Archive for January 19th, 2015

Joshua 22

Joshua 22 has a showdown occurring between the people on the east and west sides of the Jordan.  “Joshua summoned the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh….You have kept all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you and have obeyed my voice in all that I have commanded you….Therefore turn and go to your tents in the land where your possession lies, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan”.  The move into the Promised Land has happened as planned.  The 2.5 tribes that were given land on the other side of the Jordan have faithfully helped their brethren take the rest of the land, and now Joshua is releasing them to go home.

He leaves them with this command: “be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul”.  There is a pretty simple summary of how we need to live as Christ Followers.  We need to walk closely with God and obey His word.  It was their charge and “Joshua blessed them and sent them away” to go home to their tents across the Jordan.

On the way home, these folks stopped and “built there an altar by the Jordan, an altar of imposing size”.  They put it on the other side of the Jordan, not on their own land.  “When the people of Israel heard of it, the whole assembly of the people of Israel gathered at Shiloh to make war against them”.  Pretty strong reaction to an altar?  Just prior these folks had been fellow warriors helping the Israelites destroy their enemies and now they are threatening to wipe them out.  Seems a bit rash, doesn’t it?  They send Phinehas the priest and 10 chiefs to go find out what the meaning of this altar was.  They assumed they were “building yourselves an altar this day in rebellion against the Lord”.

But like so many things in life, they had it all wrong.  It was built “to be a witness between us and you, and between our generations after us, that we do perform the service of the Lord”.  Communication is key to understanding.  And rather than make assumptions and taking action on what seemed to be, they did the right thing and sent the team to inquire.  “When Phinehas the priest and the chiefs of the congregation, the heads of the families of Israel who were with him, heard the words that the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the people of Manasseh spoke, it was good in their eyes”.  They had it all wrong, and once they listened and understood the intent, their fears were gone.  They knew historically that an altar built for the wrong purpose would not go well.  But the motive here was to communicate today and well into the future.  “The people of Reuben and the people of Gad called the altar Witness….it is a witness between us that the Lord is God”.

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