Joshua 22:1

 

The Bible says in Joshua 22:1-6, “Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh,[2] And said unto them, Ye have kept all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, and have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you:[3] Ye have not left your brethren these many days unto this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of the LORD your God.[4] And now the LORD your God hath given rest unto your brethren, as he promised them: therefore now return ye, and get you unto your tents, and unto the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you on the other side Jordan.[5] But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.[6] So Joshua blessed them, and sent them away: and they went unto their tents.” The Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manassah kept their word. That is something to be praised. They promised God and they promised Joshua. No one is any better than their word. If you tell someone that you are going to do something, then do it unless it is something that you should have never promised to do; but even then go to them and tell them why you are not doing what you said.

 

In verse four above the Bible says, “And now the LORD your God hath given rest unto your brethren, as he promised them.” Of course, that will happen. God always keeps His promises. Learn God’s promises in the Bible, rely upon them, and watch every one be fulfilled in your life. God is faithful even though people are not.  

Verse five is a great Bible verse: “But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Believers are told to do five things: to love, to walk, to keep, to cleave, and to serve. According to Jesus, to love God is the most important of all the commandments. He loves us, so we should love Him in return. He showed His love by dying on the cross. One way to show our love is “to walk in all his ways.” And that means “all.” Do not excuse any wrong doing. Do not excuse any failure. Do not get into the habit of justifying yourself. God has given us commandment for a reason: to obey them: to love one another, to love our enemies. We cleave unto the Lord by seeking Jesus, by drawing near to Him, and by desiring to always be in fellowship with Him. We cleave to the Lord by always turning to Him no matter what happens in our lives. Notice that we are given a very high standard. We are to serve Him with “all your heart and with all your soul.”

 

The Bible says in Joshua 22:7-9, “Now to the one half of the tribe of Manasseh Moses had given possession in Bashan: but unto the other half thereof gave Joshua among their brethren on this side Jordan westward. And when Joshua sent them away also unto their tents, then he blessed them,[8] And he spake unto them, saying, Return with much riches unto your tents, and with very much cattle, with silver, and with gold, and with brass, and with iron, and with very much raiment: divide the spoil of your enemies with your brethren.[9] And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh returned, and departed from the children of Israel out of Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan, to go unto the country of Gilead, to the land of their possession, whereof they were possessed, according to the word of the LORD by the hand of Moses.” The key verse above is verse eight that says, “And he spake unto them, saying, Return with much riches unto your tents, and with very much cattle, with silver, and with gold, and with brass, and with iron, and with very much raiment.” There is nothing wrong with being rich. Here the Israelites were commanded to become as rich as they could. Many of the most spiritual people in the Bible were very rich. In other words, do the best that you can in life. Heaven will be the richest place of all, even the streets will be made of gold, and so obviously there is nothing wrong with having rich and beautiful things. The main reason that capitalism is the greatest economic system is because it gives freedom to people to make their own decisions about the pursuit of happiness and what to do with their own possessions. That kind of freedom is God’s will and is taught in the Bible over and over. We can safely say that capitalism is the economic system of the Bible. But of course, people will then be held responsible for the wealth that they have acquired. God wants us to make our own free choice about what we do with our material things. It says in Second Corinthians 9:6-7, “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.[7] Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” But also rich believers are warned about what they do with their riches and how they treat their workers who are not as fortunate. It says in James 5:1-4, “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.[2] Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.[3] Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.[4] Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.”

 

The Bible says in Joshua 22:10-16, “And when they came unto the borders of Jordan, that are in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by Jordan, a great altar to see to.[11] And the children of Israel heard say, Behold, the chidren of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh have built an altar over against the land of Canaan, in the borders of Jordan, at the passage of the children of Israel.[12] And when the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered themselves together at Shiloh, to go up to war against them.[13] And the children of Israel sent unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half tribe of Manasseh, into the land of Gilead, Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest,[14] And with him ten princes, of each chief house a prince throughout all the tribes of Israel; and each one was an head of the house of their fathers among the thousands of Israel.[15] And they came unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half tribe of Manasseh, unto the land of Gilead, and they spake with them, saying,[16] Thus saith the whole congregation of the LORD, What trespass is this that ye have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the LORD, in that ye have builded you an altar, that ye might rebel this day against the LORD?” As we will find out later in this chapter, the children of Israel on the other side of the Jordan River had the right motivation when they built their altar. The key words to notice about the altar they built is found in verse ten that says, “a great altar to see to.” They just wanted to be a testimony to the world around them. They wanted to build something to remind the world of who God was and that they were true believers in the one true God. Christians have the same motivation for their church buildings. Yes, the church is the people and not the building. Yes, church buildings are only for a practical reason so that Christians can have a place to gather together in the name of the Lord Jesus. But a church building can serve another purpose by the grace of God. A church building can be a testimony to the community that there are still some people who believe in Jesus and who serve Him by gathering together.

