Songs and Praise



Numbers 32:1-32; Judges 5:16, 17;

Lesson 112 Senior Lessons

MEMORY VERSE:  "How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD" (Psalm 84:1, 2).

I Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh's Choice of Inheritance

Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, because of their many cattle, desired to possess Gilead and Bashan, which were not in the Land of Canaan, Numbers 32:1-5, 32, 33; Deuteronomy 3:1-13 Moses reprimanded the two and a half tribes for their seeming selfish desire and reluctance to help their brethren conquer the Promised_ Land, Numbers 32:6-15 These tribes agreed to send fighting men with the other tribes of Is¬rael to help conquer the land, Numbers 32:16-31; Joshua 4:12, 13 Reuben. Gad, and Manasseh left more than half of their fighting men to protect their possessions while they were with their brethren in Canaan Land, Numbers 26:7, 18, 34; Joshua 4:12, 13 Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh's receiving of the land of Gilead and Bashan was a conditional grant, Numbers 32:20-24, 28-30; Joshua 1:12-15; 22:1-6

II Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh's Received Inheritance

The two and a half tribes set up an altar of remembrance, which caused a great controversy among the remaining tribes of Israel, Judges 5:15-17; Joshua 22:10-34 The departure of the two and a half tribes from the rest of Israel separated them from the Tabernacle of God which was at Shiloh, in the Promised Land, Joshua 22:9, 29; 18:1, 2 The explicit command of God was that all the tribes of Israel make their offerings at the place where God would choose, Deuteronomy 12:5, 6, 11-14, 26, 27; 15:19, 20

III The Final Result of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh's Choice

The prophetic utterances of the Old Testament prophets revealed the state of spirituality of the half tribe of Manasseh, Deuter¬onomy 3:13; Ezekiel 39:18; Amos 4:1; Isaiah 2:13; Zechariah 11:1-3 The land of Gilead, occupied by Reuben and Gad, received severe criticism from the later prophets as they preached to Israel, Deuteronomy 3:12; Jeremiah 22:18-22; Hosea 6:8; 12:11 The two and a half tribes followed God for a season but soon departed to idolatrous worship, I Chronicles 5:18-26


The Land that God Chose

The story of the Israelites and their journey from Egypt to Canaan Land is a type of the walk of the Christian. It is a type of his leaving the life of sin and bondage, and journeying to the land of promise, the land that God has promised.

The land of Canaan was a land flowing with milk and honey. It was not the land that man chose for himself, but the land that God in His goodness and mercy chose for him. The Bible says that in this land which God gave them there were 'great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, and houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not' (Deuteronomy 6:10, 11).

Canaan Land was not a drab, barren, desert land but a land of abundance wherein grew bunches of grapes which took two grown men to carry. It was not such an impoverished land that no one else could see its worth. On the contrary, the heathen nations saw its worth and were well entrenched in the country. This was the land that the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh did not want.

The Land that Reuben and Gad Chose

It is a sad thought that the two and a half tribes of Israel could not see the value of the land that God had chosen for them. That Israel was a nation of people was due to the direct providence of God. It was God who blessed the family of Jacob until they became a great multitude. Now Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, because they had much cattle, desired the regions of Gilead and Bashan.


Even the fact that they owned cattle was through the goodness and mercy of God; yet even this did not seem to deter them from their de¬cision. The lands of Gilead and Bashan were good for cattle, but were not the land that God wanted them to have. There was plenty of evidence that Canaan was as fruitful a land as God had said it was, and very good for all their needs. Yet they could not be turned from their decision. The tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh received their choice; but we learn from the Bible that it was a poor choice; and it was to the detriment of their own souls that they occupied Gilead and Bashan.

Christ the Giver of Good Gifts

When someone is presented with a gift of great value it is usually accepted with the understanding that the giver is giving it with a motive of love; that it is presented as a material manifestation of the love that the giver has toward the receiver. God had given many precious things to Israel to show His love toward them. The wealth that Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh possessed was one of these. Yet it seemed that when they had received the material blessings of God they became lost in selfish desires for the temporal things and could not see the Giver of those gifts at all, who in reality was God. We read in James 1:17: 'Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.' We see these several tribes taken up with the 'loaves and fishes' of material things, and not even desiring to press on into the fuller blessings that might have been theirs in Canaan.

Christ, in His day, found people with the same conception of the value of spiritual things. They had eyes for the material good that Christ could do for them, yet they could not see His immeasurable worth as the Savior of their souls. Many came to eat of the fishes and bread He so miraculously provided on two occasions, yet were deaf to the profound truths of life He taught.

