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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 32

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-42

Chapter 32

Now as we get into chapter thirty-two, we find that Reuben, that is the tribe of Reuben, and Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh came to Moses and they said, "Hey, we are quite content to stay in this territory we have conquered over here." Now, they had conquered the area that is present day Jordan.

So if you have any mind at all of the Mid East, the area that is presently Jordan is the area that was captured by the children of Israel before they ever went into the Promised Land. The area that was inhabited by Moab, the Midianites and the who? No, not the Canaanites this is another-the Ammonites, Gibeonites. The area that begins at about the southern end of the Sea of Galilee and going eastward on down to about midway through the Dead Sea eastward again. Now in the southern most part, the tribe of Reuben settled. In the middle area was the tribe of Gad and then up in the northern area the river Jabbok, that area eastward is where half the tribe of Manasseh took and desired as their inheritance.

It was great cattle-grazing country. They came to Moses and they said, "Look, we're very content to stay here. Give us permission". Of course they had all of these herds and flocks, they've taken of the spoil and they said, "We'd like to build houses and fences and all and we'd like to stay right here. We're perfectly content to remain on this side of Jordan and we'd like to have this for our inheritance. And that'll just give more land to the rest of the tribes on the other side." Moses couldn't believe it, he said, "What are you trying to do? This is the second time we've come to the border of the Promised Land. And forty years ago when we came to the border and the people, because of the spies, got fearful and wouldn't go in, it cost us this forty years and the death of all of those that came out of Egypt that are over twenty years old. What in the world is wrong with you characters? I can't believe you."

And so they rethought the thing and they said, "Well, I'll tell you what. We will arm our men for war and they will go over and they will fight. Let us build cities and all so our wives and children will be safe here. And we will send our men over to fight the battles and we'll stay with you until the land has been conquered. And then we'll come back and take our inheritance over here." And so the thing pleased Moses and he said, "All right. That's okay for you to go ahead and come over and help us take the territory and after it is taken then you can come back".

But Moses declared unto them,

But if you do not do this, behold, you have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out. ( Numbers 32:23 )

Now, the request is an interesting request when you look at it from a spiritual standpoint. These people are content to take their inheritance outside of the land on the other side of Jordan. As we're looking at the whole movement of the children of Israel out of Egypt into the Promised Land, looking at it as typical history, which the Bible declares that it is, it all happened to them as examples for us. And Egypt typifies the old life of bondage in the world, the life in sin. Coming out of Egypt through the Red Sea typifies being born again and being baptized and entering in now to a new relationship with God; delivered from the bondage of sin, bondage of Egypt.

Now they are coming towards the Promised Land and their failure at Kadesh Barnea to enter into the land and the subsequent forty years wandering in the wilderness is typical of those Christians who have indeed come out of the life of bondage and sin but have never entered into the fullness of the life in Christ. They are in an in-between state, not yet entered into the fullness that they can know in Jesus Christ the full promises, the full life and walk of the Spirit. But still problems with their flesh, battles with their flesh, wandering in the wilderness, and so many people have a Christian experience that is sort of a wilderness experience, a barren experience.

Now the River Jordan typifies the death of the old life, the old man, the death of the life of the flesh. And coming into the Promised Land is typical of coming into the new life and the walk in the Spirit. Yes, we still have battles to fight but we have a Captain that is gone before us who is leading us and who strengthens us. And God has promised that every place we put our foot "That," He said, "I have given unto you for a possession". So the land is here in front of us, all we have to do is go in and claim it and possess it. The life of victory in Christ, the life of joy and blessing, a life of the spiritual relationship with God, it's yours for the claiming, the victory over the old life, the flesh, yours for the claiming.

Now, there were those who were content to remain on the other side of Jordan, Reuben and Gad, part of Manasseh. And they said, "We'll dwell on this side. We're content to remain here". It is significant to note that they were the first tribes to go into captivity because they had not the protection really of the Jordan River, which was a natural barrier against the enemy. The first to go into captivity. So often many people failing to enter into that which God has promised to us, that life of abundance in the Spirit. Their failure to enter in, content to just live on the other side of the cross, the death of the old nature, the old life, not willing to reckon the old man dead are often the first to go into captivity. So, an interesting spiritual parallel with the tribes of Reuben and Gad and Manasseh.

Now the statement of Moses-"all right see that you do it. I'm not gonna be here to see that you do it. I'm-the Lord's told me I'm not gonna go into the land. So you see that you do this. And if you fail you have sinned against the Lord and you can be sure your sin will find you out." My, what a powerful truth that is. You can be sure your sin will find you out.

Jesus said, "That which is done in secret shall be shouted from the housetop". The Bible says, "Everything is open and naked before Him with whom we have to do" ( Hebrews 4:13 ). There is really no secret sin; that's a delusion. You can be sure your sin will find you out. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap", come harvest time and it's very obvious the kind of seeds that you've been sowing. You can be sure your sins will find you out. Thank God for Jesus Christ having removed our sins and transgressions as far as the east is from the west. And so they made the covenant with Moses that they would pass over and help them to take the land.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Numbers 32". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/numbers-32.html. 2014.
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