JOSHUA - CHAPTER 19
Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2000 James Melough
“And the second lot came forth to Simeon, even for the tribe of the children
of Simeon according to their families: and their inheritance was within the
inheritance of the children of Judah.”
is the number of witness or testimony, so that what is written concerning Simeon has
typological application to us as those who are God’s witnesses here on earth.
meaning hearkening, declares symbolically that we are to be spiritual
Simeonites, men who “hearken” to God, i.e., those who read and obey His Word. As Levi was unique in that he was given no inheritance in Canaan,
so is Simeon unique in that he was assigned his place within the territory of Judah.
There are several reasons for this: first, it was the fulfillment of Jacob’s
prophecy in Ge 49:5-7, “Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in
their habitations.... I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel”;
second, the territory initially given Judah proved to be too large for them,
see verse 9, “... the part of Judah was too much for them.”
And the third reason is related to a spiritual lesson which is easily read. Praise, which Judah represents, and obedience, which Simeon
represents, cannot be separated, for obedience is the highest form of praise or
worship, as it is written, “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and
sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the
fat of rams” 1 Sa 15:22. And the Lord
Himself declared the same truth in Jn 14:15 “If ye love me, keep my
scattering of Levi and Simeon, however, furnishes an example of God’s overruling
evil for good. The Levites were
appointed to minister to the spiritual needs of their brethren, that ministry being
made possible only by their being scattered throughout the other tribes.
And as has been noted already, Simeon’s being placed within the territory of
Judah, was to strengthen the hands of their brethren in the maintenance of a
possession that “was too much for them.” Incidentally,
the spiritual significance of Judah’s territory being too much for him, teaches the
lesson that we are incapable of rendering to God all the praise that is His due.
all practical purposes Judah’s territorial boundary was also Simeon’s, though the
latter, located as he was in Judah, actually had no boundary; and the lesson being
taught in this is that obedience also has no boundary, no limit: it includes every
part of our lives. Since Simeon’s
literal border was the same as Judah’s, the spiritual significance of the border
points is the same for both.
“And they had in their inheritance Beer-sheba, or Sheba, and Moladah,”
first is Beer-sheba well of the oath, very obviously a picture of the well of
the Word. The obedience which Simeon
represents is dependent upon a knowledge of, and obedience to, the written Word.
The believer’s obedience is not to be according to the dictates of his own
mind, but to what is written in Scripture. For
additional comments on Beer-sheba please see the notes on 15:28.
is some question as to whether Sheba is a separate place, or simply a contraction for
Beer-sheba. If it is a different place,
it has several meanings he who is coming: seven: oath.
It is generally agreed that seven and oath are related to the
covenant made between Abraham and Abimelech in connection with the well of Beer-sheba
(Ge 21:25-31, the seven reminding us of the perfection of the written Word;
and the oath reminding us of the immutable promises contained in it.
The third meaning he who is coming reminds us that we are to live in
the constant expectation of the Lord’s return.
means birth: bringing forth. Few
spiritual minds will fail to be reminded here of the need to preach the Gospel, for
apart from that Gospel there can be no second birth, the imperative need of which is
declared by the Lord Himself, “Ye must be born again,” Jn 3:7. The believer who
fails to spread the Gospel fails to obey the Lord’s commission, “Go ye into all
the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” Mk 16:15.
Our disobedience discounts our claim to be spiritual Simeonites.
See also comments on 15:26.
“And Hazar-shual, and Balah, and Azem,”
meaning enclosure of the jackal, has been discussed in our study of 15:28, the
notes on which should be reviewed here since the spiritual significance is the same.
meaning waxed old, and following as it does Hazar-shual which speaks of the
old nature, serves to remind us that everything pertaining to the flesh has become
old for the believer. By God’s
reckoning in relation to us that state has become old.
It has passed away. We have had a
new birth. We are new creatures in
Christ, and are responsible to live accordingly.
Azem, meaning strenuous: bone: self-same, has been discussed in our study of
15:29, those notes should be reviewed here since it has the same significance here as
“And Eltolad, and Bethul, and Hormah,”
Eltolad, meaning may God cause thee to beget, has been discussed in our study
of 15:30, it is suggested that the reader review those notes.
meaning separated, scarcely needs comment.
It emphasizes the need of keeping ourselves separate from this present evil
world if we would live as those who have become dead to that world, having been
crucified to it by the cross of Christ, Ga 6:14, the injunction of Paul being, “I
beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a
living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service
(spiritual worship. And be not conformed
to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” Ro 12:1-2.
means destruction, and the notes on 12:14 should be reviewed here since the
application is the same.
“And Ziklag, and Beth-marcaboth, and Hazar-susah,”
meaning enveloped in grief, reminds us of the Lord’s words in Jn 16:33,
“In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the
world.” Peter likewise, writing
relative to our living hope, our incorruptible inheritance, and our being kept by the
power of God, says, “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need
be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations (trials: that the trial of your
faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with
fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus
Christ....” 1 Pe 1:3-9.
Ziklag was within the border of Judah and Simeon, and therefore within the borders of
all Israel, so is what Ziklag portrays part of every believer’s portion here on
earth: our pilgrimage through this vale of tears must of necessity have its share of
sorrow, but as noted above, the trials are for the refining of our faith, and God’s
encouragement is that, “Weeping may endure for a night, but (great joy cometh in
the morning” Ps 30:5.
means the chariot-house, but a chariot without a horse or horses is useless,
so it isn’t surprising that we find Hazar-susah mare enclosure in
association with Beth-marcaboth. Israel
was forbidden to multiply horses to themselves, De 17:16, and in De 20:1 they were
told, “When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and
chariots and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the Lord thy God is
with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”
As Israel’s enemies put their trust in horses and chariots, His people were
to trust in Him, and the encouragement to do so was given when He brought them out of
Egypt, for their last sight of the Egyptians was at the Red Sea when God engulfed
them and their chariots and horses under the same waters which He had miraculously
divided to permit His redeemed people safe passage.
He, the God Who had redeemed and delivered them, is more powerful than all the
chariots and horses on earth, as it is written, “... the weakness of God is
stronger than me” 1 Co 1:25. We too
can safely place our trust in that same omnipotent God.
is also instructive to note the meaning of Hazar-susah: it is mare enclosure,
the emphasis being upon its being an enclosure for female horses.
Since the female in Scripture represents the submission of the will, as the
male portrays its activity, the lesson is that our safety and blessing lie in being
completely submissive to God’s will.
“And Beth-lebaoth, and Sharuhen: thirteen cities and their villages:”
means house of lionesses, and as with Hazar-susah, the feminine gender is
stressed, the lesson being that those who are submissive to God’s will are like a
house of lionesses: all the power of God is at their disposal.
This is the OT typological presentation of the same assurance as was given
Paul, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is
made perefect in weakness” 2 Co 12:9, so that the Apostle could exult, “Most
gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may
rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure
in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for
Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” 2 Co 12:9-10.
means they beheld grace, and reminds us that all the blessings Israel enjoyed
had been given them by the God of all grace. We
too, who have been made the recipients of infinitely greater blessings, owe them all
to that same grace.
thirteen cities with their villages.” With
prime numbers greater than seven, the method of deciphering the meaning seems to be
that one, the number of God, is first to be subtracted, and then the remainder
either factorized or examined as a whole. This method, when applied to 13, leaves us with 12, which is the
number of God’s government on display, as for example, the twelve tribes of Israel,
and the Church built upon the foundation of the doctrine of the twelve Apostles.
These thirteen cities therefore serve to remind us that as spiritual
Simeonites we are to display by our obedience that we are willingly submissive to
“Ain, Remmon, and Ether, and Ashan; four cities and their villages:”
meaning an eye: fountain; and Remmon or Rimmon meaning pomegranate,
have been discussed in our study of 15:32, the notes on which may now be reviewed
since the spiritual application is the same here as there.
Ether, meaning entreaty: abundance; and Ashan, meaning smoke, have been
discussed in our study of 15:42, the notes on that section may be reviewed here.
four cities and their villages.” Since
four is the number of earth and testing, the mention of these four cities is to
remind us that all the time spent here on earth is a time of testing, the results of
which will be revealed at the Bema.
And all the villages that were round about these cities to Baalath-beer,
Ramath of the south. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Simeon
according to their families.”
meaning mistress of the well, points again to the need of submission to the
written Word, for, as noted already, the female speaks of submission; and the well,
of the Word.
finally, Ramath the height directs us to the contemplation of the high ground
upon which every believer stands. We
should never forget, however, that that exalted place is ours only because the Lord
Jesus Christ took our guilty place in death, descending into depths of agony beyond
our ability to comprehend. The south, as
already noted, represents the realm of faith.
“Out of the portion of the children of Judah was the inheritance of the
children of Simeon: for the part of the children of Judah was too much for them:
therefore the children of Simeon had their inheritance within the inheritance of
discussed already, the appointment of Simeon’s lot within that of Judah, teaches
the truth that worship and obedience are inseparable. The fact that Judah’s lot was too much for them is the symbolic
announcement of the truth that the praise and worship of which God is worthy are
beyond the ability of finite minds to grasp.
“And the third lot came up for the children of Zebulun according to their
families: and the border of their inheritance was unto Sarid,”
three is the number of resurrection, the underlying lesson being taught in the places
assigned to Zebulun relate to us as those who stand spiritually on resurrection
ground, having been raised up out of spiritual death.
means dwelling, and since the tribes of Israel represent features that should
characterise us as believers, this tribe reminds us that we are those who will
“dwell in the house of the Lord for ever,” Ps 23:6, and that here on earth we are
those who “dwell in the secret place of the most High (abiding under the shadow of
the Almighty,” Ps 91:1.
border points, and the towns and villages within his lot, have therefore lessons
relative to us as a people occupying the privileged position portrayed by this tribe.
Its being the third lot (number of resurrection reminds us that as those who
have been raised from spiritual death, we stand spiritually, as we will one day
literally, on resurrection ground.
meaning survivor, remainder, remnant, begins the boundary, from which point it
is traced, first westward, then eastward, and finally northward. The west is the direction that speaks of approach or nearness to
God, and fittingly identifies the place occupied by the spiritual Zebulunite.
The meaning of Sarid points to what survives testing.
Inasmuch as we are one with Christ, Who by His death and resurrection has
“survived” the judgment due to us, we too have survived that judgment, and now as
those who have been raised up out of spiritual death we stand before God as new
creatures, as holy and sinless as Christ Himself. Throughout eternity we will be the remainder or remnant that will
be the testimony to God’s saving grace.
But here on earth we will occupy the spiritual position portrayed by Sarid
only as we ignore the allurements of the world, being satisfied simply to have God as
our portion, counting all else but dross. Such separation will make us God’s “remnant.”
They are always in the minority.
“And their border went up toward the sea, and Maralah, and reached to
Dabbasheth, and reached to the river that is before Jokneam:”
it went toward the sea, Zebulun’s portion was separated from it by that of
Asher, which would remind us of our responsibility to carry the Gospel to the
“sea” of the nations (Isa 57:20, while maintaining a Divinely appointed
separation from their ways and works. Such
separation ensures true happiness, as is indicated in the meaning of the name of the
separating tribe, for Asher means happy.
the location of which is uncertain, means causing shaking, a meaning which has
a bad scriptural connotation relating to fear or to God’s shaking the earth in
judgment. It may be meant here to teach
the truth that while there may be much to make us fearful in connection with
confronting unconverted men with their
need of a Savior, we have more cause to fear God if we fail to sound that warning.
means hump of a camel: he whispered shame, and as with Maralah, the
spiritual message may have two sides. The camel’s hump indicates its condition, a
large hump consisting of reserve fat upon which the animal can subsist when food is
scarce, and a small hump declaring the opposite. But the application to us lies in the fact that the camel is the
biblical symbol of the body placed at the disposal of the Holy Spirit, just as the
ass represents the body at the disposal of the old nature.
As “camels” our spiritual condition is revealed in the size of our
“humps,” the spiritual equivalent of a large hump being great faith in God; while
a small one portrays a correspondingly small measure of faith.
As courage is the result of great faith, so is shame the result of little
faith. Much faith is needed by those who
would fearlessly present the Gospel to an unbelieving world.
means the people will be purchased: the people will be lamented, and since it
has been discussed in our study of 12:22, the notes on that verse may be reviewed
“And turned from Sarid eastward toward the sunrising unto the border of
Chisloth-tabor, and then goeth out to Daberath, and goeth up to Japhia,”
return to Sarid (verse 10 to trace the border eastward is significant, for it teaches
the truth that it is by the action of our own wills that we walk spiritually
“westward” toward God, or “eastward,” away from Him, for, as noted in earlier
studies, the east is always synonymous with sin and departure from God, as the west
is with approach to Him.
toward the sunrising” is a term that has led many to erroneously associate the east
with good rather than evil, but the east is associated with mere natural light or
knowledge, which is not to govern the life of the believer.
means foolish confidences thou wilt purge. Reliance on the world’s wisdom all too often begets a foolish
confidence which God has to purge. We
would spare ourselves many a sorrow if we simply obeyed the injunction of Pr 3:5-6,
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
means pasture. God’s purging or
chastisement is always for our good. As
He teaches the folly of reliance on worldly wisdom, and leads us to abandon it, He
conducts us to what Daberath represents: the good pasture of His Word.
means causing brightness. In the
present context this declares the happy result of turning from worldly wisdom to that
which is of God, and which is available to us in the written Word.
