Friday, May 17, 2019
As the Israelites prepare to enter the Promised Land, two-and-a-half of the tribes decided that they want to settle on the east side of the Jordan River and not go into the new land. They prefer the comfort of the known to the risk/reward possibilities of the unknown. Moses is willing to let that happen on one condition. Here’s the story:
Numbers 32:20-24 Then Moses said to them, “If you will do this – if you will arm yourselves before the LORD for battle, and if all of you will go armed over the Jordan before the LORD until he has driven his enemies out before him – then when the land is subdued before the LORD, you may return and be free from your obligation to the LORD and to Israel. And this land will be your possession before the LORD. But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out. Build cities for your women and children, and pens for your flocks, but do what you have promised.”
Based on the size of the flocks and herds that they captured in the conquest of the Midianites, this was obviously a productive land for raising sheep and cattle. These two-and-a-half tribes looked at their present situation and decided that what they had right now was the best they could ever hope for, and asked for permission to make this territory their land.
When they were confronted with the possibility that fear had overtaken them and that they were about to refuse God’s promise as their fathers had 40 years earlier, they proved their commitment to the nation and to God by volunteering to send their fighting men with the rest of the nation’s army to go and conquer Canaan. Not only that, they volunteered to be the front lines of the army. They wholeheartedly committed themselves to accomplishing God’s purpose for the sake of the whole nation.
I see two lessons for us:
- Maybe in your church you have trouble seeing the benefit to moving ahead by faith, and would like to stay right where you are until there is more sure evidence of God’s provision and plan. It may not be wrong for you to stay where you are, but don’t block the way for others who want to move ahead.
- I see a significant lesson about sin and its consequences. These 2 ½ tribes made a commitment, and Moses warned them that if they fell back on that commitment it would be sin, and they would not get away with it. You may be sure that your sin will find you out. All sin has consequences, and all sin must be answered for, whether in this life or when we stand before God in person.
We have all done things that we hope will never be exposed. We have lied and lusted, cheated and coveted, hurt and hated. We have committed spiritual adultery by worshipping the gods of money, friendships, social status and power. If others only knew what we have really done they would be shocked, and the fortified city of our self-righteous life would be destroyed. We would be left with nothing.
I call on the church of Jesus Christ to become people of integrity, living holy lives honoring to God, knowing that every sin will be exposed before His holy throne. Yes, the consequence of death for sin has been removed for those who are saved, but the consequence of shame has not been removed. And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. (1 John 2:28) When He returns, our lives will be reviewed in their entirety, and we will suffer loss for those things that did not honor God. All decisions and actions done from self-serving motives will be exposed and burned, and all rewards we had hoped for in those times will be lost. Read carefully these words from the Apostle Paul to the church in Corinth:
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
Take to heart the warning of Moses, and the next time you are tempted to sin, remember – you won’t get away with it.