Blessing and Witness

All's well that ends well. I guess.

Read Joshua 22.32-34.

1.  Do you suppose the people west of the Jordan River were glad they didn’t have to go to war against their brethren?

2.  The people blessed God. What does that mean? Isn’t God supposed to do the blessing?

Think about it.
All’s well that ends well, right? The two-and-a-half tribes were pleased to have vindicated themselves, and the ten tribes doubtless breathed a sigh of relief at not having to go to war with their brethren. The people blessed God, and the altar remained as a witness to His faithfulness.

So, overall, despite the clumsy way this situation was handled, the Lord seems to have used it for good. The incident reminds us that while we can be bumbling and inconsiderate as we try to do what seems right to us, God rules over all, and causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Rom. 8.28). 

The people of Israel had an opportunity to learn a lesson here, but did not. Doing what seems right in our own eyes, without consulting the Lord or taking others into consideration, can get you into big trouble. The book of Judges will show us what can happen when even well-meaning people try to do things their own way and apart from God. 

The book of Joshua shows us that laying hold on the promises of God is hard work and often involves missteps and mistakes. God is sovereign and faithful, even over our clumsy and fumbling ways, and if we look to Him and hold fast to His Word, He can overcome all our failings and foibles and enable us to know a fuller measure of His blessings.

And for that, we should indeed bless Him abundantly.

Meditate and discuss.
1.  The word “blessed” here (v. 33) is the same word God used in Genesis 12.2 as the foundation of His promises to His people. How does God “bless” us? How do we “bless” Him?

2.  The altar, which was intended to keep the people of Israel united, nearly divided them. Why? Do things like this ever happen in churches, or between churches? 

3.  It took stumbling their way through this brouhaha to get the people blessing and looking to God. What should they have learned from this situation?

“Though they had been suddenly inflamed, they depart with calm minds. In like manner the two tribes and the half tribe carefully exert themselves to perform their duty by giving a name to the altar, which, by explaining its proper use, might draw off the people from all superstition.” John Calvin, Commentary on Joshua (1509-1564 AD)

I need to keep focused on You at all times, Lord, because otherwise I…

Pray Psalm 121.

Let this psalm lead you to look to God and bless Him in all your “going out and your coming in” today.

Psalm 121 (Duke Street: Jesus Shall Reign)
I lift up my eyes up to the heights: 
Whence comes my help by day, by night?
My help comes from the Lord above!
He made creation by His love!

God will not let our footsteps fall; 
He will preserve us all in all.
He does not slumber, does not sleep; 
God will His chosen people keep.

You are our Keeper and our Shade; 
You have our debt of sin repaid!
You will preserve us by Your might; 
Naught shall afflict us day or night.

Lord, You will guard our lives from ill; 
You will our trembling souls keep still. 
All our endeavors You will guard; 
Eternal praise be Yours, O Lord!

T. M. Moore

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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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