It brings true enlightenment, which in turn produces a brighter testimony.
“And from thence passeth on along on the east to Gittah-hepher to
Ittah-kazin, and goeth out to Remmon-methoar to Neah;”
means toward the winepress of the digging, with “digging” embracing the
idea of examining or prying into. Since
the east always has a bad scriptural connotation its being mentioned here may
indicate that the spiritual lesson relates to the consequences of refusing God’s
chastisement, and continuing an “eastward” course, i.e., one of disobedience.
The winepress in Scripture speaks of judgment, so that Gittah-hepher is the
symbolic declaration of the fact that when believers persist in disobedience the
result must be that they must suffer chastisement, as it is written, “My son,
despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he
whom the father chasteneth not? But if
ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not
sons” Heb 12:5-8.
means to the time of the prince, judge, or magistrate, meanings which seem to
confirm the above view of Gittah-hepher, and which remind us that self-judgment is
the way to avoid being brought under Divine judgment, “For if we would judge
ourselves, we should not be judged” 1 Co 11:31.
means the marked out pomegranate, and the lesson is deciphered only as we
recognize that the pomegranate is a symbol of the Church, of which no more perfect
symbol exists. This fruit consists of
little clusters of seeds, each cluster being encased in a membranous sheath, each
seed being enveloped in a sac of blood-red juice.
These clusters, each separate
from the others, yet all of them compacted together, form the fruit, which is
enclosed in a reddish green skin.
isn’t difficult to see in each individual seed enveloped in red juice, a figure of
each individual believer cleansed by Christ’s blood, and having within him the germ
of eternal life. Nor is it difficult to
see in each cluster encased in its own membranous sheath, a figure of each local
churc; and in all of the compacted clusters, a type of the Church universal, the
green of the skin speaking of life; and the red, declaring that that life has its
beginning in the precious blood shed at Calvary.
the final brush stroke completing the symbolic picture is found in Ex 28:31-35 in
which God directed that “... upon the hem of it (the high priest’s robe thou
shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet ... and bells of gold
between them ... a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate,
upon the hem of the robe round about.” No spiritual mind will fail to see in this a typological picture
of the churches joined to, and dependent upon Christ, the blue speaking of their
heavenly nature; the purple, of their royal character as those destined to reign with
Him; and the scarlet, of their glory. And the golden bells scarcely need comment.
They declare that the responsibility of the churches, and therefore of each
individual believer, is to be a witness for the Savior until He comes again.
the light of all this, there can be little doubt that the lesson of Remmon-methoar a
marked out pomegranate is that
is the head of the Church, marked out or set apart for Him, and responsible to obey
Him, if she would walk in the enjoyment of His blessing.
meaning a wandering: a shaking, is the symbolic warning that “shaking,”
which speaks of God’s anger, is the concommitant of wandering, i.e., with
“And the border compasseth it on the north side to Hannathon: and the
outgoings thereof are in the valley of Jiphthah-el.”
to uncertainty regarding the exact location of some of the points mentioned, scholars
disagree as to whether this section of the border is on the east or west, and while
I’m inclined to agree with those who maintain that it is on the west ((Jiphthah-el,
for example, is certainly on the west, it is to be noted that the purpose of God is
not so much to mark out exact geographical boundaries as to teach truth relative to
the lesson is connected with the meanings of the names, rather than their exact
location, is apparent. For example, some
of the places do not lie on the boundary lines at all. As frequently in Scripture (the genealogical list in Matthew 1,
for example, the Holy Spirit has been discriminating, choosing what suits His
purpose, and omitting what doesn’t.
the north is the direction that speaks of intelligence (usually mere natural
intelligence, but sometimes used also of spiritual intelligence, its being mentioned
in conjunction with the west (direction of approach to God, indicates that it is to
be taken here as representative of spiritual intelligence.
therefore, meaning graciously regarded, is the symbolic assurance that in
spite of all the failure that marks us here on earth, every believer is graciously
regarded by God, Whose grace first made eternal life available to us at incalculable
cost: the death of His beloved Son.
meaning God will open, teaches a spiritual lesson easily read.
God never ceases to open to spiritual intelligence a deeper knowledge of
Himself and His Word, but also a way of return, no matter how far folly may have
carried us away from Him.
“And Kattath, and Nahallal, and Shimron, and Idalah, and Bethlehem: twelve
cities with their villages.”
“This is the inheritance of the children of Zebulun according to their
families, these cities with their villages.”
means diminished, and having regard to the meanings of the four places which
follow, it seems that the lesson is that however much we may seem to be diminished in
the eyes of the world, and as measured by our worldly possessions, we are
nevertheless the objects of God’s watchful care, and of His ultimate eternal
blessing. Those who are spiritual
Zebulonites, a small diminished minority, dwell “in the secret place of the most
High,” having the assurance that every event in their lives is permitted or
ordained by God, and is for their eternal good.
meaning tended as in a pasture, scarcely needs comment.
We are the sheep of His pasture, and in that pasture are tended with never
failing care. It is instructive also to
note that the tending is “in a pasture,” but the pasture is His Word.
Those who constitute that group find themselves tended by the Good Shepherd as
they browse in the green pastures of the written Word, His guardianship made the more
effective by their knowledge of, and submission to His will as revealed in that Word.
meaning a guardian, likewise needs little comment, for guardianship is so
closely linked with tending as to be virtually the same, the only difference being
that tending suggests care for our needs, while guardianship has to do with
protection from all the evil activity of Satan, and of men who make themselves his
means he will fly to her: hand of imprecation, and
thought of obedient compliance is emphasized since the female in Scripture speaks of
submission of the will. Where there is
that obedient submission there is also the assurance of God’s ultimate deliverance.
The Church will stand one day in glory with the Lord Jesus Christ, He and His
redeemed vindicated before all their foes.
second meaning of Idalah reminds us, however, that that same One Who flies to the
side of His own to deliver them, is no less ready to stretch out His hand against
those who would harm them.
meaning house of bread, scarcely needs comment.
He who dwells close to God dwells in “Bethlehem”: Christ, the true Bread
fully satisfies his every need.
twelve cities with their villages.” Scholars
disagree as to what constitutes these twelve cities; but as noted already, our
instruction comes, not from knowing their exact location, but in the meanings of
their names, or, as here, in the fact that God has emphasized the number twelve, the
Biblical number relating to those governed, as ten is the number relating to the One
Who governs. The spiritual Zebulonite is
the witness to the truth that obedience to God’s government brings blessing.
“And the fourth lot came out to Issachar, for the children of Issachar
according to their families.”
four is the biblical number of earth and testing, the underlying message being taught
symbolically in the details of Issachar’s lot relates to us as those who live in
the midst of earthly testing.
meaning he will be hired: there is reward: he will bring reward, represents
another characteristic that should mark all Christians: we should be willing to serve
the Lord in whatever capacity or place He may direct, all such service bringing an
eternal reward at the judgment seat of Christ.
“And their border was toward Jezreel, and Chesulloth, and Shunem,”
means it will be sown of God, and since its spiritual significance has been
discussed in our study of 15:56 and 17:16, those notes may be reviewed here.
means as raised ways: foolish confidences, and in relation to the service of
which Issachar clearly speaks, it sounds a warning.
Most believers are called upon to render their service in comparitive
obscurity, but evangelists, elders and teachers, on the other hand, usually serve in
a more public sphere, and it is very easy in such a position, especially if God has
given an unusual measure of gift, to become puffed up with pride, and to forget that
the gift was given apart from any special merit in the recipient, and could just as
easily have been given to another. That
pride begets foolish confidence, and we do well to remember God’s warning, “Pride
goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall .... A man’s pride
shall bring him low: but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit” Pr 16:18; 29:23.
means double rest, and conveys the assurance that no matter how we may be
called upon to serve, that service is never onerous, for God endows each man with the
necessary strength to do the work assigned him, as it is written, “Take my yoke
upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest
unto your souls. For my yoke is easy,
and my burden is light” Mt 11:29-30. I
have known many of God’s servants who have worked long hours, often without the
comforts of home, and with rare vacations, but I’ve never known a man doing God’s
work in God’s way, who has ever felt overburdened, or who didn’t find pleasure in
his work. I have, on the other hand,
known many attempting to do a work to which God hadn’t called them, and for which
He had not endowed them, who were wearied and who suffered what the world
calls “burn out.”
has work for every believer to do, but no one is compelled to serve.
While offering a reward that is beyond our ability to comprehend, see 1 Co
2:9, He leaves with us the choice of whether we will do His work.
The Bema will reveal the folly of having refused to serve the best of all
Masters. Nor should we ever entertain
the foolish idea that by serving we are doing God a favor.
It is He Who bestows the favor by conferring upon us the privilege of serving,
for He Who called the universe into existence by a word, has no need of servants.
only does God equip each man for his appointed work, so that the man has pleasure in
serving, but He holds out also the promise that the brief day of earthly service will
be followed by eternal rest.
four is the Biblical number of earth and testing, Isaachar’s lot being the fourth
reminds us that service and testing are linked together, as it reminds us also that
earth is the scene of both. There are
not lacking indications that the faithfulness of our service here on earth will
determine the degree of our eternal reward, and also the position that will be
assigned us in the administration of Christ, Mt 25:14-30.
the primary work assigned to every believer is the sowing of the good seed of the
Gospel, Mk 16:15, one lesson we may learn is that whether by us, or by more obedient
servants, that seed will be sown. By the
time the Tribulation (but not the Church age ends, the whole world will have heard
the Gospel. To refuse to sow that good
seed is to make ourselves disobedient servants, and to rob ourselves of eternal
though it seems, nothing affords true rest like obedient service, for such a servant
is delivered from the anxious care that is the concomitant of human schemes.
Knowing himself to be but an instrument in the Master’s hand, he need have
no concern about results. As such an
instrument he is not accountable to man, nor is he under the necessity of appearing
successful. He can serve in the peaceful
assurance of knowing that his obedience will see the Lord’s work done, and he is
happy to wait for the Bema to reveal that fact.
Shunem means double rest. This
rest enjoyed by the obedient believer even while he works, is in addition to the rest
enjoyed by every believer - rest from the vain attempt to fit ourselves for heaven by
any means other than faith in the finished work of God’s perfect Servant, the Lord
is very different with the man who makes himself the servant of men, or the slave of
his own schemes.
“And Hapharaim, and Shion, and Anaharath.”
spiritual lesson of Hapharaim double digging is discovered as we keep in mind
the overall message connected with Issachar, i.e., service, particularly the sowing
of the good seed of the Gospel. As in
the physical realm, so is it also in the spiritual: digging must precede sowing, for
little can be expected of seed sown in untilled soil.
how is this “digging” to be done? Literal
digging breaks up the ground, and the spiritual equivalent is the breaking up of the
sinner’s conscience by making him aware of his danger so that he fears the prospect
of meeting a Holy God. The soil of the
heart and conscience has been dug, not when the man is ready to give intellectual
assent to a set of facts concerning Jesus Christ, but when he is willing to
acknowledge himself a lost helpless sinner, and is ready to cry out, “What must I
do to be saved?” A man must be made
aware of his need of a Savior before being told to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,
otherwise his response is very likely to be simply acceptance of a set of facts
concerning the historicity of Christ, a mere intellectual process that saves no one.
there is to be “double digging,” in connection with which several thoughts
suggest themselves. Wherever possible
the attempt to warn the sinner and point him to the Savior should be more than a mere
one-time effort. Nor should we forget
the value of kindness. Every opportunity
should be seized to convince the man that our concern for his soul is genuine, and
not just an attempt to boost the size of our local fellowship.
A word of caution, however, is necessary in this connection.
Care must be taken to ensure that the means doesn’t become the end.
Many a Christian activity begun as an aid to spreading the Gospel, has become
instead a hindrance, the activity itself absorbing all the time and energy, becoming
the end rather than the means. There is
need to guard against spending so much time trying to cultivate the man we’re
trying to win, that the opportunity never comes to present him with the Gospel.
other forms of “digging” will suggest themselves to the believer concerned about
spreading the Gospel, but one that must be mentioned is prayer. Without this essential element, the sowing of the spiritual seed
is a mere “activity” very unlikely to produce fruit for eternity, save as God may
be pleased to overrule our delinquency, and use His Word for His own glory.
is not listed in either Strong’s or Young’s concordance, or in most Bible
dictionaries, but the KJV renders it Shihon, meaning desolation or destruction.
Grant takes it to mean he who puts at ease.
If desolation or destruction is the correct meaning it is a
warning both to the slothful Christian, and to the unbelieving hearer of the Gospel.
The former, by his failure to preach the Gospel, will lose his reward at the
Bema; the latter, refusing to believe, will lose his soul.
Grant’s meaning he who puts at ease is correct, then the lesson continues to
confirm what we have already discussed: the believer who is doing God’s work in
God’s way is at ease relative to his service.
He can safely leave the results with God.
meaning the groaning of fear, may be intended to remind us that as this place
was within Issachar’s territory, and therefore under his control, so is the fear
that so often hinders the proclamation of the Gospel, under our control.
