Would we choose our portion aright we must look above the things which are seen – otherwise we will be guided by the lust of the eye and the pride of life.
1 Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of cattle: and when they saw the land of Jazer, and the land of Gilead, that, behold, the place was a place for cattle;
2 The children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spake unto Moses, and to Eleazar the priest, and unto the princes of the congregation, saying,
3 Ataroth, and Dibon, and Jazer, and Nimrah, and Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Shebam, and Nebo, and Beon,
4 Even the country which the LORD smote before the congregation of Israel, is a land for cattle, and thy servants have cattle:
5 Wherefore, said they, if we have found grace in thy sight, let this land be given unto thy servants for a possession, and bring us not over Jordan.
6 ¶ 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?
7 And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the LORD hath given them?
8 Thus did your fathers, when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to see the land.
9 For when they went up unto the valley of Eshcol, and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, that they should not go into the land which the LORD had given them.
10 And the LORD’S anger was kindled the same time, and he sware, saying,
11 Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob; because they have not wholly followed me:
12 Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite, and Joshua the son of Nun: for they have wholly followed the LORD.
13 And the LORD’S anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the LORD, was consumed.
14 And, behold, ye are risen up in your fathers’ stead, an increase of sinful men, to augment yet the fierce anger of the LORD toward Israel.
15 For if ye turn away from after him, he will yet again leave them in the wilderness; and ye shall destroy all this people.
16 ¶ And they came near unto him, and said, We will build sheepfolds here for our cattle, and cities for our little ones:
17 But we ourselves will go ready armed before the children of Israel, until we have brought them unto their place: and our little ones shall dwell in the fenced cities because of the inhabitants of the land.
18 We will not return unto our houses, until the children of Israel have inherited every man his inheritance.
19 For we will not inherit with them on yonder side Jordan, or forward; because our inheritance is fallen to us on this side Jordan eastward.
20 ¶ And Moses said unto them, If ye will do this thing, if ye will go armed before the LORD to war,
21 And will go all of you armed over Jordan before the LORD, until he hath driven out his enemies from before him,
22 And the land be subdued before the LORD: then afterward ye shall return, and be guiltless before the LORD, and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the LORD.
23 But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.
24 Build you cities for your little ones, and folds for your sheep; and do that which hath proceeded out of your mouth.
25 And the children of Gad and the children of Reuben spake unto Moses, saying, Thy servants will do as my lord commandeth.
26 Our little ones, our wives, our flocks, and all our cattle, shall be there in the cities of Gilead:
27 But thy servants will pass over, every man armed for war, before the LORD to battle, as my lord saith.
28 So concerning them Moses commanded Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the chief fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel:
29 And Moses said unto them, If the children of Gad and the children of Reuben will pass with you over Jordan, every man armed to battle, before the LORD, and the land shall be subdued before you; then ye shall give them the land of Gilead for a possession:
30 But if they will not pass over with you armed, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan.
31 And the children of Gad and the children of Reuben answered, saying, As the LORD hath said unto thy servants, so will we do.
32 We will pass over armed before the LORD into the land of Canaan, that the possession of our inheritance on this side Jordan may be our’s.
33 And Moses gave unto them, even to the children of Gad, and to the children of Reuben, and unto half the tribe of Manasseh the son of Joseph, the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, and the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, the land, with the cities thereof in the coasts, even the cities of the country round about.
34 ¶ And the children of Gad built Dibon, and Ataroth, and Aroer,
35 And Atroth, Shophan, and Jaazer, and Jogbehah,
36 And Beth-nimrah, and Beth-haran, fenced cities: and folds for sheep.
37 And the children of Reuben built Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Kirjathaim,
38 And Nebo, and Baal-meon, (their names being changed,) and Shibmah: and gave other names unto the cities which they builded.
39 And the children of Machir the son of Manasseh went to Gilead, and took it, and dispossessed the Amorite which was in it.
40 And Moses gave Gilead unto Machir the son of Manasseh; and he dwelt therein.
41 And Jair the son of Manasseh went and took the small towns thereof, and called them Havoth-jair.
42 And Nobah went and took Kenath, and the villages thereof, and called it Nobah, after his own name.
Numbers 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Numbers 32:1-19 – Seeking Inheritance beyond Jordan
Reuben and Gad were contiguous to each other when the host encamped. They had, therefore, many opportunities for conference, and finally united in asking permission to settle on the east of Jordan, where vast tracks of pasturage were eminently suited to their flocks. They have been held up as types of those whose “much cattle” hinder the realization to the full of the heavenly inheritance. Certainly many professing Christians live on the world’s side of the Cross. They have no desire to share in the crucifixion of the self-life, if only they may build sheepcotes and cities and provide for their little ones. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than…” (Matthew 19:24; Mark 10:25).
At first Moses was indignant at the request, thinking that they desired to evade the hardships, but their explanation modified his wrath. Be swift to hear, slow to speak! —Through the Bible Day by Day
Numbers 32:20-42 – Warning against Forsaking Their Brethren
These two and a half tribes never entered the national life, as did those on the other side of Jordan. They were far from the center of religious life, first at Shiloh and then at Jerusalem. On them first the tide of invasion broke, sweeping them and their cattle into captivity.
In Deborah’s great song Reuben is rebuked for sitting “among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks” (Judges 5:16), instead of coming to the help of the Lord against the mighty. The Brahmins say that the holy man dies to every other sin earlier and easier than to the love of money. Their cattle kept these tribes on the wrong side of the river of separation! Let us beware of the cares of this world, if we are poor, and of the deceitfulness of riches, if we are rich. Better lose all than the soul. See Matthew 16:26. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Numbers 32:23—Be sure your sin will find you out.
Sin is like the boomerang of the savage, it comes back on the hand that has launched it forth. The brethren accused Joseph of being a spy, and cast him into the pit; and on the same charge they were cast into prison. King David committed adultery and murder; so Absalom requited him. The Jews crucified the blessed Lord; and they were impaled around Jerusalem till room and wood for their crosses failed.
There is a Divine order in society. God has so constituted the world, that as man deals with his neighbour, so he is dealt with. The consequence does not always follow immediately. There is often a long interval between the lightning flash and the thunder-peal. The sentence against an evil work is not executed suddenly. But though God’s mills grind slowly, they do grind, and to powder. It is impossible to deceive God; for it is His immutable law, “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:7-8).
When sin comes to find you out, like a sleuthhound on the track of the criminal, be sure that it finds you in Jesus. “That ye may be found of him” (2 Peter 3:14). Nothing will avail to intercept the awful execution of sin’s vengeance, except the blood and righteousness of Jesus. Put Him between you and your sins, between you and your past, between you and the penalty of a broken law. Be sure that only when the blood of Jesus speaks for you through earth and heaven, there can be a cutting off of sin’s terrible entail. —Our Daily Homily