Upon one occasion He commanded ten lepers to go and show them¬selves to the priests. As they obeyed, they were cleansed of their leprosy. One of them came back to Jesus to worship Him with praise and thanks¬giving for the wonderful thing that Jesus had done for him. Jesus said: 'Where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger' (Luke 17:11-19).

The great God of Heaven has more in His plan of salvation than some material blessings such as healing for the body, or alone the needs of Reuben and Glad's cattle, or the wealth of the world, or, perhaps, some talent for worldly pursuits. God does not want us to become so occupied with these things that we can no longer see God, or the truth God is try¬ing to present to us. Many people today do not desire God's best. God gives material things to encourage our hearts and to make us realize that He is Ruler and Master of all in Heaven and earth, and is well able to heal our bodies and save our souls.

Leaving the Brethren and the House of God

God had Moses set up the Tabernacle and inaugurate its form of worship. It was the plan of God to lead these people and make them repre¬sentatives of the Gospel to all the rest of the world. He brought Israel out of Egypt with a high and mighty hand, that He might sanctify His great name in Israel and that the heathen nations might see and know that He was God and that there was no other. Because of the intense and univer¬sal idolatry among the heathen nations surrounding Israel, the taber¬nacle worship was necessary to keep ever before them the remembrance of the God whom they were serving. The Law was very strict and demanded an absolute obedience to its precepts. The tabernacle service was the por¬trayal of Christ who was to come. The people were expressly commanded that they must present themselves and their holy sacrifices to God at the spot where God chose to place His name and meet with them. (Read Deu¬teronomy 12:5-11; 14:23; 15:20.)

The choice of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh to stay on the other side of Jordan, separated from their brethren, was in itself a serious matter. But more serious was the fact that they were deliberately separating themselves from the place where the Tabernacle was eventually set up, at Shiloh, in Canaan.

Since it was at the Tabernacle that God had commanded the tribes of Israel to worship, the removing of the two and a half tribes away from the place of worship made it very difficult for them to worship God in the proper manner. God is never pleased with a slipshod manner of worship. There is a right way, and we are expected to worship God in the proper manner as behooves the honor due Him.

A sad record of their departure is recorded in Joshua 22:9: 'And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh returned, and departed from the children of Israel out of Shi¬loh, which is in the land of Canaan, to go unto the country of Gilead, to the land of their possession, whereof they were possessed, according to the word of the LORD by the hand of Moses.'

Great Searchings of Heart

We read in Judges 5:15-17: 'For the divisions of Reuben there were great thoughts of heart. Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks? For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart. Gilead abode beyond Jordan....' When people who profess to be serving God leave the house of Gad, to dwell afar off from their brethren and the worship of God, because of the welfare of their material possessions (which God Himself has given them), there is something wrong. It grieved the hearts of the remaining tribes of Israel when the two and a half tribes left their fellowship. Similar circum¬stances have grieved every true Christian ever since.

How insidious is the disease of selfishness. It is a road of destruction, strewn with the wreckage of human souls who have left God and the service of God to serve their own selfish desires. The calling of the Chris¬tian, which is to tell the story of Jesus and His love, is the grandest work there is in life. It is a sad day when anyone renounces that work for a selfish work of his own.

The Fruit of Bashan and of Gilead

It is not a strange matter that Moses, seeing the choice of the two and a half tribes, rebuked them for their decision. The words he uttered were prophetic truth. How much it must have grieved God to see them taking a road that He knew would lead them to a lukewarm worship of Him. It is one thing to be far away from God, lost in sin, and hopelessly defiled, knowing little about the saving grace of Christ; and it is quite another and more serious thing to have tasted of the good things of God in your soul and body, to have been a recipient of the miraculous powers of God, and to have seen and felt the wonderful glory of God, and then to turn away to the material things of the world.
Paul says of this matter, 'For if I build again the things which I de¬stroyed, I make myself a transgressor' (Galatians 2:18). Peter tells us: 'For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again en¬tangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy com¬mandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire' (II Peter 2:20-22).


1 Was it the will of God that all twelve tribes of Israel have their in
heritance in Canaan Land?
2 Where were the lands of Gilead and Bashan?
3 Why did Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh desire to live
where they did?
4 What did Moses tell the two and a half tribes about their request?
5 Do you think the lands of Gilead and Bashan were equal to Canaan
Land in richness and value?
6 Where was the Tabernacle, and why did God make specific commands
about it?
7 Do you think the two and a half tribes attended the services at Shiloh
very often?
8 Why did God desire every one to make holy sacrifices at the same place?
9 Why is it not possible to serve God wholeheartedly and live afar off
from the Tabernacle of God?
10 What was the final result of the separation of the two and a half tribes from the rest of Israel?

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