Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh,…
I. THESE TRIBES HELPED THEIR BRETHREN TO THEIR OWN INCONVENIENCE AND POSITIVE DETRIMENT. A narrow-minded, selfish race would have recognised no claim for any service which could not be repaid dollar for dollar. What fine excuses could have been made for the non-performance of this duty if they had been in the excuse-making mood! How prominently that threadbare proverb, "Charity begins at home" — a proverb often outrageously perverted — might have figured in their conversation! We have our own children and our own houses to look after; our crops must be planted and harvested; our homes must be established in this new land; the wandering tribes of our enemies may at any time swoop down upon our vineyards and gardens. Small and selfish souls always reason in this way, whether they live in Palestine or America, in the fifteenth century before Christ or the nineteenth after Christ. Such reasoning and such living inevitably lead to national and individual bankruptcy in all the generous and noble qualities which make a nation great. Let us remember also that it is not what we can spare as well as not which helps our brother. It is not the cast-off coat which we should never wear, the superfluous dollar whose gift we should never feel, that blesses the world; it is the gift that carries part of ourselves with it that helps to regenerate mankind. The Reubenites and Gadites gave themselves, their sturdiest men, their bravest warriors, not merely a quota of drafted hirelings. There is no other brotherly kindness worth the name; a dollar bill given without the personal interest of the one who sends it is but a piece of printed paper; a dollar bill sent with love and prayer, a bill that represents the yearning of some heart to do good, may be — yea, it always is — the winged messenger of God, carrying a blessing to him to whom it goes and leaving a larger one with him who sends it.
II. THESE HEROIC ISRAELITES HELPED THEIR BRETHREN PERSISTENTLY AND PATIENTLY. Seven long years passed before all their battles were fought and they were at liberty to return to their wives and their children. In our deeds of benevolence and charity the tendency is to leave the work half-done because of discouragement at the slowness of results. "Ye did run well, who did hinder you?" might be the epitaph on the tombstone of many abandoned schemes of philanthropy. If the world could be converted in a year, there would be many enthusiastic missionaries among those who now chiefly find fault with the slowness of missionary operations, because the Lord chooses to make use of centuries in bringing about the triumph of His cause. The reason for this seeming slowness of God's hosts is not far to seek. There is more virtue in the fight than in the victory. There are souls to be enlarged, there are sympathies to be quickened, there are lives to be inspired with zeal for God and truth and fellow-men. All this is accomplished by the struggle and not by the ease and the possession of the goodly land that follows the struggle.
III. THEIR HOME-COMING AFTER THE SEVEN YEARS OF CONFLICT. There is another home-coming to which every true heart aspires, and the conditions of honourable discharge and of welcome to that home are typified in our lesson. What is heaven except the final gathering-place for those who have helped their brethren for Christ's sake?
(F. E. Clark.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh,