Last fall, I read a story in Numbers 32. I’ve read the story before, but it never really gripped me until last fall. Today, I happened upon that story again and figured it was worth sharing.
This is the context for the story. God promised the people of Israel a homeland as their inheritance, but they didn’t trust Him enough to cross the Jordan river and actually take the land when He first brought them out of slavery and to the brink of their promise. So, because of their unbelief, God refused to give them their inheritance at that time, and He let them wander around in the desert until every member of that unbelieving generation died out. What they found during those 40 years of wandering was hardship and war. Yes, God was faithful to provide their needs and give them victory over their enemies, but they wandered and met opposition at almost every place they camped. Now, the latest generation of the 12 tribes sits on the banks of the Jordan river, preparing to cross over and finally occupy the land God promised to them.
And so we begin the tale of Numbers 32 (you can read it here). The leaders of two of the tribes (Gad and Reuben) saunter over to Moses. “Moses,” they say, “We two tribes are made up of herdsmen. We think the land on this eastern shore of the Jordan is perfect for our herds, so we want to settle down, build homes and towns, and dwell here. The rest of you can cross over the Jordan and have the promised land. As for us, we’d like to receive this land as our inheritance.”
Not an unreasonable request, right? After 40 years of instability, these people are understandably ready to settle down and raise the kids and cows on their own piece of real estate. They’re ready for their inheritance, and they’ll just take it right now – right here. The battle for this land has already been won, and they want to settle in and enjoy the spoils of victory. Moses, however, does not see their request as reasonable.
Moses flips out, “YOU ARE SINFUL, WICKED PEOPLE! How could you even consider settling down and enjoying life while the rest of us battle for our inheritance?” Whoa.
So the Gadites and Reubenites commit that they won’t enjoy their inheritance until everyone else has come into theirs. Moses gives them the land east of the Jordan and allows them to establish a safe home there for their families, contingent upon them sending their own men as the front line soldiers in the battles to take the rest of the promised land for the remaining ten tribes.
Now, some questions for us: What victories have we experienced with God? What have we received from Him? How have we been the beneficiaries of His promises? Have we received salvation? Forgiveness and victory over sin? Restored fellowship with God? The fruits of the Spirit? And what should we do with these blessings – our inheritance from God? Shall we sit and enjoy them while 83% of the others have yet to receive their inheritance?
It is sinful and wicked if we choose to settle down and enjoy the measure God’s given us while our brothers and sisters are still in the battle for their inheritance.
We should take a lesson from the Gadites and Reubenites. Yes. Receive your inheritance – care for your family – but before you kick back to relax or build your empire, lead the charge in the battle for every one else to receive their inheritance from the Lord.
“We will not return to our homes until each of the Israelites has received their inheritance,” the men of Gad and Reuben promised, and in Joshua 22, we see that they were courageous men true to their word.
a post script…
Q: How do we lead the charge?
A: First, receive your inheritance from the Lord. Then, ask the Lord for His eyes to see those who have yet to inherit His promises. Ask the Lord to give you His strategy to lead them into battle to win the inheritance He has promised them. And, when He gives you a strategy, obey – every time! He’s God… which means He knows what He’s talking about. 😉