March 9 Bible Reading: Joshua Chapters 16-18
"Now the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of meeting there. And the land was subdued before them. But there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes which had not yet received their inheritance. Then Joshua said to the children of Israel: "How long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers has given you?" (Joshua 18:1-3)
The Israelites finally set up God’s tabernacle in its first permanent resting place in the Promised Land at a place called Shiloh (v. 1) that continued until the days of Prophet Samuel (1 Sam. 1:3). This was a central hill location between Bethel and Shechem, about 18 miles north of Jerusalem, and near the border between the two tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. The presence of the tabernacle at Shiloh made it the main center of Israel’s religious life in the days after the Israelites entered Canaan, and this was the place where they had all assembled together.
Even though Promised Land was subdued before the Israelites and even though both Judah and Joseph had already received their inheritance by casting of lots, there were still seven tribes west of the Jordan River which had not yet received their inheritance (v. 2). Joshua had expected all the tribes to take the initiative in asking for their portion of the Promised Land, but that did not happen, which made Joshua very frustrated at their lack of initiative.
It was then that Joshua sternly and publicly rebuked the seven tribes in front of the entire congregation (v. 3). It was not enough for them to defeat the inhabitants, but they also had to take possession of their inheritance. After defeating the Canaanites (see chapters 9–11), seven tribes did not follow up on their victories and occupy their portion of inheritance. Their slackness and neglect in obeying God’s instructions given in Joshua 13:1 displayed their lack of faith in following up on His promises. It was not the enemy that prevented the tribes from claiming their inheritance; it was their own indifference and indolence (see Prov. 18:9; James 4:17).
Let us understand that God had always wanted man to have dominion over his inheritance - this was God’s plan from the very beginning. When God desired to create man on this earth, He had declared His intention of how man should be through the following words: "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over..." (Gen 1:26). God’s very first blessing over man clarified His desire further: "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth" (Gen 1:28).
To reiterate, God had always wanted man to have dominion over his inheritance - this was (and is) the law of God’s kingdom. When the first Adam lost his dominion status and authority through sin in the Garden of Eden, the second Adam (Jesus Christ) restored our dominion status on the Cross of Calvary and gave us both authority (Matt. 28:18-20) and power (Acts 1:8).
Let us be careful to live our lives having dominion over all the spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3) and the precious promises (2 Peter 1:3-4) that we have received from God as our spiritual inheritance!