Read Joshua 22
Focus on verse 12
There was a time in this nation when a person was innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. While this is still technically true, in mist circles, there is one particular arena in which as of the last few months were there seems to be an effort on the part of the media to turn this on its head. The number of politicians and celebrities who have been crucified in the court of public opinion with minimal evidence has been shocking. This is not to suggest that there are any excuses to justify sexual misconduct of any kind, but one must question whether some of the accusation that have been made in what has come to be called the “me too” movement have political motivation that goes beyond just seeing justice served.
In the current cultural climate public perception can destroy the reputation of a person even if the charges against the person turn out to be false and unfounded. By the time the truth is revealed the damage is done. In today’s reading the people of Israel almost make a terrible mistake based upon public perception. The two tribes east of the Jordan build what appear to be a large altar on the eat side of the river.
And when the people of Israel heard of it, the whole assembly of the people of Israel gathered at Shiloh to make war against them. (v. 12)
The way we perceive something and the way it really is can often be as different as night and day. In this chapter of Joshua the tribes west of the Jordan are ready to go to war against their brothers East of the Jordan because they misunderstood the purpose of the altar that the people of the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh had built near the Jordan River. Their immediate assumption was that this was to be an alternative location to offer sacrifices in violation of the command of the Lord.
Had they not first sent Phinehas and the ten chiefs with him to clarify their intent, there would likely have been an ugly civil war over this misunderstanding.
I wonder at times, how often this happens in the family of God – that we act upon our perception of a situation and needlessly cause war in the camp when open honest communication could have cleared up a perceived offense and prevented our spiritual enemy from dividing brothers and sister in Christ by turning them against one another. This takes wise leadership such as is demonstrated by Phinehas and the ten chiefs who went with him who not only clearly articulated what their perception was, but who took the time to listen and understand, which in this case prevented a bloody civil war.