A few years ago at the Summer Celebration at Lipscomb University, I was reminded of a story out of the Old Testament by one of the speakers there. It was a story from Joshua 1, where Joshua reminds the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh that they had promised Moses a while back that they would fight for the children of Israel.
Some of you might be wondering – “Wait, I thought they WERE children of Israel – of course they would fight.” Well, yes, but back in Numbers 32, they made a deal with Moses. They had a lot of livestock, a lot of people, a lot of wealth, and as they got to the east side of the Jordan, they decided they wanted to stay there instead of entering into the Promised Land.
Of course, Moses wasn’t too thrilled with this, and he went on a moment where he ripped into them. So they came up with a compromise. They promised that if they could settle there, that when the time came to fight, they would send their fighting men in to fight.
Now, why is this such a big deal? Well – they’re promising that they’re going to fight for a group of people they will never truly know. They’re promising to fight for a land they know they won’t possess. They’re promising to give their lives to ensure the future happens for the others.
And that’s what we need to do as well.
Now, in Numbers 32, we see an old passage that some of us may have known for a while – Moses tells the 3 tribes “Listen, this is great you’re promising this – but know this – if you don’t do it, your sin will find you out.”
What he’s stating is simple: Don’t promise something to God you don’t intend on doing. Don’t make promises you don’t plan on keeping.
I think this offers us two things: First, a wake up call – because it’s time for us to stand and fight for the next generation. It’s time for us to admit that it’s time to do something to make sure the next generation knows about Jesus.
But second, it is a blessed reminder – God takes his promises seriously. God doesn’t fall through on his promises, and He expects us not to also. And what has God promised us? Well in Hebrews 13:5, He promises that he will never leave us, never forsake us, and will always be with us.
I think it’s time for us to make a promise – that we want the church to be around for our children, and their children, and people who will give their lives to Christ that we don’t know and never will know.
And that promise starts with us.