The Best Portion (Part 8)
By Sophia Prinsloo
with Barbara Wilmerton Haas
Text Version | Afrikaans
A Bible Story About Joshua
(Continued from Part 7)
It was way past Torey's bedtime but she couldn't sleep. With tummy rumbling, she slipped out of her soft, warm bed and headed for the fridge, hoping she could find some juicy leftovers inside. Silently approaching the kitchen on tiptoe, she smelled the sweet aroma of hot chocolate and heard Mom and Dad talking.
Torey stopped and paused in the dark, just outside the kitchen door and whispered to herself, “What are they talking about?”
She knew she wasn't supposed to be eavesdropping on her parents, but she just couldn't help herself because they were talking about the coming Christmas, discussing what presents to give their kids.
“Margery loves music. Maybe we should give her a CD of her favorite gospel music group,” she heard Mom suggesting. “And Katelyn loves baking. I'm sure she'd love some fancy bakeware,” she added.
“Derick loves building things. Lego building blocks would be just the thing for him. James is so in love with sports. No doubt he'd enjoy having a basketball to practice his shots,” Dad said.
“Yes, and Torey loves books. I wonder which book she'd like,” Mom added.
Torey smiled because she already knew which book she'd love to read next. Maybe she could mention the title to her mom later on, just in case.
Then Dad said to Mom, “Maybe Marjory will become a musician, Katelyn a chef, Derick an engineer, James a basketball player and Torey a journalist, but you know what?”
“What?” Mom asked.
With a smile of satisfaction, Dad said, “The best present we could ever give our kids, is to teach them to serve and trust the Lord with all their hearts, souls, minds and might. Then they'd be able to reach their goals in life, with God's help, no matter what difficulties they may face.”
“That's so true, my dear husband,” Mom said. “Do you remember what Jesus said about Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha? Because Mary loved to listen and learn from Him most of all, Jesus said she had chosen the best portion and it would never be taken away from her.”
Dad wholeheartedly agreed. “That's why, we and our house will serve the Lord.”
Forgetting she was hungry, Torey returned to her bed, smiling and knowing Mom and Dad would choose a suitable present she'd like. But she was even more pleased that, by grace, she already had the best portion, which is having Jesus Christ as her personal Savior and serving Him with all that was within her.
Back at Gilgal, where the Israelites were camping after many victories over their enemies, a couple of young teenagers were leisurely drawing pictures in the sand, happy their morning chores were done.
“I wonder how it would feel to live in a real, stone house,” young Jared said as he drew a house with trees and people next to it in the sand. “We've been living in tents since long before I was born.”
“I wonder HOW LONG before we're going to break camp here at Gilgal and go, live in the cities of those 31 mighty, heathen kings we conquered,” young Arni added.
“Moses said each tribe must get their OWN territory and I wonder who's going to get what. Where's our family going to wind up — on a mountain or in a valley, next to a river or next to the sea?” young Menna wondered.
As young Addi looked up, he exclaimed, “Here comes Mr. Joshua! Let's ask him.”
The kids jumped up and, with one voice, they affectionately but reverently greeted the stately, but humble, old leader of Israel, “Good morning, Sir!”
Joshua replied, “Good morning, my beloved youngsters! Would you all do me a big favor and go, get the leaders of every tribe? I need them to come, see me at the Tent of Meeting. The Lord has decided it's time for the tribes of Israel to go, live in their own, blessed portions of the Promised Land.”
“Whoopee! How exciting!” the kids yelled with elation, scattering in different directions in search of the leaders, eager to please this mighty man of God.
After all the leaders gathered at the Tent of Meeting, Joshua cleared his throat and addressed them: “Men, the Lord spoke to me and said, ‘Joshua, you're getting old, but there are still many more enemies to be conquered in the Land of Canaan.' God has told me He's more than willing to drive them out from before Israel, and He wants you to include their territories when you divide the land among the tribes of Israel.”
Joshua held up a parchment for all the leaders to see. “What you see here is the written list the Lord gave me of all the territories you're to inherit. He said each tribe must take responsibility to conquer his own portion of the Promised Land.”
“Now, let's get down to business,” Joshua continued.
“Number one: As Moses instructed, the tribe of Levi will not inherit any farmland, because their inheritance is to wholly dedicate themselves to the Lord's work. God has promised that their blessed livelihood will come from the offerings brought to the Lord.”
“Number two: The tribes of Reuben, Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh have already received their portions of land on the west side of the Jordan river, when we conquered kings Og and Sihon. Moses gave their land to them at that time.”
“Number three: The tribe of Judah will receive the land promised to them by their ancestor, Jacob, some 450 years ago. It's fitting that they be given the biggest portion, since they're the largest tribe and since Judah was willing to offer himself — the greatest sacrifice a person can give — for his brother, Benjamin's safety all those years ago. Just to make sure it's the Lord's will, we'll ask the Lord to confirm this by sacred lot.”
Joshua continued, “Number four: The tribe of Ephraim and the other half tribe of Manasseh, will inherit the land Jacob promised their ancestor, Joseph, who was second in charge of all Egypt. Therefore, it's fitting that his descendants receive these rich and fertile portions of land but, to make sure the Lord approves of this royal inheritance, it will be confirmed by sacred lot as well.”
Joshua went on to say, “Number five: The seven remaining tribes must go, map out the land so the lots can be cast and the land can be divided among them.”
Before the meeting was adjourned, Joshua signaled to Eleazar the Priest to cast lots for Judah, Ephraim and half the tribe of Manasseh. Amazingly, their lots fell on the same portions of land which were promised to them by their forefather, Jacob.
