Joshua 22, How To Avoid Misunderstanding Division And War

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Jerry Simmons shared this Verse By Verse Bible study from Joshua on Sunday, August 15, 2021 using the New King James Version (NKJV).

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amen. Well, as we look at Joshua, chapter 22 this morning continuing to work our way through the bible. In three years, we finished up the book of Joshua this week and are now reading through the Book of judges and some exciting things that God wants to teach us through that. But here in Joshua, chapter 22 I've titled the message this morning how to avoid misunderstanding division and war, How to avoid misunderstanding division and war. And you can kind of think about that as three things, misunderstanding comma, division, comma and war, three different things, but also its misunderstanding that often leads to division and war battles between people. And so there's this idea here in the passage, this uh these events that unfold as a result of misunderstanding that really is related to in the cause of the division and possible war that is about to take place. And so there's some interesting things for us to consider about that. Now. For a little bit of context, the nation of Israel was divided really into two parts. Here in Joshua, chapter 22, Joshua and the leaders have just finished dividing up the land, Israel has fully conquered, the land that God had given to them in the major sense, we talked about that not every enemy not every town was conquered, but The major enemies have been defeated. So the land has been divided between the 12 tribes and you can see there on the map, there is the different portions given to each tribe and it was, to for them to inherit for them to inhabit and for them to continue to drive out the inhabitants of the land there. But there's a little bit of a natural division between the tribes here on the west side and the tribes on the east side and so on the east side, there's three tribes Manasseh, Gad and Reuben and they didn't have to be on that side of the Jordan river. But as they were getting ready to cross over under the leadership of moses, they conquered that territory and these three tribes said, you know, we really like this side, we don't really need to enter in and get a portion of land on the other side. And so we'd like to have our inheritance on this side of the Jordan. And so moses granted that request. And so this is the divisions that they were given. Then, the remainder of the tribes crossed over and they were given the different portions of land. As illustrated here. Now, the exact dimensions and those kinds of things is not really important for this morning, but the understanding that we need to have is that there is this Jordan river that goes from north to south, that is this natural divider between those who settled on the east side and those who settled in the land of Canaan that God had promised to give them. And so because of this natural division uh there develops a situation or an idea and really spurs on a motivation for them to build an altar and causes some problems as a result. And so we'll see that as we work our way through. But as we look at this passage and understand, a little bit of the reason why there could be a little bit of division, a little bit of misunderstanding separation between them. The passage that continued to resonate in my mind as I was reading through these things and considering them is James Chapter one, verses 19 and 20 and I would suggest that this verse this passage would be instrumental in preventing the situation that we're about to see unfold and really preventing in our own lives, misunderstanding division and war for us as well, James chapter one verse 19 and 20 says so then my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. This is a passage I would ask you to keep in mind as we work our way through Joshua. Chapter 22 this morning. There's three things James says we need to do. We need to be swift to here. We need to be slow to speak and we need to be slow to wrath. And I would Say to you this morning that this is a message. This instruction by James. This demonstration of the concepts found in Joshua. Chapter 22 are more relevant now than they were back when they happened or back before. Just as relevant now that these are things that we, as Christians in 2021 need to hear and apply and to put into practice and I would even suggest that we don't see this widely practiced amongst the world around us or even those who would call themselves christians are claimed to be christians today, that we need to be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath and if we will follow that, it will do a great deal of Improvement for us in avoiding misunderstanding division and war. And so there's four steps will walk through as we spend some time here in Joshua chapter 22. How to avoid misunderstanding division and war. The first step Founding vs 11 and 12. And that is be slow to anger. If you want to avoid misunderstanding division in war. The first thing we need to learn how to do is to be slow to anger, to not be quick to wrath, to not be swift to be stirred up in our anger and wrath to the world around us or to those around us, check out verse 11 and 12, it says now, the Children of Israel heard someone say behold the Children of Reuben the Children of God and half the tribe of Manasseh have built an altar on the frontier of the land of Canaan in the region of the Jordan, on the Children of Israel side and when the Children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the Children of Israel gathered together at Shiloh to go to war against them. Here in these verses we see the news goes out As these three tribes make their way back. Now the first part of Chapter 22 is Joshua dismissing these three tribes, they fulfilled their obligation, their duty, they promised moses that they would cross over the Jordan with their brethren, helped