But to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said, “Remember the command that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you after he said, ‘The Lord your God will give you rest by giving you this land.’
- Joshua 1:12-13
A group of Israelites approached Moses asking for a favor (see Numbers 23). They had huge herds and had found good grazing land for them. They wanted to settle down on this good land. There was just one catch: the land was east of the Jordan. But they asked Moses if they could make this their permanent home anyway.
The day rapidly approached when the Lord would lead his people across the Jordan River and into the land he had promised them. The people would have to struggle to establish a foothold in this new land. Wars would be fought. Every warrior would be needed to take this new territory.
The request to settle down east of the Jordan carried huge implications for the rest of the community. What would Moses decide?
At first, he seemed inclined to reject their request. He called them a “brood of sinners” just for asking. But the people circled back to him and made a counter-proposal: could they settle in the land if they committed to send warriors with the rest of the community when Israel crossed the Jordan? Moses once again considered their request.
Moses’ seems hesitant about this arrangement. He’d been burned before by people who didn’t keep their word. Would they really join the fight when they’re needed? The safest course would be to deny their request. But Moses knew the character of the Lord. He knew the Lord’s generosity and kindness. And he knew that this accommodation could work if the people would keep their commitments.
In today’s passage, Joshua prepares to call in those commitments. He’s going to tell them that it’s time to fight. But before Joshua calls on them to their duty, he reminds them of God’s generosity. The Lord gave them rest. They’ve enjoyed the land and God’s kindness. God’s generosity forms the basis for their obedience to him.
The same is true for us. God’s generosity toward us motivates our obedience to him. He’s given us life and breath and every good thing we’ve ever seen, heard, smelled, tasted and touched. He’s given his own life for us, dying on the cross to free us from our captivity to sin. He’s given us his very Spirit so we need never go a day without his presence or his power.
Take some time today to reflect on God’s generosity toward you. Before you think about what steps of obedience God might call you to today, give him thanks for the ways he’s shown you mercy and grace.
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