The Altar of Witness

Just when everything was going so well.

Joshua 22 (7)

Review Joshua 22.

1.  Why are good intentions not enough when you want to do something good?

2.  Do you think this situation was a setback or a step forward for Israel?

Think about it.
The tribes of Israel had fought together for many days, trusting in the Lord and focusing on His promises, as represented in the land they were subduing. Yet no sooner had each tribe received its fair allotment and rest had settled upon the land, than a situation arose which gave us a glimpse into the heart of the nation of Israel – a heart of hastiness and mistrust.

That Israel did not fully trust in God is obvious from this situation: The two-and-a-half tribes trusted their own efforts, rather than God, to keep them from being excluded from the nation of Israel. The ten tribes turned to military force, rather than the Lord, as their first resort for righting what they wrongly perceived as an unjust situation. All the tribes operated on false assumptions toward one another, and none of them thought to consult the Lord until after the situation had been resolved. But even then, their act of acknowledging and blessing the Lord seems like an afterthought.

Why do people who believe in the same God, participate in the same covenant, and hold to the same Scriptures have such a hard time getting along?

It’s a question we might well ask of Christ-honoring, Bible-believing, new covenant churches today.

Meditate and discuss.
1.  What do you make of Joshua’s absence from this story after verse 9? What does this suggest about his role in Israel at this time?

2.  Should this altar have been necessary? Why or why not? Do you find it interesting that the Lord Himself is strangely silent throughout this incident?

3.  Did any good come out of this situation? What can we learn from this situation to help us as members of the Body of Christ today?

“The history here is particularly deserving of notice, when the two tribes and half-tribe, intending to erect a memorial of common faith and fraternal concord, allowed themselves from inconsiderate zeal to adopt a method which was justly suspected by their brethren. The ten tribes, thinking that the worship of God was violated with impious audacity and temerity, were inflamed with holy wrath, and took up arms to use them against their own blood; nor were they appeased till they had received full satisfaction.” John Calvin, Commentary on Joshua (1509-1564 AD)

Keep me from acting presumptuously toward others, Lord; let my heart be devoted to You and tender toward others, so that…

Pray Psalm 145.

This wonderful psalm can help to sharpen your focus on God so that your works might more consistently refract His presence and glory.

Psalm 145 (Brother James’ Air: The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want)
I will extol You, God, my King, and ever praise Your Name!
I bless You, Lord, for everything each day, and e’er the same!
Great are You, Lord, my praise I bring; unsearchable Your fame!

To ev’ry generation we Your wondrous works shall tell.
The splendor of Your majesty we contemplate full well.
We speak of all Your mighty deeds and all Your greatness tell!

Then shall we all the glorious fame of Your great goodness sing – 
Your righteousness, Your gracious Name, Your mercy: praise we bring!
Your steadfast love remains the same, mercy our covering.

Your works shall thank You; all Your saints shall bless and praise You, Lord.
Your reign we bless without restraint; Your power fills our words.
Our children we shall educate in all Your splendor, Lord.

Your Kingdom evermore shall be; You reign forever, Lord!
Your works You do so faithfully, according to Your Word.
The falling You uphold and the oppressed You rescue, Lord!

The eyes of all look up to You to meet our needs each day.
Open Your hand, provide the food we need, O Lord, we pray!
Kindness and righteousness You do, O Lord, in every way!

Be near to all who call on You; all those who fear You, bless.
Preserve all those whose love is true; save us in our distress.
Our mouths will speak with praise of You; Your holy Name we’ll bless!

T. M. Moore

The seven lessons in this week’s study in the book of Joshua, and all previous weeks, are available as free downloads by clicking here.

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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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