Numbers- Session 7- Communicating Expectations

Numbers 32:20-32

Subject:  Communication

Central Theme:  Communication as a Leader

Objective Sentence:  We can communicate expectations clearly as leaders when our communication includes three ingredients.

Keyword:  Ingredients


Numbers Session 7

Numbers Session 7 Handout

Numbers Session 7 Powerpoint




  • I went to a small Bible college in Springfield, Missouri,
  • My freshman year they had this week called “Freshman Orientation” where you came earlier than the upperclassmen.
  • They talked to you about what the college would be like, and tried to set up the incoming freshman for success.
  • One of the ways they did this was something called a student handbook.
  • The student handbook was, as you would expect, a listing of the policies, rules, and schedules for the school.
  • We went over the handbook.
  • At the back of the book was a document that you had to sign that said you read, understood, and would be held accountable by the deans, resident assistants, and professors to live according to the guidelines of the student handbook.
  • Now, I noticed a couple of things about the handbook as I went through the next few years of school.
    • Not everyone read the handbook.  People signed the document that didn’t read the book.  When time came though, they were still held accountable to it.
    • The handbook grew every year. Year after year new rules were put in because of things that had taken place over the previous year.  In fact, it was funny because if you were an upperclassmen you may be able to attach names to the new rules because you knew what had happened the year before.


  • Truth be known, many people didn’t follow the student handbook perfectly.
  • But imagine trying to lead 600-800 people to live together, go to classes together, and bear the name of your institution in the community the way that they need to without expectations written down.
  • Imagine what would happen if the policy at such a institution was merely “use your best judgement and we will let you know when we think you mess up.”
  • This would not go well.
  • Not at a college. Not in a family.  Not in a business.
  • When it comes to trying to accomplish something, part of the role of leadership is to communicate clearly what is expected.
  • When it comes to leading people to live up to God’s expectations- in our families, in our businesses, in our church- we must communicate those expectations clearly.


We can communicate expectations clearly as leaders when our communication includes three ingredients.

Ingredient #1- Clear Boundaries.  V.20-24.

Numbers 32:20-22

(20) And Moses said unto them, If ye will do this thing, if ye will go armed before the LORD to war,

(21) And will go all of you armed over Jordan before the LORD, until he hath driven out his enemies from before him,

(22) And the land be subdued before the LORD: then afterward ye shall return, and be guiltless before the LORD, and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the LORD.


  • A couple of weeks ago we studied about Balaam and the donkey.
    • Remember that Balaam wanted to curse the children of Israel for the Midianites for a price.
    • When that didn’t work, he advised the Midianites to tempt the Israelites into immorality and idolatry so that God would be angry and not help his people.
    • Then the Midianites could defeat the Israelites and win the day.
    • The plan didn’t work. Some of the Israelites participated in the immorality and idolatry, and God judged them by killing those who participated.
    • Then He turned His judgement towards Midian.
    • He used the children of Israel to defeat the Midianites in Moses’ last battle as the Israelite leader.
  • The text we read today is before the battle.
  • Moses is having a conversation here with the tribal leaders from the Gadite and Reubenite tribes, 2 tribes of Israel.
  • These tribes liked the side of the river Jordan that they were on, the East side, and did not want to live in the promised land.
  • They had previously asked if they could stay.
  • Moses answered very directly that they could not just stay.
  • He was concerned that anyone planning not to go to the promised land could lead them into the same problem they experienced before.
  • Deciding not to go into the land had kept them wandering in the wilderness for 40 years!
  • So, the Gadites and the Reubenites propose that they go in with the other tribes to Canaan and fight, and then come back over, east of the Jordan to live after they had helped to conquer the land of Canaan with the other tribes.
  • Today’s text is Moses’ answer and covenant with them for that proposition.
  • Moses told them…:
    • …they had to go over and fight. “if ye will go armed before the LORD to war,(21) And will go all of you armed over Jordan before the LORD …”
    • …they had to fight to the finish. “… until he hath driven out his enemies from before him, (22) And the land be subdued before the LORD
  • It’s the classic “if/then” statement. If they went, if they fought, and if they fought until the land was subdued, then they could go back and settle in the land east of the Jordan.
  • Moses called on the Reubenites and Gadites for obedience to the Lord. He told them what was expected, and what they would receive if they obeyed.
  • There is always a cost to obedience. Often that is why we don’t obey.
  • But there is always a benefit to obedience as well. It is important that we remember both.
  • God calls us to obedience, and we are blessed to be able to know with clarity what His will is, because we have it written down for us in His Word.
  • The challenge today comes in trusting God to be good on His Word. Just like the Gidianites and Reubenites had to believe that God would sustain them through the battles and be with them in the land that they settled, we must trust God in full obedience to what He wants us to do as well.
  • We must believe that there will be a reward for our obedience.
  • This is what Jesus had to do.

Hebrews 12:2

(2) Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

  • Moses was clear about the boundaries. He was also clear in communicating those boundaries what would happen if they disobeyed.

23 But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out. 24 Build you cities for your little ones, and folds for your sheep; and do that which hath proceeded out of your mouth.  Numbers 32:23-24

  • He said that to not go would be disobedience against the Lord.
  • What they would do in disobeying would not just affect their fellow countrymen, and Moses, but would be a sin against God himself.
  • Moses concludes the statement in verse 24, saying that they could start on building where they wanted to settle.
  • This permission was given in the context of making sure they knew that they must fulfill the promises that they made and the command that God gave.
  • Moses told the men, “Be sure your sin will find you out.”
  • This is a principle that is still relevant today.
  • God’s commands are not optional. Neither are our promises optional as well. God demands that we obey him. There are always consequences to disobedience, even if we do not see those consequences right away.
  • Is there a sin in your life that you need to confess today?
  • Is there a place of disobedience that you need to confess, and then become obedient in?