them conquer the land and inherit the land that God had given to them And then they would be free back to go back and settle the land on the other side of the Jordan that they received as their inheritance. And so at the beginning of Chapter 22, you see Joshua basically say well done guys, you fulfilled your promise, you fulfilled your word, you helped us conquer the land is conquered. Now the land is divided. Now you can go back to your homes on the other side and settle down there. But as they are on their way over, they decided to build an altar on the shore of the Jordan river and as they build that alter news begins to spread about that there's a couple things to consider about this. You know, you can ask the question should they have built an altar and the answer probably is probably it wasn't the best option or the best decision that they ever made, they probably should not have built the altar, but we'll come back and consider that a little bit further down in the text. But another thing that we need to consider is how quickly Israel gathered for war against their brethren. I mean it's just a few moments ago, right, Joshua declares victory. You guys were part of the army, you're part of the soldiers and part of the victory that was accomplished here. Thank you guys. You did a great job, well done. Good and faithful servants head back home. And then just a few verses later, a few moments later before they're even all the way home yet now the Children of Israel have gathered together for war and are ready to attack their brethren. They're gathered together for war based on this news report that they heard based on some hearsay and assumptions. As I read this passage, it was on Tuesday that this was the reading scheduled for us and going through the Bible in three years and I read through this on Tuesday and I thought, you know, I would have thought that our generation is the one that invented outrage over fake news and rumors. But here we see evidence. This has been going on for thousands of years. They hear a news report. Hey, these guys have built an altar And so it tells us in verse 12, the whole congregation of the Children of Israel gather together at Shiloh to go to war against them understand here, what's happening is not some ideas, you know, began to be passed around or some uh conversations began to happen or the leaders got, got together to seek counsel on what to do with this news that they've heard. No. What happened here is the whole congregation, the whole nation whom they come back together, they sound the alarm. It's time to go to war and they are preparing for battle against those who have just been fighting with them for the past seven years to help conquer the promised land. It's such a quick rush to war that happens here for the nation of Israel. Now, in one sense, their readiness for war could be commendable because they are commanded to divide and separate from those who are rebellious against God. There is the instruction of the Lord to behave this way for real rebellion for authentic genuine idolatry and rebellion against God. So it almost could be commendable how quickly they are ready to go to war, but in this case they're ready to go to war before they know what is going on. And it's not just that they're ready to go for war in principle or in thought like okay, if, if there is a real issue here, then yes, I need to be settled that I'm going to have to go to battle against my brethren and that's going to be tough and painful, but I need to do what I need to do in order to be faithful to God like that. It would be one thing if it was an internal readiness, right? But there the whole congregation has gathered together there organizing the rinks, they're preparing their equipment again, they're back in battle mood very quickly after they send their brethren away. And it comes about because in verse 11, it says the Children of Israel heard someone say, they heard someone say not Joshua said not Phineas said not Eliezer said not, you know, someone specific said one of the issues with this report is that it's an anonymous report. They heard someone say this kind of reporting is something that causes problems for us today that there is the anonymous general idea. You know many times when there is divisions within a church, it is talked about in this way, people are saying, you know, there there is this idea, they say, I've heard someone say, you know, without anybody actually owning what it is that is being said and that's a that's a red flag. Now, all anonymous reports are not necessarily automatically wrong or sinful or bad. But it is a concern when all we have is an anonymous report, they heard someone say it's unsubstantiated. They heard someone say so it's hearsay, it's then pass along, it's going through the rumor mill, Everybody is talking about it. But but there hasn't been the verification yet. They've just heard it said they've heard it being talked about. Another issue with this report is it's one sided. So it's just the report of this is what the people did on their way back to cross over the Jordan. Now, this report, although anonymous is accurate to the fact that an altar was built. That is the report. Right. They heard it said they heard someone say these three tribes, Reuben Gad, half the tribe of Manasseh built an altar right here on the this side of the Jordan, right next to well, the Jordan river on this side, the Children of Israel's side. By the way, Little side note in reference to the half the tribe of Manasseh um for a long time. I was confused about that, you know, like we have like half brothers and half sisters and you know, that kind of thing in our day and age. Right? But that's not what this is talking about. Half the tribe of Manasseh is the whole tribe of Manasseh. If they were saying 1000 families, 500 of the families decided to stay on one side of the Jordan, the other 500 crossed over the Jordan. And so it's just that tribe kind of split into some settling on one side of