I had not read ahead to Chapter 22, simply because this is inductive research – I love finding out what God has in store for us in the next section and then figuring out how it fits into the Cycle.
Little did I know that my intuitive comments ending the last blog played right into God’s hand! (Forgive the simile: no, we are not playing poker with God!)
I strongly suggest you take just a moment right now and read Joshua 22 – I can’t tell the whole story in a short blog. But this is not one you want to miss.
As Joshua concludes, he is old and about to die. Peace reigns in Israel. Recall that the tribes of Reuben and Gad, along with the half-tribe of Manasseh (“RGM” for short) had requested from Moses something that seemed at the time like an act of disunity – physical separation from the rest of Israel on the other side of the Jordan in Gilead. Moses extracted from them a promise to lead the fight for the Promised Land, and if they did so faithfully, they could then return to Gilead in peace.
That moment arrives at the end of Joshua, and he gratefully acknowledges their faithfulness and sends them home to their families with great honor. His final words to them are both and blessing and a very strong warning:
“Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses…commanded you, to love the Lord your God and walk in his ways and keep his commandments and hold fast to him and serve him with all your heart and with all your soul” (22:5, NASB).
On the way home, RGM builds a new altar overlooking the Jordan, and since the law of Moses strictly prohibits sacrifices of any kind outside of the altar of the Lord in the tabernacle of Israel, the ten tribes in the Promised Land perceive not only disunity on the part of RGM, but collective doom on all twelve tribes for disobeying the commands of Moses!
Armed for war, the ten tribes, led by ten chiefs, confront RGM, wisely seeking a council for discussion before attacking to avenge the Lord’s commandments.
Please, please, please read what happens in verses 10-34 right now. What happens is a hidden gem of perfect unity. It concludes with these words:
“Today we know that the Lord is in our midst…” (31b, NASB).
Are not all the divisions within Christianity tribes with the same Father, just like the tribes of Israel? Could we begin to understand the prayer of Jesus for perfect unity by elevating discussions to what the commands of Jesus are and how our tribes obey them fully, even using different styles and cultures?
Many say no.
I say yes.
What do you say?