Ingredient #2- Clear Agreement.  V.25-27

25 And the children of Gad and the children of Reuben spake unto Moses, saying, Thy servants will do as my lord commandeth. 26 Our little ones, our wives, our flocks, and all our cattle, shall be there in the cities of Gilead: 27 But thy servants will pass over, every man armed for war, before the Lord to battle, as my lord saith.  Numbers 32:25-27

  • In this text we see the response to Moses’ conditions in the past couple of verses.
  • The leaders of the tribes of Gad and Reuben told Moses that they were on board.
    • They would not abandon the other tribes of Israel.
    • They would take care of their families, and then go fight with their brothers.
    • They understood Moses commands and God’s commands for them, and they were willing to fight.
  • This seems like the obvious choice for them to make after all that they had seen over years following God through the wilderness.
  • He had kept them wandering because of disobedience in this area before. He had help them win and allowed defeat from their enemies because of disobedience.
  • There’s a sense in which when we read this it seems obvious that they should make this choice.
    • However, remember that obedience meant going to war.
    • It meant suiting up for battle. It’s not exactly an easy thing to do.
    • Obedience cost them something.
    • They had to trust God that what they were doing was best and that He would provide for their safety, security, and for their families.
  • They showed an obedient attitude in the face of this kind of circumstance.
  • They clearly communicated their agreement to Moses’s boundaries with agreement to those boundaries.
  • We can see their obedience in the book of Joshua…

12 And the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, passed over armed before the children of Israel, as Moses spake unto them:

Joshua 4:12

  • Not only does God demand obedience, He also rewards it.
  • These people promised to obey and that came with certain privileges.
  • God always rewards obedience.
  • We may not see immediate rewards to our obedience.
  • We may not see earthly rewards to our obedience.
  • But we will see heavenly rewards to obedience if we are faithful.
  • How do we know what to obey?
    • We’ve got to be in God’s Word every day.
      • We make decisions every day. To do that in continued obedience, I need God’s Word reminding me and informing my decisions so I will be in line with God’s desires.

Ingredient #3- Clear Accountability. V.28-32

28 So concerning them Moses commanded Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the chief fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel:  29 And Moses said unto them, If the children of Gad and the children of Reuben will pass with you over Jordan, every man armed to battle, before the Lord, and the land shall be subdued before you; then ye shall give them the land of Gilead for a possession:30 But if they will not pass over with you armed, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan.

Numbers 32:28-30


  • Moses wasn’t content to just make the agreement and believe that the Reubenites and Gadites would accomplish what they promised.
  • Moses let people know about their agreement so that they could be held accountable for the promise they made.
  • The two he told about are Joshua and Eleazar the priest. This was smart because they were already set up to be the future leaders after Moses was gone.
  • In letting them know the details, he told them what was expected and promised by the parties in question.
  • Moses had promised that if they passed over into Jordan ready to fight, they would receive Giliead as they promised. If not, they had to dwell in Canaan.
  • Moses, Joshua, Eleazar, and the leaders of Gad and Reuben now all had the information to hold each other accountable to fulfill those obligations.
  • Setting up ourselves and others for accountability is not necessarily a sign of distrust.
  • Setting up ourselves and others for accountability is really making success possible.
  • My father used to say to us, “People don’t do what you expect. They do what you inspect.”
  • There is some truth to that statement.
  • Accountability gives us the possibility of success.
  • A lack of accountability often leads to undesired outcomes.
  • Where is there a lack of discipline in your life? It may be a result of a lack of accountability.
  • Who can you bring into your life for accountability?

31 And the children of Gad and the children of Reuben answered, saying, As the Lord hath said unto thy servants, so will we do. 32 We will pass over armed before the Lord into the land of Canaan, that the possession of our inheritance on this side Jordan may be ours.

Numbers 32:31-32

  • Moses had laid out the expectations.
    • They had to fight.
    • If they fought, they could settle in the land that they wanted.
    • They understood that this expectation had its source in God and was given to them through Moses. They were clear on the expectations. They were submissive to God’s authority. When they obeyed there would be blessing.
  • Accountability is a key to so much of what it means to be a leader.
  • We seek God’s direction, cast vision, and lead people to follow what God has directed.
  • We are accountable to God with that stewardship, and that means creating ownership, stewardship, and accountability for those who follow us.
  • Paul said it this way:

2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.  2 Timothy 2:2


  • He also said this.

9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.  Philippians 4:9

  • We are accountable to God. As leaders we understand that, and as leaders we point that out to others.
  • We provide the example and teach people how to function accordingly.
  • Part of that is holding them accountable to what needs to be done.
  • Is there any area of your life that you need to be held accountable in, and who are you going to ask to help?
  • Why do we resist holding people accountable? Is there someone you need to have a conversation with today?
  • What are some wrong ways to hold people accountable? Right ways?


We can communicate expectations clearly as leaders when our communication includes three ingredients.

  1. Clear Boundaries.
  2. Clear Agreement.
  3. Clear Accountability.

1 thought on “Numbers- Session 7- Communicating Expectations”

  1. Powerful and encouraging message!
    What a blessing to be equipped to faithfully serve while being accountable to one another within the family of faith.

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