By Lisa Huddleston
“You are to help your brothers until the Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them” (Joshua 1:14-15).
They were on the verge of receiving what God had promised. The nation of Israel was preparing to cross the Jordan River and head into the Promised Land. But strangely enough some of them were not going to make the trip. The Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had asked to stay on the east bank. God had agreed with the provision that the men of these tribes would still help their brothers take the land to the west. As they approached the river, Joshua reminded them of their promise. “Your wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, fully armed, must cross over ahead of your brothers…. After that you may go back and occupy your own land” (Joshua 1: 14-15). It was enthusiastically agreed upon by the two and one-half tribes, and they promised to fully obey Joshua as long as they were sure that the Lord was with Joshua as He had been with Moses. They signed up to lead the charge into Canaan wholeheartedly.
It may seem a moot point considering I’m not an Israelite standing on the bank of the river. I’m not a fighting man—or even a man at all. I could have been one who was safely left behind to start my new life planting gardens and building homes. But, would I have been willing to help my brothers until the Lord gave them rest? If my present life gives any indication, then my answer must be, “Maybe.”
The truth is that I like being comfortable. I like sitting in my cushy chair in my cozy office and studying. I like reading my books, writing my thoughts, and then comfortably settling back to ruminate on what God has revealed. New learning, new thoughts, new revelations of Him are my Promised Land. And even though I sometimes feel as though I am single-handedly fighting giants by trying to comprehend the truths of God, my life is a comfortable one, and my body, if not my mind, is at rest. God is gracious to grant me an amazing inheritance of Truth. The question is what am I doing with it?
If, like the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, I have been given land to possess, am I required to do anything in return? Should I still be engaged in the battles of my spiritually younger brothers and sisters? Should I live in isolation with the gifts God has given or should I be doing something to help others? Should I, in fact, be right at the front of the battle leading the way?
The answer to that last question seems unavoidable. Yes. Yes, I need to help my fellow travelers along the way. As much as I hate to leave the comfort of my home, as much as I fear to lead, as much as I long to stay behind, yes, I must do it. Those east bank men were enthusiastic and willing to go. They left wives, children, livestock, comfort, and safety behind. The danger they faced was very real and very bloody. Yet, they knew that God was leading the way, and that was all they needed to know.
It isn’t really different today. There are still dangerous battles to fight, difficult challenges to overcome, and opposing enemies to face head on. Life is hard. But it’s even harder if you don’t have God to follow or if you’re a new believer who isn’t yet sure how to follow. What are we doing to help our brothers and sisters until the Lord gives them rest? Our answers matter to those who are waiting for what God wants to give them through us. We are called—commissioned even—to lend a hand. Are we willing to lead the charge?