Summary: The reaction of the tribes of Isreal to being called into battle and the results of such action/inaction and how it applies to the church today.
The Reluctant Spirit.
“honorable mentions” and the “dishonorable mentions rebuke towards four and one half tribes whom did not come.
“suppose they gave a war and nobody came?”
Ruben: The tribe that was sentimental but not decisive . . . therefore could not act.
Name meant: I see a son A New beginning” (symbol was a rising sun)
• First glance seems good.
• First reaction was enthusiasm and good intentions
Quickly deteriorated into questioning analysis and selfish inactivity.
Stages of the development of their reaction:
Among the divisions of Reuben there were great thoughts of heart
Deserve some respect due respect,
o The problem was a good distance away.
o They had settled on the other side of the River Jordan. Yet, in spite of that, they quickly gathered and expressed a responsibility for their brothers.... at least at first.
o The phrase “great resolves” is not necessarily to be taken negatively
They were expressing deep feelings of the heart.
• But that was also their biggest problem; they were only “of the heart.” When they got together it was most probably with great enthusiasm... at first. But this soon deteriorated into long discussions of the pros and cons and we soon see that good intentions were not enough.
Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks?
• they began to hear other sounds
It was the bleating of their sheep.
• It was all that represented their living and being to them, as they were shepherds.
• Who’s going to pay the bills when we are away?
• Yet, they really do need our help over on the other side, and we really should go. We cannot desert our brothers. What shall we do?”
Among the divisions of Reuben, There was great searchings of heart.
o It has changed from “thoughts of heart” to “searchings of heart.”
o The word “searching” here means a “deeply anxious, searching pondering.”
o They were double minded in this. Yes, they wanted to help. But then again we need to think of ourselves.
The word tells us that for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:6-8).
• The words “double minded” mean a divided interest.
If we are to do anything for God we need to be single minded!
How similar is this situation to the parable of Jesus about the Father who asked his sons to go into the field to work. Immediately one of the boys was taken up with good intentions and said, “I’ll go!”
• To rise to the cost that lay between vision and reality is vital for victory.
• We love vision and people that are excited with that vision, but when it comes to it costing us
• “Rubens” do not say “no,” but rather, “Let me think and pray about it”
o The “Rubens” have good intention but are distracted by the bleating of the sheep so they cannot react decisively.
Basically the “Reubens” were motivated by sentiment, not sacrifice.
• They can be moved to tears over the needs of the church or missions or other needs
o but never to the point of sacrifice to help change that problem.
• The Rubens had a problem and that was how to lift the standard of the Lord and stand as one and try to ease themselves from the risks of war
• In the midst of it all they forgot that indecision closes the door to action.
• Indecision is a vote cast
• We don’t know who won the debates that were under way, but we know that even if the “yes’s” won it was too late. The battle was over, the disapproval of the Lord was upon them.
• This is typical of the spirit of those who are willing, at the drop of a hat, to discuss everything about a vision or need presented to them.
o They spend much energy on exposing problems in order to “get it right”
o Yet are not willing to pay a personal price to change it. Because of this attitude Reuben was indecisive, and the fruit of this indecisive spirit was plain to see.
Gilead: The tribe that lacked fellowship
Gilead abode beyond Jordan.
• Gilead was actually made up of two tribes;
o Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh.
o They had chosen to remain on the other side of the Jordan when Joshua went in to take the country, but were permitted on the con¬dition that they help in the conquest on the other side of the Jordan (see Josh. 1:12 - 15).