What Can We Learn from Reuben

Wendy Pope

Day: 31 | Plan: Numbers

Today's Reading: Numbers 32

Numbers 32:19 (NIV) “We will not receive any inheritance with them on the other side of the Jordan, because our inheritance has come to us on the east side of the Jordan.”

Have you ever sinned in secret and thought, “No one will ever know. What I am doing really doesn’t matter?” But others did find out. And your sin really did matter. Let’s meet Reuben whose sin debt was paid by his descendants.

Reuben was the firstborn son of Jacob and Leah. (Genesis 29:32) He was the brother who intervened to save Joseph’s life. (Genesis 37:21-30) He offered up his own sons as insurance for Benjamin’s safe return after seeing Joseph in Egypt. (Genesis 42:37) And Reuben forfeited his rights and privileges as the firstborn when he slept with Bilhah, his father’s concubine. (Genesis 35:22) Now let’s examine his current situation.

The Reubenites, Gadites and half the tribe of Manasseh are known as the Transjordan Tribes because they made the decision to settle on the east side of the Jordan. They are wealthy with livestock and the land is suitable for them. (Numbers 32:1)

At first, Moses wasn't keen on the idea, but conceded when their tribal leaders assured him of their full military support. Why would these clans stop short and settle for the land on the east side of the Jordan, rather than proceed to the Promised Land?

Opinions are varied as to why each Transjordan Tribe chose land on the east side of the river, but we know one reason the Reubenites settled just short of the Promised Land and additionally why Reuben received the smallest of all the land allotments.

One of the rights Reuben forfeited as a result of his indiscretion with Bilhah was a double portion of his inheritance from Jacob. Decades later, the effects of Reuben’s sin were still felt. His descendants missed the full blessing of God. Being far removed from the nation of Israel they lost government support and protection as well as camaraderie with the other tribes. This distance also led them to stray from their commitment to the one true God.

So, what can we learn from Reuben? We must be careful to not sacrifice our future on the altar of the immediate. Our awareness of sin has to be greater than our impulsivity. The implications of sin are uncertain and the cost is far too great not to conquer its pull before we succumb to its power.

Prayer : Lord, heighten my awareness of my sin. I don’t want to miss out on the fullness of life You have planned for me because of my lack of self-control. My future and the future of my family are too important not to give the Holy Spirit reign over my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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