“Let us now prepare to build ourselves an altar, not for burnt offerings nor for sacrifice, but that it may be a witness between you and us and our generations after us.” – Joshua 22:26-27
Our passage today reveals how a miscommunication nearly turns into a massacre! How what one side did, intending it to be a deed of faithfulness to God, was misconstrued to be a deed of rebellion against God. Out of a zeal for the honour of the Lord, the tribes on the West side of the Jordan prepare themselves to do battle with the tribes on the East side of the River. This zeal was not misplaced. With the building of this “alternate altar,” it appeared that God’s Word was being called into question and God’s honour was being threatened. So Israel was willing to go to war against their brothers.
This teaches us that God’s name is worth more than our ease, that God’s honour is more valuable than our family, that God’s Word is to be kept even if it means offending friends. Thankfully, because of the open conversation held between the offending parties, the misunderstanding was resolved. Honest dialogue prevented disaster. The alter was not built as a substitute for proper worship, but for a memorial for all to see that the Jordan did not separate God’s people. As a witness to the next generation, the memorial is erected.
God’s church today also has a memorial for all to see, a witness to future generations: the Cross of Jesus Christ. May we not fear open conversations and honest dialogue with those around us as we preach Christ and Him crucified. May Jesus be our Witness to the world.
Suggestions for prayer
Ask God to give you godly, humble zeal for His Name. Ask Him to guide you to those who need to hear the honest truth about themselves and about the Good News of the Gospel. Ask Him for wisdom to deal openly with the misunderstandings in your life.