It is one thing, however, to be afraid, quite another to submit to that fear. While it is natural to fear the wrath of man, we should remember
that, “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord
shall be safe,” Pr 29:25. Far more
often than most of us are willing to admit, it is fear of man that keeps us from
spreading the Gospel. The remedy is to
fear the Lord, for that fear is not only the beginning of wisdom, Pr 9:10, it is also
the foundation of courage, enabling the believer to say boldly, “The Lord is my
helper, and I will not fear what man
shall do unto me,” Heb 13:5.
“And Rabbith, and Kishion, and Abez.”
meaning multiplicity, may point to the vast numbers of those to whom we are to
carry the Gospel, all sharing a common need: the salvation of their souls, while the
circumstances associated with them as individuals are as varied as their faces.
may speak also of the variety of those to whom God has committed this great work.
Every believer, young or old, rich or poor, educated or ignorant, has
been commanded, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every
creature,” Mk 16:15. Whether it be a simple word of testimony to an individual, the
giving of a tract, or proclaiming the good news to a large audience, there is no one
able to say truthfully, “I can’t.”
means hardness, and one lesson too obvious to miss relates to the hearts of the
unconverted: they are hard, and can be broken only by the Holy Spirit’s application
of the Word in convicting power. That is
a work beyond man’s ability. We must
preach the Gospel, but we can neither convict nor convert.
lesson, relating to the believer, is expressed in Paul’s exhortation to Timothy,
“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ,” 2 Tim 2:3,
and in connection with this Grant has commented, “Kishion ... shows us what the
very opposition of the world may do for us, as begetting in us force of character and
independent individuality, which dares to stand alone, in single obedience to the
will of God. All difficulties are but a
discipline to the soul in earnest. The
habit of overcoming can be acquired, like other habits; and thus adverse
circumstances may be none the less helpful, - God making, as He has promised, all
things work together for good to them that love Him.” Numerical Bible,
means I will make white, or miry. God would remind us that where there
is obedient response to the Gospel He will make that man spiritually what is
represented by white, i.e., pure - as holy and spotless as the Lord Jesus
on the other hand, has invariably a bad scriptural connotation often connected with
God’s judgment upon the unrighteous. In
Isa 57:20 it is the figurative description of the deeds of the unconverted, “The
wicked (unconverted are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast
up mire and dirt.” The lesson
is that he who refuses to accept God’s priceless gift of eternal life, makes
himself the object of His eternal wrath.
“And Remeth, and Engennim, and Enhaddah, and Bethpazzez.”
meaning elevation, is generally taken to represent
our exalted position as new creatures in Christ.
The elevation of our new state is the direct anthithesis of our former.
We are in the world as God’s witnesses, but we are no longer of the
world. Our citizenship is in heaven.
Engannim, meaning fountain of gardens, has been discussed in our study of
15:34, the reader may wish to review those notes since the application here is the
same as there.
meaning fountain of joy: fount of sharpening, reminds us that Christ is not
only the source of our fruitfulness, but of our joy also.
“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept
my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in
you, and that your joy might be full” Jn 15:10-11. Obedience and joy are inseparable.
second meaning of Enhaddah fount of sharpening reminds us that Christ, as
presented in the written Word, is not only the Source of the believer’s joy, but
also of his knowledge, for in Pr 27:17 it is written, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a
man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”
This is generally understood to mean that a man’s mental capacity is refined
or sharpened, and enlarged by the discussion and exchange of ideas that normally take
place between friends. The Lord Jesus
Christ is “a friend that sticketh closer than a brother,” Pr 18:24.
There is nothing better for the believer’s mind than to “grow in grace,
and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” 2 Pe 3:18.
Prayer and Bible study are the two avenues of that communication, for in
prayer we speak to Him; from the Scriptures He speaks to us.
means house of dispersion, and inasmuch as Issachar speaks of work, the lesson
of Beth-pazzez may be to remind us that God has dispersed believers throughout the
world so that men might hear the Gospel. While
1 Co 9 has to do with literal giving, it would be a mistake to limit it just to that,
for clearly the best thing we can give to men is the Gospel, in connection with which
we read Peter’s words to the lame man at the temple gate, “Silver and gold have I
none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up
and walk ... and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
And he leaping up ... entered with them into the temple ... leaping, and
praising God” Ac 3:6-8; and in 1 Co 9:9-10 it is written, He hath dispersed abroad;
he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.
Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food,
and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness.”
If we would be spiritually rich we must sow bountifully the good seed of the
“And the coast reacheth to Tabor, and Shahazimah, and Bethshemesh; and the
outgoings of their border were at Jordan: sixteen cities with their villages.”
means thou wilt purge, and as the work of the refiner is to purge the gold of
dross, so is God’s chastening designed to purge us of all that would hinder the
outshining of the glory of Christ in our lives. “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint
when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth
every son whom he receiveth. If ye
endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons ... but if ye be without
chastisement ... then are ye bastards, and not sons.... Now no chastening for the
present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the
peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby” He 12:5-11.
meaning house of the sun, speaks of the true source of light for the believer,
i.e., the Scriptures. Its being one of
Issachar’s boundary points is the symbolic announcement of the truth that in our
service, as in everything else, we are not to go beyond what Scripture authorizes,
nor are we to permit in our lives or assemblies what lacks the authority of
Scripture. The multitudinous
organizations that have been set up to direct the Lord’s work and workers today
bear eloquent testimony to the extent of our trespasses beyond that boundary.
No where in Scripture do we find any authority for the setting up of such
organizations. God works today, as He
has in every age, through obedient individuals; and the fact that He graciously gives
a measure of blessing in spite of these organizations should not be construed as
indication of His approval.
should remind us that each one of us is responsible to be a “house of the
sun” here on earth. As indwelt by the
Holy Spirit Who is Light, we are responsible to let that light be seen.
And when our earthly course is finished, we shall “dwell in the house of the
Lord for ever,” Ps 23:6. Heaven is
the true house of the sun, for “the Lamb is the light thereof,” Re 21:23.
the eastern border, Jordan, meaning their descent, has the same spiritual
significance as in the case of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh, so that the
notes on those tribes may be reviewed here. Relative to Issachar, it points to the truth that though this
world is our sphere of service, we are to render that service as men who are
separated from the world by the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We are not to be occupied with its affairs beyond what is absolutely
all scriptural numbers, the reference to the sixteen cities has also a lesson to
teach. The principal factors are two,
the number of witness or testimony, and four, the number of earth and testing.
Our work here on earth, in this scene of trial and testing, is to be witnesses
for God, bringing the Gospel not only to every man and woman who crosses our path,
but to as many others as possible by every means at our disposal - tracts, for
example. It is a healthy state of mind
that views every individual with whom we have even the slightest contact, as one to
whom God would have us present the Gospel.
“This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Issachar according
to their families, the cities and their villages.”
there be given to us the wisdom to recognize that the service, which Issachar
represents, is part of our inheritance. We
too have the privilege of serving God.
“And the fifth lot came out for the tribe of the children of Asher according
to their families.”
five is the biblical number of responsibility, and since Asher means happy,
the truth being presented symbolically is that we will be happy only as we fulfill
our two-fold responsibility to obey God, and serve others.
Nor should we ever forget that of all people on earth we have most reason to
be what the name Asher implies.
“And their border was Helkath, and Hali, and Beten, and Achshaph,”
means a possession, and would teach us that we too have a spiritual possession
corresponding to Israel’s literal inheritance in Canaan.
Asher focuses attention on the fact that happiness is a part of our
inheritance, but our failure to take possession of what God has given us is
demonstrated all too clearly in the lack of happiness amongst God’s people today;
and however numerous the causes, in the final analysis they translate into
disobedience and lack of faith. The
remedy is to accept every circumstance of life in the light of what is written in
Scripture, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love
God.... If God be for us, who can be against us?
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he
not with him also freely give us all things?” Ro 8:28-32, “For our light
affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and
eternal weight of glory: while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the
things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things
which are not seen are eternal” 2 Co 4:17-18.
Nor should we forget that “the joy of the Lord is your strength” Ne 8:10.
An unhappy Christian is an anomaly, and fair game for Satan.
meaning an ornament, may be to remind us that “the ornament of a meek and
quiet spirit ... is in the sight of God of great price,” 1 Pe 3:4, for meekness
implies willing submission to God’s will; while quiet suggests gentleness, and lack
of murmuring against seeming adversity.
meaning the belly (womb, may be meant to teach us that as the womb is the
cradle of life, so are we responsible to be a source of life to others through the
preaching of the Gospel, for few things have greater power to furnish joy for the
Christian than that of seeing a soul born again through faith in the Lord Jesus
also directs attention to the fact that the believer’s joy comes from within, and
is independent of outward circumstances, they having neither the power to give that
joy, nor to take it away. This doesn’t
mean that the believer will never know sorrow or pain, but that even while
experiencing these things, he still has also that inward joy which nothing of earth
can disturb. For example, even in the
midst of the sorrow which is almost invariably the companion of bereavement, we have
the assurance that we “sorrow not, even as others which have no hope,” for we
commit the bodies of deceased loved ones to the grave, knowing that it is only for a
little while, until that soon coming day when, “The Lord himself shall descend from
heaven with a shout ... and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are
alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the
Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” 1 Th 4:13-18.
lesson of Achshaph, meaning I shall be bewitched, is easily read in the light
of Ga 3:1, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey
the truth....?” It is painfully
obvious that too often the Galatian’s folly is also ours.
additional comments on Achshaph, please review the notes on 11:1 and 12:20.
“And Alammelech, and Amad, and Misheal; and reacheth to Carmel westward, and
spiritual mind will have any difficulty in seeing the significance of Alammelech the
king’s oak, for every mention of a tree should remind us of Calvary.
The tree (the cross upon which the King of glory died, is continually before
the eye of the spiritual Asherite, for he remembers that it was there the ransom
price of his soul was paid by Christ’s blood, as it is written, “... ye were not
redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold ... but with the precious blood
of Christ” 1 Pe 1:18-19. The knowledge
that that ransom has been paid brings peace and joy to a man’s soul.
is the meaning of Amad people of eternity any more difficult to read.
The spiritual Asherite, the happy believer, lives his life with his eye on the
judgment seat of Christ and the eternity to follow, when the reward of faithful
stewardship will be full compensation for earthly loss occasioned by loyalty to
Christ. Earth is but a very small part
of man’s experience: he will exist eternally, either in the lake of fire or in
heaven, and no small part of the believer’s happiness is that he has the assurance
of being for ever in heaven with Christ.
meaning enquiry, is also easily translated, for it speaks of that attitude
which impels a daily study of the Scriptures, so that we might learn more of the mind
and will of God, and by obedience, grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord
Jesus Christ, 2 Pe 3:18. Few things are
more conducive to spiritual happiness than a love for the study of God’s Word.
He is a wise man who cultivates that inquiring mind.
meaning fruitful field, reminds us that the life of the spiritual Asherite is
like a fruitful field, for the happy believer is one in whose life are produced, not
only the fruits of the Spirit, Gal 5:22, but also spiritual children - men and women
led to the Savior through a faithful proclamation of the Gospel.
the west is the direction that speaks of approach to God, the mention of it here in
connection with Carmel, serves to remind us that fruitfulness and nearness to God go
further comments on Carmel, please review the notes on 12:22.
means blackness of whiteness, a meaning which is at first glance enigmatic,
but which on closer examination conveys a very clear and necessary lesson.
lesson has been nowhere better stated than by Grant, Numerical Bible, p.148, I
quote him, “Alas, there will not rarely be the danger of ‘doing evil,’ in some
modified way, ‘that good may come’; and the over-anxiety about results may make
one misjudge seriously what is the mind of God. God’s seed may be a long time buried before it springs up, and
the shallower sowing springs up all the quicker.
Results will indeed speak truly at the end; but then there must be faith to
leave things to the end: and for that the word of God must test all ways and methods,
and guide us as to our course in the meantime. Here
it is indeed true that ‘he that believeth shall not make haste (Isa 28:16.
What life, with all the glory of it, must seem so vain as Christ’s life?
The corn of wheat, according to His own saying, had to fall into the ground
and die, that it might not abide alone. ‘Then I said, I have labored in vain, I
have spent my strength for nought, and in vain’: this would decide for many the
failure of it;- ‘but surely,’ He adds, ‘my judgment is with the Lord, and my
work with my God, (Isa 49:4.’”
a casual survey of the methods being used today in connection with God’s work,
reveals the extent to which Shihor-libnath has been left in the hand of the
Canaanite: note, for example, the widspread practice of soliciting money from the
unconverted, for “the Lord’s work” -
something God forbids. Another example
is found in the countless organizations that have been set up to direct both the work
and the worker. Nowhere in Scripture do
we find authority for the establishment of such organizaitons.
God works through individuals.
“And turneth toward the sunrising to Beth-dagon, and reacheth to Zebulun,
and to the valley of Jiphthah-el toward the north side of Bethemek, and Neiel, and
goeth out to Cabul on the left hand.”
