Scripture Reading:  Joshua 22:10-20

“Thus says the whole congregation of the Lord, ‘What is this breach of faith that you have committed against the God of Israel in turning away this day from following the Lord by building yourselves an altar this day in rebellion against the Lord?'”  (Joshua 22:16)

The two and a half tribes on the east side of the Jordan River built an imposing altar (v. 10).  When the other tribes heard about it, they were deeply concerned, so much so that they considered making war against the eastern tribes (vs. 11,12).  The issue was that an altar other than the altar at Shiloh, where the tabernacle of the Lord stood, symbolized a break with the worship of the one, true God.  A commission was sent from the other tribes to investigate the matter and to see if the situation could be resolved without going to war (vs. 13-15).

The commission confronted the people of Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh forthrightly and honestly (v. 16).  They reminded the people of the consequences of sin by pointing back to two example from their past — Peor (Numbers 25:1-13) and the sin of Achan (Joshua 7:10-26).  The commission also offered a generous alternative to the two and a half tribes — “But now,if the land of your possession is unclean, passover into the Lord’s land where the Lord’s tabernacle stands, and take for yourselves a possession among us.  Only do not rebel against the Lord or make us as rebels by building for yourselves an altar other than the altar of the Lord our God” (v. 19).  The point is that the people of the ten tribes confronted the people of the two and a half tribes with what was perceived to be a serious sin against God.

Christians have a responsibility to confront those who are in sin in order to restore them — “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.  Keep watch on yourself lest you too be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).  When we see a Christian brother or sister (or anyone we love and care about) heading down a dangerous path, we are obligated to lovingly and humbly confront them.  So many terrible consequences of sinful actions can be avoided if we make the effort to warn those we love about the danger of their sinful behavior.  The goal is to restore the one who is in sin to fellowship with God and with God’s people.  However, when we confront another, it must be done carefully and humbly.  This was the intent of the commission sent to the two and a half tribes.  they wanted to restore the people of the eastern tribes and keep them from dishonoring God.

Lord God, when I see someone I love heading down a dangerous path, give me the grace and fortitude to lovingly and humbly confront him or her.  Let me be careful that I do not do it in pride with a self-righteous attitude, but let me do so out of my own brokenness.  I also pray that if I am in sin that one of my brothers or sisters will confront me.


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