Raiders Shall Raid Gad,
But He Shall Raid at Their Heels

49: 19

DIG: What characterized this tribe of Gad? What were they known for? Why were they given the best land by Joshua? Why was the tribe of Gad constantly under attack? Why did they build an altar on the Jordan River? What did the name of that altar convey about their unity with the other tribes of Isra'el?

REFLECT: What can we learn from this tribe as far as being rewarded when we obey and honor ADONAI? How can honoring God present difficulties with other believers? In what ways are you like the tribe of Gad? How are you different? Do you want to change that? How does the knowledge that you are an overcomer change the way you look at the world? What is it exactly that you will inherit?

Raiders shall raid Gad, but he shall raid at their heels (49:19).

Gad is the second of the four sons by the maidservants. They are arranged, not according to their mothers or their ages, but according to the blessing pronounced upon them. Thus, the two warlike tribes came first, first Dan, and now Gad. Because there is no short a sound in Hebrew, his name is actually pronounced God, not Gad. This was a tribe of brave warriors, an elite army unit, the mossad of the tribes of Isra’el if you will.

In the near historical future, Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders, but he will attack them at their heels. His name comes from the root word for warrior. There is a play on words in this single verse because four of the six Hebrew words have the root word for Gad in them. Gad in Hebrew sounds like the noun, a band of raiders and the verb raid is used twice. His original given name meant good fortune or lucky, yet he was constantly under attack.786

When the nation of Isra’el came out of its forty years of wilderness wanderings, the Gadites did not settle west of the Jordan River with most of the other tribes. Joshua gave Gad the best of the new land east of the Jordan (Numbers 32) because they obeyed the LORD’s and punished Israel’s wicked enemies (Deuteronomy 32:20-21). Gad was one of the tribes especially dedicated in the fight to conquer the Land as God commanded (don’t tell the United Nations, but this land would encompass the country of Jordan today). Jacob prophesied that raiders shall raid Gad. Their territory was large and they were constantly under attack by the enemies of the Jewish people - the Ammonites and the Moabites who were the terrorist’s of their day (Judges 11:1 to 12:7; First Samuel 11). The Gadites had to be strong because of where they lived.

After the tribes had settled into the Land, however, they were shocked to hear that Gad had built an altar in its territory across the Jordan. The other tribes took the altar to be a sign that the Gadites were falling away from the true worship of God in Shiloh, and plans were made to attack Gad for their perceived disobedience. Prior to battle, however, a delegation traveled to Gad to learn more about its action and rebuke them for their perceived sin. When they got there, however, they discovered that Gad had actually constructed the altar to honor the LORD and to prevent the Jordan River, a significant geographical divide between Gad and the majority of the other tribes, from spiritually dividing the people of ADONAI (Joshua 22:10-34). What they said satisfied the people of Isra’el. The people of Isra’el blessed God and said no more about going to war against the descendants of Reuben and Gad and destroying the land were they lived. The descendants of Reuben and Gad called the altar: A Witness Between Us That ADONAI is God (33-34 CJB). Therefore, war was averted, but we are reminded that differences in how we choose to honor the LORD may result in misunderstanding, discord and strife, even among believers.

So when Ya’akov prophesied: but he shall raid at their heels, they knew that they already had the victory. It is as if Jacob was saying, “They think they are attacking you, but you will attack them! This is very interesting and we continue to see this being played out in our own day. We can rely on God’s Word that Isra’el will be victorious. Moses had also prophesied about Gad when he said: Blessed is he who enlarges Gad’s domain! Gad lives there like a lion, tearing at the arm or head of his enemies (Deuteronomy 33:20).

Why did ADONAI designate them as tribe of warriors? We can read about some of the qualities of this elite military unit in First Chronicles. In describing Gad much later during the times of King David, we read: Some Gadites defected to David (as opposed to continuing to support King Saul who had disobeyed God) at his stronghold in the wilderness, or masada. They were brave warriors, [trained] for battle and [skillful] inhandling the shield and spear. Their faces were the faces of lions, and they were as swift gazelles in the mountains (First Chronicles 12:8). What an amazing description.