“sunrising,” though taken by many commentators to be indicative of good, is in
fact the opposite, for it is in the east, which in Scripture, is always associated
with sin and departure from God. It
speaks of mere natural light (human wisdom, which is almost always at odds with
it is associated with Beth-dagon house of the fish god; but Dagon was the God
of the Philistines, who represent apostate Christianity, so that the lesson becomes a
warning against the danger of being enticed by man’s wisdom to depart from the
faith. Since, however, such departure is
possible only for a mere professor who never had faith to begin with, the lesson
becomes an injunction to make sure of the reality of our faith: to be sure that it is
founded on a genuine trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as the One Who died in our guilty
place for our sins, and not just on an intellectual belief in the historicity of
Christ. It is to be feared that there are multitudes of professing
Christians who have no better hope of heaven than this same worthless belief.
and reacheth to Zebulun dwelling....” He
who refuses the enlightenment of mere natural wisdom, will be preserved by God, and
will know the joy of dwelling in fellowship with Him here on earth, and then of
entering into a fuller experience of that fellowship for ever in heaven.
and to the valley of Jiphthah-el God will open....” Mere natural wisdom is powerless to unlock the secrets hidden in
Scripture for the pleasure and enrichment of the spiritual believer, and the man who
refuses that natural wisdom finds himself brought spiritually to Jiphthah-el: the
Holy Spirit opens up to the eye of faith treasures incomprehensible to the natural
man, for “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they
are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually
discerned,” 1 Co 2:14.
must note, however, that the reference is to the valley of Japhthah-el, for
the valley represents the sphere of service, and the lesson being taught here is that
our study of Scripture should be to equip us to be better workmen in God’s service,
as it is written, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth
not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth,” 2 Tim 2:15.
toward the north side of Beth-emek the valley house....” The valley, the sphere of service, continues to be emphasized, but
in connection with the north, the direction that speaks of natural intelligence.
This valley house therefore may well speak of the local church, for the
assembly (not the meeting place, but the people as a corporate body is the house of
God where ever located, and one lesson at least being taught is that that house is to
be the center of God’s work in that particular area.
But it is not to be the center where the elders, or a committee, direct the
work and assign individual believers their tasks (it is the prerogative of the Holy
Spirit alone to direct each believer relative to his service in the “harvest
field” [the world], or in the “vine yard” [the assembly].
north therefore in this context is to be understood in a good sense, the lesson being
that spiritual intelligence is to govern all the activity.
Where these principles, and this godly wisdom do govern, there will be
a happy assembly, and work done for God’s glory and the eternal profit of every
means we shall be shaken of God, and it sounds the warning that while
obedience will bring happiness and blessing, disobedience will rob us of both, and
bring us under chastisement, for the shaking of God speaks of His anger.
means as if nothing: fettered, and it seems to reinforce the warning conveyed
in Neiel. Disobedience will leave
nothing worthy of reward at the Bema; and in addition will prove to be a fetter
preventing our walking through the green pastures of our spiritual inheritance here
on earth, for such a walk cannot be taken without the Spirit’s enlightenment as we
study the Word, and disobedience cuts off that ministry of enlightenment.
It will also hinder the rendering of any acceptable service, for God will not
use an unclean vessel for His work.
being “on the left” has also a bad connotation, for the left hand speaks of
weakness, as the right hand does of strength.
“And Hebron (Abdon), and Rehob, and Hammon, and Kanah, even unto great Zidon;”
is generally recognized that Hebron here is incorrect and should be Abdon, meaning servitude,
a word usually having a bad connotation. Its
lesson may be to warn that disobedience will cause the easy yoke of willing service
to Christ to be exchanged for the galling chain of onerous servitude to Satan;
laughter to be turned to weeping; and eternal profit, to eternal loss (not of the
soul, but of reward at the Bema.
broad place is where the spiritual Asherite dwells, and it is paradoxical that
the broad place of blessing is available only to the man who steps by faith
from the world’s “broad way, that leads to destruction,” Mt 7:13, and enters in
by the strait (narrow gate on to the narrow way that leads to eternal bliss in
converse of this is that the believer may be enticed to return to the world’s “Rehob,”
and when he does he exchanges his laughter for tears, for no true believer can ever
be happy again in the world to which he has been crucified by the cross of Christ.
When anyone, professing to be a believer, continues to enjoy the things of the
world, there is good reason to question the reality of his faith.
meaning sunny or warm, conveys a message that is easily read.
As a place belonging to Asher, and as being associated in its meaning with
light and warmth, it tells us that the spiritual equivalents are ours.
By grace, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ “the light of the world,”
Jn 8:12,” we have been made “partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light
(having been delivered ... from the power of darkness, and ... translated ... into
the kingdom of his dear Son,” Col 1:12-13.
speaks of love and zeal, and would remind us that as spiritual Asherites our lives
should be characterized by love for God and men that will express itself in zealous
he was purchased, is also easily deciphered, for the thought of purchase can
never be far from the mind of the obedient, and therefore happy, believer (the
spiritual Asherite, “...your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you,
which ye have of God, and ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price:
therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.... Ye are
bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men,” 1 Co 6:19-20; 7:23.
Obedience is the proper response to the realization that that purchase price
was “the precious blood of Christ,” 1 Pe 1:19; and only as that obedience is
yielded will there be enjoyed the happiness that marks the true spiritual Asherite. See notes on 16:8 for additional comments on Kanah.
has two meanings, a hunting, and a fishery. It represents the world as the place in which Satan hunts for the
souls of men to destroy them, but where believers, as the Lord’s fishermen (Mk
1:17, go out with the Gospel and fish for men’s souls so that they might be saved.
Significantly, it is situated on the seacoast, the sea being the symbol of
earth’s unconverted masses (Isa 57:20. The
believer who would enjoy the happiness which Asher represents, is he who yields
obedience to the Lord’s commission, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the
gospel to every creature,” Mk 16:15. It
is in that great “sea” of humanity that we are to fish for souls.
See notes on 11:8 for additional comments on Zidon.
“And then the coast turneth to Ramah, and to the strong city Tyre; and the
coast turneth to Hosah; and the outgoings thereof are at the sea from the coast to
the height should remind us of the heights to which grace has lifted us, and
should beget in us the same determination as it did in Paul to walk worthy of our
high calling, he declaring, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high
calling of God in Christ Jesus” Php 3:14.
meaning to distress, although assigned to Asher, doesn’t appear to have been
actually possessed, and this is significant in view of what is recorded in Ez
28:11-19, for it is clear that what is written there concerning the king of Tyre goes
far beyond him and relates to Satan. That
being so, the distress connected with “the strong city Tyre” declares the
truth that is confirmed by experience: though Satan is a defeated foe, we fail to
live as becomes those who have been delivered from his dominion.
Israel suffered much distress through their failure to exterminate the
Canaanites, whom God had delivered into their hand, and we also suffer much by
voluntarily placing ourselves again under the dominion of the power from which the
death of the Lord Jesus Christ has delivered us.
We would do well to note that it was disobedience which brought much of
Israel’s distress, as it brings much of ours also.
Tyre points to the distress that is the concomitant of disobedience, Hosah trusting
shows us the remedy, not only for the distress that accompanies disobedience, but
also for that which may come as the result of following the path marked out for us by
God. Paul and Silas, singing praises at
midnight in the Philippian prison, are examples of those who enjoy the spiritual
experience portrayed by Hosah. Implicit
trust in God is the remedy for every ill; and encouragement to exercise that trust
comes to us from Ro 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to
them that love God,” and from Ro 12:2 which assures us that God’s will is,
“good, and acceptable, and perfect.” Pr
3:5-6 enjoins that same trusting faith, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart;
and lean not unto thine own understanding. In
all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
and the outgoings thereof are at the sea.” We
are brought again to the multitudes of unconverted men and women represented by the
sea, Isa 57:20. God would keep reminding
us that while there is to be a line of demarcation between them and us, that line is
not to produce indifference concerning their souls.
We are to use every means in our power to bring them the Gospel.
meaning I shall make a lie, conveys a very necessary warning.
It is possible for an outward morality to disguise a wrong condition of heart.
The Pharisees of Christ’s day are the prime examples of such dissemblance.
We may deceive men, but we cannot deceive God, for He discerns the thoughts
and intents of the heart.
being in the possession of Asher would remind us of the constant necessity to guard
against “making a lie.” Purity of
motive in all we do is essential to the happiness which Asher represents.
additional comments on Achzib, please see the notes on 15:44.
“Ummah also, and Aphek, and Rehob: twenty and two cities with their
“This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Asher according to
their families, these cities with their villages.”
meaning he was associated: juxtaposition, reminds us of our close association
with the Lord Jesus Christ, as we read in 1 Co 12:27, “Ye are the body of Christ,
and members in particular,” and in Eph 5:30, “We are members of his body, of his
flesh, and of his bones.” It should
never be forgotten that the new life within us is the very life of Christ, and it is
our responsibility to live so as to demonstrate that truth, as recorded in Ga
2:19-20, “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth
in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of
God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
meaning restrained, should remind us that “All things are lawful unto me,
but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be
brought under the power of any,” 1 Co 6:12, and the context emphasizes that since
we have been bought with a price, we are not our own: our bodies are to be used for
God’s glory. 1 Co 10:23 repeats that,
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: All things are
lawful for me but all things edify not,” but now the application is to our
relationship with others. Where the
exercise of our Christian liberty might stumble a weak brother, we are to impose
restraint upon ourselves so that the weak brother, instead of being stumbled, may be
edified or built up.
is also associated with the thought of a fortress and with strength, and calls to
mind the encouragement given us in Php 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ
who strengthens me.”
additional comments on Aphek in a different context, please review the notes on 12:18
broad place has already been discussed in our examination of verse 28 and need
not be repeated here. We should note,
however, the significance of its being repeated immediately after Aphek.
If there are restraints upon us, they are for our good, and the exercise of
them is found, in fact, to be no restraint at all, but rather the means by which we
are brought into the broad place of the enjoyment of even greater liberty.
noted in other studies, it appears that the method of determining the spiritual
significance of numbers like twenty-two is to factorize them, and where factorizing
produces a prime number, to remove one the number of God, and then to continue
the factorization. This method, applied
to twenty-two, gives 2 x 2 x 5, the numbers of witness and responsibility
respectively, so that the lesson of the twenty-two cities with their villages
continues to emphasize what has already been noted in connection with this fifth lot
given to Asher: we are responsible to be witnesses for God, and only as we fulfill
that responsibility will we enjoy the happiness of which Asher speaks.
“The sixth lot came out to the children of Naphtali, even for the children
of Naphtali according to their families.”
is to be noted that Naphtali’s was the sixth lot, and six is the number of man,
weakness, failure, incompleteness, and sin. In
this God would remind us that because we are men still in earthly bodies, and
therefore subject to weakness and sin, we shall know much of failure in ourselves,
but we are to look, not at self, but at Christ.
Peter, with his eyes off Christ, and on the waves, began to sink, Mt 14:30.
So will it be with us when we take our eyes off Him and look either at self or
meaning my wrestling: my tortuosity, was the second son of Jacob by Bilhah,
Rachel’s maid. At the time of his
birth Rachel declared, “With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I
have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali,” Ge 30:8.
has been noted already, each tribal name represents a characteristic of the believer,
e.g., Judah, meaning He shall be praised, reminds us that we should be a
praising (worshiping people; while Asher happy declares that we should be also
a happy people. Naphtali reminds us that
we are also a people engaged in a warfare, “For we wrestle not against flesh and
blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness
of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to
withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand,” Eph 6:12-13.
Lord Himself gave the warning and the encouragement, “In the world ye shall have
tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world,” Jn 16:33.
spoke not only of having wrestled, but of having prevailed; and the Lord, while
warning that we shall have tribulation, assures us also that we shall prevail, for He
has overcome the world, and in Ro 8:35 it is written, “Who shall separate us from
the love of Christ? shall tribulation, etc.?” and Ro 8:37 declares, “Nay, in all
these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”
long and arduous the battle, however much it may seem that the enemy is winning, the
final outcome is never in doubt, “We are more than conquerors!”
the Epistles of John we find repeated assurances that we are overcomers, e.g., 1 Jn
2:13-14 “... ye have overcome the wicked one”; 1 Jn 4:4, “Ye are of God, little
children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that
is in the world”; and again 1 Jn 5:4-5 “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh
the world.... Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus
is the Son of God?”
lesson of Naphtali is that we are engaged in a warfare, but since the outcome is
never in doubt, we are to fight with the confidence and courage of those already
assured of victory.
“And their coast was from Heleph, from Allon to Zaanannim, and Adami, Nekeb,
and Jabneel, unto Lakum; and the outgoings thereof were at Jordan:”
means exchange, and reminds us that through faith in Christ we have exchanged
life for death; light for darkness; a bond with Adam for a bond with Christ;
knowledge for ignorance; strength for weakness; eternal torment for eternal blessing;
righteousness for unrighteousness; citizenship in the world for citizenship in the
kingdom of God; slavery to Satan for the privilege of serving Christ.
The list could be multiplied. What
gain has been ours through that exchange!
the record of Naphtali’s inheritance is to teach us truth relative to that exchange
in relation to our warfare against the forces of darkness; and of primary importance
is the assurance that our weakness is made perfect in Christ’s strength, as Paul
has written, “And he (God said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my
strength is made perfect in weakness,” leading the Apostle to exult, “Most gladly
therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest
upon me ... for when I am weak, then am I strong” 2 Cor 9-10.
