“So Moses commanded the Israelites, “This is the land you are to receive by lots as an inheritance, which the Lord commanded to be given to the nine and a half tribes. For the tribe of the Reubenites and the tribe of the Gadites have received their inheritance according to their ancestral houses, and half the tribe of Manasseh has received its inheritance. The two and a half tribes have received their inheritance across the Jordan from Jericho, eastward toward the sunrise. Numbers 34:13-15
My wife and I used to be members of the Biltmore Society, a group of individuals who share a common concern over the preservation and continuance of Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. Built by George Vanderbilt at the turn of the 19th Century, Biltmore Estate is truly America’s castle.
Society members received invitations to exclusive events and activities on the estate grounds. I recall wandering the mansion one evening, gazing into an oil portrait of George Vanderbilt. I wondered what he was like that he would leave such a beautiful architectural legacy.
A friend of mine, close to the Vanderbilt family today, shared some personal insight into the “old family.” He said, “Of all the wealthy industrialist families of the 19th and 20th centuries, the Rockefellers, Fords, Gettys, Guggenheims, Carnegies, and such, the Vanderbilts were the least charitable. Except for a few college endowments and buildings, Vanderbilt money was mostly spent on the Vanderbilts. Their enduring legacies are monuments to themselves; hence compared to their potential impact, their contribution to society was primarily benign.” It is one thing to inherit great wealth. It is a whole other thing to shrug your shoulders at (or squander) an inheritance, having not realized its purpose and great potential for the community.
My favorite country to visit is Israel. I love taking people there and watching the “lights come on” as they walk and minister in the footsteps of Jesus. Israel is the most disputed plot of real estate in history. Something that never comes up in world politics is disputes over the territories of Reuben, Gad, or Manasseh’s 1/2 tribe. The Lord allowed them to choose to settle before entering the Promised land, but their choice was not a wise one. Eventually, that poor choice led to confusion and conflict between their Israelite brothers and themselves.
Within a few generations, because of regional conflict spurred on by their separation from the greater community of Israel, these “settling tribes” were absorbed back into Israel properly, having spoiled their claims to any land inside Israel’s border.
Just because God allows us to choose our path doesn’t mean it’s the path He’ll bless.
“A wicked man hardens his face: but as for the upright, He directs his way.”
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