In the 32nd chapter of Numbers is the familiar story about the Israelites when they are about to go across the Jordan River into the promise land. As the chapter begins, the tribes of the Reubenites and the Gadites have looked at the land on the east side of the Jordan and decided that it’s good enough for them and they request to stay behind and settle there. Moses is angered by their request. He asks them a very condemning question in verse 6: “Shall your brethren go to war, and shall you sit here?” It was a good question. It showed that these two tribes had gotten what they wanted and they didn’t want to go on, let alone fight for the very thing God had led them to and commanded them to possess. It showed their indifference to continuing to do the Lord’s will because they had obtained what they wanted and were satisfied. “Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here?” Shall others stand for the truth and keeping God’s commandments and you sit here and do nothing? Many a Christian should be asked the same question when they let others fight the good fight while they stand back and do nothing and busy themselves with their own desires and priorities instead of the Lord’s.
Moses then asks them another very important question in verse 7: “And wherefore discourage you the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the Lord hath given them?” Not only were these tribes indifferent to doing God’s will, their indifference was discouraging to everyone else. The same is true for Christians who are indifferent. Their example discourages the whole congregation and, perhaps, even beyond. Why bother staying on the straight and narrow if these all turn aside? What’s the use? It’s discouraging. Finally, as Moses chastises the Gadites and Reubenites, he says this in verse 15: “For if you turn away from after him, he will yet again leave them in the wilderness; and you shall destroy all this people.” Their actions would result in the worst possible outcome. Their indifference, their discouragement would result in the destruction of all Israel. The same can happen as a result of a Christian’s choices and a Christian’s actions. It may be far reaching and cost their own souls as well as the souls of many other Christians.
In this situation though, Moses remains strong and firm in his convictions. He gets the Reubenites and the Gadites to commit to fight the fight they came for. Brethren, we must work to get every Christian to fight the fight we came for. And we must fight until the very end. Moses gets their commitment to go and fight on the other side of Jordan and secure the inheritance along with the other 10 tribes. But even then, Moses is concerned that they won’t follow through with their commitment. He threatens them with a stern warning in verse 23. A verse that is all too familiar to any student of the Bible. “But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out.”
What a familiar verse this is! Yet, in the same breath, I’m not sure we really understand what Moses is saying. What does it mean when Moses says: “be sure your sin will find you out.”? Does that mean that their sin will be discovered? Does it mean that their sin will be revealed? Does it mean that their sin will be made known to all? No, that’s not what Moses meant. He didn’t say “be sure that I’ll find out about your sin.” He said: “Be sure your sin will find you out.” What does that mean? How does sin find us out? What is the action and result here? It simply means that sin will bring its own punishment. It will ruin and destroy us. Many fail to recognize their sin at the time. First, they may even fail to recognize that it is a sin at all. Second, they may fail to recognize how great a sin it is. But eventually, each and every individual will be made to be fully conscious of their own sin. We’ve all heard the old saying about when the chickens come home to roost. The same is true for sin. It’s always going to come back on us. It’s always going to bring its own punishment if we don’t repent. And, sometimes, even if we do repent and ask God’s forgiveness, the action of our sinful conduct has its own irreversible consequences in this life.
Instead of sin finding us out, we need to find sin out. That is, we need to know what is contrary to the will of God and avoid it at all costs. And we must make clear to others where we stand. Our sins finding us out is inevitable. The punishment of our unrepented sin is assured.
No matter why a sin may be committed, no matter what excuse is offered, be sure your sin will find you out. Punishment is certain for unrepented and unforgiven sins. Sins, like chickens, always come home to roost.