About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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Chapter 32

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The Transjordan Tribes (ch. 32:1 - 42)    


In verses 1 through 5 we see that the tribal leaders of Gad and Reuben did not want to cross the Jordan River .  They saw that the land they presently were in was good for their cattle.  They asked Moses if they could stay where they were.


In verse 6 we see how Moses responds to their request.  He asks them "shall your countrymen go to war while you stay here?"  Moses understood that war would break out once Israel crossed the Jordan River.  They had to fight to get the land that God promised them.  This would make a good sermon for a preacher.  God promised Israel many things.  He has also promised Christians many things, but in both cases, the promises don't come without a fight.  The things of God are in direct conflict with the things of the world.  There is a battle to be fought.  Just to be clear, for the Christian, our weapons are spiritual, not military.


In verse 7 Moses says that if God and Reuben stay on the east side of the Jordan River, that will discourage the rest of Israel not to fight the needed battles to get into the promised land.  That's true.  When some people stay back and rest, others will soon follow.  We tend to fall to the lowest common denominator.  I've always said concerning the church, that it is as strong as its weakest member.  That is the way it is with many aspects of life.


In verses 8 through 13 Moses reminds the leaders of Gad and Reuben that they were acting just like their rebellious fathers, who God would not allow into the promised land because of their unwillingness to fight the battles to enter.  Moses reminds these men how angry God was with their fathers.  God does get angry when we fail to do His will.


Again, we see that God's promises don't necessarily fall into our laps.  We have to fight for them.


In verse 14 Moses calls these men "a brood of sinners".  What was their sin?  They were comfortable with where they were at.  They thought of their own self preservation and prosperity over the people of God. Moses viewed such selfishness as sin, and he was right to do so. 


Moses also said that God would be "more angry" with these men than He was with their fathers.  So here we note that God's anger is expressed in degrees.  He can be more angry or less angry, depending on the situation. 


Verse 15 is very interesting.  Moses says that if these two tribes stay on the east side of the Jordan River, they are in rebellion against God, and their actions will cause God to forsake all of Israel and allow none to enter the promised land.  You might think that maybe Moses isn't thinking right, because that does not sound fair.  Why judge all twelve tribes by the actions of two tribes.  I don't believe Moses was thinking wrong.  I think history proves that.  It is my opinion that the western church today is suffering, is not where it should be because part of the church refuses to live as they should.  It seems clear to me from the reports I hear across the world that God is doing great things, such as miracles, in other parts of the world, and not in the western world.  Why would that be?  It might be because the western church is more like Gad and Reuben, and for that reason, God's involvement in the western church is limited. 


In verses 16 to 19 the leaders of Gad and Reuben come up with a compromise. They will fight alongside the rest of Israel until all battles are won. 


In verses 20 to 23, Moses agrees with this plan.  The stipulation was that the men of Gad and Reuben must "arm themselves before the Lord".   That is an interesting way to put it.  It reminds me of what Paul taught in Ephesians 6 concerning Christians arming themselves with the spiritual weapons of war.


In verse 23 Moses warns the leaders of Gad and Reuben that if they fail in their promise, their sin will find them out.  Even more than failing to keep their promise, they will fail to obey the Lord, and that's the main issue here.


In verses 24 to 27 the leaders of Gad and Reuben confirm they will do as Moses commands them. 


From verses 28 to 34 Moses heads a gathering of all the leaders of Israel so everyone knows the plan concerning Gad and Reuben. 


Note in verse 32 the phrase, "we will cross over before the Lord".  All that Israel, and Christians too, do, should be before the Lord.  This simply means that we are submitting to the rule of the Lord.  He is before us.  We are following Him, and we will obey, and as we obey, He will lead us to victory.  But, without obedience, there is no victory. 


I will not comment on the rest of this chapter.  It states that division of land for the Reubenites, the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh.


This is all that I will comment on in the book of Numbers.  I have not commented on each verse or each chapter.  I have only commented on the history portions of the book of Numbers.  



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