“And Moses said unto the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben, Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here? And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the LORD hath given them?”
Numbers 32:6, 7
The families of Reuben and Gad requested that they might settle on the east side of the Jordan River and not go into Canaan, the land promised to Israel. They found this region favorable for raising cattle, and they had many cattle. In addition, this land called the land of Jazer had already been conquered by Israel. The Reubenites and Gadites preferred that this be their inheritance and presented their desire to Moses.
Our text contains the response Moses gave them, “Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here?” It would not be just for Reuben and Gad to settle in a territory already subdued by God and the armies of Israel, and to leave their brethren to engage in a war with their enemies without assisting them. Moses also saw the danger of this causing the remainder of the tribes to be discouraged. “And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the LORD hath given them?” The two tribes offered to build fences for their cattle and cities to protect their families, and the men of war would go over Jordan and fight until the remainder of the tribes possessed their inheritance. Moses agreed with this proposal.
The question Moses presented to Reuben and Gad could well be asked of many of God’s children today, “Shall ye sit here?” How is it that Christians are content to let others do their fighting for them? Faithful saints have preceded us and have provided us with great spiritual opportunities. It is not reasonable that we would let others engage in spiritual conflict while we engage in leisure and commerce, enjoying time with family and friends, while avoiding sacrifice and service. Moses told his fellow Israelites that their negligence and inconsideration would greatly discourage the remainder of their brethren. The same is true today. Those who are unwilling to serve and engage in spiritual warfare discourage those who do.
God has been so good to us. Thank God for the benefits and blessings that are ours. May each of us be willing to serve our Savior and serve alongside our brethren, as long as there are battles to fight.