(20) And Moses said unto them, If ye will do this thing, if ye will go armed before the LORD to war,
(21) And will go all of you armed over Jordan before the LORD, until he hath driven out his enemies from before him,
(22) And the land be subdued before the LORD: then afterward ye shall return, and be guiltless before the LORD, and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the LORD.
A couple of weeks ago we studied about Balaam and the donkey. Remember that Balaam wanted to curse the children of Israel for the Midianites for a price. When that didn’t work he advised the Midianites to tempt the Israelites into immorality and idolatry so that God would be angry and not help his people. Then the Midianites could defeat the Israelites and win the day.
The plan didn’t work. Some of the Israelites participated in the immorality and idolatry, and God judged them by killing those who partcipated. Then He turned His judgement towards Midian. He used the children of Israel to defeat the Midianites in Moses’ last battle as the Israelite leader.
The text we read today is before the battle. Moses is having a conversation here with the tribal leaders from the Gadite and Reubenite tribes, 2 tribes of Israel. These tribes liked the side of the river Jordan that they were on, the East side, and did not want to live in the promised land. They had previously asked if they could stay. Moses answered very directly that they could not just stay. He was concerned that anyone planning not to go to the promised land could lead them into the same problem they experienced before. Deciding not to go into the land had kept them wandering in the wilderness for 40 years!
So the Gadites and the Reubenites propose that they go in with the other tribes to Canaan and fight, and then come back over, east of the Jordan to live after they had helped to conquer the land of Canaan with the other tribes.
Today’s text is Moses’ answer and covenant with them for that proposition. Moses told them…:
- …they had to go over and fight. “if ye will go armed before the LORD to war,(21) And will go all of you armed over Jordan before the LORD …”
- …they had to fight to the finish. “… until he hath driven out his enemies from before him, (22) And the land be subdued before the LORD
It’s the classic “if/then” statement. If they went, if they fought, and if they fought until the land was subdued, then they could go back and settle in the land east of the Jordan.
Moses called on the Reubenites and Gadites for obedience to the Lord. He told them what was expected, and what they would receive if they obeyed. There is always a cost to obedience. Often that is why we don’t obey. But there is always a benefit to obedience as well. It is important that we remember both. God calls us to obedience, and we are blessed to be able to know with clarity what His will is, because we have it written down for us in His Word. The challenge today comes in trusting God to be good on His Word. Just like the Gidianites and Reubenites had to believe that God would sustain them through the battles and be with them in the land that they settled, we have to trust God in full obedience to what He wants for us to do as well. We must believe that there will be a reward for our obedience.
This is what Jesus had to do.
(2) Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
God, help me to be obedient today. Help me to have the courage to be obedient when it costs me. Help me to look to the reward that you offer for that obedience, even if it is not until the life to come. Thank you for Christ’s obedience and what it means for me. I love you, Lord. Amen