the Jordan, some settling on the other side of the Jordan. So it's not a lesser, you know, tribe or a lesser reference to a lesser status for them as a tribe. And so these three tribes, as they're heading across the Jordan, they actually do build built an altar. And so that part of the report is factual. What is the purpose for this altar? Well, it would be very easy for us. And that day hearing this report, hey, these three tribes have built an altar to be shocked to come to the same conclusion that the rest of Israel came to at that time. We could easily say alters only have one purpose alters our for sacrifice. And so therefore we conclude they must be rebelling against God. That's the only conclusion that could be arrived at with this information we might think. But what cannot be known here is their motives and their intentions. Now, if you've read through the whole chapter, you know their motives and intentions. But if you're just following along thus far with us Up here through Verse 12 of Joshua, Chapter 22, their motives and intentions are not revealed yet. The people of Israel are convinced they understand and know the motives and intentions. It's one of the things that we have to constantly remember. We are not equipped to see other people's hearts. We are not equipped to see and to no other people's motives and intentions. It's just not something that we are very good at. The Lord might reveal and give insight, it will be a supernatural work when he does that. But it's not something that we uh Excel at, We're not equipped for that kind of understanding. We don't find out the motives of these three tribes in building the altar Until Verse 24. And how do we find out the motives Of these people in building the altar? Well, in verse 24 is when they're finally given a chance to speak the Children of Israel heard the report came to conclusions gathered together for war. It's not till sometime later that these accused are really given an opportunity to state their case and explain what it is that they've done Proverbs. Chapter 18 for 17 says the first one to plead his cause seems right until his neighbor comes and examines him. The first one to plead his case seems right until someone else comes along and either shares their side of the story or uh kind of digs into the background and provide some context to the situation. It's one of the reasons why we need to learn to be slow to anger because so many times we are rushed into wrath were rushed into anger without having an understanding of the situation. We don't have the whole context. We don't know that the details around it. We don't know the motives and intentions of the hearts of the people who are involved. And so it's very wise for us to follow these words of James and to be slow to wrath to be slow to anger. There's a lot of times that I do not address current hot topics that are happening in the world around us and I know that frustrates some of you and I've been encouraged and exhorted jerry. You need to stand for righteousness and you need to, you know, give your opinion on this and you need to share and I agree, but at the same time should I be forced to form an opinion about something that I don't know anything about? And this is where I really hesitate to dive into a lot of things because I don't have the whole story. I'm not quick to wrath not so much because I have such outstanding character, but just because there's a lot that I don't know and I I reserve judgment as best I can until there's more information that comes in who's going to win the World Series this year. Now you could ask me for an opinion, You could try to force one out of me, but I have no idea it's baseball even happening this year. I don't even know uh I can make up an answer. I can, you know, talk about it. I can give opinions, but at the same time I need to be careful not to jump to conclusions and be quick to anger about things that I just don't know anything about her. I don't have the whole sawyer only have one piece or one part of the story and you know there seems to be an issue in the things that are happening around us today, like like our world is optimized for Quick Wrath, the world that we live in today is optimized for hearing reports and then experiencing outrage over that. Like we just repeat that cycle over and over and over and over and over again. It's not optimized for, hey, let's get the whole story. Let's find out what really happened. Let's, you know, get to the the bottom of it and see what it is that the Lord wants us to do. Let's take some time to pray about this. The world is not optimized for that. But we, as believers need to learn to resist the kind of the trend and the pressure and the, the things that are happening in that way and and be able to take a step back and say, I don't have to respond to this right now. I don't, I don't have all the information that would be needed to make a decision on this, to make a judgment on this, that it's okay. I can reserve judgment, I can hold off and I can spend some time and seek the Lord and see how he wants me to respond in this situation. But there is oftentimes great pressure around us. Sometimes it comes from the world around us, but also, sometimes it comes from within the church. Sometimes it comes from within our families, pressure to take sides pressure to and maybe it's not overt pressure. Maybe it's kind of manipulative pressure. Like let me tell you my side to get you on my side. So that when we address the other side, you're already convinced and decided in this situation that has unfolded, Let me encourage you. Be slow to anger, be slow to anger, be slow to make those judgments. In fact, I would encourage you to consider taking steps if there is a area of your life. Perhaps that is subject to easily provoking you to anger and perhaps you need to think about How to manage that aspect of your life, Romans. Chapter 16 Verse 17 and 18 the Apostle Paul says, I urge you brethren. Note those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you