Why settle for an ordinary life when you can live an extraordinary one? After all, the convenient path in life is rarely the most rewarding.
In chapter 22 of the history book of Joshua, God promised Joshua that the 12 tribes of Israel would cross the Jordan River, enter the land of Canaan, and defeat all the enemies they faced. If they settled there, they would enjoy rest on every side. All of God’s promises came true for those who crossed over.
But the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh liked the fertile grazing land east of the Jordan River for their massive herds of cattle. All the tribes had camped there before crossing the river, and the two and a half tribes grew comfortable there. So they promised Joshua they would lead them across the Jordan and into battle to defeat their enemies if he would allow them to return and settle on the east side of the Jordan River as Moses said they could.
After seven years of battle Joshua conceded, “You kept your word to the Lord, to Moses, to me, and, perhaps most importantly, to your brothers in arms…therefore turn and go to your home in the land where your possession lies, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you on the other side of the Jordan. Take good care to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave to him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” So Joshua blessed them, and sent them away; and they went to their homes.
On the surface it might appear that the two and a half tribes lived happily ever after. But when we look a little deeper into God’s gift and Moses’ concession, we discover a different result.
God gave the land west of the Jordan River.
Moses gave the land east of the Jordan to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half-tribe of Manasseh as a concession for fulfilling their promise to fight with them. There is no record of Moses consulting the Lord about it or receiving His approval.
It was God’s will that all 12 tribes cross-over, claim their inheritance, and settle into a close relationship with Him. Nine and a half tribes were obedient and enjoyed rest on every side.
Two and a half tribes chose not to cross-over. Instead they chose to divide the nation of Israel, abandon the covenant of the Lord, separate themselves from God’s promises, live in a pagan land, and bow down to gods they did not know. In doing so, they invoked the wrath of Almighty God and later were carried away by Assyrian kings, never to be heard from again.
As believers, we face the same Jordan River decision–to cross over or not to cross over–to move forward in God’s will and receive His blessings or retreat to our comfort zones and leave His blessings behind.
God has so much more for us than we can imagine. He doesn’t like for us to distance ourselves from Him. He doesn’t want us to settle for the comfort of what we know. He wants us to step out in faith, trust His plan, and claim all that He has for us. He wants us to lean on His promises of safety, security, and rest and exchange the ordinary life for an extraordinary life with Him. That is the desire of His heart.