Resolving the Divisions Among Us – Joshua 22

After the initial conquests in Canaan under the leadership of Joshua were complete, Joshua sent the men from the three tribes with land assignments on the east side of the Jordan River back home. On their return to their lands the people of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh (Transjordan tribes) built an altar by the Jordan, apparently on the western, Canaan side. (The only altar permissible to the Israelites was the one in the tabernacle.) The altar was of “imposing size” so that it was conspicuous enough to be seen by the Israelites on both sides of the Jordan River. The western Israelites were ready to go to war against the Transjordan tribes over this heresy (vs. 12), but first they sent a delegation to confront them over “this breach of faith that you have committed against the God of Israel by building yourselves an altar this day in rebellion against the Lord” (vs. 16). At the meeting the Transjordanian delegation explained that the altar was not for sacrifice but was only intended as a reminder to future generations that the Israelites on both sides of the Jordan were God’s chosen people among whom God dwelt. If only we could resolve the divisions among God’s people today that the solution to our differences be “a witness between us that the Lord is God” (vs. 34) as it was for the eastern and western Israelites.

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