Israel as one man, and civil war broke out. As we know it, the Benjamites were nearly wiped out by an ambush, but not before cutting down 40,000 Israelites at the battlefield (see Judges 19-21).
Although, the Benjamites were well disciplined and united as a tribe, their moral depravity led to their downfall. The Benjamites’relentless loyalty to the leadership and to one another saw their population reduced to a mere 600 men. Without due submission to God, we see their greatest strength had also become their greatest weakness.
What qualities must members of a influential organisation possess?
- The leadership must submit to the supervision of God and His laws.
- There must be solidarity under one vision where the membership is derived not out of personal gain but the vision of the organisation. In other words, members must not be self-centred, but strive for the good of the whole.
- Members must be loyal to the leadership and to one another.
- Members must be disciplined in doing their part in upholding the functioning of the organisation.
- Members must possess a spirit of tenacity and excellence in their respective responsibilities.
- Members must be accountable and having the same care for one another.
To what degree is your church disciplined and united under the vision of God? The first degree is expressed by members’ commitment to read God’s word and to do His will. The second degree is members’ commitment towards Sabbath worship and in giving their tithes and offerings as commanded by God. The third degree is members’ loyalty towards the leadership and towards one another. The fourth degree is members’ commitment to participate and work out the church’s vision for the year.
Dear Lord, I pray for my church that we will be a community that is united under God’s command. Use me as a unifying element that will bridge the differences within the community. Use me as a voice to amplify and remind the community of the church’s vision for the year. Cause me to be disciplined in hearing your voice and to do your will on a daily basis. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.