However, everything wasn't settled yet. Caleb, from the tribe of Judah — the only other spy with Joshua, who believed Israel could take the Promised Land in Moses' time — came to Joshua with a couple of his men and said, “Joshua, remember when Moses sent 12 spies to scout out the Promised Land more than 40 years ago? Only you and I believed with our whole hearts that we could take the Promised Land with the Lord's help.
“As a reward for my faithfulness in following the Lord, Moses promised me the hill country of the Anakim giants. Then I was 40, and now I am 85 years old, but I'm just as strong and full of faith as ever. Give this land to me, because I believe the Lord will help me conquer these giants and let me inherit their land.”
Joshua gladly gave the city of Hebron and its surrounding territory to Caleb, who had faithfully followed the Lord. He and his men were able to slay the giants, and Othniel, Caleb's nephew, helped him conquer the city of Kiriath-sepher. Then, as a reward, Caleb gave this brave, young man his daughter, Achsah, to be his wife and, at her request, he gave them even more land which had five, wonderful springs of water.
Sadly, not everyone was happy. The two tribes of Joseph, Ephraim and half the tribe of Manasseh, who had been promised the richest and most fertile portions, were dissatisfied! Can you believe it! They wanted more land because, unlike Caleb, they were AFRAID of fighting the Canaanites in the lowlands and valleys because they had many horses and iron chariots. So, instead, Joshua happily satisfied them with some forest land to clear.
Later, all Israel gathered at the city of Shiloh to set up the Tabernacle. Growing impatient with the seven tribes who'd been slack in scouting out and clearing the unconquered land, Joshua said to them, “Don't be so slack in doing what needs to be done, because it's God's will. Bring me three scouts from each of the seven remaining tribes to go, map out the land so the sacred lot can be cast and the land can be divided among you.”
So scouts were chosen and Joshua sent them out to do as he had commanded them. When they returned with the maps, Eleazar, the priest, cast the sacred lot to determine who would inherit what. Finally, the tribes of Benjamin, Simeon, Zebulon, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali and Dan received their assigned portions of the Promised Land. Praise the Lord!
Although the tribe of Levi didn't inherit any land, they still needed cities to live in and some pasture land for their cattle so they came to Shiloh to consult with Joshua, Eleazar the Priest and with leaders of the tribes. In the end, they were given cities scattered among the 12 tribes of Jacob. In this way, everyone could easily reach the tribe of priests, who handled the sacrifices brought to them and also acted as healers.
As Moses instructed, Joshua appointed safe cities, which were also called cities of refuge. When someone accidentally killed another person, he could safely flee to one of these cities, for protection from those seeking revenge. In that way, he could have a safe trial, where it would be determined whether or not he was guilty.
The Lord also told Joshua that he could have any portion of land he wanted, so he chose to live in Timnath-serah, in the hills of Ephraim, but that wasn't all. There was yet another portion Joshua chose which he valued far above everything else, and he dared the children of Israel to share that portion with him. Can you guess what that was?
When Joshua was very old and about to die, he called the whole nation of Israel together at Shechem and said to them, “The Lord gave you land you didn't work for and cities you didn't build. He gave you vineyards and olive groves — a land of milk and honey — but you can lose all these things if you decide to serve idols and not serve the Lord your God alone.”
“Today, you must choose whom you will serve but,
for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!
That's the BEST PORTION!”
Every one of the Israelites also wanted this BEST PORTION and, right there, in the presence of Joshua, they all made a covenant with the Lord that they, too, would serve only Him, the God of their forefathers, Who had worked many miracles for them, given them his laws to obey, and given them an everlasting inheritance!
In this life, the Lord gives each of us a portion, or a goal, to conquer and inherit. It can be many different things, like a school grade to acquire, or something you want to become when you're grown up but, if you want to choose the best portion in life, choose the Lord Jesus as your everlasting inheritance, loving and serving Him with all your heart, mind, soul and might, learning to obey Him in everything.
1. Which tribe received the biggest portion of the Promised Land? Why?
2. Which tribe didn't inherit any land but, instead, cities throughout the Promised Land? Why?
3. Which tribes weren't satisfied with their portion of the Promised Land? Why not?
4. Was Caleb afraid of the giants? Why or why not?
5. Why was Joshua unhappy with the seven tribes?
6. What's a safe city?
7. What was the best portion Joshua chose?
A VERSE TO LEARN
“Choose you this day whom ye will serve...but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
AN ALTERNATIVE VERSE TO LEARN
“Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy words” (Psalm 119:57).
“But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).
“My beloved is mine, and I am his” (Song of Solomon 2:16a).
In your home, do all members of your family receive the same portion of food, snacks or cake? Or is there someone in your family who always gets the biggest portion? Have you ever been upset about the size of your portion, or have you always been content with what you got?
[After discussion:] God gives each of us a choice to get the best portion one can ever dream of. It's a portion that lasts forever. I'm talking about becoming part of the heavenly kingdom of God's Son, Jesus Christ, having Him as our personal Savior. If we choose to accept his offer of salvation, we will receive forgiveness of sin and right-standing with God. On top of that, we will receive the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, as a guarantee and foretaste of the blissful things which are to come when we will be with Him in heaven forever.
Will you choose Jesus as the best portion for your life as well? Then start reading the New Testament today to learn all about this inheritance we have in Jesus Christ. Before you start reading, ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you read and help you to apply it to your life. Then you will receive all the blessings of salvation. The good news is, you can have as much of Jesus as you want.
thank You for everything You've given me.
Help me, my family and everyone I know choose the best portion,
by having Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.
Help me to love and serve You with all of my heart,
mind, will and might, for the rest of my life.
Let your Holy Spirit help me understand your Word
and apply it to my life.
Help me stay faithful to You in everything and
not be slack in my relationship with You.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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