1702.) Joshua 22

Perspective can be tricky! Sometimes we cannot trust our eyes — or our first impressions!  The Israelites have some issues with perspective today.  (By the way, the two trees are actually the same size.)

Joshua 22   (NRSV)

The Eastern Tribes Return to Their Territory

Then Joshua summoned the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, 2and said to them, “You have observed all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, and have obeyed me in all that I have commanded you; 3you have not forsaken your kindred these many days, down to this day, but have been careful to keep the charge of the Lord your God. 4And now the Lord your God has given rest to your kindred, as he promised them; therefore turn and go to your tents in the land where your possession lies, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan.

In the seven years they had been with Joshua, helping the tribes west of the Jordan to conquer their enemies, they had been completely obedient and helpful to Joshua. They had gone out and fought on behalf of their brethren, even though they already had their own inheritance. Now that the land was conquered and fully distributed to the tribes, they could go back to their families and lands on the eastern side of the Jordan.

“Return to your homes in the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you.” — by Israeli artist Nurit Tzarfati

5Take good care to observe the commandment and instruction that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to keep his commandments, and to hold fast to him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Josh22 5

1.  to LOVE the Lord your God
2.  to WALK in all his ways
3.  to KEEP his commandments
4.  to HOLD FAST to him
5.  to SERVE him with all your heart and with all your soul

6So Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went to their tents. 7Now to the one half of the tribe of Manasseh Moses had given a possession in Bashan; but to the other half Joshua had given a possession beside their fellow Israelites in the land west of the Jordan. And when Joshua sent them away to their tents and blessed them, 8he said to them, “Go back to your tents with much wealth, and with very much livestock, with silver, gold, bronze, and iron, and with a great quantity of clothing; divide the spoil of your enemies with your kindred.”

9So the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh returned home, parting from the Israelites at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan, to go to the land of Gilead, their own land of which they had taken possession by command of the Lord through Moses.

A Memorial Altar East of the Jordan

“The Reubenites built an imposing altar there by the Jordan.” — by Israeli artist Nurit Tzarfati

10When they came to the region near the Jordan that lies in the land of Canaan, the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by the Jordan, an altar of great size. 11The Israelites heard that the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh had built an altar at the frontier of the land of Canaan, in the region near the Jordan, on the side that belongs to the Israelites. 12And when the people of Israel heard of it, the whole assembly of the Israelites gathered at Shiloh, to make war against them.

This altar was significant not only because of its size, but because of the meaning of an altar. The other Israelites feared that this altar was a sign of allegiance to the pagan gods of the region.

–David Guzik

13Then the Israelites sent the priest Phinehas son of Eleazar to the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, in the land of Gilead, 14and with him ten chiefs, one from each of the tribal families of Israel, every one of them the head of a family among the clans of Israel.

15They came to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, in the land of Gilead, and they said to them, 16“Thus says the whole congregation of the Lord, ‘What is this treachery that you have committed against the God of Israel in turning away today from following the Lord, by building yourselves an altar today in rebellion against the Lord? 17Have we not had enough of the sin at Peor from which even yet we have not cleansed ourselves, and for which a plague came upon the congregation of the Lord, 18that you must turn away today from following the Lord!

If you rebel against the Lord today, he will be angry with the whole congregation of Israel tomorrow. 19But now, if your land is unclean, cross over into the Lord’s land where the Lord’s tabernacle now stands, and take for yourselves a possession among us; only do not rebel against the Lord, or rebel against us by building yourselves an altar other than the altar of the Lord our God. 20Did not Achan son of Zerah break faith in the matter of the devoted things, and wrath fell upon all the congregation of Israel? And he did not perish alone for his iniquity!’”

21Then the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh said in answer to the heads of the families of Israel, 22“The Lord, God of gods! The Lord, God of gods! He knows; and let Israel itself know! If it was in rebellion or in breach of faith toward the Lord, do not spare us today 23for building an altar to turn away from following the Lord; or if we did so to offer burnt offerings or grain offerings or offerings of well-being on it, may the Lord himself take vengeance.

24“No! We did it from fear that in time to come your children might say to our children, ‘What have you to do with the Lord, the God of Israel? 25For the Lord has made the Jordan a boundary between us and you, you Reubenites and Gadites; you have no portion in the Lord.’ So your children might make our children cease to worship the Lord.

26“Therefore we said, ‘Let us now build an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice, 27but to be a witness between us and you, and between the generations after us, that we do perform the service of the Lord in his presence with our burnt offerings and sacrifices and offerings of well-being; so that your children may never say to our children in time to come, “You have no portion in the Lord.”’

