“Battles, fighting, screaming, and then it was over.”
God had given His people rest (victory and security);
1. Made a promise Ex. 33:14 “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”)
2. Kept His promise Jos 21:44 – “And the Lord gave them rest on every side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all their enemies stood before them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hand.”
So it was time for all the warriors to go home.
1. God intended it to beCanaan. (Command at Kadesh)
2 . But years before (Nu 32) a curious thing had happened:
a. 2 ½ tribes asked for Gilead.
b. Cuz it was good for their cattle
c. Not for their spiritual good. (Like Lot)
3. Moses angry, then afraid.
a. Angry cuz it looked like they were chickening out like before.
b. Afraid cuz God might send ‘em back for another 40 yr hike.
c. When explained, Moses sed OK. Didn’t ask God.
4. They promised Moses (Num. 32; Deut. 3:12–20),
5. Then Joshua, their new leader (Josh. 1:12–18).
Josh gave them all “medals,” Commendation, and advice:
(a) be very careful to keep the commandment and the Law, (b) love the Lord your God, (c) walk in all His ways, (d) obey His commands, (e) hold fast to Him, and (f) serve Him with all your heart and all your soul. So they went.
Then another strange thing happened:
EW’s decide decided they had a problem:
1. Since Jordan not ordinary river. Had Mts. on each side over 2,000’ and Jordan Valley between in effect a great trench 5 to 13 miles wide. Part of year, intense heat discourages travel
b. Figured the kids wud grow up biased So, an altar.
c. Unnecessary! God had it figured already.
1. Males at sanctuary three times a yr (Ex. 23:17).
2. Honor by obeying, and talk homes (Deut. 6:6–9 = their children wud know
Seems didn’t have relat’p w/ God like Josh and Caleb.
1. Joshua built altars, Abe, Isaac, and Jacob too. Josh did it for God. Why did they?
2. They built it as a witness to assure everyone would understand. But no one understood, and nearly caused war!
3. May have meant right, but minds clouded
There was a problem.
1. When The WJ’s heard they formed a council of war a. They were to investigate every appearance of a breach of Law (Deut. 13).
b. Destroy altars of heathen, and not build own altars
c. To be , of sacrifice, at the one sanctuary, that God had appointed (Deut. 12; Lev. 17:8–9).
2. Phinehas had experience w/ this (Num. 25; Ps. 106:30–31): Peor & 24,000 dead. Then there was the thing w/ Achan and 36 died. The whole country was in danger, so the took action.
Delegation sent. Charges laid. Explanation called for.
Counsel given - “Come over and dwell with us, because we have the Lord’s tabernacle in our land” (22:19, paraphrase).
Look at their answer:
1. Accused WJ’s of worldly children
2. Accused God of creating the problem in the first place! “For the Lord has made the Jordan a border between you and us” (Josh. 22:25, NKJV).
3. No! made the Jordan River the dividing line! In choosing to live east of the Jordan EW’s separated themselves.
a. They put their cattle ahead of their children and their fellow Jews,
b. Then blamed God and the other tribes for problem
But an Altar of Witness seemed like good idea at the time.
1. But what kind of “witness” was this huge pile of stones?
a. Supposed to be witness of unity of the nation and to the obedience of the Transjordanic tribes?
b. Instead it was a witness to expedience: They wanted wealth
2. Nearby was “witness altar” of Josh. (4:20–24).
a. To reminded Jews they had crossed river and buried their past.
b. Now EW’s had crossed back. Their “altar” contradicted
Everybody was happy that God wouldn’t send judgment to the land (v. 31) and that there would be no civil war in Israel (v. 33).
But the nation was divided, in spite of the “altar of witness.” Like Abraham and Lot (Gen. 13), part of the nation had a spiritual outlook while the other part was concerned with material things.
Church history is replete with agreements and accords that magnified unity over purity and truth, and therefore never lasted..
The well-known Bible commentator, Matthew Henry, said it best: “Peace is such a precious jewel that I would give anything for it but truth.
Creativity in worship is great, but not when it replaces
God ordained things,
Closeness and fellowship with God;
And as long as it doesn’t communicate wrong things;
And doesn’t negate right things (Joshua’s monument)
“Religious” bumper stickers, jewelry, decals, and other items , etc, supposed to say, “Hey, I’m a Xian.
Maybe an opportunity for witness,
But how much better if Spirit-led conduct and speech made the lost sit up and take notice.