Not Fate But Choice (Life Journal – 3/3/2015)


The Reubenites and Gadites, who had very large herds and flocks, saw that the lands of Jazer and Gilead were suitable for livestock. So they came to Moses and Eleazar the priest and to the leaders of the community, and said, “Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh,Sebam, Nebo and Beon— the land the Lord subdued before the people of Israel—are suitable for livestock, and your servants have livestock. If we have found favor in your eyes,” they said, “let this land be given to your servants as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan.” (Numbers 32:1-5 NIV)


The Reubenites and Gadites choose based on their large herds of livestock.

The request is conditioned on their having found favor – the ensuing response of Moses suggests not! But they come to an agreement.

This is a further story about promises and vows – they vow to do their part to subdue Canaan even though they choose to live on the east side of Jordan.


We would like to think the future is pre-ordained: that what will be, will be. That God has chosen eternally and finally and we are living script in which we play assigned parts.

Human experience – and I think the Bible, too – suggest otherwise. These tribes choose a different place than the original plan for the conquest and settlement of Canaan intended. The future of Israel is not a fixed thing toward which they move. It unfolds as groups and individuals choose.

Part of the lesson here to me is that there are choices, options that are within God’s will. A menu if you will. Some things are not on the menu – outside what God wants. But on the menu are options and possibilities.

Our future with God is most decided not by fate (a distinctly unbiblical and unchristian concept) but by choice. What we choose shapes the future. God has a will for us and a plan and God’s purposes – God’s sovereignty – is such that those purposes are bigger than our ability to derail them completely.


O God, we are not prisoners of fate but creatures free to choose or reject. Today may I remember that I have a hand in my future and a choice of what comes next. Not completely to be sure. But at least how I react to what comes my way. And some choices make what comes my way inevitable or unavoidable. May my choices and my promises bring me to where you desire and where you await me. Amen.

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