Monday, March 25

Have a conversation

Scripture: Joshua 21-22, Psalm 47, 1 Corinthians 10

Joshua 22:12 When the sons of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the sons of Israel gathered themselves at Shiloh to go up against them in war.  

Joshua 22:22 “The Mighty One, God, the Lord!  The Mighty One, God, the Lord!  He knows, and may Israel itself know.”


After a successful military campaign, the 2.5 tribes whose portion was on the east side of the Jordan were sent home, as promised.  Before they crossed the Jordan, they built an altar near the river, a replica of the altar in the Tabernacle.  Mosaic law required all sacrifice to be centralized at the Tabernacle (later, the Temple).  So the other 10 tribes understood this new altar to be an act of rebellion against God, a break from their shared faith and common practice.  They recalled other times when Israelites had broken faith (immorality at Peor, or Achan’s sin) and the entire nation had suffered as a result.  They decided to address the rebellion immediately, and the ten tribes armed for war.  (v. 12)

Fortunately, before attacking, they had a conversation.  They made an appeal, asking why the 2.5 tribes would commit this “unfaithful act” and reminding them of the severe national consequences of other such acts of rebellion.  

To their surprise, the 2.5 tribes declared themselves innocent of any rebellion.  “The Lord knows” what we intended, they said.  (v. 22)  Their intent was to build a memorial, a reminder to the 10 tribes on the west side of the river, that they were part of Israel too, even though the river separated them.  They named the altar “Witness,” for it was a witness between them that the Lord is God—that they were one nation, united in the worship of the Lord, living on two sides of the Jordan.


Here is a classic example of negative attribution.  The 10 tribes assumed they understood the motive and intent of the 2.5 tribes.  They didn’t.  They didn’t know, but God did.  They assumed the worst and came close to shedding innocent blood.  Thankfully, before they acted on their negative and untrue assumptions, they had the good sense to have a conversation where the misunderstanding was cleared up.

1. Beware of negative attributions.  Remind yourself: I don’t know, God does.

2. If you don’t know and you’re concerned, have a face-to-face conversation.  Just ask.  

3. Never act on assumptions.  You don’t know.  God does.  Go ask before you do something stupid!

Prayer: Lord, catch me every time I make an unfounded negative attribution.  Remind me that I don’t know, and I need to have a conversation.  Help me!