Summary: Are we living in the land of self (east side of the Jordan) or the land of God (west side of the Jordan)?
THOUGHTS ABOUT THE PASSAGE:
James Calvert was a missionary to the cannibals of the Fiji Islands. When he and his fellow missionaries landed on the island, the captain of the ship that brought them tried to get them to turn back. "You will die, the men with you will die, if you stay here." he cried. And after a moment Calvert replied simply, "We died before we came here."
The Israelites had been camped in the plains of Moab, across from Jericho. From this position they were ready to enter the Promised Land. The tribes of Reuben and Gad went to Moses and tried to assure him they had no desire to shirk their responsibility of conquering the land west of the Jordan. Only after Canaan had been conquered and the other tribes had been secured would they return to the Transjordan territory and settle down (vv. 16-19). However, first they would like to provide pens for their livestock and make fortification to protect their wives and children. Moses agreed to this plan but said if they failed to carry out their promises their sin will find them out (v. 23) and they will lose the land they requested. Since Moses would not live long he outlined all these arrangements and pledges to Eleazar and Joshua.
Are we living in the land of self (east side of the Jordan) or the land of God (west side of the Jordan)? Some people are like the older generation of Jews that perished in their wandering and never entered the land. Others are like the ten spies who visited the land and saw all it had to offer but failed to enter in. The Transjordanic tribes entered the land but didn’t stay there. They preferred to live on the border and raise their cattle. God wants his people to enter the land, claim the victory, and enjoy the blessings. And if there was a motto in the land of self it would be this: Don’t rock the boat. Don’t make people uncomfortable, don’t stir things up. And it’s an easy land to live in but a hard land to leave. The rewards may be few, the satisfaction may be gone, we won’’t be fulfilling our true Christian duty, but you know what, we’ll be comfortable.
Reuben and Gad promised to keep working with the others until everyone’s land was conquered. I must not let myself get so comfortable that I fail to see the need of helping others.