They were brave warriors. What does this mean for us today? Well . . . it’s both good news and bad news. The good news is that God is in control. But the bad news is that we are in the midst of a tremendous battle called life. We know that we already have the victory and that we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8:37), but it is still a battle nonetheless. The spiritual walk on planet earth is not going to be easy. In fact, if it were easy to fallow God everyone would be doing it. But Yeshua says, “If you make a decision to come to Me, you had better count the costs. If you come to Me, you have to die to yourself. If you come to Me, you need to pick up your cross and follow Me.” The question is this. Can we, like the tribe of Gad, stand strong in the face of the enemy?

The Gadites were trained for battle. They were Israeli army strong and committed, but if you are strong and committed without any training you are still in trouble. The tribe of Gad was tenacious, but they were also teachable. These were not loose cannons. And like the Gadites, we need to be teachable. In one sense, being a believer happens at the moment of faith (see my commentary on The Life of Christ Bw – Wheat God Does For Us at the Moment of Faith). This is called justification. At that moment we are justified in the eyes of God (Romans 3:21-16; Titus 3:7). But there is a second aspect of our faith called sanctification, or to be set apart, specifically, to the holy use and purposes of God (Romans 7:14-25; First Thessalonians 5:23-24). This is a life-long process of being conformed to the image of Christ. In other words, being teachable.

They were also skillful, this word coming from the Hebrew meaning to arrange, or to put things in order. So the tribe of Gad had their priorities straight and as believers, we also need to put our priorities in order because we have the world, our flesh and the devil against us. Sometimes it seems like a tsunami of opposition. John writes to us and says: Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever (First John 2:15-17). So how do we keep our priorities in order. King Solomon said it like this: Trust in ADONAI with all your heart; do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him; then He will level your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

In the far eschatological future, Gad will overcome the Ammonites and Moabites in the millennial Kingdom. Jeremiah prophesied that in the end times the Ammonites will become a mound or ruins, and its surrounding villages will be set on fire. Then Isra’el will drive out those who drove her out (Jeremiah 49:1-2). In the end, just as the Ammonites and the Moabites possessed their territory, the Jews will end up possessing theirs. However, ADONAI will be gracious to them. Just as He promised the restoration of Ammon (Jeremiah 49:2 and 6), He also promises the restoration of Moab (Isaiah 16:1-5; Jeremiah 48:12-17 and 47). Both will serve Isra’el in the messianic Kingdom.

Life is often associated with sorrow and hardship, but victory is promised to the faithful soldier, and to those who overcome, there are eternal spiritual blessings.787 Jesus made seven specific promises to the overcomer. For everyone born of God overcomes the world. Our faith is the means by which we overcome the world. Therefore, who is it that overcomes the world? Only he or she who believes that Yeshua is the Son of God (First John 5:4-5). What will overcomers inherit?

Yeshua said that the overcomer will be given the right to eat from the tree of life (Revelation 2:7), the overcomer will not be hurt at all by the second death (Revelation 2:11), will be given some of the hidden manna (Revelation 2:17), will be given authority over the nations (Revelation 2:26-28), will be dressed in white and never be blotted out from the book of life (Revelation 3:5), will be made a pillar in the temple of God and Christ will also write on them a new name (Revelation 3:12) and will be given the right to sit with Christ on His throne, just as He overcame and sat down with His Father on His throne (Revelation 3:21). Are you, like the tribe of Gad, constantly under attack today? If you are living for Christ, you are in a spiritual battle whether you like it or not. Thus, we need to be teachable, brave spiritual warriors, having our priorities in order so that we can overcome the world and live with our Savior forever.

Continuing to prophecy to the twelve sons circled around his bed, Jacob next directed his attention to Asher, whose mother was Zilpah, Rachel’s maidservant.


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