Published on
October 3, 2023

Numbers 32

“The Gadites and the Reubenites replied, 'What the Lord has spoken to your servants is what we will do. We will cross over (the Jordan) in battle formation...'”

Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Read Time
4 minutes
Numbers 32
“The Gadites and the Reubenites replied, ‘What the Lord has spoken to your servants is what we will do. We will cross over (the Jordan) in battle formation before the Lord into the land of Canaan, but we will keep our hereditary possession across the Jordan.’ So Moses gave them – the Gadites, Reubenites, and half tribe of Manasseh son of Joseph – the kingdoms of Sihon king of the Amorites and Og king of Bashan, the land including its cities with the territories surrounding them.” Numbers 32:31-33

Ever since Abram left his hometown to follow the Lord to “The place I will show you,” one thought has been at the forefront of the Hebrew mindset. One thought sustained Isaac when he was about to be sacrificed; one thought sustained Jacob through his trouble. One thought gave birth to a nation, and one hope encouraged that nation to endure 400 years of slavery and 40 years in the desert: God’s promise can be trusted.

God had promised Canaan to Abraham’s descendants.

Israel was standing at the banks of the Jordan, getting ready to receive the fulfillment of God’s promise, when a chunk of their fighting force said, “We’re good. We don’t need to enter in.” Why would they have such a lukewarm reaction to the Promised Land?

In a word, I would say their issue was “value.” They appraised their surroundings, compared Canaan, and then chose to value the land east of the Jordan. Their evaluation seemed to be void of anything spiritual. It simply made better human sense to them.

To understand this passage, we must consider the difference between “information” and “value.” Information is raw data. Value is determined by the degree of consideration (trust) you pay to the source of that data.

When I was a kid, my dad said, “Rotate your car’s tires every 3000 miles.” That was good information. Sadly, I didn’t value that information until I had to replace my 1st set of prematurely worn tires!!!

Reuben, Gad, and the warrior clans of Manasseh knew that Canaan was God’s provision. They knew many generations had longed to enter in, suffering to lay the foundation for what was now offered by grace. Yet, the “value” wasn’t transferred. Value is transferred by personal relationships or personal experience. Perhaps, the blame goes to their parents.

We know that sin kept the generation that left Egypt from entering Canaan. I suggest that Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh’s response was telling as to sin’s effects on their elders’ ability to communicate “value” for God’s Word. They knew God’s promise but simply did not esteem it. Perhaps, it was because they did not esteem the source of God’s Word: their faithless parents.

You can attend a church and participate in what worshippers do, leaving you unimpressed. But unless you surrender yourself to experience God in a personal way, you will never develop an enduring value for Him, His promises, or His people. And that is why we spend time with Him daily, reading his Word and getting to know Him (and His values) personally.

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