As I read through the inheritances of the children of Israel this response stood out to me. Apparently, the children of Joseph thought they were too great for their small inheritance. They esteemed themselves greater than what God had given to them. Sadly we've all been tempted to have this high evaluation of self and low evaluation of where God sends us, who God sends us to, and what God gives us. The problem is certainly not with the lot God has given you in this life. Rather with how you view it.
In verse 15 Joshua uses this very same excuse to turn things back on them; "And Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee." They were a great people, so they thought, but not great enough to conquer their Cannan. Their problem was that they were too great, too great to work, too great to fight, so great in their own evaluation that they were above doing any work to make their lot in Cannan better. We have all met people like this, and if we are honest we have all had this mentality to some degree at times. Willing to complain and gripe but not willing to sweat and toil. May God's Word condemn and reveal us with our own evaluation this morning, " If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there."
Verse sixteen reveals the truth of the matter, it was not that their lot was too small and they were too great, that was just weakness masquerading as strength. The real reason they didn't want that inheritance was because of the giants and their iron chariots; "All the Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron." Isn't it strange how we love to hide our weaknesses with the very opposite of what they are? If a man sees himself as weak he'll do everything in his power to hide his insecurities with shows of power, or a lady who has low self-esteem will oftentimes be loud and boisterous to hide her vulnerability. It shows us the depth of sin we are born into, that we lie on the microscopic level, right down to the way we present ourselves. This is precisely what happened with the Children of Joseph. "We are too Great for this tiny lot" was what they wanted people to think but in all actuality, they didn't think they were great enough for it. They lacked faith, they lacked strength, they lacked the will, and they didn't have what it took. The word of God has a way of revealing things, revealing our dishonesty, revealing our weaknesses, as it did in our verses today. All their shows of pride are gone now, they admit what God and Joshua knew all along, that they didn't think they were great enough for the Lot they had been given.
The Word of God doesn't just reveal their heart but strengthens their hearts. Listen to Joshua's reply "Thou art a great people, and hast great power: thou shalt not have one lot only: But 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." I was expecting a scathing rebuke after they were honest but it was right the opposite, once they were honest their captain had a word of Encouragement! Isn't just like our Lord Jesus, when He has revealed our sinful hearts and we humbly admit, "Lord I can't" He comes with a quikening word, "Thou art a great people and hast great power!"
So many of God's people are hiding behind masks of strength when deep down they don't think they could ever serve God in any real capacity. They are too weak to preach or teach, they are too small to make any difference and too fickle to go into the ministry. Here is a reality that every servant of our Lord must come to, "His strength is made perfect in weakness." Many times I've told the Lord I can't, and his reply has been "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." I've told him I'm weak, He's told me "My strength is made perfect in weakness." I've told him I'm a fool, he's told me "I choose the foolish to confound the wise."
Lastly, in verse 17, contrast their captain's words to them "Thou art a great people" with their own words at the beginning "I am a great people," They started with an "I am great mentality and are leaving with a "Thou art great mentality." That is, their sights were set on themselves, but now they leave knowing how God sees them. That is where strength comes from, not looking at self through our lenses but through his. How does God see us? That is all that matters. If we are his people, in his will, then we can do all things through Christ that strengthens us. We are more than conquerors through him who loved us, "All things work together for our Good." So how have you been evaluating yourself? Through your greatness or his? Is your perspective this morning "I am a great people" or "Thou art a great people," Your boasting or his blessing? We'll end with Joshua's words to this great people, "Thou art a great people, and hast great power."