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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh Joshua spoke, saying . . . “—Joshua 1:12 (NKJV)
The Nation of Israel was founded on twelve tribes. Among these twelve tribes are the three tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh. The next thing that we need to know is that it was God’s plan to lead all twelve tribes of Israel across the Jordan River into the Promised Land.
But the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh didn’t want to cross over the Jordan River and begged Moses to let them settle outside of the Promised Land. This would prove a terrible compromise for these tribes because they wouldn’t have the benefit of the Jordan River acting as a natural barrier between them and the surrounding hostile regions. What’s more, the Jordan would actually work against them as it would cut them off from the rest of Israel who would be on the Promised Land on the other side of the water.
Be that as it may, there was a condition to this compromise. The fighting men of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh had to cross the Jordan with the rest of Israel. They had to wage war for Israel before they could return to their land and find rest. Joshua reminds them of this in Joshua 1:14-15.
Again, the decision made by these tribes not to cross over the Jordan and settle in the Promised Land wasn’t wise. However, the condition placed on them carries an insightful principle. God saw Israel as one body, not “every tribe for themselves.” Therefore, it was only right for every tribe to pitch in and have a share in the fighting necessary to possess the land. It wouldn’t be right for some tribes to do nothing at the expense of the other tribes who were fighting.
In the same way, every believer in Christ is part of one body, His body. God doesn’t see us as disconnected members, He sees us as one. And as one, we have an obligation to the rest of the body we’re connected to. We don’t wage war in a physical sense, as Israel did, but we are enlisted in a spiritual battle where our prayers and service are needed on behalf of the body of Christ.
Just as the soldiers of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh were to go to war for the rest of Israel, each Christian is to go to battle for their brothers and sisters in Christ. Because whether we realize it or not, our faith doesn’t make us islands of individuality . . . it makes us one body.
DIG: What obligation did the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh have to Israel as a whole?
DISCOVER: How does this parallel the Christian life?
DO: How often do you see yourself as one with the body of Christ? Consider how you can keep this reality in view more consistently.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.