Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of livestock; and when they saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead, that indeed the region was a place for livestock, the children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spoke to Moses, to Eleazar the priest, and to the leaders of the congregation. (Numbers 32:1-2)
As this chapter begins, we are once again reminded of the importance of keeping your word. Seeing the resources provided by the land on the eastern bank of the Jordan River, the tribe of Reuben and Gad requested to remain there. This request provoked Moses to ask, “Shall your brothers go to war, and you sit here?” Furthermore, he reminded them of what had happened when the previous generation had balked at going into the land of Canaan — the hearts of their countrymen were discouraged which aroused the LORD’s anger.
These tribes responded to Moses with a promise: if they were allowed to build pens for their livestock and fortify the cities for their families, they would go at the head of the column to fight the war until all Israel was settled. In other words, they committed themselves to fight what turned out to be a seven years war. Nevertheless, Moses responded favorably to their request but reminded them of the vow they have made — a vow they must keep if they were to “clear before the LORD and before Israel.” To their credit, these tribes, along with the half tribe of Manasseh, fulfilled their promise and were eventually released to return to their families with honor (Joshua 22:1-3).
Keeping our word is extremely important because, as Moses points out, not only should our conscience be clear before the LORD but our word and deed should be above reproach in the sight of our fellowman. Integrity, honesty and dependability — virtues that fewer and fewer celebrate these days — should be evident in the life of every believer that all, including unbelievers, may see. These virtues are so important, in fact, that Scripture tells us we must go so far as to avoid things that might appear to be wrong. As Paul said, “Abstain from every appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). It is clear what God expects of us and, so, let us strive to be honorable people in word and in deed that we might bring honor and glory to the One who is always faithful to keep His Word to us.
Blessings and Shalom,