“The Lesson of the Vow to Cross Over”
Parashah MATTOT (Numbers 30:2 (1)-32:42) Week 42
The descendants of Re’uven and the descendants of Gad had vast quantities of livestock. When they saw the land of Ya’zer and the land of Gil’ad were good for livestock, the descendants of Gad and of Re’uven came and spoke to Moshe, El’azar the cohen and the community leaders. They said, “Tarot, Divon, Ya’zer, Nimrah, Heshbon, El’aleh, S’vam, N’vo and Be’on, the country that ADONAI conquered before the community of Isra’el, is livestock country; and your servants have livestock. If you regard us favorably, they went on, “let this land be given to your servants as their possession; and don’t have us cross the Yarden.”
Moshe answered the descendants of Gad and of Re’uven: “Are your brothers to go to war while you stay here? Besides, why are you trying to discourage the people of Isra’el from crossing into the land ADONAI gave them? This is what your fathers did when I sent them from Kadesh-Barnea to see the land. For when they went up to the Eshkol Valley and saw the land, they disheartened the people of Isra’el so that they wouldn’t enter the land ADONAI had given them.” (Numbers 32:1-9 CJB)
This scene is almost unbelievable as we read through the journey with new leaders, as Moses marks his last days shepherding the Nation. The journey has finally taken a prophetic turn and it is time to cross the Jordan River into the long-awaited inheritance, the Covenant Land for the Nation of Israel. Who is this Nation? They are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, renamed Isra’el, the one who contended with God.
As we read the first words of this part of the Parashah, it seems like a repeat offense to refuse to enter and take over the land of milk and honey Adonai had set aside for His Nation. This sounds like the song of The Sin of the Spies! But as we read on, the true intent of the tribes of Re’uven and Gad in requesting to make their new home east of the Jordan River, instead of west of it becomes clearer. They vow to march as warriors with the men of Israel until every parcel of land is taken into the possession of the other tribal leaders.
“However, we will not return to our own homes until every man in Isra’el has taken possession of his land for inheritance. We will not have an inheritance with them on the other side of the Yarden westward; because our inheritance has fallen to us on this side of the Yarden, eastward.”
Moshe said to them, “If you will do this–if you will arm yourselves to go before ADONAI to the war, and if every one of your soldiers will cross the Yarden before ADONAI, until he has driven out his enemies ahead of him, and if the land has been conquered before ADONAI, and only after that do you return–then you will be clear before ADONAI and before Isra’el and this land here will be yours to possess before ADONAI.” (Numbers. 32:18-22 CJB) The descendants of Gad and of Re’uven answered, “We will do as ADONAI has said to your servants.” (Numbers 32:31B CJB)
I ran and prayed out the Parashah back to Adonai, as I have zeal to do each week. I saw the blueprint and its tapestry design for this Parashah unfolding in a way I had never seen before. I saw clearly that it was after the brave speech (Chutzpah) of the daughters of Tz’lof’chad, the son of Hefer, the son of Gil’ad, the son of Machir who stood in front of Moshe, El’azar the cohen, the tribal leaders and the whole community at the entrance to the tent of meeting; to plead their case to inherit as daughters, what only sons had ever inherited! They, in their zeal to inherit what should be theirs as the only heirs for their deceased father, stood boldly to petition for deference. I saw each of these two groups of Hebrews, one I affectionately refer to as the daughters five, and the other, the sons of Rueben and Gad, mirroring each other as they boldly asked for something NEW. I was amazed to see how the faithful daughters led the way by their example; bringing a heart-felt case before the proper leaders for a decision.
Can we see how important our lives are in the big scheme of things? We step into a position of opportunity, an anointing with the right intention, and this may change the atmosphere, forever. Adonai approved of the daughter’s request, agreeing it was only right to honor a deceased father by giving his possessions to his only living children, sons or daughters. This agreement by the Lord would take a new ruling for the Nation into future generations, forever!
The sons of Reuven and Gad also made a heartfelt plea to take the land east of the crossing over of the Jordan, as they vowed to uphold Israel in war for as long as it might take to see every man installed in their new territory. This request was honorable, in its true intent. A vow united these two tribes with the God of Isra’el.
This is the Lesson of the Vow to Cross Over. Who waits for us to make our life vow; promising we will do whatever it takes to cross over into our spiritual destiny? Who examines our wilderness journey, waiting for our footsteps to enter into the river which ripples across our path and sets us into new territory? It is Adonai! He shepherds our footsteps all along the way. He is merciful to forgive us. He loves us, while yet in our sin. He goes before us to prepare our way exactly as He did for the Nation of Israel, as they began the pursuit of their inheritance and their destiny as God’s chosen people.
This is the Lesson of the Vow to Cross Over. When the Nation of Israel crossed over the Jordan River to begin the mission from Adonai to subdue the land, turning barbaric cultures of the day, steeped in idol worship and sin, into a land flowing with milk and honey, the people knew there would be wars to fight and giants to slay. Re-establishing this land by the Torah Laws of Adonai would not be a mission for the unprepared; but how could they prepare? It was only by faith that they could accomplish what lay before them. They could only do so much; faith and reliance on Adonai would be their banner now. They must trust in Adonai as their vanguard and their rear guard. Had He not proven His supernatural provision, from their expulsion from Egypt into this crossing over, a generation later?
This is the Lesson of the Vow to Cross Over. Those of us who love Torah and its expression of the fullness of God’s word, have profound examples of the crossing over from death into life, and from glory to glory. We learn from God’s stories what it takes to make the personal crossing…leaving behind all that He requires of us! We trust in His sovereignty, to prepare our way as He goes before us into uncharted territory and secures our victory. The war is the Lord’s!
We have a war to win! We have giants to slay, all in the name of Adonai.
It will be by faith and nothing more… but nothing less… which propels us into our destiny.
May we lift His banner to heaven and cross over!
There is Promised Land to claim for the Kingdom!