Unpromised Land

Then Joshua called the Reubenites, the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh.”—Joshua 22:1 (NKJV)

With the bulk of the fighting done, Joshua turns to address the men from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh. These were the tribes that had asked to settle on the other side, the eastern side of the Jordan River. This was a big deal because this region lay outside of the boundary of the land God had promised. It was also vulnerable since it would lack the natural barrier of the Jordan River. In short, it was a bad idea and a compromise of what God had originally wanted for them.

There was just one condition, their men had to cross over the Jordan and fight side by side with their countrymen to possess the land they, themselves, would not inherit. They did this, so Joshua now sends them off with a farewell blessing: “You have kept all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, and have obeyed my voice . . . And now the Lord your God has given rest to your brethren, as He promised them; now therefore, return and go to your tents and to the land of your possession . . . on the other side of the Jordan” (Joshua 22:2-4 NKJV). 

This sounds like a happy ending, doesn’t it? But not so fast! Notice the very next thing that Joshua says to them: “But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Joshua 22:5 NKJV).

On the surface, all seems fine. But when you know the context of compromise, you can’t help but hear a whisper of remorse in Joshua’s words. It’s as if the warrior-leader senses the spiritual decline their decision will cost them, and this is the parting plea of a broken-hearted parent. 

The two-and-a-half tribes wouldn’t just be vulnerable geographically but spiritually as well. The Jordan would cut them off from the rest of Israel, and over the years their identity and values would resemble the other nations around them, and they would find themselves swallowed by idolatry. 

Compromising God’s plan for our lives never ends well. We are always better off crossing the Jordan into the place God had promised to us. May we measure our success according to what God wants for us . . . not what we choose for ourselves.

DIG: What mistake did the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh make? 

DISCOVER:  What lesson can we learn from their mistake?

DO: What threatens to cause compromise in your walk with God? In your prayer time today, ask the Lord to give you the wisdom, strength, and courage to “cross the Jordan” and move into the place of His promises.

About the Author

Pastor Dan Hickling

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.