“And Moses said unto the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben, Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here? And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the Lord hath given them?” (Numbers 32:6-7)
Misunderstandings happen. A number of years ago, I heard via the grapevine that someone was upset with me for something I had said. At first, I could not remember saying anything that could have been interpreted wrongly. Then it came to me. I realized that a certain comment could have been misconstrued, and realized the individual had likely misunderstood my intention. From that point, it was easy to go and straighten out the issue — and we were friends again. Yet, what if I had not heard, in a roundabout way, about this issue? Perhaps the misunderstanding would have continued to bother the other individual for a long time.
The devil is intent on stirring up trouble within the family of God. It is our job not to let him do this. A good first step would be to remember the principle of American law: A person is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. Sometimes it is easy to get that turned around and assume someone is guilty until proven innocent! If you have reason to believe that there is trouble between you and a brother or sister, go quickly to them and straighten it out. In the great majority of cases you will find that there was never a problem; but even if there is, with good will on both sides, it can be resolved.
In today’s text, the tribes of Gad, Reuben, and the half tribe of Manasseh came to Moses asking that they be given, as their portion of territory in the Promised Land, the cattle land to the east of the River Jordan (in the present day country of Jordan). Moses wrongly jumped to the conclusion that they were doing this to avoid having to help their fellow Israelites in conquering the peoples to the west of Jordan, where the main body of the Israelites were to dwell. Perhaps Moses had seen so many negative things from the Children of Israel during their forty years in the wilderness that he always expected the worst! In this case, however, the intentions of the people were pure. They were perfectly willing to do their share in the conquest of Canaan. They just wanted to end up in the eastern land. When Moses at last understood this, he realized that it was a reasonable request and granted it.
In dealing with others, it is wise to find out all the facts before making up our minds or arriving at a conclusion. If we forestall making judgments based on what we suppose to be the motive, we can avoid many problems!
The patriarch Jacob, whose name God later changed to Israel, had twelve sons in all. Throughout the years until the time of today’s lesson, the offspring of these sons had multiplied to the extent that they now numbered perhaps three million people. During this period, the people still retained the identity of their founding fathers. Because of Joseph’s role in preserving the lives of the Children of Israel, he was granted two portions instead of one in the future of Israel, and his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, were granted equal status with the eleven other sons of Israel. This would have resulted in a thirteen-way split of the new land, but God had selected the tribe of Levi for a special role as priests and assistants for the worship of God. Unlike the other twelve tribes, therefore, the Levites were not given a specific block of land in Canaan, but rather were to be spread throughout Israel, living in and near the various cities. Finally, the several sons of Manasseh had aligned themselves into two groups — one group opting for the eastern land described above, and the other for a portion in the main area to the west: Hence the two “half” tribes of Manasseh.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. Events on the plain of Moab
B. The preparation for entering Canaan
4. The distribution of the Transjordan (32:1-42)
a. The request of Gad and Reuben (32:1-5)
b. The rebuke of Moses (32:6-15)
c. The reply (32:16-19)
d. The concession (32:20-27)
e. The division of the land (32:28-42)
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” (Psalms 133:1). Do whatever you possibly can to achieve and maintain unity with your brothers and sisters in Christ!