Reading through the Bible together

Sunday, November 11, 2012

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Narrowly Averted War

The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh were heading home from the conquest of Canaan, they thought to themselves, “We’ll be settled over there, across the River Jordan, by ourselves, separate from our brothers in the other tribes.  What if they say to our children in the future that they don’t belong to Israel and have no share in the Lord?”  For that reason Manassehites decided to erect an imposing altar by the Jordan River, a replica of the altar in the Tabernacle at Shiloh to show that they were one people.


When the other tribes heard about this altar, they mustered an army to go to war against the tribe of Manasseh.  Fortunately, they first sent a delegation to talk with them before attacking.  “How could you so soon turn away from the Lord our God to erect another altar?” they asked.  Shocked that their good intentions had been so misread, the leaders answered, “God forbid that we should rebel against Him!  No, this altar is not for offering sacrifices apart from those at the Sanctuary, but simply as a witness that your are our brothers and that we will be faithful to God.”


Like the Isrealites, we, too, need to be accountable to each other, but we should always consider very carefully before coming to conclusion about the actions of our brothers and sisters and making accusations.

Ralph Neall

Retired Professor and Missionary