It is almost time to cross the Jordan. The Promised Land is in sight but two and a half of the tribes want to settle on the near side. They see green pastures.
The final battle before crossing the Jordan under Moses’ leadership was finished. This was supposed to be Moses’ last task before going to meet with the Lord one final time. But the people were not through with him yet. The tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh had something they wanted to request of him.
They had a different plan in mind than the Lord did. This is certainly NOT the first time the people wanted something other than the Lord’s plans. So many times they cried out for one thing or another that wasn’t part of the “approved list.” Sometimes God granted their requests, sometimes He told them “No” and other times He punished them for their stubborn desires.
These two and a half tribes wanted to stay on this side of the Jordan instead of going on into the Promised Land that God had prepared. They looked around and liked what they saw. “This land meets with OUR approval. It suits OUR needs. We want to stay here. We will take this land as our inheritance.”
When the leaders of these tribes came to Moses with this request he was beside himself! “How can you do this?! Didn’t you learn anything from your fathers’ mistakes?” Moses was afraid God would put off His promise again until a suitable generation could be found. He didn’t want to wander in the wilderness any longer. I’m betting he was tired and ready to go home to the Lord.
This request is different from the rebellion of the previous generation though. First of is how the request is made. Their request was not made from a place of fear but of a choice for something they felt better suited their needs. Secondly, they made their request on the basis of their past service. “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants for a possession” (verse 5a). They banked on their past to speak for their future.
I noticed that Moses didn’t consult God concerning this request. Instead he made the decision based on promises made by those making the request to fight alongside their brothers. They would only be granted their request if they fought to the man until their brothers could inherit their own land.
This sounded like a good deal to these three tribes but I wonder what they forfeited by choosing their own plans instead of God’s. When God made the promise to bring Israel into the land He didn’t say only 9 ½ portions of you. I’m CERTAIN He had pasture land waiting that would have met MORE than the needs of these tribes. They settled for “good enough” instead of waiting on Him to give them “the best.” We know that the end of the story is that they kept their word and settled where they had chosen but what did they miss out on?
What do WE miss out on by not waiting? The saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” can be taken two ways. If the “grass” you’re looking at is what God has for you and you have settled, IT IS GREENER! If you are never satisfied with what you have then when you get to that green grass it will be just as brown as what you left behind. When God says “keep going” it is because He has something MUCH better in mind for you. Sometimes He takes the “long way around” so you can be ready when together you reach His destination. Sometimes He doesn’t even show you what the end looks like and you have to trust in your relationship with Him to KNOW that what He has IS best. Don’t settle! Hang in there with Him a little longer. He ALWAYS keeps His word and He KNOWS what is best.
Father God, how many times have I settled instead of waiting? How many “green pastures” have I passed up simply because I didn’t want to wait any more and I took “good enough” instead? I honestly don’t know. I do know though that even the “dry pastures” prepared me for things You have walked me through later on. Some of those pastures were drier than others but they all held lessons for me. Thank You for not leaving me in those dry places.
Keep leading me Holy Spirit. Show me the pastures that have been prepared for me to VISIT along the way. Show me which ones I am to stay in for a while and which ones are just a short stop over. Also don’t let me KNOW when we reach “the best” pasture so I won’t be looking further down the road. Satisfy my soul with the places You have prepared. Thank You for making everything perfect for my arrival, including me. I will enjoy the journey as well as the destination.