Jumping to Conclusions

Posted: April 25, 2013 in Uncategorized
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As Joshua was leading the Israelite conquest of Canaan, he knew what tribes were going to settle in what locations. It’s interesting that two and a half tribes were located on the east side of the Jordan River: Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh. Apparently, they needed more room for all their livestock (Numbers 32). So after building sheep pens they took up arms to help their people drive the people out of the Promised Land (which they didn’t really do, but that is another story, Judges 1).

When the job was done, those tribes went back across the Jordan to get on with their lives. As soon came to the region of Jordan they built an altar of “imposing size” (Joshua 22:10).
What’s interesting is what happens next. The rest of the nation of Israel, the people who they were just fighting with, turned to make war on them! Ten chiefs, the heads of all the clans, came to this place because they thought the people had turned their back on God. The leaders from those two and a half tribes across the Jordan had to stop and tell them that it was all a big misunderstanding. This altar wasn’t set up against God, it was set up to remind future generations that all of Israel was united in worshiping God. They did not want future generations to forget about them and exclude their descendants from worshiping the one true God, the LORD. They named the altar “Witness” because it was a witness between them and the LORD God (Joshua 22:34).
As I meditated on this passage I thought about the waste of time and resources that are spent jumping to the wrong conclusions. If those 10 chiefs would have sent messengers to question what was going on they would not have had to take time to travel to Jordan and confront the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half-Manasseh. Everyone could have saved face if they would have assumed the best and not the worst about their extended family/countrymen. What looked like a monument to a false idol turned out to be a reminder of the LORD’s faithfulness.
In my life I wonder how much energy, effort, time, and resources I waste by assuming wrong motivations in the actions of others. It is my prayer that I give others the benefit of the doubt in all situations, and that I would assume good motivations instead of sinful ones.
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