“The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad called the altar Witness; ‘For,’ they said, ‘it is a witness between us that the Lord is God.’” (Joshua 22:34, NASB)
The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh were going home! For years they had been traveling with their Israelite brothers on the mission to conquer Canaan, but now they had fulfilled their promise and could return to their families on the eastern side of the Jordan.
Just across the river, with home in sight, they constructed an altar of remembrance. Miles away in the Israelite camp, news arrived. The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh had defied God by building an altar by the Jordan river! God had been very clear that no sacrifices could be made except on the altar He commissioned.
What if God punished the rest of the tribes for the sin of their brothers? There was only one thing to do—attack and wipe out this sin from
among them. But someone had a revolutionary idea. Perhaps they should check the facts by sending a delegation.
When the delegation arrived, they found that, far from being an altar to defy the Lord, their brothers had raised it as a testimony to the descendants of Israel on both sides of the river. It was an altar of witness, not one of rebellion.
What if Israel hadn’t found out the truth? History would tell a much different tale.
How often do we rush to judgment and marshal our troops before we have the full story?
How many lives, churches, schools, and homes have been torn apart because we didn’t take the time to learn the truth?
The next time you hear a “report,” remember the altar by the Jordan. Facts matter.
Originally published in God’s Revivalist. Used by permission.