B'Midbar/Numbers 32:1 There was great wealth of livestock to the sons of R'uveyn and to the sons of Gad, exceedingly numerous
While all the tribes of Israel kept cattle, R'uveyn and Gad were cattle ranchers par excellence; they were the cattle barons of their time and G-d had blessed them abundantly in cattle and sheep. As they looked at the size of their flocks and herds, plus of course those of the other tribes, they couldn't help feeling a certain unease: where were all these animals going to go? They remembered how Avraham and his nephew Lot had had to part company because their flocks and herds became too great and all the trouble that had caused; just their animals alone must be many more than Avraham had by himself, so where were the other tribes going? Was the Land going to be big enough for all that grazing? As they pondered this, their eyes couldn't help looking around at the plains of Mo'av, where Israel had only just conquered the kingdoms of Sichon and Og and taken possession of their lands and cities. An idea started to form - why shouldn't they have this land here on the east of the Yarden: miles and miles of open country, plenty of grazing land, water and cities to live in; that would leave plenty of space west of the Yarden for the other tribes. Perfect!
Later history tells us that this was not a popular idea among the other tribes and led to more than a certain amount of angst over the years. The river Yarden was a much more defensible boundary than an arbitrary line drawn somewhere in the wilderness. Hindsight enables us to see that R'uveyn and Gad went for the immediate solution that was in front of their eyes, rather than waiting for what G-d has originally said and planned. They chose by what they saw, according to what they had now, rather than holding on and waiting for G-d's plans to be worked out in detail. RabbiHirsch even suggests that the idea of settling by themselves within special boundaries outside those of the general nation appealed to them.
Yeshua tells a parable about a rich man who had very productive land, producing much more grain than he had the capacity to store. The man said to himself, "I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods ... take your ease, eat, drink and be merry" (Luke 12:18-19, NASB). But G-d had other plans and the man's planning was wasted. Yeshua goes on to teach that "your Father knows that you need these things. But seek for His kingdom and these things shall be added to you" (Luke 12:30-31, NASB).
Rav Sha'ul picks up the same theme writing to the Corinthians. Talking about the difference between our earthly existence here and being with G-d in the time to come he says, "for we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7, ESV). Sometimes we have to ignore what we see and trust what G-d has said He is going to do. "Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see" (Hebrews 11:1, GWT).
Further Study: Romans 8:22-25; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 1 Peter 1:8-9
Application: Are you trying to take important decisions at the moment and finding it difficult to balance the seeming certainties of what you see against the promises that G-d has given you but seem a long time coming? Don't let the enemy rush you into making a snap decision based on here and now and so deprive you of G-d's blessing. Hold on until you are sure it is G-d and then make your move.
© Jonathan Allen, 2006
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