“And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh Joshua said, ‘Remember the word that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, “The LORD your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land.” Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but all the men of valor among you shall pass over armed before your brothers and shall help them, until the LORD gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them.’” – Joshua 1:12-15a
When Moses gave the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh their inheritance on the other side of the Jordan (Numbers 32:28-32), they promised that they would send their soldiers to fight alongside their brother Israelites. Humanly speaking, the bigger your army, the better. But time and again in Deuteronomy, Moses told Israel that the LORD would be fighting for them. So Israel didn’t need a big army. They didn’t need any help from Reuben, Gad and Manasseh. So why did the two-and-a-half tribes have to send soldiers to fight along with the rest of Israel?
This is about the unity that’s created among God’s people by faith in the gospel. Think about what’s going on here; think about it in the light of the New Testament. Israel is an Old Testament picture of the congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ, and they were about to receive their inheritance. We confess that we believe and profess one catholic or universal church, which is a holy congregation and assembly of the true Christian believers, who expect their entire salvation in Jesus Christ. That’s who the church is. And this is what that looks like in Joshua 1: a congregation of people who were expecting their salvation in Joshua.
Joshua is saying, Every Israelite must do all that he can to make sure that every one of his fellow Israelites receives his inheritance. That’s what our Joshua says, too. That’s the demand and the purpose of our unity in Christ.
Suggestions for prayer
Ask the Lord Jesus, by His Spirit, to deepen your love and your commitment to your brothers and sisters in Christ, to pray and to work out their salvation.