We come to the part where the boundaries are laid out for what God intended for Israel to have as their own. The eastern side of the Jordan is addressed first. Moses made these allocations.
I have NO idea what we are looking for in today’s reading. I am unfamiliar with the geography in this area, especially in bible times. The maps we encounter vary widely too in their interpretation of the boundaries. So let’s just wander and see where the Holy Spirit takes us.
When reading our text I had a question pop into my mind. I wondered why the territory of Gad mentioned a sea and Reuben’s didn’t. I wondered if they were reversed so I had to look up the Sea of Chinnereth. Come to find out it is known in the New Testament as the Sea of Galilee. So that eliminated the “reversed” theory.
So why then is the Dead Sea listed as part of Reuben’s boarders? The text lists the Jordan as part of its borders. “And the border of the people of Reuben was the Jordan as a boundary” (verse 23a). Is the Jordan listed because its connection is the stopping point for Reuben’s northward expansion? I honestly don’t have any answers to these questions!
When these three tribes came to Moses to request this territory they did it because of the resources and their professions. Reuben, Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh were herders. They had need of the grazing area that the eastern side of the Jordan provided. From the size allocations shown on most maps, it looks like Manasseh had more sheep than the other two tribes. I can’t think of any other reason that a people ½ the size of either the other two tribes was allotted so much more land.
We will see in the next reading that the land was allocated “by lot” for ALL the tribes. This includes the three tribes we read about today. I’m curious how that worked. Did the land get divided up first into parcels and then lots were drawn as to who got what? Did natural boundaries exist that divided the land? Did lots get drawn for every city?
The BEST part is that we KNOW who determined those lots. Israel knew too. They didn’t (usually) cry foul play over the decisions rendered this way. That’s because they trusted that God knew what He was doing and what they needed. God would NOT cause the lot to fall in such a way that it hurt the people. If ever in doubt of that fact, revisit the “Uncovered Sin” story where the lot was used to find the ONE man in ALL of Israel that had sinned during the conquest of Jericho.
We do not rely on drawing lots today but I can tell you from personal experience that God STILL knows exactly what I need and can move on my behalf to get me those resources. I may have shared parts of this story before but let me put it all together to illustrate how God is STILL in control and STILL meets our needs.
I was a newly separated wife with four children to care for. My husband had surprised me with the statement, “I don’t love you like I used to. There is nothing you can do about it. I don’t want to be married any more” as he brought me my car my father had just completed engine repairs on. The children and I were living in Milton-Freewater Oregon at the time and the job I had did not provide enough income to support us on our own. I NEEDED to go back to school and get a degree so I could care for my children on my own.
I informed my employer of this need and he suggested a course of study he felt I would do well in. The program was a rigorous jam packed two year degree. I began applying immediately for admission but was turned down as they were already full for that year.
I was determined to get in and would simply apply the following year instead. In the meantime I decided to take general education classes required as part of the degree in order to lessen the course load during the program.
There was no way to do this from Milton-Freewater Oregon. My job was also connected to the academic year which meant I had no income to continue living where I was. I asked my parents if my children and I could live with them while I got reestablished. They graciously opened their home to us. It was crowded to say the least but we at least had a roof over our heads. I even helped my father remodel the attic to provide more room for us.
During that year I applied for housing assistance but the waiting list was extensive. I also attended the university in my parent’s town, Klamath Falls Oregon, and took EVERY COURSE outside of the core courses for my desired degree and applied for entrance in the next cohort. And I scrimped and saved every penny I could, including student loan funds, so I would have resources to provide housing for my little family when I had to relocate to complete my degree.
Circumstances arose that prompted me to loan my “nest egg” to a family member in dire need with the caveat that it would be returned before my need of it arose. Further developments arose that eliminated the possibility of repayment. I had two choices. Get angry and DEMAND it be repaid somehow or release the debt and make the loan a gift instead. I chose the latter.
I now had nothing to fall back on to get me to the next step in my journey but go I must. I was accepted into the school and program of my choice.
I also had to do something that was reprehensible to me. I had to file for divorce. I didn’t believe in divorce and I didn’t ask for the divorce. I had told my estranged husband that he was the one who asked for it so he would be the one who had to file. He did NOTHING. I was forced into the position of being denied school loans because of his income or filing for divorce myself. He was not using ANY of his income to support anyone but himself and I had no other recourse.
The school year was drawing to a close and I had to begin transitioning my family to our next location. We had to move to Portland Oregon. We had no nest egg and I had no income. I had applied for financial aid but it was being held up too. I didn’t know what we were going to do but I refused to give up. I trusted God would somehow meet our needs.
I found an apartment in Gresham Oregon that was right across the street from campus that didn’t cost too much. I had just enough left to pay the deposit and first month’s rent. After that I would have to figure it out. A week before we were to move I received a letter in the mail. It was from the housing assistance agency I had applied to upon arrival in Klamath Falls. They had an apartment available for me. I called them and turned it down as we weren’t going to be in the area. A few days later another letter arrived from the housing assistance agency that said they would help pay my rent for a home of my choice in Klamath Falls. I called again to thank them and turn them down a second time.
An UNBELIEVABLE BLESSING happened on that second phone call. I was informed that this second offer was transferable and I could use it for apartment I had rented. I only needed to attend a class/meeting in Klamath Falls and another in Portland to accomplish the transfer. I now had the ability to house my family. There were a few small hurdles to jump through, including staying in Klamath Falls long enough to complete that class, but God had provided for our needs. NO ONE will EVER be able to convince me otherwise.
He KNEW my need. He KNEW the timing required. And HE pulled my “lot” at just the right time. His hand is AMAZING!
This is just one of the stories that He has worked in my life. No. Not every dream, request, want, or even perceived need has been met this way. But the ones that have keep my faith strong and keep me trusting in Him. He KNOWS when I need my “lot pulled” and knows exactly which hand to use to do it.
Father God, thank You for Your hands in my life. I look back and see Your fingerprints and can’t help but be amazed. You didn’t have to do any of the things You have done in my life. I didn’t earn them. They were free gifts of love that You showered on me. You still continue to shower me with Your love and I’m grateful for it every day! Your love is AMAZING.
Holy Spirit, thank You for taking me down “memory lane” today. Thank You for showing me that God knew each of the tribes of Israel’s hearts and their needs. That He assigned them their portion according to HIS plan, not man’s. That hasn’t changed throughout time with those who love Him. I can trust that I will NEVER be beyond Your care.
Thank You Jesus for bringing my needs to the Father. Without Your intercession and substitution work I would have no access. Thank You for introducing me to Your Father and for asking Him to adopt me as His child. We have the BEST Father imaginable! Thank You for my earthly father too! He is pretty awesome. Thank You for placing me in BOTH families.