Cross the River

Numbers 32: 5

“If we have found favor in your eyes,” they said, “let this land be given to your servants as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan.”

There are some passages of the Bible that just make you grieve. This is one of those for me but it is good for us to read it and learn from it. The background here is that the Israelites were on their journey from Egypt to the promised land. They were led by Moses. As the nation of Israel passed through the lands of Jazer and Gilead two of the twelve tribes, seeing that the land was good, petitioned Moses to give them this land rather than making them continue across the Jordan. Do you know what was across the Jordan? Yes, the promised land.

Yahweh promised the Israelites a land flowing with milk and honey, a land ordained and set apart for them, the land of promise. Canaan, the land across the river, held all of that good promise but these two tribes wanted to stop. They wanted to quit. They gave up on the promise of God just shy of everything God promised them. How very tragic.

Why is this story in the Bible? It is there for our edification. There is nothing we can do to go back and help those two tribes but in the telling of their story, perhaps they can help us. How often have we stopped just short of the promise? Have we gotten tired, lost hope or our will to go on and stopped shy of God’s promise to us? It is easy to do but our God is a god of hope. In Him is our hope and the ability to go on.

The key to maintaining the strength to continue is to not rely on our strength or our will. Our strength is in the Lord and it is His good will to lead us by the hand. Our labor, our task is to learn to trust Him and to be led by Him. There are 57 uses of the word “strength” in the Psalms. In the 28th psalm we find this encouragement, “The Lord is their strength, And He is a saving defense to His anointed” (v. 8). Too bad the two tribes didn’t have a revelation of this. We, however, have been given these words in order that we might not lose our strength. We can understand that if we allow God to be our strength, our strong right arm, there is no need for us to get tired and fall short of the prize. Isaiah 57: 13 reads, “But he who takes refuge in Me shall inherit the land, and shall possess My holy mountain.”

We have only to take our refuge in the Father and we shall inherit the land and all of the fullness thereof. So, learn to lean on the Father. Use His strength and wisdom. Let Him carry you to the promised land where your life will flow with the proverbial milk and honey.

Receiving the Promises of God

Numbers 32: 5 NIV

“If we have found favor in your eyes,” they said, “let this land be given to your servants as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan.”

May I give you the Ivey translation of this verse? “Oh Lord, don’t make us go into the Promised Land.” The land of promise, the land that God had already given to the Israelites and about which he had repeatedly told them ever since they left Egypt was that which lay across the river Jordan. How incredibly sad this is. God had already given them the Promised Land but two of the tribes of Jacob wanted to stop just short of the prize. How many of us also give up in sight of the reward? Lord, let us not fall short of all that you want to do in us!

The legacy of Reuben and Gad is that their line lacked the intestinal fortitude and faith to receive the promises of God. How tragic! But let us note that these two tribes made a choice. They chose not to receive the promise of the Lord. The American Heritage Dictionary defines intestinal fortitude as courage and endurance. It is not courage alone but that kind of courage that perseveres. He who perseveres will win the prize. Of course it takes courage to persist in a quest. Everyone encounters seasons of wanting to quit, to give in the challenges and struggles but the winners, the ones’ who will attain that high goal in Christ and the overflowing blessings are those who endure, who stick with it.

It is really enlightening to read the entire story including Moses’ response to their petition but this I will tell you, never in the entire dialogue was there ever any mention made or doubt expressed that the land across the Jordan was not the land of promise. Neither was there any argument that the land was, in fact, flowing with milk and honey. In fact, time and time again the land was referred to as the land flowing with milk and honey.

God has made us some promises too but receiving is a choice. Often we wonder why God’s people are not living in the fullness of the promises. In this recital of Israel’s flight from Egypt and journey to the land of promise we find our own answer. I often analogize receiving God’s promises to a refrigerator. Suppose that God promised to give you an endless supply of orange juice. Today you pray to the Lord for the orange juice He promised you but you never hear a reply nor does the orange juice materialize next to your recliner. So, tomorrow you again pray for the promised orange juice. Still, no reply, no orange juice. You keep reading in His word that He has already met all your needs and that He fulfills the desires of your heart, so where is the orange juice? Of course it turns out that God had already filled the refrigerator with orange juice. You only had to take what He had already provided. So it is with us in every area of life. God has already given you the Promised Land. He has already run the giants off and preserved the land for you. You, though, have a part to play. You must receive what God has done. You can have everything your heart desires but you have to cross the river; you have to actually get up and go to the refrigerator and receive the blessing of orange juice. The two tribes of Israel stopped short of the victory that God had already planned and provided before they ever left Egypt. Don’t do the same thing. Get your feet wet. Find the promises of God in your Bible and then walk boldly in the promise of the Lord. Invest your trust in God and His word. Believe with all your heart that God is not a liar and that He is well able to provide what He has promised. If you will do this, you will see His glory and the blessing of the Lord. Dare to believe!