One of my favorite sayings applies yet again to the story of Israel’s journey: It never ends. Two of the tribes, the Ruebenites and Gadites, decide that because they have “very large” herds and flocks that they want to stay on the east side of the Jordan and not go into the promised land. Seriously? For forty years they have wandered in the desert and the whole time the purpose of their journey was to eventually get to the land God has promised, which is west of the Jordan. To them the land east of the Jordan seems “suitable for livestock.” Better than the land of God’s promise?
Nothing good can come of this, and of course as Israel’s history progresses, nothing does. Remember this is the land they subdued in the previous chapter, and you know pagans still live there, so they will be corrupted. And God’s promise was not for this land east of the Jordon, but they don’t care. They are intent on doing what is right in their own eyes. I am reminded of Proverbs 14:12:
There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.
It amazes me how prevalent this is in the human breast, all as a result of Satan’s lie and our wanting “to be like God, knowing Good and evil.” Look a v. 19:
We will not receive any inheritance with them on the other side of the Jordan, because our inheritance has come to us on the east side of the Jordan.”
Really? Who says? Well, they do; not God. How stupid can they be! We know it isn’t a matter of stupidity or lack of intelligence that causes a person to reject God’s plain instruction or revelation, but the fallen will, the rebellion in the human heart that is determined to do what is right in our own eyes. Thank the living God he hasn’t left me lost in my sin where I am deluded enough to think my way is superior to his way.
So when the leaders of these tribes tell Moses their plan he gets understandably angry, accusing them of not being willing to go into battle in the promised land to take it for God’s people. But they say all they need to do is build fortifications in the cities they will take over on the east side so their women and children will be safe while they’re gone helping take the land to the west. Moses says if all of the men do this, then fine, but there is no way they left their cities without any men. But they say they will, and God says they can have the land. Beware getting what you want if it is not God’s will.