Greater success would be ours if we too were governed by that same principle.
second place is Allon an oak, and as it was with Alammelech the king’s
oak (verse 26, so is it here: every reference to a tree should remind us of the
one on which the Lord hung when He paid the redemption price of your soul and mine.
We can’t determine what spiritual significance Allon had for the men of
Naphtali, but no spiritual wrestler today will fail to comprehend the value of the
tree represented by that place of the oak within the borders of Naphtali.
The cross is the center of the believer’s life.
third place Zaanannim, meaning wanderings, sounds a warning that there is the
danger of our pilgrimage becoming a mere wandering.
It is to be remembered that Israel’s wanderings, strictly speaking, didn’t
begin when they came out of Egypt, but approximately two years later when they
refused to enter Canaan, (see Nu 14. Their
disobedience caused those first two years to then become also merely years of
is very possible for us to repeat their error. Lack
of faith to lay hold of God’s promises will turn the Christian life into a time of
mere idle wandering here on earth. Failure to believe God’s promise to meet all our needs while we
do His business, will result in our joining the worldling in his scrabbling for the
world’s wealth. Failure to remember
that we must one day stand at the judgment seat of Christ to render an account of our
stewardship, will lead us to seek ease and pleasure here on earth, to our eternal
loss. Lack of faith will lead us to
forget the terrible eternity that awaits the unbeliever, with the result that we will
cease to preach the Gospel that would warn him of his danger and point him to the
warning of Zaanannim was never more needed than today.
That it is a warning more often ignored than heeded is sadly apparent in all
too many of our lives, which display far more the character of wandering than of
means man of, which seems to indicate that it is a prefix, and some take it to
be the prefix of the following word Nekeb, meaning a varying, with a groove
as a questionable second meaning. Its obvious relation to Adam man: red earth,
however, suggests that it may be intended as a reminder that the old Adamic nature is
still with us, and will assert itself whenever it can seize an opportunity.
possibility of its being a prefix, with no suffix given, has suggested to some that
it might perhaps be applied interrogatively, thus “man of?”. How does God see me? How
do men see me? As a man of earth, or as
a man whose citizenship is in heaven? As
a man whose heart is set on earthly riches, or as a man whose heart is set on laying
up treasure in heaven? As a man intent
upon pleasing self, or pleasing God? As a man seeking ease and pleasure while others toil for Christ?
As a man who, though in Christ, lives more like a man still in Adam?
apart from the question of whether Adami may be used interrogatively, the fact
remains that these questions are valid, and are ones we might, with profit, ask
meaning a varying, or perhaps a groove, if taken as the suffix of Adami,
then gives us a man of varying, and if taken simply as a word without a
prefix, it still conveys the thought of varying or vacillation.
The lesson isn’t hard to read, for it is an accurate description of most of
us. It is unfortunately true that most
of us are marked more by vacillation than steadfastness.
remedy for varying or vacillation is to walk in the footsteps of Christ, for as man,
He displayed the same steadfastness that marks Him as God, “... with whom is no
variableness, neither shadow of turning,” Jas 1:17. Nothing would turn Him aside from the work the Father had given
Him to do. “He stedfastly set his face
to go to Jerusalem,” Lk 9:51; and it was He Who declared, “No man, having put his
hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” Lk 9:62.
Paul likewise could exhort, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of
Christ,” 1 Co 11:1, because he, like his Lord, was steadfast in the work given him
by God. He could say truthfully, “This one thing I do, forgetting those
things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I
press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,”
very easy to become so occupied with our failures that we listen to the voice of
Satan whispering, “It’s no good. You
have wasted too much of your life to accomplish anything now.”
The voice of encouragement has a different tone, summed up very aptly in the
words of the poet:
on the heights, are not the souls,
never erred, nor went astray.
trod unswerving toward their goals,
a smooth rose-bordered way.
those who stand where first comes dawn,
they who stumbled, but went on.
at all that was accomplished by Peter who stumbled, but went on. Some of God’s choicest servants are those who stumbled, but who
rose up to go on well for Christ.
God will build comes next, assuring us that in spite of all our failure and
weakness, God’s work will be done. It
was the Lord Himself Who declared, “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the
gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” Mt 16:18.
God isn’t dependent on any man for the accomplishment of His purposes, it has
pleased Him to extend to every believer the privilege of having a part in that great
work of building His house. Nor will
that work go unrewarded, for God will be no man’s debtor. It is the height of folly therefore to squander precious time that
might be given to that work, wasting it on labor that brings no satisfaction; seeking
ease and pleasure during time which God has appointed for work; desiring the applause
of men rather than the approval of Christ.
judgment seat of Christ will reveal the madness of such disobedience.
He is a wise man who examines is own life now while there is time to change,
rather than to undergo that examination at the Bema when it will be too late for
means the rising up, a meaning which must certainly include the thought of
resurrection. Every believer can look
back to the day when “Lakum” became part of his spiritual inheritance, when he
was raised up out of spiritual death and brought into the possession of eternal life,
for prior to that day we were “dead in trespasses and sins,” Ep 2:1, “...
without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the
covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world,” Ep 2:12.
But all begins with the death and resurrection of Christ, for it is His rising
up that brings us the assurance, “He who raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise
up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you,” 2 Co 4:14.
there is the “Lakum” of baptism.
As we go under those waters which are symbolic of death, we testify in symbol
that we are crucified with Christ, but in “rising up” out of them we testify,
that as risen with Christ, we will henceforth walk in newness of life, “Therefore
we are buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from
the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of
life,” Ro 6:4.
then there is the “Lakum” of the Rapture. The
daily anticipation of the Lord’s return should be the expectation of every
believer. That rising up to meet
the Lord in the air will be the one that surpasses all others as we find ourselves
“in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,” 1 Co 15:52, caught up to meet the Lord
in the air - in an instant transported from earth to heaven.
awaiting that day it is our privilege to continue wrestling against the powers of
darkness, doing joyfully the work the Lord has assigned us, seizing every opportunity
to spread the Gospel, knowing that every sinner won for Christ is another living
stone added to that glorious building, the Church, which has been “rising up”
stone by stone for the past two thousand years, and must surely be now almost
final place mentioned in verse 33 is Jordan, the river of death, to remind us that
Christ’s death is ours, and by it we are dead to sin, Ro 6:2; to the law. Ro 7:4;
to the world, Ga 6:14. That knowledge is
to be the impassable barrier between us and a doomed world; our only concern with it
being to preach the Gospel to as many as possible of its perishing billions.
“And then the coast turneth westward to Aznoth-tabor, and goeth out from
thence to Hukkok, and reacheth to Zebulun on the south side, and reacheth to Asher on
the west side, and to Judah upon Jordan toward the sunrising.”
the west is the Biblical direction that speaks of approach to God, this westward
direction of Naphtali’s border points us to the fact that what follows has to do
with drawing near to God, or of walking in obedience.
means ears thou wilt purge. This
reference to ears must surely recall what is written typologically concerning Christ
under the figure of the Hebrew servant in Ex 21:1-6, for few will fail to see in that
faithful servant, willing to have his ear pierced in token of his love for master and
wife, a figure of the Lord Jesus Christ and His love for His Father, and for His
bride the Church.
reference is found in Ps 40:6-8, “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire;
mine ears hast thou opened (digged: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not
required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in
the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea,
thy law is within my heart,” where the unmistakable application is to Christ.
(This is also quoted in He 10:5-9.
further reference to the obedience of Christ is found in Isa 50:5-6, “The Lord hath
opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.
I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the
hair; I hid not my face from shame and spitting.”
He is to be our great Example. As
His ears were always open and obedient to the voice of God, so are ours also to be
obedient, for it is written, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to
hearken than the fat of rams,” 1 Sa 15:22.
means the law (as graven, or appointed. God
would have us remember that by the law we were condemned, and that Christ came to
fulfill the law, first by keeping it, and then by accepting its penalty for
transgression, by becoming our Substitute, yielding up the life it rightfully
demanded when He was willing to be numbered with the transgressors.
being graven would remind us of the inflexibility of the law: as the Lord
Himself declared, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I
am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For
verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no
wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled,” Mt 5:17-18.
The law is the expression of the unchanging holiness of God, and though we are
no longer under it, it continues to be the standard by which He measures each man’s
conduct. In 2 Tim 2:4-5 it is written, “No man that warreth entangleth
himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to
be a soldier. And if a man also strive
for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.”
The lesson of Hukkok is that our wrestling with the powers of darkness must be
according to God’s Word, for as was noted in our study of Shihor-libnath, verse 26,
Christendom is guilty of having employed wrong means to accomplish a good end, but
with God there is no such latitude. The
end may not be made to justify the means.
dwelling assures us that the obedient believer dwells under the shadow of
God’s wings on earth, Ps 57:1, and will dwell in God’s house for ever Ps 23:6.
It is to be noted that Zebulun constituted part of Naphtali’s southern
border, and the south is the Biblical direction that speaks of faith.
It is only as we walk by faith, and not by sight, that we enjoy the assurance
of God’s presence with us here amid all the circumstances of life on earth.
addidional comments on Zebulun, please review the notes on verses 10, 16 and 27.
happy has already been discussed in our study of verses 24-31, and need not be
repeated here, except to note that it formed Naphtali’s western border, that is,
the direction that speaks of approach to God. Dwelling close to God is the secret of happiness.
next place is “Judah upon Jordan.” No
such place is known, but the explanation may be that Havoth-jair (the sixty towns or
villages east of Jordan, opposite Naphtali were counted as belonging to Judah, of
whom Jair was a descendant. As noted
already, however, the lessons God would teach lie not so much in the actual geography
as in the meanings of the names. The
lesson of this Judah upon Jordan, then, is easily read.
It tells us that only as we live like men who are dead to the world, will
there be praise to God, the highest form of praise being, as noted already, an
obedient life. We are either dead to the world and alive unto God, or alive unto
the world and dead unto God.
is significant that this place is described, not as being in the east, but “toward
the sun rising.” The east represents
mere natural light, and always speaks of departure from God; but the sun rising
speaks of spiritual enlightenment. This
would teach us that spiritual enlightenment, the willingness to be dead to the world,
and our ability to worship, are inseparably linked together.
It is the unenlightened, the untaught man, who lives as one alive unto the
world, and who, therefore, lacks the ability to worship.
“And the fenced cities are Ziddim, Zer, and Hammath, Rakkath, and Chinnereth.”
means the sides: liers in wait, and Grant is undoubtedly correct in his
suggestion that the “liers in wait” seem to point to the minions of Satan, the
adversary, for the stealth implied here is what characterizes virtually all of his
activity, hence the exhortation of Paul in Eph 6:10-12, “Finally, my brethren, be
strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand
against the wiles of the devil. For we
wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers,
against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritul wickedness in high
would remind us that our adversary is one whose favorite strategy is to lie in wait,
to strike from the side when least expected. Peter
warns us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring
lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” 1 Pe 5:8; and Paul reminds us that
“Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the
ministers of righteousness,” 2 Cor 11:14-15. That
Satan is the master of subtilty is also
declared by Paul in 2 Cor 11:3, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent
beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the
simplicity that is in Christ.”
Ziddim God would have us learn that as spiritual wrestlers we are the objects of the
machinations of a relentless foe lurking by the wayside, and constantly changing his
tactics so that if possible he may catch us off guard.
Our only safeguard is to “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His
might”; to put on the whole armor of God; to have our “loins girt about with
truth”; to have on “the breastplate of righteousness”; to have our “feet shod
with the preparation of the gospel of peace”; to take “the shield of faith ...
the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
praying always,” Eph 6:10-18.
meaning a strait, and being related to the thought of adversity, reminds us
that as those who once traveled the broad way that leads to destruction, we are now
those who, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, have entered in at the “strait
gate” and are on the “narrow way which leads unto life,” Mt 7:13-14.
That way, however, is not without adversity, for the Lord Himself warned,
“In the world ye shall have tribulation,” Jn 16:33.
comparison of the “broad” way we once traveled, and the “strait (narrow” way
on which we now walk to heaven, presents a strange paradox, however. When we were on that “broad” way, we perceived the narrow road
to heaven as being indeed a “strait (narrow, restricted” way, devoid of liberty,
governed only by the “Thou shalt not’s” of a stern unloving God.
But how different the perspective becomes once we step through the “strait
gate” on to that “narrow” way! Illuminated
by true wisdom, we see now how narrow was that “broad” way, and how wide is this
“narrow” way. On the former, we were
the slaves of Satan, on our way to hell and the lake of fire; on the latter we are of
all men most free, for we have discovered that true freedom lies in doing God’s
will. The obedient believer knows
practically that, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free
therefore teachs the lesson that true freedom lies in submission to “that good, and
acceptable, and perfect, will of
Ro 12:2. It would remind us that the
way, which to the natural man seems so “strait,” is in reality the way that is
(not the Hammath of 13:5) means hot place because of its location in an area
of hot springs on the west side of the Sea of Galilee, and since cold springs are
biblical symbols of the written Word, hot springs are the converse.
