Scripture: When they had finished distributing the several territories of the land as inheritances, the people of Israel gave an inheritance among them to Joshua the son of Nun. By command of the LORD they gave him the city that he asked, Timnath-serah in the hill country of Ephraim. And he rebuilt the city and settled in it. Joshua 19:49 ESV
Observation: Completing the detailed report of the distribution of the Promised Land (east and west of the Jordan River) by location (casting lots) and size (pro-rata population), the author informs us that, like Caleb, Joshua, an Ephraimite (see Numbers 13:8), received his requested land inheritance amid his tribal people’s allotment. Timnah-serah, at the center of Ephraim’s territory in its hill country, was a prime piece of real estate. So Joshua, approximately 85 years of age, wastes no time rebuilding and settling in it. The biblical understanding of “settled” connotes that he sought security and fellowship for his family and the other citizens.
Of note, “By command of the Lord” alludes to Numbers 14:30, where the Lord swears that only Caleb and Joshua of this adult generation would enter the Promised Land. Otherwise, we have no Scriptural reference to the Lord promising Timnah-serah to Joshua. But as theologian Donald Madvig suggests, the absence of Timnah-serah from the author’s list of Ephraimite towns indicates that Joshua received a special land grant from his fellow countrymen as an expression of their gratitude. And with much regard for his life and leadership, they will bury him in Timnath-serah (Joshua 24:30).
Takeaway: Joshua, like Caleb, wholeheartedly followed Yahweh and trusted that his presence would bring victory, resulting in a shalom rest of the land where he would settle (see the November 20th Daily Focus). And he followed the same charge he spoke to his kinsmen: to be courageous and take possession of their allotment because they have “great power” in Yahweh, who fights for them (see Yesterday’s Daily Focus). So now, in old age, he can enjoy the fruit of his labor—not by retiring from work altogether but by being more effective with his time and resources. Indeed, through long obedience to the Lord, Joshua acquired the life experience, godly wisdom, and maturity of faith that would serve him well to his last days.
It is no different for us. Even if we come to faith late in life, our Lord, through the sanctifying work of his Holy Spirit, will spur us to faithful obedience, which fosters our love and affection for him—and cyclically increases our desire to please him. And in this secure relationship with the One who has prepared a place for us in his eternal heavenly kingdom (John 14:2), we can settle into our earthly environs under his watchful presence. So even though most of us will not take possession of a city, we can apprehend a lifestyle marked by security and rest in Christ’s peace and joy—far more valuable than any worldly gain.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for our faithful Savior who has prepared our eternal home. And we thank you for your Holy Spirit who securely settles us into our earthly environs strengthened by your Son’s peace and joy. So would you please help us to faithfully obey your Son’s commands that guide, protect, and empower us along the way? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling