32 Now it so happens that a couple of the tribes (the Reubenites and Gadites) had an exceptionally large herd of livestock. They observed that on this eastern side of the Jordan, in the regions of Jazer and Gilead, there was some excellent grazing land. 2 So the heads of the Reuben and Gad tribes approached Moses, the priest Eleazar, and other of the community’s leaders.
Reubenites and Gadites: 3-5 This territory, which the Eternal One has already enabled us to dominate, is for livestock land; and we have livestock. If it is pleasing to you, may we settle here instead of crossing the Jordan into the promised land? We’d like this territory to be ours (Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo, and Beon) rather than laying claim to any territory across the Jordan.
Although slightly misunderstood by Moses, Reuben and Gad still express loyalty to the Lord and to their Israelite kin, but they like the prospects of settling in the fertile land that they will also share with the Ammonites, Moabites, and Edomites.
Moses: 6-9 You’re missing the big picture. How can I let you settle here on this side of the Jordan, while your kinsmen on the other side of the Jordan may have to go to war in order to possess the land? Why would you dishearten the rest of the people today just as the spies did who disheartened the people in the last generation after I sent them from Kadesh-barnea and they saw the Eshcol Valley and the surrounding land? 10 Remember how angry the Eternal became with them that day? He declared that 11-13 even though that particular land had been promised to the Israelites beginning with Abraham, then to Isaac and to Jacob after him, the whole generation that left Egypt when they were 20 years or older would have to die, wandering aimlessly in the desert, before God would allow the community to enter that great land. Only Caleb the Kenizzite (Jephunneh’s son) and Joshua (Nun’s son) out of that generation would be allowed to enjoy settlement there because they followed Him completely. 14 Now you dare to propose this—you’re as sinful as your predecessors! The Eternal will surely loose His tremendous anger against us again. 15 If you decide to stop following God’s plan for the land, He will abandon the whole congregation out here in the wilderness, and it’s you who will be blamed for our people’s destruction.
Reubenites and Gadites (approaching Moses): 16-19 What if we lay claim to the land here, but then proceed with the others west across the Jordan and into their land? We would fight alongside all the other Israelites, but we wouldn’t take any of that land for ourselves since our inheritance is on the eastern side of the Jordan. Only after we’ve seen to it that everyone else is safely settled there would we return here to take up our lives as residents of this place. We could set up preliminary dwellings now for our sheep and livestock and towns for our women and children. The towns should be fortified, since there are still inhabitants in the land who would like to run us out. We really feel that we’ve found our home here, east of the Jordan.
Moses: 20 If you keep your word—to fight with us before the Eternal One Himself 21 until by our warfare God drives out His enemies 22 and that land becomes undeniably ours—then, yes. Then you will have satisfied your responsibilities to the Eternal and to Israel, and you may count this land as your own. 23 But if you fail to follow through, your sin against the Eternal will follow you. Wherever you go, it will go badly for you. 24 Then go ahead and build the enclosures you need for your flocks and the cities for your youngsters that you’ll leave behind. But don’t forget to live up to your promise.
Reubenites and Gadites: 25 We are your servants, our lord, and we’ll do as you tell us. 26 Here in Gilead, we’ll get our women and the little kids settled along with all of our animals. 27 Then you can count on us, armed and ready to battle for the Eternal. We will obey your orders and see to it that the other families successfully gain their own territory.
28 Moses gave instructions to Eleazar the priest, Joshua (Nun’s son), and the heads of the other extended families of the Israelite clans.
Moses: 29 If indeed the Gadites and Reubenites fight in front of the Eternal One and beside the rest of you to successfully dominate that land across the Jordan River, then you must honor their desire to return here to have this Gilead land for their own. 30 But if they don’t take up their weapons and go with you into battle, then their ownership of this territory is null and void, and they shall be assigned land in Canaan along with the rest of the Israelite tribes.
Reubenites and Gadites: 31 Exactly as we understand this to be the will of God, we will do it. 32 We’ll arm ourselves and fight with you under His direction in Canaan, but with the understanding that our home is right here, on this side of the Jordan River.
33 With this agreement established, Moses gave the Gadites and the Reubenites, along with Manasseh (half of the greater Joseph clan), King Sihon’s Amorite land and King Og’s Bashan land, including the cities and their neighboring towns inside those boundaries. 34 The Gadites immediately got to work rebuilding the cities of Dibon, Ataroth, Aroer, 35 Atroth-shophan, Jazer, Jogbehah, 36 Beth-nimrah, and Beth-haran with strong defenses and enclosures for their livestock. 37 As for the Reubenites, they rebuilt Heshbon, Elealeh, Kiriathaim, 38 Nebo, Baal-meon, and Sibmah. They gave names to each of the new cities and changed the names of those they rebuilt. 39 As far as the Manasseh family goes, Machir’s clan overran the Amorites in Gilead, 40 so Moses gave them that land to live in. 41 Jair’s Manassite clan also captured settlements for themselves and named them Havvoth-jair, 42 and Nobah took over the former Kenath with its surrounding villages and renamed it Nobah, after their own clan.
In this next chapter, Moses outlines the Israelites’ journey to this point, and in doing so reminds them of the events that have brought them to this place. In that walk down memory lane, it can be difficult to place the locations within a linear reference of time. The entire book moves through a few months in the first 14 chapters, and suddenly it is 38 years later. After that, time seems to stand still as the people are prepared to go into the promised land. It is hard to determine when things happened in those 38 years.
33 1-2 Based on the meticulous records of departure points Moses kept, at the direction of the Eternal One, he reported that the Israelites’ wilderness journey from Egypt led by Moses and Aaron followed this itinerary: 3 They started out from Rameses in Egypt on Month 1, day 15 (the day after observing the Passover), and were exalted before the Egyptians’ eyes 4 (who were burying their firstborn dead, struck down by God, and whose gods the Eternal was punishing). 5 The Israelites’ first camp after Rameses was Succoth. 6 The next, Etham, was right where the wilderness begins. 7 From Etham, they went toward Pi-hahiroth, facing Baal-zephon, and camped in front of Migdol. 8 From Pi-hahiroth, they crossed the sea and entered the wilderness proper. For three days, they crossed that Etham Wilderness, stopping over at Marah 9 and then Elim. That was a good spot to camp. Elim was an oasis with 12 springs and 70 palm trees. 10 After Elim, their next stop was at the coast of the Red Sea;[a] 11 then they camped in the Sin Wilderness. 12 After leaving Sin, they traveled to Dophkah, 13 then Alush, 14 and then Rephidim. At that point, the people were getting desperate for water and ornery on account of their discomfort and thirst. There, God told Moses to produce water for them from out of a rock.[b] 15 After that, the Sinai Wilderness. 16-17 Their stopping places after Sinai were first Kibroth-hattaavah, then Hazeroth. 18-23 They camped as they moved from place to place through Rithmah, Rimmon-perez, Libnah, Rissah, Kehelathah, and Mount Shepher. 24-27 From there they moved through Haradah, Makheloth, Tahath, and Terah. 28-33 Continuing their journey from place to place, they went through Mithkah, Hashmonah, Moseroth, Bene-jaakan, Hor-haggidgad, and Jotbathah. 34-37 They camped in Abronah, Ezion-geber, Kadesh (in the Zin Wilderness), and then Mount Hor (on the Edomite border). 38 It was at Mount Hor that Aaron the priest went up the mountain and died as the Eternal said he would. That was in the 40th year after the Israelites had left Egypt, and it happened on the first day of the fifth month. 39 Aaron was 123 years old when he died on Mount Hor.
31-33 Next He went to Capernaum, another Galilean city. Again He was in the synagogue teaching on the Sabbath, and as before, the people were enthralled by His words. He had a way of saying things—a special authority, a unique power.
In attendance that day was a man with a demonic spirit.
Demon-Possessed Man (screaming at Jesus): 34 Get out of here! Leave us alone! What’s Your agenda, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are: You’re the Holy One, the One sent by God!
Jesus (firmly rebuking the demon): 35 Be quiet. Get out of that man!
Then the demonic spirit immediately threw the man into a fit, and he collapsed right there in the middle of the synagogue. It was clear the demon had come out, and the man was completely fine after that. 36 Everyone was shocked to see this, and they couldn’t help but talk about it.
Synagogue Members: What’s this about? What’s the meaning of this message? Jesus speaks with authority, and He has power to command demonic spirits to go away.
The essential message of Jesus can be summed up this way: the kingdom of God is available to everyone, starting now. When Jesus refers to the kingdom of God, He doesn’t mean something that happens after death, far off in heaven; He equates the kingdom of God with God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven. So the kingdom of God is life as God intends it to be—life to the full, life in peace and justice, life in abundance and love. Individuals enter the Kingdom when they enter into a relationship with Jesus, when they trust Him enough to follow His ways. But make no mistake, the Kingdom is about more than individual lives; it is about the transformation and renewal of all God has created. It may start with individual responses, but it doesn’t stop there.
Jesus describes His purpose as proclaiming this message. But Jesus not only expresses His message of the kingdom of God in words, He also dramatizes it in deeds. Luke calls these amazing deeds “signs and wonders,” suggesting that these actions have symbolic meaning, which is significant, and are wonderful, which means they fill people with awe and wonder. In the coming chapters, the wonder that the original eyewitnesses feel is palpable, and Jesus’ actions are significant signs of the kingdom of God.
37 The excitement about Jesus spread into every corner of the surrounding region.
38 Picture this:
Jesus then leaves that synagogue and goes over to Simon’s place. Simon’s mother-in-law is there. She is sick with a high fever. Simon’s family asks Jesus to help her.
39 Jesus stands over her, and just as He had rebuked the demon, He rebukes the fever, and the woman’s temperature returns to normal. She feels so much better that she gets right up and cooks them all a big meal.
40 By this time, it’s just before nightfall, and as the sun sets, groups of families, friends, and bystanders come until a huge crowd has gathered. Each group has brought along family members or friends who are sick with any number of diseases. One by one, Jesus lays His hands on them and heals them. 41 On several occasions, demonic spirits are expelled from these people, after shouting at Jesus, “You are the Son of God!”
Jesus always rebukes them and tells them to be quiet. They know He is the Anointed One, but He doesn’t want to be acclaimed in this way.
42 The next morning, Jesus sneaks away. He finds a place away from the crowds, but soon they find Him. The crowd tries their best to keep Him from leaving.
Jesus: 43 No, I cannot stay. I need to preach the kingdom of God to other cities too. This is the purpose I was sent to fulfill.
44 So He proceeds from synagogue to synagogue across Judea,[a] preaching His message of the kingdom of God.
5 Picture these events:
On the banks of Gennesaret Lake, a huge crowd, Jesus in the center of it, presses in to hear His message from God. 2 Off to the side, fishermen are washing their nets, leaving their boats unattended on the shore.
3 Jesus gets into one of the boats and asks its owner, Simon, to push off and anchor a short distance from the beach. Jesus sits down and teaches the people standing on the beach.
4 After speaking for a while, Jesus speaks to Simon.
Jesus: Move out into deeper water, and drop your nets to see what you’ll catch.
Simon (perplexed): 5 Master, we’ve been fishing all night, and we haven’t caught even a minnow. But . . . all right, I’ll do it if You say so.
6 Simon then gets his fellow fishermen to help him let down their nets, and to their surprise, the water is bubbling with thrashing fish—a huge school. The strands of their nets start snapping under the weight of the catch, 7 so the crew shouts to the other boat to come out and give them a hand. They start scooping fish out of the nets and into their boats, and before long, their boats are so full of fish they almost sink!
The miracles Jesus performs come in all types: He heals the sick. He frees the oppressed. He shows His power over nature. He will even raise the dead. But as the story in verses 21-26 shows, one of the greatest miracles of all is forgiveness. To have sins forgiven—to start over again, to have God separate believers from their mistakes and moral failures, to lift the weight of shame and guilt—this may well be the weightiest evidence that God’s Son is on the move. The kingdom of God doesn’t throw all guilty people in jail; it doesn’t execute everyone who has made mistakes or tell them they’re just getting what they deserve. Instead, it brings forgiveness, reconciliation, a new start, a second chance. In this way, it mobilizes believers to have a new future.
Certainly Jesus has communicated the message of the Kingdom through words and through signs and wonders. Now Jesus embodies the message in the way He treats people, including outcasts like Levi. As a tax collector, Levi is a Jew who works for the Romans, the oppressors, the enemies. No wonder tax collectors are despised! But how does Jesus treat this compromiser? He doesn’t leave him paralyzed in his compromised position; He invites him—like the paralyzed man—to get up and walk, and to walk in a new direction toward a new King and Kingdom.
8-10 Simon’s fishing partners, James and John (two of Zebedee’s sons), along with the rest of the fishermen, see this incredible haul of fish. They’re all stunned, especially Simon. He comes close to Jesus and kneels in front of His knees.
Simon: I can’t take this, Lord. I’m a sinful man. You shouldn’t be around the likes of me.
Jesus: Don’t be afraid, Simon. From now on, I’ll ask you to bring Me people instead of fish.
11 The fishermen haul their fish-heavy boats to land, and they leave everything to follow Jesus.
1 O True God, hear my voice! Listen to my complaint!
Guard my life; keep me safe from my enemy’s threats.
2 Hide me from the sinful circle that conspires against me,
from the band of rebels out to make trouble,
3 Who sharpen their tongues into swords,
who take aim with poisonous words like arrows.
4 They hide in the shadows and shoot at the innocent;
they shoot at them without warning and without any fear.
5 They persist in their evil purpose
and plan in secret to lay their traps.
And they say, “Who will see them?”
6 They plot their offense with precision and say,
“Now we have the perfect crime.”
The human heart and mind are deep and complex.
7 But without hesitation the True God will shoot at them;
His arrow will surely wound them.
8 He will use their very own words to bring them to destruction;
all who see will be appalled at what happens to them.
9 Then everyone will fear the True God;
they will proclaim His deeds
and will reflect upon all He has done.
10 The righteous will delight in the Eternal
and will take shelter in Him.
All those with an honest heart will glorify Him!
22 Much like a gold ring in the snout of a pig,
so is a beautiful woman who lacks good judgment.