learned and avoid them, for those who are such do not serve our Lord, jesus christ but their own belly and by smooth words in flattering speech, deceive the hearts of the simple paul says here, Note those who cause divisions and offenses, those who are the ones spreading the rumors. Perhaps those are calling people to take sides, calling people to, you know, be against someone else. Those who are pressuring for there to be this kind of division amongst us, paul says, take note of those and avoid them. And perhaps that is some wise counsel for us. Maybe there are those around us who kind of provoke us and instigate us to be quick to wrath towards family, towards friends, towards others in the church towards situations in society. And maybe we need to take note and recognize, you know, every time I am around this person, I am provoked to wrath and and it's causing me to be stumbled uh Maybe you would say it's causing me to be triggered when, when I was in my late teens, early twenties, I was a weird kid, but I used to always listen to am talk radio and uh I'm glad I got it out of my system then right like I listened to enough am talk radio that I never have to listen to it ever again. But I found myself as a teenager who had no really business being involved in any of these conversations like I had no say I had no part of it, that it meant nothing to me. But I found myself angry like like wrestling with anger and and at this like contempt for people and and and there was like this internal like angst that was there as I was just every day, you know, as I'm driving here, driving there as much as I could I was, you know, listen to all these people rage on the radio and it taught me to rage internally and I really didn't like the this position I had as a fed on that material. Now the Lord brought me out of that and again, I'm glad I never have to listen to that stuff again because I know where that leads me, right? Listen, if watching the news makes you angry, I would encourage you to really consider stop watching the news. If social media makes you angry, I would encourage you to consider get off of it. It is that hot topic conversation makes you angry. Maybe you need to stop engaging in those conversations again, paul says, take note of those who are causing divisions, those who are stirring up within you, that the opposition against others around you. If it's causing you to be quick to anger, then maybe you need to reconsider your relationship with those aspects of life again. Our world is not optimized to help us be slow to anger. And so we need to implement some self discipline. Perhaps some course correction and help us seek the Lord first and follow him. If I'm angry when God's not angry, I'm I'm misrepresenting God as christians when we are angry and God is not angry, We misrepresent God, We are called to be ambassadors for the Lord, we are called to represent the Lord. Now it is also true. The other side when God is angry and we're not angry. Well, were misrepresenting God also. And so I'm not saying there's never a case. James doesn't say never be angry, but he says be slow to anger to make sure it's a righteous indignation because the wrath of man doesn't produce the righteousness of God it doesn't produce the work of God, the will of God when we are stirred up to anger. And it's not an agreement with God. Misunderstandings happen regularly in our lives. It happens consistently regularly in our homes, in our workplaces, in the church and in society, we, we often fail in our communications to one another. We fall short in being able to listen, we fall short and being able to uh, communicate what it is that we're experiencing. Misunderstandings are going to happen continually in our lives. And so we need to learn to be slow to anger so that we don't take that misunderstanding and then escalated to something even more so that our personal relationships are battles now because it could have been resolved. But we were quick to anger and we took a situation and made it worse in our wrath and our anger within the church, between christians in society. Let's commit to being slow to anger. We're continuing on versus 13 through 20. We get the second step here how to avoid misunderstanding division and war Step number to be slow to speak. Be slow To speak. Verse 13 says this. Then the Children of Israel sent Phineas, the son of Eleazar, the priest, to the Children of Reuben, to the Children of God and a half the tribe of Manasseh into the land of Gilead And with him 10 rulers, one ruler each from the Chief House of every tribe of Israel and each one was the head of the house of his father among the divisions of Israel. Then they came to the Children of Reuben to the Children of God and to half the tribe of Manasseh to the Land of Gilead and they spoke with them saying thus says the whole congregation of the Lord. What treachery is this that you have committed against the God of Israel to turn away this day from following the Lord in that you have built for yourselves an altar that you might rebel this day against the Lord. Here in versus 13 through 20, we see a delegation of leaders are sent from the congregation that has gathered for battle. They send out some leaders To talk to these three tribes, that part of it is a wise thing to do. It's good. Right. They didn't just immediately rush the whole army against them and start attacking. They said, let's be wise here, let's send a delegation. Let's try to work out what it is that happened and we don't know how this came about. Right. We have just what is recorded here, There is much more detail that is not recorded here. And so it's possible, you know, the Children of Israel as a whole wanted this, it's possible, they didn't want this, but you know the leaders said no, you know what we need to make sure that this is right before we actually go to battle uh and so there was this delegation that is sent. But as this delegation is sent, what's interesting is the show up and they immediately began talking for a long time as you continue on. It goes down all the way down to verse 20 there just talking and talking and talking and talking. And again, I would remind you, James tells us, my beloved brethren. Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath as they show up to investigate the situation. It doesn't appear that there's a lot of investigation at the get go. They stepped right out the gate with an accusation. Now it's a wide step to have the conversation before battle. But the problem is there, they're talking before they're listening verse 16 thus says the whole congregation of the Lord, what treachery is this? And so they come out the gate with this accusation. Now you and I know what it's like to be misunderstood and to have someone come at us with an accusation immediately where there wasn't the need for the accusation, right that we know what that's like and it's very easy for us to get into defensive mode at that point. And if it wasn't a situation before now it becomes a situation because now I'm defensive and I'm in, you know, battle mood and your attack mood. And so now we're clashing when perhaps there didn't need to be a clash. There's a battle where there perhaps didn't need to be a battle. When we start with an accusation, we're assuming treachery, we're assuming apostasy were assuming rebellion, that's what the leaders here of Israel, that was their posture. They were saying, look what treachery is this. You've already rebelled against God, you've already turned against God. I can't believe you how terrible it is that you have not been faithful to the Lord. Now again, it is to be commended, their willingness to confront sin and to deal with sin. It is to be commendable that they were willing even to the point of going to battle in defending the honor of the Lord in keeping their congregation faithful to the Lord In this accusation, they go on to give a couple examples in verse 17 and 18 they give the example of the iniquity of pay. Our that was when Bell um came in and uh taught the king of Bellick how to stumble the people and got people involved in sin and iniquity. And the point there is a talk about the issue that happened at the or was that the whole congregation suffered as a result of those who were engaged in this sin. The whole congregation of Israel was impacted by the sin of those who were involved with the women of moab. And so the point is they're saying, look, we have to deal with this because if we don't deal with this, it's not just these three tribes that will have an issue, but the Lord will be angry with the whole congregation that we as a whole need to deal with sin within the camp. The other example they give is in verse 20, the example of akin deacon, this is this one guy, he decides that the battle of Jericho to take some of the things that God had forbidden. And again, their point is all of the congregation of Israel suffered as a result of that one man's action. He had those things, those treasures and so they all suffered. They were defeated at the battle of the Eye. His whole family was executed along with him. It wasn't just that guy that paid for and was hurt by the sin, but the family was impacted the nation as a whole was impacted. So again, it's commendable. They had the right to, it was right for them to take sin seriously. But again, the problem was they didn't really know if it was sin yet. And so they come out with the accusation. They want to show their zeal for holiness unto the Lord right? And that is to be commended. And yet they're rushing ahead because they don't know the situation yet. They're bringing accusations, they're speaking a lot, but perhaps they should have started with listening rather than speaking now from their perspective, they were convinced it was sin. So there was no need for them to debate about that or wrestle with that. They knew for sure it's sin. And so we must deal with it this way. In fact, God had told them in Deuteronomy chapter 13 kind of outlines very similar situation to this. If you hear someone in one of your cities which the Lord your God gives you to dwell in saying corrupt men have gone out from among you and entice the inhabitants of their city saying, let us go and serve other gods that you have not known. You hear about someone in one of your cities. You hear this report, there's idolatry, there's rebellion against the Lord. This Deuteronomy chapter 13 passage really kind of sets up a parallel situation to what we're seeing here. But then notice the next verses go on to say verse 14, then you shall inquire and search out and ask diligently and if it need it's true and certain such an abomination was committed among you. You shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword utterly destroying it all that is in it and its livestock with the edge of the sword. So God's instruction was amongst the Children of Israel. When there is idolatry, it is a matter of war, it is a matter of treachery and treason and it must be dealt with seriously and severely. You have to deal with issues of sin like this. But God's instruction also was if you hear about this, you hear rumors of this, you hear reports of it, somebody says this, then the first thing is not to gather for war. The first thing is not to go and give an accusation. The first thing is to go inquire search out and ask diligently to go and ask the questions to go and research and understand. Is this true? Is this an accurate report that has been given now again for them? They were convinced it was an accurate report. They didn't need any further information. They didn't need any further evidence because an altar was built. But it's a little bit of a interesting discussion that you could have. Is it sinful to build an altar? Was it sinful for them to build this? Now a lot of Commentators and teachers going through this passage say Yes, absolutely. You can look at Deuteronomy chapter 12 and God says you shall only sacrifice the police