This week’s parsha is taken from Numbers 30:2-32:42 and is called Matot, giving. It takes place while the Jewish people are still wandering in the wilderness, but are getting closer to the end of those 40 years. They’ve defeated Sihon, king of the Amorites, and Og, king if Bashan, on the east side of the Jordan River. The tribe of Reuben, Gad and half-tribe of Manasseh make a request of Moses, which grieves Moses. They ask for that land. Moses thought their motive was sinful, wanting to separate themselves from the rest of God’s people, and so Moses asks them. When things come around, those three tribes make an agreement that they will still go and fight alongside their brothers when they cross the Jordan River. Moses seems at peace.
Fast forward to the opening of Joshua. The book opens by marking the death of Moses, and Joshua being the new leader of the people. God reminds Joshua how he has raised him up for this time and job – to lead the people into the Promised Land. God reminds him to keep the commands, keep God’s words close to him. God says to Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” This is our Camp Gilgal theme verse. This promise given to Joshua, extends to us.
Chapter 1 of Joshua closes with Joshua addressing these three tribes, asking them to make good on the promise they made with Moses. They affirm their commitment to fight alongside their brothers. It’s one of the first steps that God has Joshua do as the leader of the people. This commitment was important.
The Haftarah portion is taken from Jeremiah 1:1-2:3. It’s the call of the prophet. Jeremiah’s first response to God’s call was to identify his age as a barrier to being able to serve God. Our excuses to God always sound ridiculous when anyone else gets to hear them. Of course God knows our age, our flaws, our physical inabilities, our short-comings. And yet he still calls us, and asks us to be involved in the work that he is doing.
Each of these three passages show us how God is closely involved in our lives. What we do matters. It mattered that the three tribes fought alongside their brothers. It matters whether we stay close to God, or not. (Joshua’s reminder to not let the book of the Law depart from him). God knows us and loves us. Even though Jeremiah thought he was ill-equipped to be a prophet, God knew he was able.