This Side of the Jordan

Numbers 32:1-5(NKJV) 1Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of livestock; and when they saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead, that indeed the region was a place for livestock,  2the children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spoke to Moses, to Eleazar the priest, and to the leaders of the congregation, saying,  3“Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Shebam, Nebo, and Beon,  4the country which the Lord defeated before the congregation of Israel, is a land for livestock, and your servants have livestock.”  5Therefore they said, “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants as a possession. Do not take us over the Jordan.”

In our study of favor, we have found that the Lord gave favor to the Israelite women so that when they asked the Egyptian women for gold, silver and clothing they gave their treasure to the Israelites. There was no reason for them to do this except for a sovereign move of God. By this “force of favor”, they spoiled Egypt by taking their goods.

Taking plunder from an enemy was a way to demonstrate an overwhelming or full victory. In Romans 8 Paul says that he is more than a conqueror through the love of God. This term can mean to win an overwhelming victory. In a sense, this is what Israel did to Egypt. It could be said that we are able to win overwhelming victory over the kingdom of darkness. One factor in winning such a victory is the same favor of God that Israel enjoyed in Egypt.

This has always been available to the church. We read about it in Acts chapter 2.

Acts 2:46-47(NKJV) 46So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,  47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

I believe God is telling his church that it is time to believe for and expect this favor in our lives and ministries. I believe this favor needs to extend to our personal and financial life so that the things we need to do the work of the ministry will be available to us. I also believe this favor is even more valuable in terms of those to whom we will preach the gospel. God can give favor and receptivity to those who need salvation. We need to expect him to do just that.

A major factor in walking in God’s favor is to be where God is. We cannot expect the favor of God if we refuse to walk in the will of God. There is a story in the bible that I believe reveals some important things about this principle. When the children of Israel were finally ready to enter the Promised Land, there were two and ½ tribes that had a different idea. In today’s scripture, we see what they wanted to do. The tribes of Rueben and Gad, later joined by the half tribe of Manasseh, had already settled on the eastern side of the Jordan River.

This territory was part of the inheritance of Israel, but it was not considered the Promised Land proper. That was on the west side of the Jordan River in the territory known as Canaan. The land on the east side of the river was good land for grazing cattle. The people of these three and ½ tribes happened to be keepers of cattle and they had already begun to settle down in this region. They requested of Moses that they be allowed to claim their inheritance on the east side of Jordan where they had already begun to be established.

Moses tells them that they cannot do so if they will not cross over the river and help the rest of Israel win their inheritance. They say they will send their fighting men over the Jordan with the rest of Israel and fight for their inheritance. Moses agrees to this proposal and gives them this land east of Jordan for their inheritance.

When the time comes for Joshua to lead the people of Israel over Jordan, he reminds the people of Rueben, Gad and Manasseh of their promise. They readily agree to send their army over the Jordan while leaving their herds, their families and their cities on the east bank. They will then return once all Israel has its inheritance.

All of this seems to perfectly fine to all concerned. The 2 ½ tribes are doing their part and they will have their inheritance. The rest of Israel will have their inheritance with the aid of those who inherit on the east side of the river. The land east of the Jordan might be thought of as within the will of God but not in the center of the will of God since it was not really part of Canaan.

In Romans 12 we see something interesting.

Romans 12:2(NKJV) 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Although I believe one way to look at this verse is that the will of God is good, acceptable and perfect for each individual, I think there is also a truth to the fact that we can walk in varying levels of God’s will. I believe all of us know that there have been times in our lives when we have chosen to do what God wants us to do, but not wholly. We are in what might be called the permissive will of God, but not in the center of God’s will for our lives.

In this place, God is able to deal with us. We are not in sin per se. We are living as Christians but we are not striving to fulfill our full destiny in God. We tend to do only what we need to do in order to feel that we are good people and securely on our way to heaven. This is where the 2 ½ tribes decided to settle. They chose to stay on the east side of Jordan even though destiny was on the west side. They were still God’s people. They still loved God. They were willing to help others go into the Promised Land; they just did not have any desire to go in themselves.

I believe this is a real problem in the church today. It seems that more and more people are willing to live right, at least to a degree. They will rejoice when they hear of God moving in other places. They may be willing to support the ministry of God financially. However, they just do not seem to have a drive to go all the way for the Lord. They want to live good lives and enjoy the benefits of being the people of God. They want to do enough to stay saved but not enough to risk their personal comfort of lifestyle.

What was it about the east side of Jordan that was so appealing? We see that it was a land that suited their lifestyle and how they had chosen to make their living. It was appealing to their flesh. Too often today, the church is settling for what is appealing to the flesh and not the center of God’s will. Too often, we are willing to go far enough in our commitment to feel that we have fulfilled our obligation but not go the extra mile to step into the fullness of destiny.

We also see that it was neither God nor Moses that suggested this course of action. It was what the 2 ½ tribes wanted. It was acceptable to God. There is no indication that they were rebuked for settling on the east side of Jordan, but it was not something God had told them to do. It was a “good idea” but not a “God idea.”

I believe we need to take stock of how much we are settling for good ideas that appeal to the flesh and God ideas that will bring us into the fullness of His will. I do not think it is enough to just “miss hell and make heaven.” Not only that, we will find that the favor God wants to give us is found in the center of God’s will not on the fringes.

There were some consequences to Rueben, Gad and Manasseh’s choice. Join me tomorrow for more.

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