that God chooses. They're at the Tabernacle later on the temple, that's the only place to offer sacrifices. But they weren't offering sacrifices. Yeah, but that's what an ultra is for. Okay, but they weren't offering sacrifices. So where's the versus says, don't build alter. It's forbidden. God says you shall not, let's say that the lord build an altar. In fact in Exodus. Chapter 20. God says if you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hume stone for if you use your tool on it, you have profaned it. God says if you build an altar then use whole stones, don't carve out stones. He gives instructions for how to build an altar, not a all out, it's never allowed, it's never possible to build an altar. But if you do, when you do, if it happens, here's how to do it. To sacrifice on the altar would be a different thing. If they were sacrificing to God there it would be a violation of what God said. If they were sacrificing the other gods, of course that would be idolatry worthy of all of the battle and war that Israel is prepared to do but they haven't sacrificed on it. And so Israel would be saying, wait. So you want us to wait and see if they sacrifice on it. I would say yes, if the initial act isn't necessarily sinful, although we can understand why they jump to that conclusion because that's typically what altars are used for, right? We understand the logical progression, but at the same time that that act wasn't specifically forbidden. And so yes, before you go to battle, wait to see if it's an actual sin issue. Again, we can't know hear their motives, their intentions were just not equipped with that. The Children of Israel weren't equipped to handle that to understand that, but you can hear the arguments right? The existence of an altar will lead to sacrifices later on, even if they didn't do it initially, but you know, later on down the line, it's a slippery slope. Now there's an altar there. So there's going to be sacrifices on it. It's going to happen And understand the logic. I understand, get it totally. No problem makes sense. But at the same time that the acts that they had done in building it, what's not something that God had forbidden. But that's the path to the path of and you know, there's all the future and it's the fear of what might be possible in the future. That's prompting all of this. By the time the motives are made known of these three tribes who built this altar, Israel has already assembled for war. A false accusation has been made. They've been accused of treachery and rebellion against the Lord. It's a tense situation. And again, it could have gone really badly from here where the other three tribes, instead of defusing the situation with an accurate accounting of what had happened, there could have just been a retaliation, a defensive attack. There could have been a battle that ensued. They were on both sides not being very wise in their relationship. Let the Children of Israel's example here remind us to be slow to speak. A false accusation against someone's motives against someone's heart. Even if it's a logical assumption, we need to be careful that we are not speaking ahead of what God has said. Positive. Chapter 18 verse 13. Who answers a matter before he hears it. It is folly and shame to him. It is foolish to answer a matter before we hear it to have the answer. Before we here the problem to have the accusation before we get to hear the other side to have the answer before we're listening to what's going on again. Misunderstandings happen regularly and they're going to continue to happen in your personal relationships. Maybe this is just, you know, marriage advice for you right now. Maybe it's church relationship advice. Maybe it's how to relate to people in your workplace or in society, you know, where you're at and the things that God wants to speak to you about. But misunderstandings happen and will continue to be happening in our lives. It's a result of our fallen nature and our inability to really communicate, but we can made great progress in reducing misunderstandings and preventing misunderstandings from becoming battles. If we will learn to be slow to speak. Our personal relationships will benefit from not jumping to the accusation, not jumping to that. Let me tell you, you know, these three examples and all this thing I have. I've been wanting to say this. I've been holding up for a long time and you know, and sometimes it can be like that, but to be slow to speak to wait to make sure that we understand what the Lord would have us to say in the situation is a wise thing to do. Well, the third thing that we'll look at verses 21 through 29 Step number three, How to avoid misunderstanding division and war. Be quick to hear Verse 21 through 23 says this. Then the Children of Reuben, the Children of God and half the tribe of Manasseh answered and said to the heads of the division of Israel, the Lord God of Gods, the Lord God of Gods, he knows let Israel itself. No. If it is in rebellion or if in treachery against the Lord do not save us this day. If we have built ourselves an altar to turn from following the Lord or if to offer it on it burnt offerings or grain offerings or if to offer peace offerings on it, let the Lord himself require and account to their credit. These three tribes answer wisely here. Their response says, look, we're on the same page here. We're on the same side. We agree. And if we are found guilty of your accusation, we agree with the judgment and we deserve to be executed. We deserve the battle that ensues because we have rebelled against the Lord. If what you're saying is true, they're the ones who are being misunderstood right. They're the ones being accused of something that they have not done. But they're saying we agree with you. Pastor David Music says these tribes do what we should all do when we're misunderstood. Put ourselves in the shoes of the other person and try to see what they see. If we saw what they saw. We might respond in the same. Wait, have you been misunderstood? I know it's really hard when you're misunderstood boy. It hurts and you feel attacked. But perhaps it would do us well to take a moment and try to see from their perspective the situation and to have a better understanding that we might have a a good answer and a soft answer to turn away the wrath that has been stirred up by the misunderstanding Again. Looking at James Chapter one, My beloved brethren. Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath. I would suggest these three tribes are slow to wrath at this point. They could have been angry and hurt and defensive over this accusation that has been brought against them. But the answer wisely and they say, you know, no, no. We agree with you. We're not we're not against the Lord. We haven't turned from the Lord. And if we have, if you find us guilty of that, then we accept the consequences for that because that at all is not what we have done or been doing. They go on to explain their reasoning in verse 24 and 25. But in fact we have done it for fear for a reason saying in time to come, your descendants may speak to our descendants saying what have you to do with the Lord God of Israel. For the Lord has made the Jordan a border between you and us. You Children of Ruben and Children of God, you have no part in the Lord. So your descendants would make our descendants cease fearing the Lord. They explained now their thoughts, we get to understand their motivations, what caused them, what prompted them to build this altar And they say we did it because we're afraid of what might happen in the future. Now. Their answer makes sense. Their answer is logical and you can see how they would go from there to building an altar makes sense. That doesn't mean it's the right thing to do necessarily are the best thing to do. I would suggest as much as the nation of Israel on the other side were swift to anger the Children of Israel on this side, they were swift to act, this was a spontaneous thing. They didn't think it through, they didn't plan it out very well. You know if they had planned it, they could have explained it before they left, right, they were just dismissed by Joshua and heading back across to their homeland. They could have said, okay guys, we've been thinking about this as we head across, we're going to build an altar because we want to be able to identify with the rest of the nation and understanding that the Jordan can be a little bit of a barrier and we want to prevent future misunderstandings and divisions between us and so here's our plan and then march off and do it. But it didn't seem like they planned it out ahead of time, right? Like they're just about to cross the Jordan and someone says, you know what if and a few people gather together and Oh yeah, that sounds yes, you're right. We should be afraid of that. Yes, we should act now. And so they stood up to act no indication that they sought the Lord on this, that God gave them instruction on this. No indication that they had paused to uh see what God had to say about it. They just had an idea and they did it. If they were asking me for counsel, he is this a wise move? I would have said, well, I don't know if I would have said that, but if they asked me that today, I would say, you know, that's probably not a wise move. It's not the route. I would suggest. It was a great impressive altar. It says in verse 10. So what if all that effort that you're willing to put into this? What if we built a bridge instead of an altar? What if we take all that effort that you want to put into this and build a bridge across the Jordan? So it's easy for you to go back and forth and maintain the relationship and you know, have access to one another and maybe that's a better route than building an altar, right? It's not necessarily the wisest move what they did. You could see it seems a bit foolish. You could back up even before that and say, you know, it seems a bit foolish to settle on that side of the Jordan to begin with. You know, they recognize it's a natural division and so now they have some obstacles that are there in uh, in between them and the Tabernacle and their fellowship with the Lord. So you could say, it seems foolish to settle on that side of the Jordan. Seems foolish to build an altar. Seems foolish to be motivated by fear to that degree that you just act out because of some unknown future. Perhaps some foolish acts that we could point to for these three tribes on the east side of the Jordan. But foolishness is not necessarily sinful. They had their reasons, they were reasonable reasons. If Israel had been quick to hear, there would have been no war assembly, that there would have been a different situation if they had started out with. We need to go hear what is going on and understand the situation. Maybe it's not advisable. Maybe there's some foolishness on both sides as usual. These things are not exactly black and white and cut and dry. There's some room for discussion about the actions that each side is taking. But again, taking the council of James to be quick to here and we can understand this. This would have helped so much in this situation because once they heard the response leading us to point number four, how to avoid misunderstanding division and war. Once they heard the response, Israel was quick to reconcile and sets for us a good example. Be quick To reconcile verse 30 says. Now, Phineas, the priests and the rulers of the congregation, the heads of the divisions of Israel who were with him heard the words that the Children of Reuben, the Children of God, The Children, Manasseh spoke it pleased them. Then Phineas, the son of Eleazar, the priest said to the Children of Reuben, Children of God, the Children of Manasseh this day, we perceive that the Lord is among us because you have not committed this treachery against the Lord. Now you have delivered the Children of Israel out of the hand of the Lord. I felt, I find it interesting and admirable. How quickly Phineas was pleased