Oh. OK.

The tribes are reconciled.

Joshua 22 (5)

Read Joshua 22.30, 31.

1.  What should these folks have learned from this situation?

2.  Do you see any apologies or requests for forgiveness here? Should there have been?

Think about it.
As I read these two verses, I see crimson faces – those of the ten tribes red with embarrassment – “Oh. OK” – and those of the two-and-a-half tribes flush with resentment – “Yeah, right.”

Building this “great, impressive altar” was not sinful. In many ways, it made good sense. But how this was done created offense. The two-and-a-half tribes on the east side of the Jordan River neither consulted nor advised their brethren on the west side. What were those ten tribes to think? Well, they could have thought better of their brethren, and sought the Lord for advice, before calling the people to arms.

In the Kingdom of God, it’s never right to do the wrong thing. Nor is it right to do the right thing in the wrong way. We must always make sure that we do the right thing in the right way. But to do this, we must wait on the Lord in prayer, which none of the people in this situation seem to have done.

And where is Joshua in the midst of all this? His name doesn’t even appear after verse 9. He who should have known to seek the Lord in this matter, apparently said nothing.

The impression we’re getting is that, while the land and promises of God are within reach, rifts and divides are showing up among the people of God. In the book of Judges, those divides grow wider, causing the people to panic in 1 Samuel and press the prophet for a king to unite them.

Once again, not a bad idea, but done in all the wrong ways, thus furthering the divides in Israel.

Meditate and discuss.
1.  Imagine you are called in to help bring a resolution to this situation. What would you say?

2.  Do you find anything lacking in Phinehas’ words to the two-and-a-half tribes? Explain.

3.  What lessons do you derive from this situation? 

“The example here is worthy of observation. It teaches us that if at any time we conceive offence in regard to a matter not sufficiently known, we must beware of obstinacy, and be ready instantly to take an equitable view.” John Calvin, Commentary on Joshua (1509-1564AD)

Lord, have I misjudged anyone? Been unfair or unkind to anyone? Show me, Lord, and I will…

Pray Psalm 19.12-14

Read these verses in conjunction with Psalm 139.23, 24. It would be a good idea to memorize these passages, and to pray them regularly.

Psalm 19.12-14 (St. Christopher: Beneath the Cross of Jesus)
Who, Lord, can know his errors? O keep sin far from me! 
Let evil rule not in my soul that I may blameless be. 
O let my thoughts, let all my words, before Your glorious sight 
Be pleasing to You, gracious Lord, acceptable and right!

T. M. Moore

Where does the book of Joshua fit in the ongoing story of God’s covenant? Our workbook, God’s Covenant, can help you discover the place in God’s work of redemption not only of Joshua but of all the books of the Bible. God’s Covenant is a valuable resource to guide you in all your studies in God’s Word. To order your copy, click hereAnd when you order, we’ll send you a free copy of Bricks and Rungs: Poems on Calling.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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