Friday, March 28

Things Aren't Always What They Seem...

"The rest of Israel heard that the people of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had built an altar at Geliloth at the edge of the land of Canaan... So the whole community of Israel gathered at Shiloh and prepared to go to war against them. First, however, they sent a delegation led by Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, to talk with the tribes..." (Joshua 22.11-13)

Okay... without a show of hands... how many of us are guilty at one time or another of jumping to conclusions, and making a fool of ourselves because we didn't have all the facts? Just wanna know before I proceed, so that we're applying this to our own lives, and not thinking of somebody else as we read. :-)

I'M GUILTY OF THIS!!! I've done it time and time again... I heard something, and proceeded to cast judgment or write off the person about whom I heard the information... when all I had to do was go straight to the source. What was happening in this passage was that the 2 1/2 tribes mentioned above were allotted land in a different area of the land promised to Israel by God... and upon arriving in that land, they built an altar. Someone, somewhere saw the altar... ASSUMED IT WAS SOMETHING THAT IT WASN'T... and proceeded to pass on false information about it. We don't read all that in the text, but the key phrase is "The rest of Israel heard..." Although they heard wrong, the information still made its way through to the rest of the people. Here are a few things we can learn from this account:

1. Make sure you have correct information about a situation or person before you pass on information about them. Among a list of things in the Bible that God hates, are "a false witness who pours out lies and a man that stirs up dissention among brothers" (Prov. 6:19). Before we pass on information about someone, we need to make sure our facts our straight.

2. Use wisdom and proceed cautiously when you're not sure about perceptions. Before the Israelites committed themselves to confronting (with WAR, no less) their fellow Israelites, they send leaders to get all the facts first. This proved invaluable, because their perceptions were wrong. Had they proceeded with judgment, things would've gotten ugly.

3. Jumping to conclusions can get you in alot of trouble! Phinehas said to the accused (once he had the correct information), "You have not committed this treachery against the Lord as we thought. Instead, you have rescued Israel from being destroyed by the hand of the LORD" (Josh. 22.31). Had Israel gone to war against their accused brothers, they would've been disciplined by God... even though their motives were right. Having the right motives doesn't exempt us from using wisdom and discernment.

ALWAYS get the facts.


Jocelyn Christensen said...

Oh, whoops! You said NOT to show hands! :)


No worries, Jocelyn... I showed my hand, too! ;-)