They seem, in fact, to portray the Word as having been corrupted by the
activity of man’s intelligence working in opposition to God; and since the literal
springs were heated by subterranean fire, it isn’t difficult to see that the source
of this evil intelligence is Satan himself. Relative
to that distorted “wisdom” James writes, “This wisdom descendeth not from
above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish”, Jas 3:15.
will deny that a large part of the Christian’s “wrestling” is against the
doctrine of Roman Catholicism and its diabolic corruption of Scripture, for such is
the power of that evil system over its dupes that it is virtually impossible to
convince them that salvation comes by faith in a crucified and risen Savior, and only
by faith in Him?
means leanness: her spitting. Looking
first at the meaning leanness, we are reminded of what is written concerning a
disobedient Israel, “ They soon forgot his (God’s works; they waited not for his
counsel: but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert.
And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul,”
do well to remember that there are two aspects of God’s will: one is directive; the
other, permissive; and almost invariably what He permits is inferior to what He would
direct if we left the choice with Him. It
happens not infrequently that we, like Israel, soon forget His goodness, wait not for
His counsel, but lust after earthly things, thus tempting Him, and prompting Him to
give us what our evil hearts desire. What
is thus given is invariably accompanied by leanness of soul.
James reminds us, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye
may consume it upon your lusts,” Jas 4:3.
lesson at least to be derived from Rakkath is that we should keep reminding ourselves
of God’s goodness, and seek His counsel for every detail of our lives, remembering
that our lusting after earthly things may result in our receiving what we desire, but
receiving with it the leanness of soul which is too high a price to pay for anything.
rarely has a good connotation in Scripture, being used very frequently to express
contempt and hatred, see, for example, Mt 26:67; 27:30, where it is recorded that His
enemies spat on Christ. We note also
that this second meaning of Rakkath refers to the spitting of a woman, reminding us
of the custom in Israel relative to the redemption of the inheritance of a widow.
The brother of the deceased was to marry the widow, and the first child of the
marriage was counted as the child of the dead man; but if the brother refused to
marry the widow, “Then shall his brother’s wife come unto him in the presence of
the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and
shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his
brother’s house,” De 25:9. The type
was fulfilled when the Lord Jesus Christ came to redeem Israel; but she, failing to
see Him as her great Kinsman-Redeemer, rejected Him, and spat in His face, literally
and figuratively, Isa 50:6; Mt 26:67; 27:30.
the symbolic picture of the spitting woman is also of the great harlot church, which
during this Church age occupies the place of apostate Israel, and whose false
doctrine brings spiritual leanness, and whose contempt and hatred of true believers
is too well documented by history to need further comment.
lesson of Rakkath therefore is two fold. As
spiritual wrestlers we are to recognize the need of total submission to God’s will;
and second, we are to recognize the evil of apostate Christendom (Roman Catholic and
Protestant, and be on constant guard against its evil activity.
means a harp, and its significance is easily discerned, for the harp is
invariably connected with praise. As
there was a Chinnereth (harp within the territory of Naphtali, so should there
be the spiritual equivalent in the midst of God’s redeemed people today, for in
spite of having to wrestle against a powerful and implacable foe, we have also
abundant reason to sound forth the praises of Him Who “loved us, and washed us from
our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his
Father,” Re 1:5-6; for “In all these things we are more than conquerors through
him that loved us.... (and neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities,
nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any
other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ
Jesus our Lord,” Ro 8:37-39.
“And Adamah, and Ramah, and Hazor,”
meaning the earth: ground, is virtually the same as
Adam, of whom it is written, “The first man is of the earth, earthy,” 1
Cor 15:47. Its being within the
territory of Naphtali reminds us that the old nature, which it represents, is also
with us, for it must be remembered that the reception of a new nature doesn’t rid
us of the old. That old, fallen,
corrupt, earthy, Adamic nature continues to exist in us side by side with the new
nature, and still strives to have the use of our bodily members (including our minds,
without the use of which it can’t express itself.
But neither can the new nature express itself without the use of our bodily
members, hence Paul’s plea, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of
God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which
is your reasonable service (spiritual worship. And
be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,
that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God,” Ro
nature, however, can use our bodily members without our consent, and as Adamah, once
under Canaanite control, was now under the control of Naphtali, so is the old nature
which once controlled us, now under our control.
We are not to permit it any use of our bodily members, including our minds.
the height, should remind us of the heights to which grace has lifted us, that
promotion being made possible only because the Lord Jesus Christ was willing to stoop
to depths beyond our ability to comprehend. We who once were dead in trespasses and sins, are now the
possessors of eternal life. Once the children of darkness, we are now the children of
light. Once aliens and strangers, we are
now the sons of God. The pauper has been
made a priest and a king. Our future of eternal torment in the lake of fire, has been
exchanged for the eternal enjoyment of blessing in heaven.
we stand spiritually upon “Ramah,” surveying our hopeless past, and our bright
future, the knowledge that that future is ours only because Christ was willing to die
for us, should beget a sense of gratitude that will make us “Walk worthy of the
vocation wherewith (we are called,” Eph 4:1, for an obedient life is the most
sincere expression of gratitude.
to trumpet: enclosure, isn’t difficult to interpret, for throughout
Scripture the trumpet speaks of the Gospel. Believers
are responsible to “Go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every
creature.” But Hazor’s having also
the meaning of enclosure reminds us that the assembly is the “enclosure”
from which we are to go out with the Gospel, and the unbeliever is not to be brought
into that fellowship until he has been born again.
additional comments on Hazor please review the notes on 11:1,10,13; 12:19; 15:23,25.
“And Kedesh, and Endrei, and Enhazor,”
was more than one Kadesh in Palestine, and to distinguish it from the others, this
one is sometimes referred to as Kadesh-Naphtali, meaning a sanctuary of Naphtali,
literally “a sanctuary of the wrestler.” Inasmuch
as believers are spiritual “wrestlers,” we should see in Kedesh a picture of that
“sanctuary” given us by God, and into which we may retire to find refreshment,
and strength for the conflict.
the Naphtalites there was a literal town, but where is our “Kadesh”?
It is any place where we can go aside from the cares and distractions of the
world, to commune with God; where He can speak to us from the pages of the Bible, and
where we can speak with Him in prayer.
is to be feared that “Kedesh” is a place little visited in this busy age.
So many things claim our time that the good intention to spend more time in
“Kedesh” is somehow never fulfilled. It
is to be noted, however, that some of the busiest believers do find time to go there
- often. Daniel was a very busy man with great responsibilities, yet three
times a day he found the time to go to “Kedesh.” There are some believers today who also have responsibilities far
beyond the lot of many, yet they too find the time to go to “Kedesh” - several
times a day.
do they do it? The answer is
surprisingly simple: they make time. How?
It is a matter of priorities. Knowing
that that time in “Kedesh” is imperative to their spiritual well-being, they plan
for it in their daily schedule. No
matter how full and inflexible a schedule may be, time must be found in it for that
visit to “Kedesh.” If that time
can’t be found, the schedule is too full. Usually
an honest examination of our activities will reveal that many are unnecessary, and
that there is more “free” time than we think.
Usually it is simply a matter of determining that God is going to be given
that time, no matter what may have to be given up.
In the very rare instance where that examination reveals that there is indeed
no time for Bible study and prayer, the fact must be faced that I’m in the wrong
job. It is not God’s will for anyone to be that busy!
means goodly pasture, and it is not without significance that Edrei follows
Kedesh in the list of Naphtali’s towns, for the truth is that the time spent in
“Kedesh” brings us inevitably also into “Edrei.”
The two spiritual experiences cannot be separated.
In proportion as we spend time in the sanctuary, so also will we be made
“fat” spiritually, like sheep feeding in a goodly pasture.
means fountain of the village: fount of trumpeting. The village is a
picture of a local assembly, and a fountain is a picture of the written Word as
ministered by the Holy Spirit. As the
literal well or fountain is essential to the life of the literal village, so is the
Word essential to the life of every assembly. The
frequency with which water is drawn from the village well would remind us of the need
to draw from the well of the Word with at least the same frequency.
uses made of the water from the village fountain or well have also much to teach us.
The refreshment derived from drinking, reminds us of the spiritual refreshment
to be derived from drinking the water of the Word.
was used for washing, reminding us that it is by the application of the water of the
Word that we keep ourselves spiritually clean. The
OT summation of this truth is found in the words of the Psalmist, “Wherewithal
shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word,”
Ps 119:9; and the NT confirmation is declared by Paul, “Christ also loved the
church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the
washing of water by the word,” Eph 5:25-26.
third, and very important use of water was for cooking, a process which is a
beautiful picture of Bible study. The
boiling process requires a pot, a fire, something to boil, and of course water.
The pot is the believer; the water in the pot is the Word with which he has
filled his mind by reading and study; the item being boiled is the verse or portion
presently being studied; and the fire is the Holy Spirit.
As the water bubbled up by the fire, boils the item in the pot, so does the
Holy Spirit “bubble up” in our minds Scripture already read and studied, using it
to give understanding of the portion presently being studied, thus transmuting it
into spiritual food.
fourth useful lesson to be learnt from the literal drawing of water from the village
well or fountain centers around the fact that it was usually drawn by women, and used
far more by women than by men (they did the cooking, cleaning, washing, and bathing
of children - and each of these has a spiritual counterpart.
The woman represents subjection, so that the lesson being taught here is that
it is the submissive (obedient believer who goes to the “well,” and who makes
most use of the “water.”
should we miss the important lesson taught by the fact that the time when the women
congregated at the well to draw water, was also a time of fellowship.
God wants believers to enjoy fellowship around His Word.
Enhazor was also a fount of trumpeting, and it is scarcely necessary to say
that trumpeting speaks symbolically of testimony.
All of the foregoing will be of little value if it doesn’t impel us to go
out into the world with the Gospel.
“And Iron, and Migdalel, Horem, and Beth-anath, and Beth-shemesh; nineteen
cities with their villages.”
“This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Naphtali according
to their families, the cities and their villages.”
means fearful, and of course we are immediately reminded of what is written
concerning fear, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” Pr 9:10; but,
“The fear of man bringeth a snare,” Pr 29:25.
a place within the portion of Naphtali, who represents us as a people called upon to
wrestle against the sinister powers of darkness, this city would remind us that as we
walk in the fear of the Lord, no foe can stand against us; but as we are influenced
by the fear of man, we are already defeated. How
much the fear of man dictates our conduct, is sadly apparent in our reluctance to
fearlessly preach the Gospel, and live lives to the glory of God.
It is very easy to condemn the cowardice of the Israelites that so often
robbed them of blessing, but God would teach us that their literal experiences are
but the figures of our spiritual victories and defeats, the fear of God giving us the
former; fear of man, the latter.
do well to remember the repeated exhortations to courage given Joshua when the
conquest of Canaan began. That same
courage is sorely needed today by a Church that knows more of defeat than victory.
means tower of God, and if Iron reminds us of our proneness to fear, this next
city sets before us the resource provided by God.
The Psalmist exulted, “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength,
in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower,”
intimidated by men, we should remember that man is but a creature: the God we serve
is the Creator, without Whose permission man can do nothing. We enjoy the shelter of God as our “high tower” when we see
men, not as they are according to the offices they hold on earth, but as creatures of
dust whose breath is given by God. We,
on the other hand, are those into whom He has breathed the breath of eternal life: we
are His sons and daughters.
on the list is Horem meaning banned in the sense of being devoted to
destruction. As Grant points out “The
idols of the land were thus to be unsparingly destroyed by Israel; and there are
idols of the heart as evil in God’s sight which a true-hearted following of Him
will doom no less.” The pertinence of
his comment must be acknowledged by every honest heart.
The literal idols may have vanished, but can we deny that false gods are still
worshipped by those professing to be God’s people?
How many today yield unswerving devotion to Mammon!
The devotees of the goddess pleasure are more than can be counted; while those
who bow daily before the throne of the god of education are equally numerous.
The sorry state of the Church today declares that we, no less than the Israel
of long ago, have been delinquent in obeying God’s command to destroy what lies
under His ban.
meaning house of response: house of affliction, reminds us that as this
city lay within the lot of Naphtali, so does its spiritual counterpart form part of
our inheritance here on earth.
very idea of response conjures up the thought of our responsibility to yield
obedience to God’s commands; but it reminds us that Satan also seeks to secure our
obedience to his evil inducements, so that invariably we find ourselves in the
position of having to choose whether to obey the command of God or the inducement of
Beth-anath speaks also of affliction, reminding us that not infrequently obedience to
God brings affliction from the world. The
inducement to yield that obedience, however, comes from the knowledge that obedience
to Satan’s enticements brings the affliction of chastisement, for God loves us too
much to leave us to the tender mercies of one who would, if he could, destroy us.
further inducement to respond obediently to God is that whatever affliction may come
from the world as a result, it can last only for a little while; but for the
unbeliever, the affliction that attends obedience to Satan is eternal.
is significant, however, that though Beth-anath was assigned to Naphtali, it remained
under the control of the Canaanites, Naphtali being content to merely exact tribute,
see Jg 1:33. That partial control, which
should have been total, is an accurate foreshadowing of the spiritual condition
prevailing in the Church today. In the
realm of response it is painfully apparent that we too have left “Beth-anath” in
the hand of the “Canaanite,” we being satisfied to maintain merely the appearance
of control. The price of blessing,
however, is total, not partial obedience, for God will not share His glory.
His command is, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy
heart,” Lk 10:27; and again, “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes
observe my ways,” Pr 23:26. Note also
the many references in Scripture to a whole heart.
