The 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…”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.” Numbers 32:2 + 5
Israel is poised to enter the Promised Land and constituents from the tribes of Gad and Reuben seek out Moses. Using a lame excuse, they make their case for staying behind and not crossing over into the territory the Lord had promised them. As we read on we learn this was a huge error on their part. Among other things, the fallout from the incident caused the tribe of Manasseh to stumble (they too would opt to be left behind). The entire episode is a valuable illustration for the church of today.
Part of the problem with Gad and Reuben is the same problem that befalls most Christians now — finding ourselves either too lazy, too selfish, or too fearful, we languish in spiritual comfort zones. These brothers and sisters in Christ cry out, “Leave us alone; we are happy where we are!”
They probably are, but happiness of this sort lasts only for a season.
They refuse to put forth the effort it takes to mature spiritually — going to church is all they’re usually willing to do, if that much. Fellowship, prayer, and reading their Bibles, outside the boundaries of sixty minutes on Sunday morning is more than they want to handle. In this light we see how laziness and selfishness are one in the same.
Additionally the self-centered Christian is a hoarder. He accumulates the blessings that the Lord has freely given and does little with them, forgetting that all things belong to the Giver. Somewhere this Christian has forgotten that the miracle cure Jesus provided was to be shared by those He cured.
Finally there are the fearful; those Christians who cower at the thought of engagement on the spiritual battle field, failing to realize that this is where we grow and mature as Christians. These same folks may also dread giving up the sinful relics of the past: the old people, places, and things associated with their sinful behavior. As a result they are frequently dragged back down into the mud and oppression they were rescued from.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5
Jesus Christ has secured for us a better way. Let us not be a church that shrinks back in fear from the sanctification process and worshipful obedience. Let us not be as Gad or Reuben! Our Promised Land, the guarantee of an abundant, spirit-filled life lies directly before us. Let us rise and continue along His narrow, maturing path — let us cross over to that which He has promised us.