TODAY’S READING: JOSHUA 18-20
God wants obedience from us. He says that obedience is better than sacrifice.
Throughout John 14, Jesus links obedience to love.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” – John 14:15
“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” – John 14:21
“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we come and make our home with him. And whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.” – John 14:23-24
In today’s reading, there is a detail of the inheritance of seven of the tribes in the promised land that provides some interesting insight into obedience. Joshua 19:1-9 says the tribe of Simeon didn’t receive a portion of the land for itself, but inherited some of the cities within Judah.
What are we to learn from this?
The name Simeon comes from a root word meaning to hear, to listen, to obey. And, the name Judah comes from a root meaning to praise.
Obedience dwells in praise.
Let’s look at the cities Simeon inherited to see learn more about how obedience dwell in praise.
SIMEON’S FIRST SET OF CITIES
Joshua 19:2-6 tells us the first significant fact about Simeon’s inheritance within Judah. The verses say, “And they had for their inheritance Beersheba, Sheba, Moladah, Hazar-shual, Balah, Ezem, Eltolad, Bethul, Hormah, Ziklag, Beth-marcaboth, Hazar-susah, Beth-lebaoth, and Sharuhen – thirteen cities and their villages.”
Each of the names of these cities is important. Also, it is important that there are 13 of them. We will be able to tell a story by tying together the meaning of the names with the significance of the number 13.
Beersheba means “well of the oath” or “the well of seven.” God made promises to Abraham. He guaranteed them with an oath. The author Hebrews makes this very clear.
“So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.” – Hebrews 6:17-18
“But on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him: ‘The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever.”‘” – Hebrews 7:19-21
“For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.” – Hebrews 7:28
God guaranteed his promises to us by giving Jesus by an oath.
Sheba means seven.
Of course, Sheba is part of the name Beersheba. I have written previously about the Sheba part Beersheba in Jesus Meets at a Woman at a Well.
Throughout the Old Testament, various men, including the angel of the Lord, meet a woman, typically a Gentile woman, as a picture of Jesus meeting his bride at a well. This shadow becomes reality when we Jesus meets the woman at the well of Sychar. This woman had five husbands and was living with a six. But, when she met Jesus, she met a seventh man who would be her perfect husband.
Sheba in this context is about the bridegroom finding his bride.
Moladah comes from the Hebrew word yalad, which means to give birth, to beget, to be born. The name literally means “place of bringing forth” or “birth place.”
New life, spiritual life, is brought forth at Moladah.
Hazar is from the Hebrew word hasar, which means settlement, court, enclosure. It can have the idea of a village.
Shual is the Hebrew for fox or jackal.
Therefore, Hazar-shual means “the village of the fox.”
Jackals are associated with the wilderness, the desert, and other desolate places (see Isaiah 34:13; Jeremiah 9:11, 10:22, 49:33, 51:37; Lamentations 5:18; Malachi 3:1). The wilderness is a place of disobedience, which is why Israel wandered in one for 40 years.
According to Song of Solomon 2:15, “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.” This is like prophets who follow their own spirit and lead people astray into disobedience (Ezekiel 13:1-7).
Disobedience has crept in.
Balah comes from a root word that means to be worn or worn out. The name literally means “decayed.”
Disobedience brings decay.
The name Ezem derives from a Hebrew word meaning strength in numbers, to be mighty, or to be numerous. The name means bone or strength.
This calls to mind what the man said when the woman, whom was made from his rib or side, was presented to him by God. Genesis 2:23 says, “Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.'”
It was from the pierced side of Jesus on the cross that his bride came forth. His bride could be though of as bone of his bone and flesh of flesh or, perhaps more appropriately, spirit of his spirit.
Eltolad is a combination of two Hebrew words. The first is El, which means God. The second is yalad, which we saw above. It means to give birth. Therefore, the name Eltolad means “God brings forth” or “kindred of God.”
In Matthew 12:50, Jesus says, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
It is those who are obedient to the Father that are kindred to Jesus.
Bethul means “dweller in God.”
“God is love,” according to 1 John 4:8.
