In Joshua 13, it is said that there were still very large areas of land to be taken over, and yet God asked Joshua to assign the inheritances to the nine and a half tribes by lot. This must have been very challenging to Joshua; the task required wisdom to divide the land to so many tribes which all have their own opinions. However, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; Joshua revered God, and wisdom came from God. Joshua did everything the Lord commanded.
Likewise, how should a pastor of a church or a leader of a group guide people? The answer is they should lead people with reverence in their hearts. Do as God commands! If you put your personal opinions into your leading, you will easily make mistakes. For example, God wants you to give an apple to one of the brothers. When you try to deliver the apple, you meet two brothers at the same time, so you think it is not fair to give the apple to only one of them, so you split the apple in half so they can share. God did not ask you to do that; His order was to give the apple to one of the brothers. As for the other one who didn’t get the apple, God Himself will provide for him. What you were thinking is, “how should I explain to the one who doesn’t get the apple if I give the apple to only one of them?” See? You were thinking of yourself! You play by your own script, so God will not take any responsibility; you have to take all the responsibility by yourself.
God divided the areas of land to be taken among the Israelites first because of His love and mercy. In religious term, it is called “proclamation.” We proclaim that we will receive the inheritance God assigned to us. When I asked my audience to raise their hands if all their family members were saved (by all their family members I meant both of their parents and all their children and siblings), only a few of my audience raised their hands, which showed that in most of the households there are still lands to be taken. We can proclaim in faith that they will someday all belong to Jesus!
In Acts, Paul and Silas prayed and sang at midnight, and there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. Paul and Silas didn’t run away, and they seized the chance led the jailer to Jesus. When the Jailer asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul and Silas answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved－you and your household.” That night, the jailer and his family were all baptized. We see that when we believe in and pray to God, our Lord will have special arrangements for every household.
The task of dividing the lands requires a lot of courage and resolution from Joshua, which is exactly what we need if we want to lead our family to Jesus. Sometimes we will encounter difficulties, and sometimes it may seem that we cannot do a thing right, but keep one thing in mind: all we have to do is to follow God’s order! When someone in your family says to you, “I want to go to your church and see what it is like.” The right thing to do is to walk up to him/her and tell him/her, “Jesus loves you, and I love you too. Let us pray.” Then you can help him/her make a commitment to Jesus in the prayer. First you ask him/her to repeat after you, then you say, “Lord, I am a sinner. Please forgive me.” Don’t worry that he/she would not repeat after you, because our Lord wants all people to be saved and no one to perish. In the Bible, it says, “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21). So just let him/her call out the name of Jesus, and bring him/her to our Lord. When people are softened and are willing to open their hearts to the Holy Spirit, Jesus will come to live in them, and God will take responsibility for their lives. Nevertheless, if people do not make commitment to Jesus, the Holy Spirit will not live in them, and he/she may be overpowered by temptation anytime. Therefore, it is a crucial and urgent matter to make commitment to Jesus.
Many names of places are listed in Joshua 13. These names may be useless and meaningless to me and you, but they are extremely important in the field of Archaeology. There are many archaeologists in the Middle East who study the relationship between ethics and land division; they need to read carefully about the decedents of Adam in Genesis 5 and the offspring of Noah in Genesis 10. Also, they need to search and study the cities according to the documentations in Joshua. Actually, many knowledge and wisdom are buried in the Bible, all kinds of trade and profession can learn from the Bible and acquire wisdom.