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Not quite the Promised Land (Numbers 32)

Updated: Dec 9, 2018



God's people had been wandering in the wilderness for decades. Imagine that... and now they FINALLY arrived at the Jordan River! God's Promised Land was just right on the other side of the river. 

But... God made it clear the land He had promised was the west side of the river. They were on the east side.

Two of the tribes (the Reubenites and Gadites) saw the land on the east side of the river quite suitable for their livestock. They were saying to themselves, Hey, this land is pretty good! Read their conversation here (Numbers 32:1-19).

So they came to Moses and the leaders and said (verse 2-5),

“This land the Lord subdued before the people of Israel is suitable for livestock, and your servants have livestock. If we have found favor in your eyes, let this land be given to your servants as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan.”   

This is certainly not an active rebellion. They didn't enter the Promised Land not because they were badly defeated, or too weak to go. It wasn't because God withdrew His love and help from them. It was simply because they decided not to enter. They had come all this way from Egypt to the Jordan River, and just before they could finally enter the Promised Land, they stopped.

Then they built and fortified cities and folds for their livestock throughout the land. With their own resources and abilities, these people were happy to settle at a place not quite what God had promised. 

Militarily, the river provided a strategic defense buffer. They didn't need to take any risk anymore. The other side of the Jordan River becomes an irrelevant distant unknown.  In other words, they didn't need God anymore.

Think... Read their 'request' again (verse 2-5). What can you observe about their reasoning and perspectives?  What could be the possible mentality underlying their motive at their back of their mind when they made the decision? 

  • 'I can't be bothered to fight anymore. I've had enough of travelling.'

  • 'It's almost what God wants so it should be fine. It's close enough.'

  • 'I'm happy with where I am now. This is who I am.'

  • 'This may not be God's Promised Land, but it's my Promised Land. I know what I want.' 

  • 'My resources are good enough. Don't worry about me, God.'

  • 'What if I can't get into God's promised Land? What if there are worst enemies?'

  • 'Is the west side really better? What if it's not as good as what I'm seeing now?'

  • 'Does God really want me to go to the west side? Maybe He doesn't mind?' 

Spiritually, do you think there's anything wrong with their request? What was wrong exactly?

Feel... Under what circumstances will I be satisfied with just being 'close enough'? Is there a Jordan River in your life at the moment? (It marks the end of a safety zone and the beginning of an unknown where you must trust God completely)

What could be the practical or emotional factors stopping you from crossing the Jordan River into God's Promised Land?

Are you on the east or west side of the Jordan? How do you know?


#exodus #moses #joshua