Not Left Out

Joshua 17:1-6

1 This was the allotment for the tribe of Manasseh as Joseph’s firstborn, that is, for Makir, Manasseh’s firstborn. Makir was the ancestor of the Gileadites, who had received Gilead and Bashan because the Makirites were great soldiers. So this allotment was for the rest of the people of Manasseh—the clans of Abiezer, Helek, Asriel, Shechem, Hepher and Shemida. These are the other male descendants of Manasseh son of Joseph by their clans.

Now Zelophehad son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, had no sons but only daughters, whose names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah. They went to Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the leaders and said, “The Lord commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our relatives.” So Joshua gave them an inheritance along with the brothers of their father, according to the Lord’s command. Manasseh’s share consisted of ten tracts of land besides Gilead and Bashan east of the Jordan, because the daughters of the tribe of Manasseh received an inheritance among the sons. The land of Gilead belonged to the rest of the descendants of Manasseh.

Introduction

The Scriptures presented God as a Father figure. Some groups find it tough to accept that God is called Heavenly Father. It is hard for them to agree with the pronoun ‘He’ as substitute to the name of God. Likewise, a controversial movie portrayed God as a woman is also not very acceptable to many traditional religious people.

God has revealed Himself in the best way He wants humans to understand Him. God knows that anyone can be confused easily. He knows that unbelievers would reject His ways. And, He decided to show Himself in the human form of Jesus.

If God chooses to reveal Himself as Heavenly Father, what is human to challenge that? Humans may resist, ignore or deny how He reveals Himself, would it change God?

Only by faith can believers accept what the Scripture says, and how God revealed Himself in the Scripture and in Jesus. The Israelites recognized males more than females. Does it conclude that males are more important than females in the eyes of God?

1. Male

1 This was the allotment for the tribe of Manasseh as Joseph’s firstborn, that is, for Makir, Manasseh’s firstborn. Makir was the ancestor of the Gileadites, who had received Gilead and Bashan because the Makirites were great soldiers. So this allotment was for the rest of the people of Manasseh—the clans of Abiezer, Helek, Asriel, Shechem, Hepher and Shemida. These are the other male descendants of Manasseh son of Joseph by their clans.

When the inheritance of the tribes of Manasseh (including all the other tribes) was subdivided into towns and villages, their allotment was named after male leaders. The Hebrew culture was dominated by males or fathers. Males were given the responsibility to be the leader of their tribes, clans or family.

The New Testament recognized leadership responsibilities given to males.

Elders serve as overseers or caretakers of the church, and they are male believers who are heads of their families. In 1 Timothy 3:1-7, 1Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

It is a general knowledge in Hebrew culture that fathers or adult males are providers for their families. Not all fathers are pious but religiosity can be misleading. Anybody can pretend to be pious before other people. So, as a practical example that can be easily observed, it is required that an elder manages his own family well.

It teaches in Ephesians 5:23, 23 Christ is the head of the church, his body.

‘Church’ is the English translation of the Greek word ‘Ekklesia.’ ‘Ekklesia’ is an assembly of believers. Therefore, a church cannot be an assembly of a single person.

When believers assemble themselves to organize a church, such assembly is called ‘local church.’ In a local church, the Bible teaches that elders are given the responsibility to preside in taking care of the church.

Christ is the head of the church, and each believer is a member of His body. Each part of the body of Christ is significant, and bestowed with appropriate function. So, even if the office for elders is obviously assigned to male heads of families, it does not relegate to lesser importance, the functions of female believers in the church. Male or female believers, everyone is important and significant in the body of Christ.

2. Female

Now Zelophehad son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, had no sons but only daughters, whose names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah. They went to Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the leaders and said, “The Lord commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our relatives.” So Joshua gave them an inheritance along with the brothers of their father, according to the Lord’s command. Manasseh’s share consisted of ten tracts of land besides Gilead and Bashan east of the Jordan, because the daughters of the tribe of Manasseh received an inheritance among the sons. The land of Gilead belonged to the rest of the descendants of Manasseh.

Joshua implemented the instruction of Moses in relation to the inheritance of the female descendants of Manasseh. Zelophehad, the father of Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah died in the wilderness.  So, those women approached Moses, appealed for their case, and asked for inheritance.

The Lord commanded that an inheritance should be given to daughters if a man had no sons. But the leaders and heads of the Israelite families pointed a case to Moses. Since an inheritance should be named after husbands, the inheritance of those women could be transferred to another tribe if they marry from other tribes.

Moses did not decide immediately. He asked God about the case presented by the leaders. After that, Moses told the Israelites what God commanded him.

It says in Numbers 26:6-12 This is what the Lord commands for Zelophehad’s daughters: They may marry anyone they please as long as they marry within their father’s tribal clan. No inheritance in Israel is to pass from one tribe to another, for every Israelite shall keep the tribal inheritance of their ancestors. Every daughter who inherits land in any Israelite tribe must marry someone in her father’s tribal clan, so that every Israelite will possess the inheritance of their ancestors. No inheritance may pass from one tribe to another, for each Israelite tribe is to keep the land it inherits.”

10 So Zelophehad’s daughters did as the Lord commanded Moses. 11 Zelophehad’s daughters—Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milkah and Noah—married their cousins on their father’s side. 12 They married within the clans of the descendants of Manasseh son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in their father’s tribe and clan.

When God commanded that the daughters of Zelophehad must be given inheritance, it shows that the Lord has not reduced women as lesser humans. Each person, male or female has equal rights before God. The reason that husbands were given responsibility over their family is to have order. God is the God of peace.

It says in 1 Corinthians 14:33, 33For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.

For the same reason to have order in the family and to have order in the church, the office of the elders is designated to males, who are heads of their families. There’s no question that females are very good leaders but to avoid confusion in the church, we should abide with what God has designed as written in the Scriptures.

The Lord decides things according to propriety. He declares what He deems as appropriate for His purposes. God created humans, male and female. He instituted the family and the church. He knows what is best for the family and the church. It should not confuse us. Every believer, male or female is equal in the eyes of the Lord.

It says in Galatians 3:28, 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

No believer should be left out. No Christian is lesser. Everyone will be given fair share of reward from the Lord. The Bible has been given for us to know that the Lord gives His rewardss according to how we respond in obedience His commands.

Moses

It encourages us in Hebrews 11:24-26, 24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.

Moses, the greatest leader of Israel desired for reward. Not a few preachers have dismissed the idea of aspiring for reward from God. The human idea of reward is material thing like crown of gold. The crown or reward from God represents the glory, blessedness, supreme happiness, or the deepest joy that comes from God.

What is the most ideal and desirable life in your opinion? Try to imagine!

The reward that comes from God is the most desirable kind of life which is more than what we can ever imagine or dream of. And the Bible does not teach that only elders, preachers, popular pastors, or male heads of families would receive reward from God. Rewards are given in proportion to our obedience to the Lord.

God has given spiritual gift to each believer. Know your spiritual gift, and use it accordingly. Ask God to strengthen your faith, and practise you spiritual gift. No one is to be blamed except ourselves if we miss the reward that God has prepared for us. Don’t be left out. Keep practicing your faith in the Lord.

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