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March 13, 2019

Please read today’s Scriptures and use the comment section on this page to share your insights from today’s reading. You can also just mention a verse that impacted you or post a question!

Read (and Hear) the Bible in One Year
Christian Standard Bible for 2019

Text: Joshua 9-11
Audio: Joshua 9-11

You can use the audio Bible as a guide to help “set the pace” as you read along.

Joshua 18 (ESV)

Then the whole congregation of the people of Israel assembled at Shiloh and set up the tent of meeting there. The land lay subdued before them.

There remained among the people of Israel seven tribes whose inheritance had not yet been apportioned. So Joshua said to the people of Israel, “How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you? Provide three men from each tribe, and I will send them out that they may set out and go up and down the land. They shall write a description of it with a view to their inheritances, and then come to me. They shall divide it into seven portions. Judah shall continue in his territory on the south, and the house of Joseph shall continue in their territory on the north. And you shall describe the land in seven divisions and bring the description here to me. And I will cast lots for you here before the Lord our God. The Levites have no portion among you, for the priesthood of the Lord is their heritage. And Gad and Reuben and half the tribe of Manasseh have received their inheritance beyond the Jordan eastward, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave them.”

So the men arose and went, and Joshua charged those who went to write the description of the land, saying, “Go up and down in the land and write a description and return to me. And I will cast lots for you here before the Lord in Shiloh.” So the men went and passed up and down in the land and wrote in a book a description of it by towns in seven divisions. Then they came to Joshua to the camp at Shiloh, 10 and Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the Lord. And there Joshua apportioned the land to the people of Israel, to each his portion.

11 The lot of the tribe of the people of Benjamin according to its clans came up, and the territory allotted to it fell between the people of Judah and the people of Joseph. 12 On the north side their boundary began at the Jordan. Then the boundary goes up to the shoulder north of Jericho, then up through the hill country westward, and it ends at the wilderness of Beth-aven. 13 From there the boundary passes along southward in the direction of Luz, to the shoulder of Luz (that is, Bethel), then the boundary goes down to Ataroth-addar, on the mountain that lies south of Lower Beth-horon.14 Then the boundary goes in another direction, turning on the western side southward from the mountain that lies to the south, opposite Beth-horon, and it ends at Kiriath-baal (that is, Kiriath-jearim), a city belonging to the people of Judah. This forms the western side. 15 And the southern side begins at the outskirts of Kiriath-jearim. And the boundary goes from there to Ephron, to the spring of the waters of Nephtoah. 16 Then the boundary goes down to the border of the mountain that overlooks the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, which is at the north end of the Valley of Rephaim. And it then goes down the Valley of Hinnom, south of the shoulder of the Jebusites, and downward to En-rogel. 17 Then it bends in a northerly direction going on to En-shemesh, and from there goes to Geliloth, which is opposite the ascent of Adummim. Then it goes down to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben, 18 and passing on to the north of the shoulder of Beth-arabah it goes down to the Arabah. 19 Then the boundary passes on to the north of the shoulder of Beth-hoglah. And the boundary ends at the northern bay of the Salt Sea, at the south end of the Jordan: this is the southern border. 20 The Jordan forms its boundary on the eastern side. This is the inheritance of the people of Benjamin, according to their clans, boundary by boundary all around.

21 Now the cities of the tribe of the people of Benjamin according to their clans were Jericho, Beth-hoglah, Emek-keziz,22 Beth-arabah, Zemaraim, Bethel, 23 Avvim, Parah, Ophrah, 24 Chephar-ammoni, Ophni, Geba—twelve cities with their villages: 25 Gibeon, Ramah, Beeroth, 26 Mizpeh, Chephirah, Mozah, 27 Rekem, Irpeel, Taralah, 28 Zela, Haeleph, Jebus (that is, Jerusalem), Gibeah and Kiriath-jearim—fourteen cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the people of Benjamin according to its clans.

