“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, 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,) 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…Therefore we said, Let us now prepare to build us an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice: 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…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…” (Josh. 22:21-29)
Things are not always what they may appear to be. Oftentimes, we make life’s decisions based upon the optics of a situation. However, the optics are not always clear without first having an intimate knowledge of the underlying facts of the situation. When we make decisions and subsequently act upon our assumptions, we run the risk of alienating ourselves from some of our most intimate relationships. This is not how God intended for us to live.
We can observe the beginning of this type of behavior in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3). Eve received information that seemed to be true. It sounded true. It was laced with just enough truth to cause her to question the truth she had always known. Yet, she did not consult with the One Whose character was being questioned. She had access to the Creator, so why did she not consult with Him? Would there had been a different result? I am certain that it would had been different. How can I speak with such certainty? Look at today’s reference verse.
After the children of Israel entered the Promised Land, the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half tribe of Manasseh returned to the eastern side of Jordan River. Once there, they erected an altar as a monument in honor of what God had done for them. Upon learning of this, some of the children Israel reported to Joshua that the eastern tribes erected the altar in rebellion to the covenant they made with God. Like Eve, they did not ask any of the eastern tribe members about what was perceived to be a breach in the covenant made with God.
When Joshua received the report, he could have relied solely upon the report of the people. Fortunately, he sent ambassadors to the eastern tribes to inquire about the concern instead. Upon hearing the concerns of their leadership, the eastern tribes explained the purpose of the altar. They stated that its purpose should be viewed as a monument rather than an altar to serve other deities. The ambassadors reported the findings to Joshua and the concern was dismissed, and a potential disaster averted.
The lesson for each of us to take away from this is that the situations may not be what they appear to be. It is better to inquire about a matter than to make an assumption. We will never know until we ask the questions…
Sean Mungin, author of “The Thorn In The Flesh”