with the words. You know, sometimes when we are in this kind of confrontation, there is no amount of words that could be provided on the other side to please us. Like we're kind of already in our battle stance, we're bringing the accusation, we're ready to fight and no matter what you say, You know, the battle is going to progress and continue on here. We see a different model. We see a different example here, Phineas, he's ready, we're ready to go to battle again. It could have happened a little bit more wisely if they listened before the congregation gathered for war. Right? But letting that aside here. Here they are. They bring the accusation. They hear the response. Oh that makes sense. Okay. Yeah. We jumped the gun here. We we jumped to conclusions. We were not slow to anger but now we're going to be slow, not slow but fast to reconcile. We're going to turn from that anger. We're going to turn from that stance. We were not slow to speak. We came, you know with guns blazing in an accusation form. But oh, okay. Are bad. Yeah, we recognize we overstepped okay. He heard the words and it pleased them. How hard is it for you to switch back to fellowship mode when you're in those conversations right? He switches back oh man are bad. The Lord is with us. Who? That could have been a bad situation if you had been more defensive and attacked us. Well, we could have been going into battle. Could have been handled better on our side for sure. But we sense the Lord is with us now. I think it's right to say wait, no apology here. In verse 31 maybe there was. We don't know. This is just a condensed summary of the actual exchange that took place. But the point is the objective was reached and that was reconciliation. In Matthew chapter 18 Jesus gives us instruction when you have some type of issue between you and someone else. When your brother sins against you, jesus says, go tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you've gained your brother and then that's it. Go have this kind of exchange. Go have this kind of conversation. Follow the example of the Children of Israel in a little bit of sense and that they went to ask and inquire. Maybe don't start out the gate with the accusation and start, you know, naming the threats and telling them how terrible they are. Right. Maybe you just go ask and inquire. But but go have that conversation between them and if it's resolved, boom, you're done. The battle is over. You're not at war anymore. Be pleased because you've reconciled with your brother. Going on to verse 32 says Finney is the son of Eleazar, the priest and the rulers returned from the Children of Reuben, the Children of God, the Land of Gilead, to the land of Canaan, to the Children of Israel and brought back word to them. And I thought this was important to point out if you've been quick to speak and spread false information, then it's appropriate for you to go back and bring back word. Once you've learned the truth essentially print a retraction, right? He brought back word. Hey guys, we were wrong. Um, we can dismiss the army. Now everybody go home. This was not the situation we thought it was. We jump to conclusions. We don't need to be angry about this. We're not at war with them. And so they went back and made it right. They brought back word as the word spread right. And as they were talking beforehand before knowing all the information. Now that they have the information, it was appropriate for them to go back and explain you guys we were wrong in this and this is the real situation. I think that's an important thing to consider because a lot of times we might recognize, oh man, I've been talking out of turn, I've been talking about that person and later on I'm instructed in that. But it's also important then all the ways I've slandered that person that everybody else around me, I need to go back and retract that I need to make things right and bring back the truth to the situation and not just leave that in the way that it was. And so then the result is verse 33. The thing please the Children of Israel. So again, we see, they're quick to reconcile. They're quick to make things right. They're quick to accept that. Okay, we're good. Then we're good. They're not turning away from the Lord. We believe them. Maybe that's not what we would have advised them if they had asked us. But hey, people are allowed to make foolish decisions and do foolish things. They're not heading down a path of rebellion against the Lord. And so they switched back to fellowship mode. They're quick to reconcile Proverbs. Chapter 20 verse three says it's honorable for a man to stop striving Since any fool can start a quarrel, any fool can fight, can start a fight. We can stir up. We can allow ourselves to be stirred up to anger. That's that's not hard to do. But to reconcile. To stop a quarrel. To stop fighting. That takes real character. It takes the moving of the Holy Spirit upon our hearts. Have you been at war? Are you on the other side? Have you been misunderstood? Some great lessons here for us to consider how to avoid misunderstanding division and war. Be slow to anger. Be slow to speak. Be quick to hear and be quick to reconcile. Let's play what I pray for our hearts and the hearts of those around us. Lord, The relationships that are going on. Lord, the things that are happening in the world around us, in society around us. I pray Lord that you would help us to have great discernment Lord. In all of these situations that we face Lord, that we would take heed the counsel that you provide here through your word. The example given here in Joshua chapter 22. The expectation of James Help us got to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to wrath and I pray God that you would fill us with your love for one another, that we would believe the best and not jump to the worst conclusions. um Lord, that we would be quick to reconcile, to restore fellowship, to be friends again as we seek to walk with you. I pray this in jesus name. Amen.