God’s promise to bless is conditioned on our commitment to obey. When we walk away from our marriage covenant, or when we fail to love, respect, and serve our spouse, children or neighbor, or when we withhold the tithe, or when we withdraw from fellowship, or add a hundred other things we sometimes do—all for reasons we can humanly justify, or for no reason whatsoever—we will forfeit God’s favor. Don’t surrender your blessing. Keep it within your possession so you can enjoy it now, then perhaps pass it on to the generations who follow your footsteps of faith.
Going Deep // Focus: Numbers 36:5-9
So Moses gave the Israelites this command from the Lord: “The claim of the men of the tribe of Joseph is legitimate. This is what the Lord commands concerning the daughters of Zelophehad: Let them marry anyone they like, as long as it is within their own ancestral tribe. None of the territorial land may pass from tribe to tribe, for all the land given to each tribe must remain within the tribe to which it was first allotted. The daughters throughout the tribes of Israel who are in line to inherit property must marry within their tribe, so that all the Israelites will keep their ancestral property. No grant of land may pass from one tribe to another; each tribe of Israel must keep its allotted portion of land.”
The final chapter in Numbers is the story about managing a land grant. To most readers, the account will not be all that exciting, and beyond its historical value, it will be a stretch to find anything relevant for today. So why include this ruling about keeping a land grant within the ownership of a particular tribe?
The answer is a simple one, and one that was extremely important to the Israelites in that day: The land God granted to each of the twelve tribes as they entered their Promised Land in a powerful and perpetual way, represented his blessing. They had been given the land by divine decree, they didn’t buy it, and although they would have to fight to possess their land of promise, God was the real authority for the property coming under their family ownership. The land represented their means of wealth, and therefore, on many levels, their security—both in the present moment and in perpetuity.
Simply put, if the land passed to another tribe, then the tribe losing the land would be losing the divine blessing as well. Land equaled blessing, so it was a very big deal to forever forfeit the favor granted by the Almighty himself. In this particular case, the tribal leaders were correct in assessing this as a threat to their divine inheritance, and the Lord justly and graciously made provision for their land to stay within the control of the tribe for the generations to come.
Now how are we to apply this today? I would answer that legitimate question with another question: do we forfeit God’s blessings today? Do we, out of short-sightedness, for convenience, or in ignorance, surrender God’s favor in our lives for ephemeral gain? I am pretty sure the answer to that is a resounding “yes!”
Since the blessings of God flow to us as a result of his covenant with us, then whenever we fail to obey the conditions of the covenant we will forfeit his favor. Remember, the divine covenant is conditional, it is a two way street: God promises to bless our obedience to the conditions of the covenant. When we walk away from our marriage covenant, or when we fail to love, respect, and serve our spouse, children or neighbor, or when we withhold the tithe, or when we withdraw from fellowship, or add a hundred other things we sometimes do—all for reasons we can humanly justify, or for no reason whatsoever—we have in effect surrendered what God provided: his blessing.
The blessings God promises to give us come at a high cost. God pays a huge fee in the grace that he must give in order to transact with sinful people. We pay a huge cost in resisting our sinful flesh in order to give our obedience to God. The blessings are precious, more than we realize. So why cheapen what is so eternally prized for earthly convenience or in rebellion or out of ignorance? God doesn’t want you to lose what he has promised to provide, and neither do you.
Don’t forfeit God’s favor—it was hard earned. Keep it within your possession so you can enjoy it now, then perhaps pass it on to the generations who follow your footsteps of faith.