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The DEEP

Shared Responsibility

Shared guilt!

Joshua 22:13–20

Then the children of Israel sent Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest to the children of Reuben, to the children of Gad, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, into the land of Gilead, and with him ten rulers, one ruler each from the chief house of every tribe of Israel; and each one was the head of the house of his father among the divisions of Israel. Then they came to the children of Reuben, to the children of Gad, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, to the land of Gilead, and they spoke with them, saying, “Thus says the whole congregation of the LORD: ‘What treachery is this that you have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the LORD, in that you have built for yourselves an altar, that you might rebel this day against the LORD? Is the iniquity of Peor not enough for us, from which we are not cleansed till this day, although there was a plague in the congregation of the LORD, but that you must turn away this day from following the LORD? And it shall be, if you rebel today against the LORD, that tomorrow He will be angry with the whole congregation of Israel. Nevertheless, if the land of your possession is unclean, then cross over to the land of the possession of the LORD, where the Lord’s tabernacle stands, and take possession among us; but do not rebel against the LORD, nor rebel against us, by building yourselves an altar besides the altar of the LORD our God. 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 did not perish alone in his iniquity.’ ”

Looks like the grown-ups are in charge after all. Despite the potentially violent reaction by the children of Israel (i.e., the crowds), the leaders act like leaders and launch an appropriate response.

But they don’t pull any punches either. Their questions to “the Easterners” is blunt. “Thus says the whole congregation of the LORD: ‘What treachery is this that you have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the LORD, in that you have built for yourselves an altar, that you might rebel this day against the LORD?’ ”

They go on to cite examples of how everyone gets punished for the sins of a few. They’re worried that they might end up being punished for sins committed on the other side of the river.

And they’re right. This is important.


Once again, we see this concept of shared responsibility come into play. Whole nations can be penalized for the actions of one person. We’re all in this together. Inflation hurts everyone. War hurts more.

But what’s important here is that shared responsibility (and shared consequences) are seen by the Israelites as just. That’s a far cry from what we think of things like inflation and war. They’re anything but just. Innocent people are ruined by things they cannot control and do not even support.

Yet, God’s view of mankind is not entirely individualistic. Guilt and consequences are shared.

OK, fine. We know about our sharing in Adam’s sin and we know about our sharing in Christ’s sacrifice.

But what about everything that goes right or wrong in the Church? What about that?


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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