And the children of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, Why have you given me but one lot and one portion to inherit…
Let us make some further observations on the division of the land of Canaan among the tribes of Israel. The descendants of Joseph receive but a small lot. They complain bitterly of this, saying, "We are a great people." Joshua replies that, just because they are a great people, they may be contented with the share assigned them, for they will have the opportunity of perpetually extending their borders. "The mountain shall be thine; for thou shalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots and though they be strong" (ver. 18). In this passage of their history there is a beautiful SYMBOL OF THE POSITION OF THE CHURCH IN THE WORLD. Manasseh and Ephraim have no assured possession. In order to retain what they have and to acquire sufficient territory, they must be ever fighting. Ever fresh conquests are the necessary conditions of their retaining that which they already possess. If they do not strengthen their position and enlarge their borders, they will be at once invaded by their enemies. Such is the position of the Church in the world.
(1) For the Church too, conquest is the condition of security. Pressed on every hand by a hostile world, it must be ever in an attitude of active self defence: it must ever have in its hand the sword of the Spirit. As soon as it falls asleep, in a supposed peaceful security, it finds itself assailed, and the enemy is in its midst before it is aware. Nothing is more easy, nothing of more frequent occurrence, than this intrusion of the world into the Church. Therefore the Church is bound to be ever armed with all the panoply of God, and ready for the fight. "We wrestle not," says the apostle, "against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12). This defensive warfare is also in a manner aggressive; forevery new generation born within the outward precincts of the Church needs to be won afresh for Jesus Christ. No one is born a Christian, though it may be a great advantage to be born in a land of historic Christianity. It is necessary, therefore, constantly to reconquer from the world and from the merely natural life, the posterity of Christians. In this primary sense the Church cannot hold its own without ever fresh conquests.
(2) Nor is this enough. Antichrist, under the form of paganism, or of simple infidelity, is still a formidable power on every hand. He who said to His disciples, "Go and teach all nations," opened before them a limitless field of conquest. The mission of the Christian Church is the fulfilment of the command of Joshua to Ephraim and Manasseh: "Thou art a great people and hast great power; get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the giants" (ver. 15). The might which is in the Church, though invisible, is greater than that of the giants of antichrist, for it is the strength of Him who said, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20). - E. DE P.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the children of Joseph spake unto Joshua, saying, Why hast thou given me but one lot and one portion to inherit, seeing I am a great people, forasmuch as the LORD hath blessed me hitherto?