God’s plan was for all of Israel to cross the Jordan River and enter the land of Canaan, but Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh (Numbers 34:14) had a different plan in mind. When they saw that there was good grazing land for their vast livestock in Jazer and Gilead, east of the Jordan, they wanted to stay. To their credit, they were willing to help their brother Israelites conquer the land of Canaan, once they had settled their families and livestock. Nevertheless, they still settled for less than what God intended for them to have. The land of Canaan would become the inheritance of the remaining nine and a half tribes (Numbers 34:13).
Moses expressed his concerns of course to Reuben, Gad and Manasseh (Numbers 32:6-15), but once satisfied they would still fight on Israel’s behalf, he consented to their request. After forty years of wilderness wandering with the Israelites, perhaps he knew it would be of no benefit trying to change their minds. After all, God himself had described Israel as stiff-necked people, and Moses was well acquainted with their stubborn ways (Exodus 33:3:5).
It must have baffled him, though, as he personally longed for the land flowing with milk and honey that God had promised to His people (Exodus 3:8). Moses had been disqualified from entering himself, even though he had begged God to reconsider (Deuteronomy 3:25-26), and now the two and a half tribes were forfeiting their claims. They were willing to settle for less than their God-intended inheritance.
I guess I can identify with these tribes in some way, because I too have been willing to settle for east of the Jordan. Many of God’s children have. Sometimes it is done out of ignorance (they don’t know that God has more for them), fear, weariness, lack of faith or simply a desire to stay comfortable. They are contented with their lot, but it is not a godly contentment. Canaan represents something different for each of us, but whatever it represents, our challenge is to not settle for less than our full inheritance. To do so is to miss out and fail to take hold of all that Christ died for us to inherit.
I remember being personally challenged in this area by a colleague. She was praying with me and explained that it was as if I was climbing a mountain but had come to a stop. I was halfway up the mountain and resting on a ledge, taking in the view and looking down at how far I had come. Part of me was willing to stay there, rather than move upwards and onwards. She encouraged me to keep moving forward and not settle for where I was.
Tired, but not wanting to displease God, I prayed for the strength to continue the climb. I don’t know exactly where I am on the mountain right now, but I am sure glad that I did not settle for where I was. I wonder how your journey is going. Will you settle for the east of Jordan, where the grazing is good, or will you cross over the Jordan River and take hold of all that God has for you? The choice is yours.
Prayer: Father God, You had an allotted inheritance for each tribe of Israel and likewise, You have an inheritance for me. I don’t want to settle for less than You intend for me to have, so please help me to persevere and deal with the issues in my life that will rob be of my inheritance. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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