June 19 | Waking with The Word | Joshua 22: 11-33
Joshua 22:11 And the children of Israel heard say, Behold, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh have built an altar over against the land of Canaan, in the borders of Jordan, at the passage of the children of Israel. :12 And when the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered themselves together at Shiloh, to go up to war against them.
Joshua 22:19 Notwithstanding, if the land of your possession be unclean, then pass ye over unto the land of the possession of the LORD, wherein the LORD'S tabernacle dwelleth, and take possession among us: but rebel not against the LORD, nor rebel against us, in building you an altar beside the altar of the LORD our God. :20 Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? and that man perished not alone in his iniquity.
Joshua 22:26Therefore we said, Let us now prepare to build us an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice: :27 But that it may be a witness between us, and you, and our generations after us, that we might do the service of the LORD before him with our burnt offerings, and with our sacrifices, and with our peace offerings; that your children may not say to our children in time to come, Ye have no part in the LORD.
Joshua 22:33 And the thing pleased the children of Israel; and the children of Israel blessed God, and did not intend to go up against them in battle, to destroy the land wherein the children of Reuben and Gad dwelt.
Here we have a story of brotherly conflict. This story of their potential civil war comes directly after their war with the Canaanites had ended. These people had spent the last 7 years fighting and now that their war with the enemy has ceased a misunderstanding threatens the peace they just obtained. They have just ceased from war but now they have turned their arms toward their brothers who sacrificed the last seven years helping them fight. Now their offence wasn't completely unwarranted because God had given a command that there was to be only one place to make offerings and that was in Shiloh, where the tabernacle rested and they assumed that The 2 and a half tribes were setting up a alter to false gods. Thankfully they didn't attack without first having a understanding of what was really going on. They sent Phineas and ten princes of Israel to confront them. They even tell them in verse nineteen that they can come and live in the land with them if it would keep them from idolatry. This to me is proof that the 10 tribes were not looking for war but willing to reconcile their brothers they thought had gone astray. After their discourse they realize that this isn't a alter for sacrifice or offering(that was only to be done at Shiloh) but for a memorial. This alter was like many of the other memorials set up throughout the land of Canaan. They set this alter up as a memorial to be reminded that even though the Jordan river was separating them from their brothers they were still Israel and the served the God of Israel. So the whole issue was resolved with conversation instead of Combat.
Now let us attempt to learn something from our verses today. Often times I've seen it happen, Christians are fighting against sin, fighting against false teaching and doctrines, fighting against the enemy and when we finally experience some rest and peace from the battle it is as if we then turn to our brothers and attempt to go to war with them. In our attempt to fight in the Lords army we need to take careful consideration to whom we are fighting against. I'm afraid the number of people who are being lost to friendly fire are greater than the advances over the enemy. Sadly in many churches today, and in the life of many Christians, assumption is treated as facts and there is no need for conversation because your evaluation of that person or church is more important than the truth. What do we do then when we see our brothers seemingly slipping into error? After all we see some people we consider brothers going in a direction that seems to us to be dangerous not only for them but for the cause of Christ and His Church. Let's learn a lesson from what they did. They offered their own inheritance if it would keep their brothers and Israel from harm. That is a evidence that they were genuine in there confrontation of their brother. Let's be bold enough to confront our brothers about fault instead of waging war on them. If they had found out that their assumptions were correct and the 2 and half tribes were indeed going to worship false gods then they would have fought with them and rightfully so.
It's not that we may never have to battle with someone we once considered a brother, that may very well happen and rightfully so but what we see most often is Christians going to war with other Christians without having went to them in love and understanding first. Remember the words of our Savior
Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. :16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. :17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
Let us treat our brothers as brothers and not the enemy, if you see them in fault go to them and not the rest of the world with your concerns. God give us boldness to entreat our brothers and never attempt to solve with combat what could be resolved with conversation.
Love covereth a multitude of sins!!
Onward Christian Soldier!!