To understand the lesson of this chapter we need to know what the land represents and what the wilderness side of the Jordan represents. The land of Canaan is the land in which the people may enjoy the blessing of God. For the Christian, Canaan is a picture of the heavenly places, in which God blessed him “with every spiritual blessing” (Eph 1:33Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly [places] in Christ,).
To enter the land, you have to cross the Jordan. That river is a picture of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Only he who believes in Him is seated in Christ in the heavenly places. Heavenly blessings are the specific blessings of the believer. Only those who are aware of this will enjoy them.
The wilderness side of the Jordan is the land on the east side of the Jordan. The wilderness side of the Jordan speaks of the earthly blessings. With earthly blessings we can think of things like health, clothing, shelter, work and family. For these blessings you don’t have to cross the Jordan. Earthly blessings can also be enjoyed by non-Christians.
The difference in enjoying the earthly blessings between the believer and the unbeliever is that the believer will thank the Lord for those blessings (1Tim 4:33[men] who forbid marriage [and advocate] abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.), while the unbeliever appropriates those blessings as a right acquired by himself. So earthly blessings are not specific to the Christian. The Christian who is satisfied with only the earthly blessings, ignores what God has given him there above to enjoy together with Him.
The wilderness side of the Jordan first belonged to the Ammonites and was then conquered by the Amorite kings Sihon and Og. Therefore, the Israelites have received permission to conquer it (Num 21:21-3521Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon, king of the Amorites, saying,22“Let me pass through your land. We will not turn off into field or vineyard; we will not drink water from wells. We will go by the king’s highway until we have passed through your border.”23But Sihon would not permit Israel to pass through his border. So Sihon gathered all his people and went out against Israel in the wilderness, and came to Jahaz and fought against Israel.24Then Israel struck him with the edge of the sword, and took possession of his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as far as the sons of Ammon; for the border of the sons of Ammon [was] Jazer.25Israel took all these cities and Israel lived in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all her villages.26For Heshbon was the city of Sihon, king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab and had taken all his land out of his hand, as far as the Arnon.27Therefore those who use proverbs say,
“Come to Heshbon! Let it be built!
So let the city of Sihon be established.
28“For a fire went forth from Heshbon,
A flame from the town of Sihon;
It devoured Ar of Moab,
The dominant heights of the Arnon.
29“Woe to you, O Moab!
You are ruined, O people of Chemosh!
He has given his sons as fugitives,
And his daughters into captivity,
To an Amorite king, Sihon.
30“But we have cast them down,
Heshbon is ruined as far as Dibon,
Then we have laid waste even to Nophah,
Which [reaches] to Medeba.”
31Thus Israel lived in the land of the Amorites.32Moses sent to spy out Jazer, and they captured its villages and dispossessed the Amorites who [were] there.33Then they turned and went up by the way of Bashan, and Og the king of Bashan went out with all his people, for battle at Edrei.34But the LORD said to Moses, “Do not fear him, for I have given him into your hand, and all his people and his land; and you shall do to him as you did to Sihon, king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon.”35So they killed him and his sons and all his people, until there was no remnant left him; and they possessed his land.). Sihon has ruled in the south (Gilead) and Og in the north (Basan). It is God’s intention that His people will inherit a part of the wilderness side of the Jordan. In the kingdom of peace, all tribes are assigned a part in the land and each tribe also receives a part in the wilderness side of the Jordan. However, it is not God’s intention that His people will settle there completely. He does not want His people to be content with it alone, without interest in the land of which He says: “The land belongs to me” (Lev 25:2323‘The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are [but] aliens and sojourners with Me.). It is His land.