 

As soon as the other children of Israel heard about the new altar that had been built, they had a very negative reaction to it. It says in verse 12 that they went “to go up to war against them.” This statement shows at least two things. First, they jumped prematurely to a conclusion. They were ready to go to war before they knew the facts. Second, it shows that they were very sensitive to anyone turning away from the Lord and the only valid worship that was given to them through Moses. They did not want to fail the Lord and have God’s chastising hand come against them. That is good to be so highly motivated to want to serve the Lord faithfully.

 

Fortunately, they did go and speak to “the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half tribe of Manasseh,” and they were able to get to the truth before going to war. It turns out that they were not building an alternate altar where sacrifices would be made, thus disobeying God’s commandments of having the Aaronic priests responsible for such activities. This altar was simply a memorial to help remind people to serve the Lord and not forget the Lord. This is all explained in the following verses in the rest of this chapter.

 

It says in Joshua 22:17-34, “Is the iniquity of Peor too little for us, from which we are not cleansed until this day, although there was a plague in the congregation of the LORD,[18] But that ye must turn away this day from following the LORD? and it will be, seeing ye rebel to day against the LORD, that to morrow he will be wroth with the whole congregation of Israel.[19] Notwithstanding, if the land of your possession be unclean, then pass ye over unto the land of the possession of the LORD, wherein the LORD's tabernacle dwelleth, and take possession among us: but rebel not against the LORD, nor rebel against us, in building you an altar beside the altar of the LORD our God.[20] 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 perished not alone in his iniquity.[21] Then the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh answered, and said unto the heads of the thousands of Israel,[22] The LORD God of gods, the LORD God of gods, he knoweth, and Israel he shall know; if it be in rebellion, or if in transgression against the LORD, (save us not this day,)[23] That we have built us an altar to turn from following the LORD, or if to offer thereon burnt offering or meat offering, or if to offer peace offerings thereon, let the LORD himself require it;[24] And if we have not rather done it for fear of this thing, saying, In time to come your children might speak unto our children, saying, What have ye to do with the LORD God of Israel?[25] For the LORD hath made Jordan a border between us and you, ye children of Reuben and children of Gad; ye have no part in the LORD: so shall your children make our children cease from fearing the LORD.[26] Therefore we said, Let us now prepare to build us an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice:[27] But that it may be a witness between us, and you, and our generations after us, that we might do the service of the LORD before him with our burnt offerings, and with our sacrifices, and with our peace offerings; that your children may not say to our children in time to come, Ye have no part in the LORD.[28] Therefore said we, that it shall be, when they should so say to us or to our generations in time to come, that we may say again, Behold the pattern of the altar of the LORD, which our fathers made, not for burnt offerings, nor for sacrifices; but it is a witness between us and you.[29] God forbid that we should rebel against the LORD, and turn this day from following the LORD, to build an altar for burnt offerings, for meat offerings, or for sacrifices, beside the altar of the LORD our God that is before his tabernacle.[30] And when Phinehas the priest, and the princes of the congregation and heads of the thousands of Israel which were with him, heard the words that the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the children of Manasseh spake, it pleased them.[31] And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the children of Manasseh, This day we perceive that the LORD is among us, because ye have not committed this trespass against the LORD: now ye have delivered the children of Israel out of the hand of the LORD.[32] And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, and the princes, returned from the children of Reuben, and from the children of Gad, out of the land of Gilead, unto the land of Canaan, to the children of Israel, and brought them word again.[33] And the thing pleased the children of Israel; and the children of Israel blessed God, and did not intend to go up against them in battle, to destroy the land wherein the children of Reuben and Gad dwelt.[34] 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.”

 

 

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Copyright; 2019 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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