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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Numbers 32

Verses 1-42

  1. INTRO:
    1. Compromise is but the sacrifice of one right or good in the hope of retaining another - too often ending in the loss of both.”
  2. Living on the Wrong Side of the Cross!
    1. ​​​​​​​THE REQUEST! (1-5)
    2. These 21/2 tribes seek permission from Moses to live on the east side of the Jordan River.
      1. Reuben & Gad were contiguous(shared a common boarder) when they were encamped. So they had many times to scheme/plan this.
      2. The request sounded reasonable, like most of the arguments which excuse compromise; but all the same it’s compromise.
    3. THE REPRIMAND! (6-15)
    4. Q: You want your brothers to go to war while you sit here?
      1. We have gained so much from the sufferings of saints in years gone by.
        1. Creeds/heretics; the written word passed down; those that gave their lives protecting it(martyrs)
      2. What will the generation a 100 years fro now look back on our generation & say about what we provided? What’s our investment?
        1. Will we get beyond church attendance & donating a few things; & see past what’s safe, comfortable, & easy; & find significance & meaning, & hear our clarion call?
        2. Oh that the Master wouldn’t ask us, Why have you been standing here idle all day?
    5. Q: You want to discourage your brothers from entering into the land?
      1. Remember, they’re asking the one guy who would do anything to enter but can’t...Moses!
      2. Uh, didn’t we already learn this lesson from 10 other guys that didn’t want to go into the land? (10 spies w/bad report)
    6. THE REASSURANCE! (16-32)
    7. Ok, it might not be the best for God nor the best for others(break moral of the people)...but it will be really nice for our cattle! Can we, can we?
    8. We solemnly swear to fully support the other 91/2 tribes in conquering Canaan. Can we, can we?
    9. THE RESULTS! (33-42)
    10. At 1st Moses was indignant, but now after their explanation, he modifies his wrath & grants their request.
      1. Their cattle kept them on the wrong side of the river of separation.
    11. Results:
      1. ​​​​​​​God had promised them….THE LAND! [Israel’s place was inside Canaan]
      2. They were led by sight(vs.1) [Who else saw the land good for grazing? Lot] [It was an eye-choice!]
      3. They sought their own things & not the things of God [They despised their inherit]
      4. These 21/2 tribes never entered the national life as did those on the other side
      5. They were far from the religious life. 1st at Shiloh, then at Jerusalem.
      6. When invasions came, it came upon them first, as they were isolated & exposed. Sweeping them & their cattle into captivity.
        1. Often in later centuries the other tribes had to come to their rescue. (1 Sam 11; 1 Kings 22:3)
      7. They were the first to be swept away with idolatry.
      8. In Deborah’s great song, in Judges 5, Reuben is rebuked for “sitting among the sheepfolds, to hear the pipings for the flocks” (read 5:15b,16)
        1. This was against Jabon king of Canaan & his commander Sisera (4:2), who gets the tent peg through his head by Jael 4:21.
      9. When the land was fully conquered, the 21/2 tribes had to put up an altar to let people know “they belonged to Israel”. (Joshua 22:10 altar)
        1. Joshua 22...this blew up w/misunderstandings, the other tribes were ready to go to war over it(22:12). No, no, it is called the Altar of Witness(22:34).
      10. Lastly, who remained in this land that we find in the NT? The Gadarenes! Mrk 5
    12. Application to us today:
    13. The 3 tribes east of the Jordan River have been compared to worldly believers today.
      1. Those who have chosen to “live on the wrong side of the cross”/the river.
      2. They have no desire to share in the crucifixion of the self-life.
        1. (16) We just want to provide for our livelihood & our little ones.
          1. What’s wrong with that? Isn’t that noble? - Yes, but not at the expense of disobeying God(who of course would have provided both for them).
          2. When material gain, not the glory of God, govern our decisions, we will make the wrong decisions. (www)
            1. Read - Ps.47:1-4 “He will choose our inheritance for us!”
    14. Some people choose to live “on the border” of God’s blessing.
      1. They make their decisions on the basis of material gain not sp. blessing.
      2. The 21/2 tribes did not claim their inheritance in Canaan, though they were very close to it.
    15. We must beware of the cares of this world if we are poor, & of the deceitfulness of riches if we are rich.
      1. Mt.16:26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
    16. Beware of falling short of your proper position; your proper portion; of being content with things of this world; of taking any stand short of death & resurrection (our true & spiritual Jordan).
      1. These are 1/2 & 1/2 Christians (ok for milk, not for believers)
    17. What great principle with regard to sin & consequences is expressed in verse 23?
      1. What you sow that you shall reap. Gal.6:7,8
    18. How does compromise occur? [Sherman & Hendricks have a 7-step process that, if left unrecognized, could lead to moral compromise]
      1. A failure to commit ahead of time to do the right thing.
      2. Underestimating evil and flirting with dangerous temptations, thus being exposed to far more powerful evils.
      3. A failure to recognize the numerous forms of compromise lurking at every corner of life.
      4. A failure to recognize the smooth flatteries and enticing fantasies of temptations.
      5. Succumbing to slick rationalizations.
      6. A sudden, deliberate choice to give in to sin.
      7. A failure to consider the costly consequences of sin.
    19. Amaziah was a good king. Yet in 2 Kings 14:3, we are told why Amaziah did not experience the full blessing of the Lord. The text says, “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, yet not like David.”
      1. He followed the example of his father Joash and failed to put a stop to the semipagan worship conducted on hills throughout the land.
      2. He simply didn’t aim high enough!
      3. Ps.68:19 Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation! Selah. [Don’t miss those daily benefits]
    20. Compromise is but the sacrifice of one right or good in the hope of retaining another - too often ending in the loss of both.”
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Numbers 32". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/numbers-32.html. 2017.