God on the Go, God at Home

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), March 28

“Now the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of meeting there” (Josh. 18:1).

Tent dwellers are typically nomadic people. God had promised to dwell in Israel’s midst—“My Presence will go with you” (Ex. 33:14); therefore He commanded Moses to construct a Tent of Meeting for His Presence. This portable tent has traveled with Israel throughout their wilderness wanderings.

It is now time for a more permanent dwelling place, and Shiloh is that place. Shiloh is centrally located; therefore Shiloh will become the heart from which spiritual vitality and religious education flow to the new nation. Perhaps it reminds Joshua of the promise in Genesis 49:10, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people.”

Nevertheless, in compliance with Deuteronomy 12:4-11, Joshua establishes Shiloh as the assembly place for the congregation to worship God, “But when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety, then there will be the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide. There you shall bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, and all your choice offerings which you vow to the LORD” (Deut. 2:10-11). The Tent of Meeting remains in Shiloh for more than three hundred years (1 Samuel 4:4).

This scene reveals a number of truths about people and places of worship:

  • People need a place to worship that separates them from daily life.
  • God’s people need to gather together frequently for worship, instruction, and fellowship.
  • The desire for God’s presence and blessing is paramount for community wellbeing.
  • God desires to be among His people.

Questions from today’s reading (Joshua 18:1-19:48):

How do the Israelites decide which land and cities to apportion to which tribes? (18:8-9)

Do the tribes have the ability to formulate military strategy once they know exactly which territories belong to them? Why, by the time of the book of Judges, have most of them still failed to take their land? How does this set them up for future failure?