Focal passage: Joshua 22:1-8
From 1986-’96 my family lived in Virginia, but in January 1996 I took a ministerial position in North Carolina. Since it was the middle of the school year and my wife was a public school teacher, she and our two children remained in Virginia until June while I was living mostly in North Carolina.
Our family was unsettled. We had a plan for all of us to be permanently together, but it would take some transitioning. In the meantime we had to make decisions regarding the house in Virginia and a future residence in North Carolina.
What seemed relatively simple became quite complex.
Our house did not immediately sell, so we rented it out for a year. Then we decided to purchase land and build a new house, meaning that while we had an unsold home in Virginia, we became renters in North Carolina.
Moving into our new home during Christmas 1998 was a glorious time. We were finally “home.”
The nation of Israel led by Joshua was composed of 12 tribes. These tribes, represented by the original sons of Jacob, consisted of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children. Their goal was to fully inhabit and settle this land to be called Israel.
To do this most effectively, all of the tribes needed to work together, and the ones who sacrificed the most were the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh. Their promised territory was to be on the eastern side of the Jordan River, however, the settlement plan called for these two and one-half tribes to forego their settlement until all the lands west of the Jordan had been fully conquered. Our text describes both exhortation and blessing to these eastern tribes; exhortation to obey God no matter what, and blessing upon their settling in their new “homes” (vv. 5-7).
Settlement comes with its own unique challenges. Because rivers, like state lines, can divide, their settlement required extreme diligence to keep the family, Israel, together.