Day 31

The Transjordan Settlements

from the reading plan

Numbers 31:1-54, Numbers 32:1-42, Psalm 78:40-41, Psalm 78:54-55

We live in a culture where self-freedom—getting to do whatever and be whoever we want—is the reigning core value. The key message in every sphere, from kids’ books to movies to social media, is to break free from whatever social norm or family expectation you’re imprisoned by and unleash the real you. This, after all, will be best for everyone. Nothing is off-limits as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. But how do we know if we’re hurting others?

Through Moses, God teaches us that true freedom means living within boundaries He has set because they are best for everyone in your sphere of influence. And the consequences for not living within those boundaries are severe. In Numbers 31, God wiped out not just Midianite men, but even women and children, because they influenced each other and Israel to live godless lives and in unthinkable wickedness.

In Numbers 32, two and a half tribes of Israel asked for something seemingly benign. As the Rubenites, Gadites, and a half-tribe of Manasseh had lots of livestock, they found themselves surrounded by a lush landscape that was perfect for raising sheep. Perhaps they were tired of caravanning with massive herds, or perhaps they didn’t trust the Lord to provide for them across the Jordan. Either way, they were thinking only of their perceived freedom and caring nothing about their power of influence over their Israelite brothers and sisters.

“Don’t make us cross the Jordan,” they whined to Moses, treating God’s gift as if it were an obstacle to their happiness. But Moses didn’t question their gratitude to God. He reminded them of their influence: “Why are you discouraging the Israelites?” (Numbers 32:7). He then told them how the last time a generation influenced Israel to abandon the plans to enter the promised land, God wiped out that generation and sent Israel back to the desert. Moses reminded them that they were obligated to God and their fellow Israelites to possess the land across the Jordan (v.23). Their freedom and thriving would come from operating within those boundaries.

A thousand years later, Jesus allowed Himself to be crucified, to have His freedom taken from Him—so that we could have our freedom forever secured.

We are free from the eternal destruction of our sin. We’re free to love and sacrifice our autonomy for the kingdom of God. We are free, brothers and sisters, to follow Jesus’s example and embrace this lifelong journey with joy and humility.

Written by Ginny Owens

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