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This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. …and Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the Lord. And there Joshua apportioned the land to the people of Israel, to each his portion. Joshua 18:10

    Casting Lots

    Over the years I've heard various things about casting lots – mostly that it's something we don't do anymore because we pray. Some view this as a type of gambling and label it a sin. I see casting lots as someone wanting to be impartial but I understand that we need to pray and use godly wisdom when making important decisions too.

    But by casting lots, those on the receiving end can be confident that whatever the result, it was not based on human choice but left completely to God.

    It may be off-topic but at the same church we served in years ago which spoke negatively about casting lots, playing cards was also taboo. We were told we couldn't play cards in the youth center because the deed specifically stated if there were card playing or dancing, the building would go back to the original owner.

    In an age where most churches have adopted an "anything goes" approach to church, at least some of this is in response to the restrictiveness (and strictness) of some churches in the past (and present) who regulate nearly everything. But it's also the result of a distain for the Word of God and rebellious people wanting to live (and do church) any way they want and still feel like they are following God. 

    In many churches today, women are pastors even though the Bible forbids it (not because women are not equal but men are commanded to lead spiritually). Even people who practice homosexuality openly can be pastors (even though it's an abomination to the Lord). But to some people these restrictions, which would exclude certain people from leadership, are like casting lots, playing cards and dancing. They are old rules which are no longer valid in modern society. 

    There are many things in life (and the church) that are a matter of conscience. Romans 14:5 says to let everyone be "convinced in his own mind" regarding peripheral issues like esteeming one day better than another or abstaining from certain foods. But women and people who practice homosexuality (not same-sex attraction but people who have sex with people of the same sex) in spiritual leadership is not a peripheral issue according to the Word of God. It is not permitted.

    A peripheral issue would be things which are not specified in the Bible and where there is not a clear Scriptural mandate one way or another. 

    Even though casting lots was an Old Testament practice, no where in Scripture does it say it's a sin. There are principles we can follow which may be related to this such as the sin of gambling your money away instead of providing for your family or dancing in a sexually provocative way. But playing cards for fun and dancing as an art form (or sport) would be a matter of conscience. It's not listed as a "deed of the flesh."

    A verse often taken out of context by rebels who want to do things their own way is Romans 14:13 which says, "Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother."

    By no means is this verse insinuating that we are not to make judgments on matters of sin. The context is on debatable issues such as some people following Old Testament food regulations regarding eating meat and others not because there is freedom from these Old Testament restrictions in Christ. Also, some consider one day more important than another while others esteem all days alike. 

    Paul goes on to say, "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. 20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves" (Romans 14:17-22). 

    Sin Is Not a Matter of Conscience

    I think it's important that we never take this approach with sin. Galatians 5 starts with, "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1). 

    Some could use this as a way to justify their sin but again, the context is in relation to whether or not the Old Testament practice of circumcision should still be practiced in the new covenant in Christ Jesus. Paul writes, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love." Once again, there is freedom in debatable issues like this. 

    But there is no compromise on sin. Any sin. Ever.

    In the same chapter we read, "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another" (Galatians 5:16-26). 

    Walking in the Spirit, living by the Spirit and keeping in step with the Spirit means we are not gratifying the desires of the flesh which are, "sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:19-21). 

    Adding to this from Romans 1 we read, "18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

    24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

    26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

    28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them" (Romans 1:18-32).

    The deeds of the flesh are not debatable issues or matters of conscience. They are sin – always were and always will be because they are contrary to the character of God and the Spirit of God. Not only are we not to do these things but Romans 1:32 warns against those who give approval to those who practice them!

    Father, help us to never justify our sin. Help us to not dismiss what your Word says but also keep us from making the Christian life about what we are not allowed to do. Your restrictions always give us freedom from things that want to control us and draw us away from you. Thank you for your Spirit who convicts us of sin and empowers us to have victory over it. And Father, thank you that as we confess our sins, you are faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

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