One day Moses said to his brother-in-law, Hobab son of Reuel the Midianite, “We are on our way to the place the Lord promised us, for he said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us and we will treat you well, for the Lord has promised wonderful blessings for Israel!” But Hobab replied, “No, I will not go. I must return to my own land and family.” “Please don’t leave us,” Moses pleaded. “You know the places in the wilderness where we should camp. Come, be our guide. If you do, we’ll share with you all the blessings the Lord gives us.—Numbers 10: 29, NLT
Leaving everything you know behind to go to a totally unknown place by yourself strikes fear in any person, and the great majority of immigrants don’t move that way. Usually, a member of the family goes first, as the pioneer of a future group of immigrants. The leader gets established in a new place, sends reports of how things are going, describes the opportunities that exist for others, and offers guidance to persuade others to come and join him or her. Even those who have sufficient courage to go it alone do not want to remain isolated once they get settled in a new place.
Even a pioneer like Moses realized his need of help and did not want to cross the desert alone. Like any true leader, he knew his own limitations and his need for fellowship with other leaders. Therefore, he persuaded Hobab to join with the people of Israel. Apparently, Hobab was a black Cushite, just like Moses’ wife. He did not share a direct genetic link to the Israelites, and he had no reason to join his destiny to theirs. He already had land and a family, and after helping his brother-in-law for a while, he felt a desire to return to his own place and family, to the known.
But in spite of whatever attractions the known may have offered Hobab, he let Moses persuade him. (Judges 4:11 mentions that Heber the Kenite, a descendent of Hobab among the Israelites who had the same pioneer spirit he had.) Pay attention to the benefit Moses offered him and the determining factor in his decision: “Come, be our guide. If you do, we’ll share with you all the blessings the Lord gives us.”
Nothing equals the blessings of the LORD. People migrate for many reasons, including the negatives of their original situation and the benefits that a new place offers. But God’s immigrants seek the LORD’s blessing. They move with a sense of purpose and promise. They know that their journey moves at the impulse of the God who guides them. They know that it will be worth it all because the one who has called them is faithful.
Copyright©2013 by Joseph L. Castleberry. All Rights Reserved. firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Joseph Castleberry is president of Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington. He is the author of The New Pilgrims: How Immigrants are Renewing America’s Faith (forthcoming in August 2015, Worthy Publishing). Follow him on Twitter @DrCastleberry and at http://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Castleberry.