In John 15:8-10, Jesus says, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”
Obedience will cause you to abide in love, which is to abide in God.
Horman comes from the Hebrew word herem, which is prominent in the book of Joshua. Herem yields the phrase “devoted to destruction.” The word means to dedicate, to put under a ban. Herem was the idea of dividing or separating in the sense of the sacred from the profane or the clean from the unclean.
Jesus devotes us to destruction by separating the clean from the unclean within us.
Hebrews 4:8-12, “For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of god is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
There is no clear meaning for the name Ziklag. However, the root words that it possibly derives from have to do with smelting, melting rock into, and exerting pressure on rock to pour out or melt metal. Therefore, Ziklag could mean something like “a pint of liquid metal.”
Peter says genuine faith is more precious that gold that perishes though it is tested by fire. (1 Peter 1:7) Peter is referring to Proverbs 17:3, which says, “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.”
What does God test our hearts for?
BETH-MARCABOTH AND HAZAR-SUASH
We need to look at these two cities together because the meaning of their names goes hand in hand.
Beth-marcaboth means “house of chariots” or “place of chariots.”
We already saw what Hazar means above. Susah is the Hebrew word for mare or horse. Therefore, Hazar-susah means “the village of a mare” or “the village of horses.”
Chariots and horses are very closely linked throughout scripture. They are both used in warfare and symbolize the strength of the army. Five times in the New Testament Jesus says, “Do not fear.” Also, God says quite often “do not fear” in the Old Testament.
Also, chariots and horses are paraded to display their beauty. In Song of Solomon 1:9, the beloved says to his love, “I compare you, my love, to a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots.” The beloved is comparing the beauty and royal dignity of his love to that of the horses that drew Pharaoh’s chariots, which was great.
Revelation 21:2 says, “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”
Labaoth means lion or lioness. Therefore, Beth-labaoth means “house of the lion” or “house of the lioness.”
Jesus is the lion of Judah. It is his house, the house of the lion, that his bride will dwell in.
Sharuhen means “refuge of grace” or “abode of pleasure.” The name speaks to a loosening of kindness or an awakening of love.
Jesus is our refuge. And, Revelation 21 reveals the abode of pleasure that we find in Jesus.
13 CITIES: OBEDIENCE REPLACES REBELLION
Throughout the Bible, the number 13 symbolizes rebellion to the law and commandments of God.
Evidence of 13 as rebellion is found in the genealogies of Genesis. Noah was the tenth man, the man of the law and commandments. Genesis 6:9 says, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generations.” Who was the 13th man?
- Adam begat Seth
- Seth begat Enosh
- Enosh begat Kenan
- Kenan begat Mahalalel
- Mahalalel begat Jared
- Jared begat Enoch
- Enoch begat Methuselah
- Methuselah begat Lamech
- Lamech begat Noah
- Noah begat Ham
- Ham begat Cush
- Cush begat Nimrod
Nimrod was the 13th man. Genesis 10:10-12 says, “The beginning of his [Nimrod’s] kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went into Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah, that is the great city.” Nimrod was the founder of man’s first kingdom Bablyon, which is the city pictured throughout the Bible, not just in Genesis 11, in complete rebellion to God.
Additionally, Genesis 36 tells us that there were 13 chiefs of the sons of Esau. Esau is a type of the natural man, the man in rebellion to God. And the Greek word drakon, which means dragon, is found 13 times in the New Testament, all in the book of Revelation. Of course, the dragon is Satan, from whom all rebellion comes.
Interestingly, Abram had a son, Ishmael, when he 86 years old in his rebellion to God’s command and promise. Thirteen years later, when Abram was 99 years old, God made a covenant with Abram. God changed his name to Abraham and said that every male among his household must be circumcised. Abraham’s rebellion lasted 13 years until God changed his name, in effect breathing God’s spirit into him, and commanded him to circumcise his the flesh of his foreskin, or die to him self. Therefore, after 13 years, Abraham’s rebellion was over.
The names of the 13 cities Simeon inherited within Judah tell a story. I presented them in the order they were listed in Joshua 19. If go back through the names, then you will be able to write the story of our coming to Jesus then rebelling then his bringing us back to a place of obedience.
