Earlier on in the story, the tribes of Reuben and Gad, along with half of the tribe of Manasseh, pleaded with Moses to allow them to make their home in the land in which they currently dwelt. The land was good. There was water and plenty of grazing pasture land. Even though it wasn't the promised land that God had set aside for them, they were certain they would be happy in the land where they were residing. Moses granted their request on one condition: when it came time to take the land of Canaan and drive out the enemy, their able-bodied men would have to fight just like all the others. Then, and only then, could they return to their land and be at rest.
In the passage above, the time for driving out the enemy had come, and Joshua reminded the three tribes of the promise they had made to Moses. And get this, not only were they to march with the other tribes, but they were to march in the front. I don't know about you, but if I were one of them, I'd probably be thinking, Why do I have to be in the front of the battle? This isn't even my land I'm fighting for. I have what I want. I have my rest. Why should I put my life on the line for everyone else? Sorry, I know that's a terrible attitude, but I'm just being honest, and I think if you're honest, you'd admit that a part of you would be thinking the same thing. Fortunately, the three tribes did exactly as they were told, and as we know, everything worked out just as God had promised.
What about us? Are we satisfied to take our rest and ignore the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ? Do any of the following attitudes ring true in our lives?
- I have a nice place to live, so why should I worry about the homeless?
- I've finally made it to a place where I can live in financial freedom, but I won't be able to say that if I keep giving money away to everyone who asks for it.
- It took me a long time to reach the top of this corporate ladder, so now that I'm here, I can be the one in charge.
- I have learned so much from God's Word, but I'm not ready to share it yet. I still need to learn more.
- Things are finally working pretty smoothly in my life. I'm not about to rock the boat just because of some minor disagreements. No, it's better just to smile and nod.
I understand that none of us can claim to be completely at rest in every area of our lives. But, I'm pretty sure most of us have found rest in at least one area, and that's good. Rest is good, and it is meant to be enjoyed. But sometimes, God wants us to postpone our rest for a little while in order to help our brother and/or sister in Christ to reach their rest. Please understand, He does not deny us our rest, just as He didn't deny it for the three tribes. On the contrary, He gave them the privilege of leading the other tribes into battle. He gave them the opportunity to help others, and they were blessed more because of it.
God wants to do the same for us, but He will not force us to obey. He urges us to help our neighbor. He encourages us to aid our brothers and sisters in Christ. He longs for us to set aside our own comfort long enough to help others reach their own. But it's up to us whether or not we'll obey. May our answer be the same as that of the three tribes: All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go.