Joshua 22:1-9 God commands His blessings upon a people of love and obedience
Then Joshua summoned the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half- tribe of Manasseh, 2 and said to them, “You have kept all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, and have listened to my voice in all that I commanded you. 3 You have not forsaken your brothers these many days to this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of the Lord your God. 4 And now the Lord your God has given rest to your brothers, as He spoke to them; therefore turn now and go to your tents, to the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you beyond the Jordan.
5 Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” 6 So Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went to their tents. 7 Now to the one half- tribe of Manasseh Moses had given a possession in Bashan, but to the other half Joshua gave a possession among their brothers westward beyond the Jordan. So when Joshua sent them away to their tents, he blessed them, 8 and said to them, “Return to your tents with great riches and with very much livestock, with silver, gold, bronze, iron, and with very many clothes; divide the spoil of your enemies with your brothers.” 9 The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half- tribe of Manasseh returned home and departed from the sons of Israel at Shiloh which is in the land of Canaan, to go to the land of Gilead, to the land of their possession which they had possessed, according to the command of the Lord through Moses.
Joshua commended the two and a half tribes for their obedience in standing by their brothers until Canaan was conquered. Before Joshua sent them off with a blessing, he instructed them to share their plunder with those who stayed behind and to continue to love God and to serve Him. In today’s devotion, we learn the conditions that attract God’s favour upon a people. God commands His blessings upon a people of love and obedience.
You have kept all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you.
As the mission of conquering Canaan was complete, it was time for the two and a half tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh to return home. They were commended for keeping their promise to God by fighting alongside their brothers. For seven years, these men were separated from their families and it was time to return to the east side of Jordan.
Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you.
Even as they had fulfilled their obligations to their nation, Joshua reminded them of the commitments that would secure God’s continued blessing. Joshua gave them two solemn exaltations:
a. To love God by walking in all His ways and obeying His commandments.
b. To serve God by putting His agenda above all agendas.
Joshua delivered his parting message in earnest being deeply concerned that their separation from other tribes might cause them to drift from God.
Return to your tents with great riches and with very much livestock, … divide the spoil of your enemies with your brothers.
As the soldiers took with them much spoils from the war, Joshua admonished them to share the plunder with those who remained at home. Joshua was aware of their tendency to deprive those whom they thought were undeserving of the plunder. Such were those who remained on the east of Jordan to raise crops and protect the women and children. The principle was to reward and honour not only those who fought in the war but also those who stayed home to perform more mundane functions.
God commands His blessings upon a people united in love and in God’s word.
Love and obedience are two key virtues of a blessed people. God rains down His blessings upon a people who is united in loving one another and in obeying God’s words. Joshua’s parting words to the two and a half tribes included a commendation for their camaraderie and an exaltation to love God and to serve Him. With these Joshua blessed them and sent them away.
Many churchgoers harboured a misunderstanding: they supposed worship and prayer are means of attracting God’s favour. As a result, many went away disappointed. Throughout the history of ancient and modern day Israel, we see the Law as the constant focal point of the nation. Their unity is undergirded by their undying commitment to keep the Law! Therefore, if God’s people are to build their lives with the Word as their centrality, there will be unity. The psalmist wrote in Psalms 133,
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brothers to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Coming down upon the beard,
Even Aaron’s beard,
Coming down upon the edge of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon
Coming down upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing — life forever.
The psalm depicts the anointing of Aaron the priest with oil, the perfect picture of a people united in love and worship towards God. For upon the people, God commands the blessing which is eternal life. The Israel we see today is the result of a people who unites themselves under the authority of God’s Word.
God rewards not the high achievers but those who are faithful to their calling.
The returning soldiers were instructed to share the plunder with those who stayed behind. Those who carried arms must not be seen as being more important than those who tend to mundane duties. Society tends to honour and glorify leaders and warriors above followers and homely offices. But what does the bible says? The apostle Paul taught,
And those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked. 1 Corinthians 12:23-24
God accords honour every member regardless of his function. Paul taught the church to compensate the less “honourable” members with greater honour and by making the less presentable members much more presentable. Hence, God evaluates our work according to our motives regardless of its perceived importance. Paul expressed this principle in no uncertain terms,
To those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. Romans 2:7-8
Therefore, God judges our motives as opposed to our level of performance or the kind of work that we are doing. If we stay faithful to God’s calling with the right motives doing what He has instructed and nothing more, and nothing less, we will be duly rewarded. However, if we are selfishly ambitious, even what appears noble and altruistic will not be accepted. There is a disturbing trend among some church circles who see promotion and power as a due reward for godliness. Hence, they look down on those who seem less polished and accomplished.
Let us discern and give honour where honour is due. Let us not seek another office for the wrong reasons but be faithful to the tasks given to us. If you are a homemaker, bring love to all at home by being industrious and meticulous in all your chores. If you are a Sunday School teacher, teach with adequate preparations while remembering and praying for your students during the week. If you are a pastor, seek the good of your flock and serve them with pure motives without being entangled with fame and glamour. If you are a business man, harbour integrity, mercy and justice in all your dealings while actively sowing into God’s kingdom. As Paul taught,
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. Colossians 3:23-24
Are you looking to climb the social ladder? Do you strive to become more prominent in the eyes of others? God honours and rewards those who are diligent and faithful with His authority, wisdom and favour. Make special efforts to honour those who are less presentable in your organization or church. Change the way you accord value to roles and to people for many will be surprised on the day when God returns. Jesus said, “But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.” Matthew 19:30.
Dear Lord, I am awed by the simplicity and the righteousness in which you judge the nations. Renew my mind towards a new values system in your coming Kingdom. I will do my utmost in the tasks that you have given to me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.