Joshua gathered all the warriors together and commended them for a job well done. The war had officially ended and Israel now occupied the Promised Land. So, Joshua disbanded the armies and they began to head back to their families, most likely for the first time in about seven years.
What a celebration! But wait…
On their way home, the two and one half tribes that had been given the land east of the Jordan river decided they needed to build an altar on the border of their land. Word of this act spread quickly and the whole assembly gathered to prepare to go to war with these tribes “from the east side.” Not much time had passed (a day?) and already they were ready to kill each other.
There is some wisdom here because instead of sending an army, they sent a delegation to investigate:
13 First, however, they sent a delegation led by Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest. They crossed the river to talk with the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. 14 In this delegation were ten high officials of Israel, one from each of the ten tribes, and each a leader within the family divisions of Israel.
In the end, the “east side boys” were able to explain their intentions and how they were only building a memorial, not an altar for sacrifice. The delegation was satisfied with this explanation and everyone went home in peace.
Phew! Can you say touchy situation?
It seems like there was already some dissention between those who were given land east of the Jordan and all the others. It made me think about the body of Christ and how we sometimes are respecters of persons. Those with the up-front gifts (i.e. preachers, teachers, musicians, etc.) and those with the behind-the-scenes gifts (i.e. administrators, maintenance, prayer warriors) often have the same kind of struggles. But, we are all parts of the same body. God has given everyone different gifts for a reason – no one part (job) is more important. Look what Jesus says:
12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
What are your gifts? How are you serving the body?
Lord, I appreciate your teaching about harmony in Joshua 22. Help us to not be quick to judge and send an army to do the job of a delegation. Let there be peace in our body. Help us to understand our gifts and how to use them for Your glory – because You are SO worthy!