Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part XXXV: Blessing By Avoiding Unnecessary Wealth
(Numbers 32:1-42 with Joshua 22:1-34; 1 Timothy 6:6-19)
  1. Introduction
    1. God can often bless a believer with material wealth as He did king Solomon, cf. 1 Kings 3:4-15.
    2. However, seeking wealth beyond what we possess often backfires to harm us, cf. 1 Timothy 6:10. This is illustrated in the matter of the tribal inheritance of Israel's Transjordan Tribes (as follows):
  2. Blessing By Avoiding Unnecessary Wealth, Numbers 32:1-42 with Joshua 22:1-34; 1 Timothy 6:6-19.
    1. The Transjordan Tribes brought stress on their families and their ties with Moses by seeking better lands.
      1. The tribes of Reuben and Gad, already possessing a great multitude of cattle, noticed the land east of the Jordan River (Transjordan) was well-suited for their many herds, Numbers 32:1.
      2. So, instead of waiting for Moses or Joshua to lead regarding what land they were to inherit, they put a request into Moses to inherit the Transjordan lands to fit their cattle, Numbers 32:2-5.
      3. At first, Moses resisted their request, for he feared giving these tribes this inheritance before Canaan was conquered would discourage the other tribes who had yet to gain their land across the Jordan, a problem reminiscent of the report of the ten faithless spies who had discouraged Israel, Num. 32:6-15.
      4. However, the men of Reuben and Gad offered to build folds for their animals and towns for their families and cross the Jordan to help the other tribes conquer their land before possessing their own lands, Numbers 32:16-19. [This meant years of separation from their families en route!]
      5. Moses agreed to this provided the men of Reuben and Gad helped conquer Canaan, a matter to which they agreed, Num. 32:20-24, 25-27. If the Reubenites and Gadites failed to keep their end of the bargain, they would have to inherit land west of the Jordan with the other tribes, Num. 32:28-32.
    2. Then, when the tribes inherited their lands, the effects of their geographical separation almost led to war!
      1. As the Reubenites and Gadites kept their promise, they were allowed to return home, Joshua 22:1-6. Along with them went half of the little tribe of Manasseh, Joshua 22:7-8.
      2. However, due to the geographical barrier of the Jordan River [and its imposing Rift Valley] dividing Canaan from the Transjordan Hills, a sense of isolation in the Transjordan tribes coupled with a miscommunication about what fear this isolation caused ALMOST led to a civil WAR (as follows):
        1. When the Transjordan Tribes traveling toward home arrived at the Jordan, with no word to the other tribes, they built an altar beside the Jordan River that was visible to the tribes of Canaan, Josh. 22:9f
        2. Now, the Law forbade the use of any altar other than the one used at the tabernacle to keep Israel's worship pure and the people united, Deut. 12:1-8; cf. Bible Knowledge Com., O.T., p. 284.
        3. Hence, when the 9 tribes in Canaan saw this altar construction with no explanation, they assumed the Transjordan tribes were wayward, and so prepared for holy war against them, Joshua 22:11-12.
        4. The tribes in Canaan sent messengers to the Transjordan tribes to confront them with what they thought was sin against God (Josh. 22:13-20), but the Transjordan tribes reported they had built the altar out fear of isolation and its potential for apostasy in the future: (a) The Transjordan Tribes first alleged their devotion to God, Joshua 22:21-23. (b) Then, they reported how in preparing to cross the Jordan, they realized the geographical barrier of the Jordan could cause the other 9 tribes in Canaan in time to reject their geographically distanced Transjordan descendants as belonging to the Lord, and thus cause their descendants to depart from the Lord, Joshua 22:24-25. (c) In reality, this plan was inessential as all Israel's men had to go 3 times a year to the tabernacle, keeping their fellowship strong (Ex. 23:14; Ryr. St. Bib., KJV, ftn. to Jos. 22:10-11). (d) Thus, these 2 tribes had built an altar as a witness of their brotherhood so the other 9 tribes in Canaan would not break fellowship with their sons due to the effects of the geographical barrier between them, 22:26-29.
      3. This explanation sufficed, and the risk of civil war passed, Joshua 22:30-34.
Lesson: Because the men of Reuben and Gad desired TRANSJORDAN LAND to fit their many flocks, they brought upon themselves unnecessary stresses both regarding their family and tribal relationships.

Application: We must learn to be content with such things as we have, for going after more wealth leaves us open often to self-imposed afflictions, cf. 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19.