It jumped out to me that five women demanded an inheritance from the leaders. God had commanded Moses to do so, but I know culturally at that point it didn’t usually happen. My commentary agreed:
“Although women did not traditionally inherit property in Israelite society, Moses put justice ahead of tradition and gave these five women the land they deserved (see Numbers 27:1-11). In fact, God told Moses to add a law that would help other women in similar circumstances inherit property as well. Joshua was now carrying out this law. It is easy to refuse to honor a reasonable request because ‘things have never been done that way before’. But, like Moses and Joshua, it is best to look carefully at the purpose of the law and the merits of each case before deciding.” (NLT commentary pg. 336)
Moses put justice ahead of tradition. This chapter is such a reminder to me that following God isn’t just memorizing a bunch of rules. God’s love breaks cultural barriers, rules and norms.
I have religious and lazy tendencies. It’s easier for me to just establish a set of rules and expect them to be followed by people. But that doesn’t leave room for God’s love to move. Here are a few ways I’ve found to be helpful in gaining godly discernment:
Familiarize yourself with the Proverbs. On days like today, where my Bible reading offers more fact stating than narrative, I’ll often flip to the book of Proverbs and read a chapter or two.
Look for the gospel. Look for the gospel in your daily experiences, in books you read, in parts of the Bible you don’t expect it, and in your history. Developing a “gospel lens” trains you to look at situations and people the way God does.
Pray and consult with God. Later in chapter 18, Joshua casts sacred lots in the presence of God to help make decisions. Do we seek his input when we make decisions?
And of course, staying consistent in reading the Bible. I am constantly learning and repositioning my heart towards God whenever I’m in the Word. It’s the ultimate guide, manual, story-teller and compass that our lives need.