God will be satisfied with nothing less.
means house of the sun, and inasmuch as the sun has been from time immemorial
a universal object of heathen worship (an idolatry of which Israel has also been
guilty at times, the spiritual significance of this city may be related also to our
own idolatry, as noted above.
the sun rises in the east, the connection with that compass direction is also easily
made, and as noted in other studies, is a direction invariably associated in
Scripture with departure from God. The
east’s being the source of natural light, (itself the symbol of natural
intelligence as opposed to faith), immediately reminds us that Scripture has nothing
good to say of worldly wisdom. Yet, as
noted already, that same earthly wisdom is one of the gods worshipped today, even by
natural wisdom, of which Beth-shemesh appears to speak, lies within our inheritance
also, and there is the very great danger that we, like Israel of old, may be guilty
of bowing down to the goddess of earthly knowledge more often than we would care to
admit, or even be aware of. Are we, for
example, as much concerned that our children “grow in grace, and in the knowledge
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” as we are that they excel in the wisdom of
the world? Do we accord more respect to
believers with high academic qualification than those without?
Beth-anath, Beth-shemesh was also left in the hand of the Canaanite, Naphtali here
also being content to merely exact tribute.
completes the list of Naphtali’s cities, “...nineteen cities with their
villages” (verse 38. As with all prime
numbers greater than seven, the method of ascertaining the spiritual lesson of 19
appears to be to divide it into 1, the number of God, and 18 whose factors are 2 x 9;
3 x 6; and 2 x 3 x 3, which combine to declare that as men and women (6, standing
spiritually on resurrection ground (3 and 9, we are responsible to maintain a witness
(2 for God even while engaged in spiritual warfare against the forces of evil all
“And the seventh lot came out for the tribe of the children of Dan according
to their families.”
seven is the biblical number of perfection and completness, its association here with
Dan, meaning judging: a judge, ought to remind us of what is written in Heb
9:27, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so
Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him
shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
The end of earthly life will be followed by judgment.
For believers that judgment will be at the Bema, where each will be given a
reward according to the faithfulness of his service, that reward to be enjoyed
eternally in heaven. For unbelievers it
will be at the great white throne, where each will receive a measure of punishment
according to the enormity of his sins, that punishment to be endured eternally in the
lake of fire.
noted already, each tribe portrays a characteristic of (1 individual believers, (2 of
each local assembly, and (3 of the Church as a whole; and since Dan means judging:
a judge the lessons God would teach us, through the places lying within Dan’s
territory, are related to the matter of judgment.
looking at the details of this section we might note a few things in general relative
to judgment. Christ, of course, is the
Supreme Judge, God having committed all judgment into His hand, Jn 5:22, before Whom
all men, believers and unbelievers alike, must eventually stand, He 9:27: believers
appearing at the Bema for the review of their lives and the recompense of their
stewardship, Ro 14:10; unbelievers appearing at the great white throne from which
they will be banished into eternal torment in the lake of fire, Re 20:11-15.
with this fact is the knowledge that God has made it possible for men to escape being
judged for their sins, He having poured out that judgment upon the Lord Jesus Christ
at Calvary, so that, “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me
... shall not come into condemnation (judgment.... Jn 4:24, for, “He that believeth
on him (Christ is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already,
because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God,” Jn 3:18.
there are judgments which have been committed unto us as believers.
We are to judge ourselves, 1 Co 11:31; we are to maintain purity in the
assembly by judging overt sin on the part of any member, 1 Co 5; we are to make
judgments in regard to disagreements between believers, 1 Co 6, our qualification
being found in the assurance that “the saints shall judge the world ... and
angels,” vv.2,3; and we are to judge professors, not by what they say, but by what
they do, Mt 7:16,20; and clearly we are to pass judgment on whether doctrine is sound
or false, Ro 16:17.
are, however, judgments we are not to make, e.g., we are not to judge the scruples of
the weak brother whose conscience forbids him to eat certain foods, etc.; nor are we
to judge another’s service: he is accountable to the Lord, not to men.
this brief introduction we will now begin our study of Dan’s allotment in the land
of Canaan, remembering that what is written is to instruct us as spiritual Danites.
“And the coast of their inheritance was Zorah, and Eshtaol, and Irshemesh,”
means she was smitten with leprosy, a meaning less ambiguous than might at
first appear, for who will fail to recall what is recorded in Numbers 12 concerning
Miriam’s speaking against Moses. She
and Aaron claimed equality with Moses, God’s spokesman, and immediately she was
smitten with leprosy, from which she was healed after seven days, but only in
response to Moses’ intercession.
lesson isn’t hard to read. She and
Aaron, jealous of Moses, and dissatisfied with what God had assigned them,
presumptuously attempted to claim for themselves the place God had allotted only to
Moses. How easy it is to be guilty of
the same sin! Dissatisfied with our
Divinely allotted place or task, envious of another, we too may be guilty of
intruding into a sphere which God has denied us, of undertaking a work to which He
hasn’t called us, and for which He has given no qualification.
harm, often irreparable, has been done by just such an attitude, such activity.
The remedy is found in Heb 13:5, “Let your conversation (manner of life be
without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I
will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” We
tend to limit the application of this exhortation.
It relates, not only to the things we possess, but also to the measure of our
spiritual gift, and the sphere of service to which God has appointed us.
knowledge that we were all spiritual lepers until God saved us, should be an
effective check upon the tendency to pass harsh judgment on others.
means I will be entreated, a meaning which calls to mind the exhortation in
James 3:17, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable,
gentle, and easy to be intreated....” Significantly
this admonition is found in connection with warnings against “envying and strife”
Jas 3:14,16, which, as noted above, are invariably spawned by the exercise of
judgment which God has forbidden. The
sin of making such judgments becomes apparent when it is realized that in the final
analysis it is passing judgment on God, for it is to question both His sovereignty,
as well as His wisdom.
remedy for the envying and strife resulting from the exercise of forbidden judgment
is, first of all, to be submissive to God’s entreaty to abandon this sin; and
secondly, to be equally willing to respond to those who would seek reconciliation
from the strife engendered by our sin, or theirs.
Refusal to be reconciled simply declares that I’m still sinning by envying
another, or by refusing to forgive him for wrong, real or imagined, he may have done
me. See also comments on 15:33.
meaning city of the sun, seems to teach that we are to make our judgments, not
according to the standards of earth and earthly wisdom, but according to the
standards of heaven, and the wisdom imparted by the Holy Spirit, the written Word
being the source of both.
“And Shaalabbin, and Ajalon, and Jethlah.”
means hand of skill: jackal of discernment, and since the jackal is an unclean
animal, the meaning of this place simply continues to stress that the judgment we
exercise is not to be according to the world’s wisdom, the “jackal” character
of which is declared in Jas 3:15, “This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is
earthly, sensual, devilish.”
first meaning hand of skill points to the high value which the world wrongly
attaches to mere human “wisdom.” God
says all such wisdom is foolishness. It
is to have no part in the judgment of spiritual things.
means deer-field: a large stag, and since Christ and the believer are both spoken of under the figure of a
deer or hart, this may be to remind us that Aijalon represents the place that God
wants His own to occupy. The deer-field
would speak of pasture for deer, so that the giving of Ajalon to Dan becomes a
warning against allowing the world’s wisdom to have any part either in the
application of the Word to ourselves as our spiritual food, or in the use of that
Word in making spiritual judgments. Many
a believer has made shipwreck of his Christian life by allowing his faith in the
Scriptures to be undermined by the false teaching of the world’s intellectuals.
second meaning a large stag points to spiritual strength in connection with
spiritual things, and it is to be remembered that some Christians are weak, and
others strong, see Ro 14 and 1 Co 8. There
are some matters relative to the local church which require the judgment of spiritual
maturity, hence the need of believers to
submit to the authority of godly elders.
means he will hang, with height or lofty place a possible second
meaning, the ambiguity of the meanings making interpretation difficult.
Connected as it must be with some aspect of judgment, however, it certainly
reminds us that the Lord Jesus Christ was “hanged on a tree” in the greatest
miscarriage of justice the world has ever seen, when the Jewish leaders judged the
Lord of life worthy of death. But where
the wrong judgment of unbelief saw an imagined blasphemer die for his sin, countless
multitudes of awakened sinners have seen the Savior of the world dying in their
guilty place, for their sins, to save them from hell and fit them for heaven.
a result of the Lord’s obedient stooping to death, even the death of the cross, we
read, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is
above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow ... and that every
tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,”
Php 2:9-11. Surely that is the height
or lofty place to which the second meaning of Jethlah points us.
Lord, however, is our example, hence Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians, “Let
this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God,
thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and
took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being
found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even
the death of the cross,” Php 2:5-8.
is a wise spiritual Danite whose judgment of the value of earthly things impels him
to live by the same principle as governed the Lord when He was here on earth, and who
has the faith to believe that the eternal glory bestowed will be commensurate with
the degree of humiliation suffered for Christ’s sake.
“And Elon, and Thimnathah, and Ekron,”
means might, but it is also related to terebinth or oak, and it
continues to emphasize the lesson of Jethlah, for
can’t think of an oak without thinking of Calvary’s tree, itself the supreme
place of judgment. It would be peculiar
indeed if there were not an Elon within the territory of the tribe whose name
is synonymous with judgment. Nor is it
difficult to understand the association of the tree with might, for it is at
Calvary that the might of God was displayed. There Satan, death, and hell were vanquished, the Lord’s
resurrection revealing Him as the Victor over all of them.
it was there that the judgment due to our sins was meted out to Christ.
This should remind us of the need to exercise judgment with the same
righteousness and impartiality as did God. How
seldom is this the character of the judgment we pass!
meaning a portion there: thou shalt number there, is meant to remind us
perhaps of the truth that because Christ has borne the judgment due to us, we have a
portion in heaven for ever, and will be numbered there amongst those whom God calls
His children, even as He does now while we are here on earth in bodies of clay.
close association with this truth is the reminder that we have a responsibility to
exercise judgment regarding those seeking fellowship in a local assembly.
In spite of the clamor for an “open table,” and the insistence that it is
the Lord’s table, not ours, it is to be remembered that nothing makes it easier for
Satan to introduce his wolves amongst God’s sheep than this very policy, which,
under the guise of love and liberality, would set aside God’s order.
It is as a result of negligence in regard to reception into the local church,
that there are found numbered there some whose lives offer little evidence that there
has ever been a new spiritual birth. Elders
are responsible to interview all such applicants, and to make a judgment, to the best
of their ability, as to whether there is reasonable evidence to believe that the man
or woman has a right to be received into the fellowship of a company of believers.
This is not the arrogation of authority, but rather the legitimate exercise of
the responsibility resting on the shoulders of those whom the Lord has set as
shepherds over His sheep. To refuse to
make that judgment is flagrant dereliction of duty that will bring the delinquent
elders themselves into judgment.
as a place within the lot of Dan, and meaning uprooting, links the uprooting
with judgment, relative to which there must obviously first be self-judgment, as it
is written, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged,” 1 Co
11:31, and again, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of
God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the
gospel of God?” 1 Pe 4:17.
in turn directs attention to the “uprooting” that will take place when the Christ
Who came once as the Lamb, to die, returns as the Lion, to reign.
Then there will be an uprooting such as earth has never seen, when He banishes
every unbeliever into hell, overthrows the kingdoms of earth, and their corrupt
governments, and establishes His Own glorious millennial reign of righteousness and
terrible “uprooting” comes also to mind: that which will occur at the great white
throne as hell and the grave yield up the souls and bodies of the unbelievers of all
the ages, and the Christ Who died to save them, then as the Judge rather than the
Savior, banishes them into the eternal torment of the lake of fire.
latter two uprootings surely ought to impress us with the urgency of bringing the
Gospel to as many as possible while there is still time. This could be the last day we will have such an opportunity.
Tomorrow we ourselves could have gone home to heaven.
And that calls to mind still another “uprooting” that may be nearer than
we think: that which will occur at the Bema, where every work judged by the Lord as
unworthy of reward, will be “uprooted” and burned, to our shame, and eternal
knowledge that we must all stand at that judgment seat, should promote the utmost
care relative to all the judgments we make here on earth.
“And Eltekeh, and Gibbethon, and Baalath.”
meaning let God spew thee out, calls to mind what is written concerning
Laodicea, the church regarding which Christ warns, “I will spue thee out of my
mouth,” Re 3:16. One judgment no
believer should fail to make is that which pertains to his own salvation.
The man who never stops to examine or judge the reality of his own profession
may discover too late that all he had was a mere “profession,” and that he is one
of those whom the Lord will spue out of His mouth.