28“And we thought, If this should be said to us or to our descendants in time to come, we could say, ‘Look at this copy of the altar of the Lord, which our ancestors made, not for burnt offerings, nor for sacrifice, but to be a witness between us and you.’

29“Far be it from us that we should rebel against the Lord, and turn away this day from following the Lord by building an altar for burnt offering, grain offering, or sacrifice, other than the altar of the Lord our God that stands before his tabernacle!”

30When the priest Phinehas and the chiefs of the congregation, the heads of the families of Israel who were with him, heard the words that the Reubenites and the Gadites and the Manassites spoke, they were satisfied.

31The priest Phinehas son of Eleazar said to the Reubenites and the Gadites and the Manassites, “Today we know that the Lord is among us, because you have not committed this treachery against the Lord; now you have saved the Israelites from the hand of the Lord.”

The matter is peacefully resolved.

_________________________

Music:

As the Israelites are now all settled and ready to dwell in their land, the prayer is that God will dwell with them.  HERE  is “Dwell” by Vineyard.  Lyrics follow.

Dwell in the midst of us
Come and dwell in this place
Dwell in the midst of us
Come and have Your way

Dwell in the midst of us
Wipe all the tears from our faces
Dwell in the midst of us
You can have Your way

Not our will, but Yours be done
Come and change us
Not our will, but Yours be done
Come sustain us

_________________________

32Then the priest Phinehas son of Eleazar and the chiefs returned from the Reubenites and the Gadites in the land of Gilead to the land of Canaan, to the Israelites, and brought back word to them. 33The report pleased the Israelites; and the Israelites blessed God and spoke no more of making war against them, to destroy the land where the Reubenites and the Gadites were settled.

34The Reubenites and the Gadites called the altar Witness; “For,” said they, “it is a witness between us that the Lord is God.”

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Joshua 22:34 (King James Version)
And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad called the altar Ed: for it shall be a witness between us that the LORD is God.

When two people who love the Lord misunderstand each other and get into a tangle, there is generally a mistake which a few honest words will clear up.

Read Joshua 22.  A long time ago, two sets of people misunderstood each other.  Both had made a mistake, the Reubenites and Gadites by not consulting anybody before building a great altar beside the Jordan, and the Israelites by putting a wrong interpretation on it.

But a few words straightened things out.  The Reubenites, very much surprised that the Israelites could think anything so unkind and untrue, explained that they had acted “out of carefulness and of purpose.”  The Israelites accepted their explanation, and the matter ended with a word easy for us to remember, Ed.  The thing which had almost caused a furious quarrel was turned to Ed, which meant that God (who is the God of Peace) was  Witness.

If we have a misunderstanding with anyone, what about taking Ed as a little word of reminder to hurry up and make friends?

_________________________

As we saw in the story today — how different things can look when viewed from another perspective!

Isn’t it strange
how a 20 dollar bill seems like such a large amount
when you donate it to church,
but such a small amount when you go shopping?

Isn’t it strange
how 2 hours seem so long when you’re at church,
and so short when you’re watching a good movie?

Isn’t it strange
that you can’t find a word to say when you’re praying,
but you have no trouble thinking what to talk about with a friend?

Isn’t it strange
how difficult and boring it is to read one chapter of the Bible,
but how easy it is to read 100 pages of a popular novel?

Isn’t it strange
how everyone wants front-row-tickets to concerts or games,
but they always choose to sit at the last row in church?

Isn’t it strange
how we need to know about an event for church 2-3 weeks
before the day so we can include it in our agenda,
but we can easily adjust for other events at the last minute?

Isn’t it strange
how difficult it is to learn a fact about God to share it with others,
but how easy it is to learn and repeat gossip?

Isn’t it strange
how we believe what magazines and newspapers say,
but we question the words in the Bible?

Isn’t it strange
how everyone wants a place in heaven,
but they don’t want to do anything to get there?

(author unknown)

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
optical illusion.    http://www.visionjuice.com/resources/puzzles/illusion/ill007q.png
Tzarfati.     http://www.biblical-art.com/artist_artwork.asp?id_artist=2096&alt=2&pagenum=1
5.    https://ballymote.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/number5.jpg
how could you do this?     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/22-how-could-you-do-this1.jpg?w=450
that’s not what I meant.    http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ABCYTN84L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU02_.jpg
OK.  Design by Steve Scott.    http://www.dhub.org/blog/wp-content/dhub/scott-ok.jpg
Witness.    https://preacherontheplaza.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/witness_newlogo.jpg
twenty dollar bill.    http://www.workathometruth.com/artwork/magslotpix/20dollarbill.jpg
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: