On June 28th, we will be celebrating the fourth month in the Hebrew calendar known as Tammuz, otherwise known as the “hidden month of great sin.” Tammuz is known for this because of the repetitive failure of the children of Israel throughout Old Testament history to trust the Lord at His Word, which led to idolatry. As much as this sounds like a negative, God always turns things around for His good, and it is His heart to reveal anything hidden that separates us from our relationship with Him.
It was during the month of Tammuz that the children of Israel became impatient waiting for Moses to come back with the written Tablets of Covenant (Ex. 32:1). Believing Moses was delayed, the children of Israel lost faith in the Lord and Moses, and decided to create a god in the form of a golden calf.
Aaron unfortunately did not stop this suggestion, so when Moses returned with the Ten Commandments, the children of Israel had already set up their idol worship. If it wasn’t for Moses interceding for the people, God would have “cut them off” of Covenant.
The focus of our spiritual and natural eyes is so important as they can lead us toward or away from the promises of God. The twelve spies went into the Promised Land during the month of Tammuz. All the spies saw the same things, but Joshua and Caleb SAW the land through God’s promise. While their eyes led them to an action plan to advance, the others could saw retreat and hopelessness (Numbers 13, 14).
Joshua’s ability to believe God at His Word in the midst of opposition made him a great military leader later on. In a pivotal battle that shifted the Israelites into a position to conqueror the land of Canaan, Joshua had to face five of the greatest Canaanite kings who had teamed up to war against the children of Israel.
In Chapter 10 of Joshua, we read the account of this battle that happened during the month of Tammuz, and how Joshua was outnumbered. Joshua could have SEEN the situation in the natural and lost hope. But God said in verse 8, “Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.”
Joshua had courage, and watched the Lord send hailstones from heaven. Then Joshua prayed to God to make the sun stand still so they could finish the battle. God intervened and helped Joshua gain the victory over the enemy. When the wartime was over, Joshua had defeated 31 kings! Through Joshua we also see this month reflects a heart of courage and loyalty to the Lord, which brings a great reward!
The month of Tammuz is also linked to the tribe of Reuben, whose name means, “see, a son!” Reuben was Jacob’s first born, and the one who would be the inheritor of the birthright of Israel. Unfortunately, in a moment of “weakness,” he lusted after his father’s concubine and lost that blessing.
Reuben had great courage, but little moral strength at times. It was through his shortcomings though that Reuben’s character grew because he chose humility time after time, and kept his heart from becoming bitter. This quality made Reuben special. When focused in God’s righteousness, Reuben was one who loved well and had a beautiful heart of compassion. This is why Jacob prophesied in Gen. 48:3-4:
“Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the beginning of my strength. The excellency of dignity and the excellency of power. Unstable as water, you shall not excel, because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it-He went up to my couch.”
Reuben never held bitterness, even to his brother, Joseph, who inherited his firstborn inheritance. Reuben even had compassion for Joseph to save his life when his other brothers wanted to put him to death (Genesis 37:21,22). It was also Reuben who pledged his life and the life of his sons when Jacob was unwilling to let Benjamin go down into Egypt, so we see his tender conscience is a quality to be admired.
Every time Reuben disobeyed the will of God, there seemed to be severe consequences. God does not let Reuben get away with his sin! In Numbers 16, the men of Korah and the sons of Reuben went against Moses and rebelled against his leadership. Losing the firstborn status was huge for Reuben, but in this instance, the Lord caused the ground to split and swallow them up! Reuben teaches us a lesson how not to accomplish God’s plan our OWN WAY! This is nothing but pride and rebellion, which is the same as witchcraft! (1 Sam. 15:23)
What we learn from Reuben is pivotal in our walk with the Lord. Our weaknesses will come up before us in a moment of testing just like the examples of the children of Israel and the golden calf, Joshua, and Reuben. If we humble ourselves and wait on the Lord, we will find strength in His Word and walk under His command. If we try to hide our weakness by doing something to cover it up, or taking things into our own hands, we find ourselves in sin and consequences.
Around the Tabernacle, Reuben led the brigade joined with Simeon and Gad on the southern side. These three tribes were known as the warriors, although Reuben did not like to war at times. This also got Reuben in trouble because God anointed his tribe for wartime. Moses recognizes his weakness and calls it out:
“Shall your brethren go to war while you sit here? Now why will you discourage the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the Lord has given them?” (Numbers 32:6,7)
Moses warns the Reubenites that if they don’t go to battle, they would be judged. “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). The Reubenites knew this to be true, and they followed their leader! In this instance, humility guides their decision, and they go to battle. God blesses them with great riches from the battle.
When the Reubenites were under the authority of a righteous king, they rose to be noble and full of dignity. (1 Chron. 26: 31,32). But left to themselves, they strayed from wise choices that always resulted in major consequences.
Reuben had a heart to love the Lord. When the Reubenites got back from fighting the giants and mighty armies in the land of Canaan under Joshua’s leadership, they brought sacrifices to the Lord. But not long afterwards, they turn around and made another bad decision. In their moment of rejoicing, the Reubenites decide impulsively to build a great altar to the Lord (Joshua 22). This went against God’s law, and the children of Israel rose up to fight against Reuben! Reuben came up with a great excuse that it would be just a memorial, which it ended up only being because God did not authorize it as a place of worship. Again, we see the unstable quality of Reuben that God wants to redeem.
Reuben, Simeon, and Gad held the high banner of man which was Reuben’s banner. This is not a coincidence as these three tribes were tested and known for their human strength and weakness. In God’s redemption plan, we can all be the Reuben’s that loved well and are mighty in the Lord’s strength!
The body of Christ is in a season of war. But this war is one to hold onto His promises and not be moved by what we see. Our character is being tested. We must be armed with God’s truth and have faith to trust that God has our victory in His hand, even through our darkest hour of struggle. We must take time to get strategy and then fight with courage the good fight of faith! “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Mark 9:23
This month is a great month to “WORK the WORD,” no matter what you see! That means to read, speak, and believe God’s Word until you KNOW in your heart what God says is truth! This is true “son ship,” which was the essence of Reuben’s name and the purpose of his destiny! In God’s redemption plan, we can all take on the good qualities of Reuben and see great reward!