Peter’s exhortation should not be taken lightly, “...brethren, give
diligence to make your calling and election sure,” 2 Pe 1:10.
the lofty, may point to the high privilege bestowed upon those into whose
hands God has entrusted the future judgment of the world and of angels; but it may
point also to the pride that all too often develops in the hearts of those so
privileged as they become forgetful of the fact that they occupy that lofty place
only because the Lord Jesus Christ was willing to take the lowest place, and go to
Calvary as their Representative to bear the judgment that should have fallen upon
means mistressship. In Scripture
the term mistress refers to a wife in subjection to her husband, but ruling
over the household servants and all that pertains to the smooth running of the
household. Since the woman’s Divinely
appointed place is one of subjection, the linking together here of that which is
feminine, but which also indicates rule, should remind us that we, into whose hand
judgment has been committed, are to exercise that judgment in the realization that
our authority is delegated, that we ourselves occupy a place of subjection, and that
we will be judged for the integrity with which we exercised the power entrusted to
“And Jehud, and Bene-berak, and Gath-rimmon.”
meaning he will be praised, may be intended to remind us that Christ, the One
Who bore our judgment at Calvary, is the One who is worthy of all praise, for into
His hand all judgment has now been committed. That
power includes His judgment of our lives at the Bema, a fact which should induce
carefulness in the exercise of the judgment which has been committed into our hand,
for we are warned, “Judge not (things we are not permitted to judge), that ye be
not judged, for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what
measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again,” Mt 7:1-2.
means sons of lightning, and certainly one thought at least connects itself
with that meaning: lightning is almost invariably associated with the display of
God’s majesty, and of His wrath; while sons must remind us of the
relationship we enjoy with Him through the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are His sons only because His only begotten Son was willing to become our
Substitute, and stand in the place where “the lightning” of Divine wrath against
sin must fall.
means wine-press of the pomegranate, and there is no difficulty in discovering
the significance of the wine-press, for it is a well-known symbol of judgment,
see e.g., Isa 63:3; Re 14:19; 19:15.
to the pomegranate, we read in Ex 28:33-35 of God’s command that the hem of the
high priest’s robe was to be adorned with pomegranates and golden bells, “And
beneath upon the hem of it thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and purple, and of
scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them round about.
A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate upon the hem
of the robe round about. And it shall be
upon Aaron to minister: and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy
place before the Lord, and when he cometh out, that he die not.”
are symbols of the Church universal, and also of each local church.
Each crimson seed represents the individual believer as cleansed by the blood
of Christ; and each little cluster of seeds within its membranous covering, and thus
separated from the other clusters, represents the believers in a local church or
assembly. All of the seeds, and all of
the clusters, however, represent the Church universal.
The crimson juice enveloping all of them represents the blood of Christ.
being suspended on the hem of the high priest’s robe, and separated from the
ground, speaks of our position in Christ. He
upholds us, and in union with Him we are separate from the world: in the world, but
not of it - we are citizens of heaven.
golden bells speak of worship and testimony, and the fact that they were to be heard
when Aaron went into the holy place and when he came out, teaches us the relative
order of worship and service: we go in to the presence of God on the first day of the
week to worship, and then we come out to testify until the next Lord’s day.
That order is not to be reversed. No
matter how worthy the work, whatever causes us to be absent from the Lord’s table,
is not acceptable
have therefore in Gath-rimmon the symbolic revelation of truth relative to judgment,
applicable certainly to each individual believer, but particularly to each local
assembly. First, as individual
believers, we are redeemed only because the Lord Jesus Christ was willing to enter
into the “winpress” of God’s wrath at Calvary, to bear judgment that should
have fallen upon us. As those redeemed
by His precious blood we are responsible to be His witnesses.
But each local assembly, consisting of blood-washed men and women, has the
same responsibility to be a light amid the surrounding darkness.
to bear that light will eventually result in the removal of the local assembly; but
since the failure is directly attributable to failure on the part of individual
believers, our dereliction will bring judgment, not only here on earth, but also at
as already noted, there is the responsibility upon each of us to judge his or her own
life, and to exercise judgment for the maintenance of purity in the local assembly.
Failure to exercise that judgment will bring God’s wrath upon us.
“And Mejarkon, and Rakkon, with the border before Japho.”
means waters of mildew: waters of verdure, meanings which are virtual
opposites, for mildew is associated with decay, while verdure is the evidence of
life. The spiritual lesson, however, is
very fittingly told in these opposites. Water
is one of the symbols of the Word, so that the reference to waters directs our
attention to the fact that God wants to teach us something relative to the Word; but
its association here with the tribe of Dan adds the fact that it is the Word in
connection with judgment. Nor is the
lesson difficult to read in view of what is written, “And if any man hear my words,
and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the
world. He that rejecteth me, and
receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the
same shall judge him in the last day” Jn 12:47-48.
This is the Word as “Majarkon” having the meaning waters of mildew.
The Word rejected brings death.
it is also written, “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall
never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water
springing up into everlastting life” Jn 4:14, and again, “If any man thirst, let
him come unto me, and drink. He that
believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of
living water” Jn 7:37-38. This is the
Word as “Mejarkon” having the meaning waters of verdure.
The Word believed brings life.
is what man does with the Word that determines which meaning of Mejarkon applies.
means emaciation: spitting out, both meanings having a bad connotation.
Emaciation speaks of a state of leanness and weakness resulting from hunger or
sickness. It is a physical condition
having a spiritual counterpart. The
corresponding state results from failure to eat spiritual food, the resulting
spiritual malaise being simply the judgment of God upon this sin, for it is nothing
less than sin to fail to nourish that new spiritual life bestowed as God’s free
gift in response to faith, but procured at incalculable cost: the death of the Lord
is sadly apparent that the spiritual counterpart of Rakkon exists in our midst today
just as the literal Rakkon lay within the territory of Dan, and the second meaning spitting
out directs attention to what must be the inevitable result of failure to nourish
the new spiritual life: it will produce deeds that are worthless in God’s sight -
deeds which will be “spat out” at the Bema.
is, however, an even worse possibility. The
written Word is the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ, the living Word, so that a
dislike of the one is nothing less than a dislike of the Other, something no true
believer could be guilty of. A distaste
for the study of Scripture may therefore indicate more than spiritual sickness: it
may indicate lack of spiritual life!
meaning to be fair to him, is the direct opposite of Rakkon. We will be fair to Him only as our new life is nourished by the
written Word, not just read, but meditated upon, and obeyed.
One may read a great deal of the Word, but unless that reading produces
greater conformity to the life of Christ, it is of little worth, for only the
Christ-like life is fair to God.
“And the coast of the children of Dan went out too little for them:
therefore the children of Dan went up to fight against Leshem, and took it, and smote
it with the edge of the sword, and possessed it, and dwelt therein, and called Leshem,
Dan, after the name of Dan their father.”
contrast with Judah whose lot was too large for him, Dan’s lot was too small; and
since the lesson connected with Judah’s large lot was that we can never hope to
fulfill our obligation to adequately express the worship of which God is worthy, the
lesson of Dan’s small lot seems to be that in the matter of judgment we tend to go
beyond the boundaries set by God. This
scarcely needs comment. It is all too
readily apparent that we fail to judge ourselves as we should, but without warrant,
are quick pass judgment on others.
proceeding, we should consider whether Dan’s lot was, in fact, too small, or
whether it was so only in his own judgment, and because of his failure to drive out
the enemy. Is it likely that God would
have erred in assigning the tribal lots?
and Manasseh had complained that their lot was too small, and they were commanded to
enlarge it, not by going beyond it, but by taking what the Perizzites still occupied,
“Get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the
Perizzites and of the giants.... the mountain shall be thine; for it is a wood, and
thou shalt cut it down: and the outgoings of it shall be thine: for thou shalt drive
out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong,”
there is reasonable ground for believing that Dan too could have enlarged his
original lot, and that his decision to go north instead was simply a self-willed
choice dictated by expedient, the Leshemites (see Judges 18) appearing easier to
defeat than the Canaanites within the portion already assigned him by God.
is to be feared that too often we choose to seek enlargement by going beyond Divinely
appointed boundaries, simply because we are unwilling to expel the enemy from the
portion God has given us. In nothing is
this more apparent than the trend within the assemblies to seek increase by means of
unscriptural methods that are dictated, not by the Word of God, but by the expedient
suggested by mere human intelligence.
is needed are self-judgment, confession of sin, repentance, prayer, meditation on the
Word of God, a seeking of God’s guidance, a willingness to give ourselves to the
study of Scripture, and to the service of God, both in ministry to one another, and
in a fearless persistent preaching of the Gospel to the unsaved.
But it is easier to pay someone else to do the studying, the preaching, the
teaching, the visiting, the shepherding, so that we may continue the pursuit of
money, pleasure, ease, etc.; and to multiply ourselves by lowering God’s standards
and preaching a watered down “gospel” that offends no one and saves no one, but
that makes it easy for the unconverted to
flock into our “fellowships” - religious social clubs masquerading as churches -
where they enjoy “the activities.”
is unperceived by eyes blinded by self-will, and the glitter of the world’s ways,
is that what we are producing are not assemblies of believers, but congregations
consisting of a “mixed multitude” of sheep and goats, lambs and wolves, wheat and
weeds, saints and sinners, children of God and children of Satan, those who are light
and those who are darkness, those who are holy and those who are unholy, those who
are on their way to heaven and those who are on their way to hell - in a word, those
who, God says, are not to be mixed together.
is ominous significance in the fact that to enlarge his portion, Dan turned
northward, the direction that speaks of intelligence rather than faith, for the truth
is that mere human intelligence is almost invariably the foe of faith.
And there is further ominous significance in his seizing Leshem, settling
there, and changing its name to Dan, for Leshem means unto desolation.
lesson isn’t difficult to read. When
judgment is passed on the basis of mere human intelligence, the result must always be
spiritual desolation. The barren state
of the Church at large, and of many a local assembly, bears eloquent testimony to the
extent of the desolation that has resulted from such judgment.
furnishes one of the earliest warnings against the folly of judging according to mere
human intelligence. His survey of the
well watered plain of Jordan impelled him to desire it, Ge 13:10-11, but the
inadequacy of human intelligence is revealed in what that well watered plain soon
became, and remains to this day - a scene of desolation unequalled on earth.
is another example of the deficiency of mere human intelligence to properly judge
values. It led him to sell his Lord, and
his own soul, for a paltry thirty pieces of silver.
Jewish leaders’ estimate of Christ is a further disclosure of how little human
intelligence may be relied upon to make a competent judgment.
judgment seat of Christ will be the ultimate place of disclosure, for there will be
revealed how often we were guilty of the folly of having passed judgment on the very
inadequate basis of mere human intelligence.
further lesson may be learnt from the fact that Dan fought against Leshem, and smote
it with the edge of the sword. Since the
place means unto desolation, the spiritual significance of Dan’s fighting
against it is that it is often with the intention of doing good that we pass
judgment; but harsh destructive judgment is no improvement.
It is one thing to seek to alter a desolate, barren state in an individual or
an assembly, but the remedy must be according to the Word of God, and not a mere
human expedient conceived by human intelligence.
Unless it is according to Scripture, the man or the assembly will simply
change from a barren state to one even more likely to incur Divine judgment.
“This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Dan according to
their families, these cities with their villages.”
is to be noted that Dan’s incursion
into the north, and his appropriation
of Leshem, simply divided the tribe into two parts.
Judgment according to human intelligence, rather than Scripture, simply
produces division. It is to be noted also, however, that some of the Danites choose
to remain in their God appointed lot. It
has never been different. In the
division resulting from the use of human, rather than spiritual judgment, some have
wisely chosen to remain in the place of God’s appointment.
“When they had made an end of dividing the land for inheritance by their
coasts, the children of Israel gave an inheritance to Joshua the son of Nun among
Joshua Jehovah is salvation, the son of Nun perpetuity, is a type of
the Lord Jesus Christ as the Captain of our salvation leading us into our
inheritance, the question presents itself, What is the spiritual meaning of his being
given also a portion “among them”? The
answer is given typologically in the next verse.
“According to the word of the Lord they gave him the city which he asked,
even Timnath-serah in mount Ephraim: and he built the city, and dwelt therein.”
means abundant portion, and Ephraim, double ash-heap: I shall be doubly
fruitful. His redeemed people are
the Lord’s inheritance, see e.g., Ex 34:9; Ps 33:12.
Joshua’s choosing, and building this city, in the place that speaks of
fruitfulness, presents us with a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ dwelling today in
the midst of those He has redeemed and chosen for His inheritance.
“These are the inheritances, which Eleazar the
and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children
of Israel, divided for an inheritance by lot in Shiloh before the Lord, at the door
of the tabernacle of the congregation. So
they made an end of dividing the country.”
is significant that Eleazar God is helper heads the list of those appointed to
superintend the allotment of the tribal portions. In this we learn that the Christ, represented by Joshua, has
procured our inheritance for us, but it is the Christ represented by Eleazar, and Who
is now our great High Priest, Who allocates each believer his portion here on earth,
as He will also allocate each his portion for eternity, based on the faithfulness of
each man’s earthly stewardship.
the involvement of the “fathers of the tribes” in the assignment of the tribal
lots, points to the fact that the teaching of godly elders has no small part to play
in guiding us into the enjoyment of the portion God has given us.
This is not to imply of course that we are not to search the Word of God for
ourselves, but particularly in the case of young or immature believers, the
accumulated wisdom of godly elders is often invaluable in helping us understand that
should we miss the lesson being taught in the mention of the place where the lots
were drawn. Shiloh means peace-bringer:
bringer of prosperity, and inasmuch as the Tabernacle was there, it is synonymous
with the presence of God. Peace and
prosperity are inseparable from that place. Our
peace and spiritual prosperity here on earth, and the extent of our eternal
inheritance in heaven, will be in direct proportion to the amount of time we spend in