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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Whining Gets You Nowhere!

The people of Joseph whine about their allocation of land, “We are a numerous people and the LORD has blessed us abundantly” (Joshua 17:14). 

Joshua responds to their complaint by urging them to appropriate the forested areas of their territory. The people of Joseph ratchet up their complaint and appeal to Joshua once again for more land, “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the plain have iron chariots” (17:16). 

Joshua counters their complaints with finality, “You are numerous and very powerful. You will have not only one allotment but the forested hill country as well. Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours; though the Canaanites have iron chariots and though they are strong, you can drive them out” (17:17-18).

The people of Joseph’s complaints reveal a number of truths about whining:
  • Ingratitude gives way to whining. The people of Joseph were landless in Egypt and in the wilderness. They now have more than they’ve ever had and they are complaining. 
  • Laziness generates whining. The people of Joseph want their land given to them on a silver platter. They want land that doesn’t require warfare or work. It’s easier to complain than to roll up your sleeves and take action.  
  • Pride produces whining. The people of Joseph were “too big for their britches”—too numerous for the territory allocated them. 
  • Entitlement breeds whining. The people of Joseph were numerically blessed by the LORD; therefore, they felt certain that this blessing entitled them to a vast land without challenge. 
An inheritance is a gift, not an entitlement. Gratitude produces a “can do” attitude that rolls up its sleeves to do whatever is required to appropriate the gift. God’s person lives in an air of gratitude that treats every gift--no matter how small--as a reason to respond with thanksgiving.

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"The country was brought under their control, but there were still seven Israelite tribes who had not yet received their inheritance. So Joshua said the the Israelites: "How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you" (Joshua 18:1b,2-3).

It took the children of Israel five years to gain control over Canaan; although Canaan was theirs to inhabit seven tribes were still reticent to "take possession" of what they had already been given. I immediately think of the wonderful promises that God has given us in His Word. Although they are ours for the claiming we leave them on the table unclaimed.

Ephesians 1:3 says "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." Let's consider a few of those spiritual blessings:
  • Forgiveness - God promises to forgive and cleanse confessed sin (1 John 1:9), yet how often believers carry around a load of guilt.
  • Peace - God promises peace in place of anxiety for all those who will pray about everything (Phil. 4:6-7) yet many believers worry themselves sick.
  • Joy - God promises joy for all those who will trust in Him (Romans 15:4), many believers live joyless and unfulfilled lives.
  • Fruitfulness - God promises fruitfulness to those who abide in Him (John 15:5) yet many believers live barren lives.
  • Assurance - God promises assurance of salvation to those who believe in Him (1 John 5:13), yet many believers lack such assurance because they live by their emotions than by faith in Christ.
  • Guidance - God promises to lead His children (John 10:4) yet many believers fear the future.
Why would any believer walk in guilt, anxiety, gloom, barrenness, fear, and doubt when God promises him just the opposite?

It isn't enough to just secure the borders of Canaan, the seven tribes of Israel still had to inhabit conquered territory. This would require diligence, discipline, faith, and time. They have to do their part. They have to appropriate by actions what God has said is already theirs. It isn't any difference for us. So too, Peter tells us that we are given exceedingly great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4), but unless we claim these promises by faith then we are no different from these seven tribes. We'll remain on the periphery even as God invites us to enter fully into all that He has for us in Christ Jesus. It's kind of like unclaimed baggage. The suitcase is yours as are the contents--just waiting from you to identify it as yours and then pick it up, take it home and unpack it.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading: Joshua 16:1-19:9
  • What does Joshua's decision regarding Zelophehad's daughters tell you about Joshua's view of women? His respect for Moses' decisions?
  • What dilemma does the inability or unwillingness of the Manassites to drive out the Canaanites create for the tribe or Manasseh? How is it resolved? What does this tell you about Joshua's leadership?
  • How does Joshua divide the seven territories between the seven tribes?
  • Read Proverbs 16:33. How does "casting lots" prohibit bickering?
  • Read the following passages to see how God accomplished His purposes through the seemingly randomness of "casting lots": Leviticus 16:8; Nehemiah 10:34, 11:1; Jonah 1:7; Acts 1:17, 26.
Turning truth into prayer:
What are you leaving unclaimed on the table of promises? Ask the Lord the Lord to show you areas of your life where you are living on the periphery of what He has for you.