Life-Study of Joshua, Judges & Ruthby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message I have the burden to give a further word on three particular matters concerning the allotment of the good land—the case of the daughters of Zelophehad, the cities of refuge, and the return of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh to their land east of the Jordan. In typology, these three matters show us certain details regarding the enjoyment of Christ.
Zelophehad, a descendant of Manasseh, had five daughters but no sons (17:3). The daughters claimed the right to inherit their father’s inheritance, so that it would remain in his tribe (v. 4; Num. 27:1-11). According to God’s ordination, only males had the right of inheritance. Here, however, some females requested an inheritance, and God honored their request.
The five daughters of Zelophehad had their father’s life. This indicates that in order to inherit Christ as our good land, we must have the proper genealogy; that is, we must have the proper origin of life. In the Bible, inheritance is determined according to genealogy. A genealogy is a matter of life, and this life is related to tribes, houses, and families. The fact that the daughters of Zelophehad were of one of the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph indicates that they had the proper origin of life. The enjoyment of Christ as our inheritance depends very much on the life which we have received in Him.
Their father’s family signifies the church. In the church we have the standing to inherit Christ for our enjoyment. This means that if we would enjoy Christ as our inheritance, participating in His riches, we must have the church life. Our fellowship with the saints in the church life is crucial for our enjoyment of Christ. If we lose our fellowship with the saints, we will lose our enjoyment of Christ. Those who give up the church life with the fellowship of life spontaneously lose their right to inherit the enjoyment of Christ.
The females signify the weaker ones. In the sight of God, we all are females; we all are weaker ones. Only Christ is the strong One. Spiritually speaking, in the entire universe there is only one male—God embodied in Christ. All the believers, including the brothers, are females. Therefore, the five daughters of Zelophehad typify us.
In particular, the daughters of Zelophehad, being females, signify the weaker ones in the church life. We have been born of God and we are in the church life, having the standing to inherit Christ as our good land for our enjoyment. However, we may be weak, not having the strength or capacity to enjoy Christ. We may have the heart to enjoy Christ but may lack the capacity or the strength to enjoy Him. How, then, can we inherit Christ as the good land? We need to take the way of fellowship, indicated by the contact the daughters of Zelophehad had with their kinsmen. Among the tribe of Manasseh, there were many families with men, signifying the stronger ones. By contacting the stronger kinsmen, the weaker ones were able to keep their father’s name and his inheritance within the tribe, signifying the keeping of the enjoyment of Christ. Today, you may be weak, but in God’s house, the church, there are stronger ones. Through fellowship, especially in the vital groups, the weaker ones will be strengthened by the stronger ones and thus will be able to enjoy Christ as their inheritance.
The cities of refuge (Josh. 20:1-9) were set up by Joshua for those of the children of Israel who unwittingly killed someone. If they would flee to the city of refuge away from the avenger of blood (v. 5), they would be protected. At the death of the high priest, the manslayer would be released to return to his own city (v. 6).
The cities of refuge signify the all-inclusive Christ as the place to which we can escape when we realize that we are sinful. The all-inclusive Christ as the embodiment of the redeeming God is the city of refuge where we are safeguarded, covered, and concealed. Christ is not only our Savior but also our refuge. Whenever the “storm” of our sin comes, we can run into Christ as our refuge to stay with Him. Then by Christ’s death, signified by the death of the high priest, we are released.
Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh inherited land east of the Jordan (22:9). Moses charged them that they had to fight along with their brothers west of the Jordan before they could enjoy their inheritance east of the Jordan (Num. 32:20-22). After these tribes fought along with their brothers, they were qualified to return to their land to enjoy their inheritance. This indicates that we cannot enjoy Christ without the Body. We must be one with the Body in order to share the inheritance of Christ.
When Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh returned to enjoy their inheritance of the land, they built a great altar at the river Jordan (Josh. 22:10). This offended the other tribes and caused the children of Israel in Canaan to go up in battle against them (vv. 11-20). Eventually, the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh explained to the other tribes that they built the altar not for offerings but for a witness (vv. 21-29). When Phinehas the priest, the leaders of the assembly, and the heads of the thousands of Israel who were with him heard this explanation, it seemed good in their sight (v. 30).
The record in Joshua 22 shows us that no matter what the situation of God’s people might be today, we are not allowed to set up another altar for the worship of God or for fellowship with God. In God’s economy, among God’s people there should be only one altar, in Jerusalem. All God’s people had to go there to offer their sacrifices to God for their worship and fellowship with God. This indicates that in the enjoyment of Christ division must be avoided to the uttermost. Nevertheless, in certain places the dissenting ones, not caring for the one accord in the Lord’s recovery, have formed divisions by building another altar.
It is very significant that in a portion of the holy Word concerned with the inheritance of the good land we have a record about the building of another altar. This account shows us that we must avoid division. To enjoy the all-inclusive Christ as the good land, we must be one people, one Body, one universal church to testify for Christ.
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