Select Wisdom Brand

Monumental Letters

Numbers 32:20 & 22b-23
So Moses said to them, “If you will do this, if you will take up arms to go before the LORD for the war, … then after that you shall return and be free of obligation to the LORD and to Israel, and this land shall be your possession before the LORD. But if you do not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out.”

Every word of Moses’ response to these elders of Reuben and Gad is of tremendous importance, but the very first word is the one on which all the others hinge—if. Two meager letters in the English language that when put together have monumental ramifications. As children created in the image of our heavenly Father, redeemed by Christ, and sanctified by the Spirit, we’ve been given the most profound moral agency of all to choose right from wrong. While God’s unconditional faithfulness is the hinge of our everlasting reward, our choice to walk in His steps day by day will determine the sort of blessedness we’ll receive in the here and now.

I’m reminded of Rudyard Kipling’s wonderful poem he wrote as a challenge to his son about manhood called If. Here are a few lines if you’ve never read it: “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch; if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, if all men count with you, but none so much; if you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, yours is the earth and everything that’s in it, and—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!” One vowel and one syllable—that’s it. But a volume, either of glory or regret, will be written from it.

These Reubenites and Gadites have put their best foot forward. They’ve recognized what Cain didn’t—that they really are their brothers’ keepers. They’ve vowed with their tongues to stand by their siblings in battle till the war is won. They attest with their mouths that God’s Promised Land, a fertile region of milk and honey, a place of peace and prosperity, is a gift received and an obligation fulfilled.

And, likewise, for us today, we won’t experience the utmost of God until we’ve given the utmost of ourselves.