Select Wisdom Brand


Numbers 32:1 & 5b
Now the people of Reuben and the people of Gad had a very great number of livestock. And they saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead, and behold, the place was a place for livestock. … And they said, “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants for a possession. Do not take us across the Jordan.”

Part of the reason I’ve found it beneficial to go chapter by chapter through the books of Moses, attempting to engage with immediate conflicts in the narrative with a present-tense lens, is because that’s how our own lives of faith play out from day to day. We live in chapters, in seasons, in stages, in sentences and paragraphs that have one contextual heading, knowing that the very next chapter could read quite differently. Ten years from now, twenty years from now, the decisions we make today will either be validated as wise or proven as foolish. But therein lies the struggle: we can’t read the manual of future outcomes when evaluating present choices. Sometimes we just have to step forward, recognize the surprising opportunity God has placed before us, and break new ground in good faith.

That’s the sort of approach I’m taking when reading this unusual encounter here in Numbers 32. To see these Reubenites and Gadites as flesh-and-blood pilgrims, not as characters in a fable with a pithy moral lesson written at the end. To join them in the chapter they’re in, in their present predicament, as they lift their eyes and gaze out upon the land surrounding them that is exactly what they’ve been longing for! They can’t imagine a better, more fertile pastureland for their livestock or a better place to build homes for their children, which is another way of saying that this is the closest they’ve ever come to anything resembling a promised land. They can’t help but wonder: has God not led us here for this purpose? Yet, their move forward is one of those historical moments that could either become a horribly detrimental blight on the canvas of Israel’s history or a life-giving wash of new colors.

Either this is just another clamor of that old rebellion or its the humming of a new revival. But as is always the case, only time will tell.