If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Joshua 22, Acts 2, Jeremiah 11, Matthew 25. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Joshua 22.
With a “job well done” and a “thanks for your service,” Joshua dismissed the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh to return to the other side of the Jordan River (vv. 1-4). His parting instruction was, “But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul” (v. 5).
Just before they crossed the Jordan river, they built what verse 10 calls “an imposing altar.” The rest of Israel saw this as an act of war (v. 12), assuming that it was built to be used for sacrifices (vv. 15-19). It is unclear from the passage if the rest of Israel saw this as an altar of idolatry or if they thought it was one of convenience. In other words, did these 2 1/2 tribes build this to sacrifice to Israel’s God there instead of traveling to wherever the Tabernacle was? Or did they built it for idolatry? Either way would have been disobedient to God’s commands; due to all their bad experience disobeying the Lord (vv. 17, 20), the rest of the Israelites were incensed at the disobedience of the 2 1/2 Transjordan tribes. Their actual intentions for the altar were easily explained (vv. 29-31) and their explanation was accepted before any violence was used (vv. 32-34). But this story demonstrates how unwise actions—even ones that are motivated by good desires to honor the Lord—can be misunderstood. These 2 1/2 tribes could have informed Joshua of their intentions to build before leaving to return home. Of, if they decided to do this spontaneously after leaving Joshua, they could have built something else instead of an altar to honor God.
What are some things believers do with good motives that are unwise? Share your ideas about this below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.