to its farthest borders

Today's devotion from Joshua 16 & 17.

These chapters key us in on the status of Joseph's descendants, Ephraim and Manasseh. We remember these two being born to Joseph in Egypt to an Egyptian wife. Yet, even though Joseph had found fame and fortune in Egypt, he had not forgotten his family or his home. Now we see that his sons, adopted by Israel as his own, they have found their place in the Promised Land.

However, they have a problem. At the conclusion of chapter 17 we see that they are too numerous for their allotments. What should they do? They go to Joshua who points them at some prime land and tells them to go get it. This whole encounter seems oddly dark and starkly contrasts the celebratory note of the majority of these accounts. What gives?

Greed. Arrogance. Pride. Rebellion. These are all words that could describe the discourse. Perhaps the family of Joseph looked back on their legacy and decided they were more important than other tribes. Several scholars note the tones of insecurity in the discussion. On one hand they speak of their numbers, power, and superiority. Yet on the other they fear the chariots of the Canaanites.

Joseph's answer is pretty blunt when you consider what he says. David M. Howard, author of the Joshua volume in the New American Commentary series, writes, "In effect, he told them, 'If you can do the job in your own strength, then the land is yours. But, the Lord does not commit himself to fight for you, as he has done previously for his people.'”

This flows from the account of Caleb's faith, and causes us to bristle. The difference is obvious. Caleb didn't think he deserved anything special. He just wanted what God and promised and offered of His own accord. Caleb believed and was willing to put his life on the line because of his faith. These tribes want more, but it doesn't look like they are willing to take the risk themselves.

Maybe there is a lesson for all of us: don't let greed push you beyond the borders of grace.