SIMEON’S SECOND SET OF CITIES
Joshua 19:7 tells us a second interesting fact about Simeon’s inheritance in Judah. The verse says, “Ain, Rimmon, Ether, and Ashan – four cities with their villages.”
Like the first set of cities, the names of the cities in the second set are important. Also, it is important that there are four of them.
Ain means spring or fountain.
In John 4:14, Jesus says, “But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
When we come to Jesus, he causes a spring or fountain of life to be within us.
Rimmon means pomegranate tree or fruit. It comes from a root word meaning high or exalted.
Pomegranates are the first fruit of the harvest. James 1:18 says, “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” The “word of truth” is Jesus, and it is Jesus that makes a sort of firstfruits.
And, even in our disobedience God raised us up and exalted us. Ephesians 2:5-6 says, “Even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
Ether means to smoke, to pray, to plead, or to supplicate.
Psalm 141:2 says that prayers are like burning incense. Jesus is our great high priest whose priesthood continues forever. “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)
Jesus is always praying for us.
Ashan means smoke. It comes from a root word meaning to be surrounded with smoke or exude smoke.
We are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. And, because Jesus leads us in triumphal procession, we exude a fragrance or smoke. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.”
4 CITIES: A NEW CREATION
The number four often symbolizes creation in the Bible. There are the four directions, the four corners of the earth, the four rivers that flowed from the garden of Eden.
Also, the number four speaks to the complete revelation of Christ. Ezekiel saw four living creatures around the throne. These four living creatures relate to the order camping of the tribes around the tabernacle. And both of these relate to the four gospels. Each presents Christ in a different way. And, all four are necessary for the complete of Jesus. I wrote about this in The Tabernacle, the Priests, and the Men of War – Part 1.
It is in this full revelation of Jesus Christ that we become a new creation. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
This second set of four cities that Simeon inherited reveal that when Christ turns our rebellion into obedience we become a new creation.
13 + 4 = 17
In total, Simeon inherited 17 cities within Judah.
What is the significance of the number 17?
The first mention of 17, actually the 17th, is in Genesis 7:11, 13, which says, “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened…On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark.” The next mention of the 17th is at the end of the flood. Genesis 8:4 says, “And in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.”
So, the flood starts and Noah’s family enters the ark on the 17th. The flood ends and the ark lands on the mountains of Ararat on the 17th. The ark then represents victory over the flood. When we see the ark as a type of Jesus, seventeen speaks to the victory of Jesus.
Jesus, the Passover lamb, the Lamb of God, was selected according to the law on the 10th day of the month. He was crucified, in complete fulfillment of the law, on the 14th day of the month. But, Jesus rose from the grave, was resurrected, won the victory over Satan, sin, and death, three days later on the 17th day of the month.
Also, we can see the number 17 as ten and seven (10 + 7 = 17). We know that the number 10 represents the law and commandments of God. In yesterday’s post, 66, 2, 70, 33, 16, 14, 7 – They’re Jesus not Lotto Numbers, I wrote about the seven as the number of completion and rest. Therefore, we can see 17 as the perfect fulfillment of the law and the bringing of rest from our works by Jesus as well.
Jesus turns our rebellion into obedience, making us a new creation. This is victory!
OBEDIENCE DWELLS IN PRAISE, OR PRAISE IS EMPTY WITHOUT OBEDIENCE
Joshua 19:9 says, “The inheritance of the people of Simeon formed a part of the territory of the people of Judah. Because the portion of the people of Judah was too large for them, the people of Simeon obtained an inheritance in the midst of their inheritance.”
Judah’s inheritance was too large for them. Praise had too much space to fill. In other words, praise was empty. Judah needed Simeon to fill up its empty land. In other words, praise needs obedience to fill it, to make it complete.
Praise is a sacrifice. Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”
But, obedience is greater than sacrifice. God prefers obedience to sacrifice.
Our praise is only pleasing to God when it is filled with obedience. Otherwise, praise is empty and hollow.
When we put Jesus into the inheritance of Simeon within Judah, this is the lesson that we learn.