We’ve all made wrong assumptions in our lives, haven’t we? Sometimes such thoughts can have devastating outcomes, such as hurt feelings, lost friendships, etc. The one in this passage could have ended badly, too, but thankfully it didn’t.
Why do we do rush to make assumptions? Many times, it is simply a lack of trust, lack of information, or possibly a feeling of superiority. In today’s reading we see a how jumping to conclusions almost caused a war. What is one way to avoid these wrong beliefs? Communication is always key. Before we go down a rabbit hole of misunderstanding, we should ask questions to clarify the situation.
In our reading today, we have followed the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh on their way home across the Jordan River. They have just been blessed by Joshua and sent on their way. Before crossing the river, they “stopped to build a large and imposing altar.” Now as I’m reading this, I don’t have the same fear of God the Israelites do. I didn’t think much of this act, but I was curious to find out why they built the altar on the west side of the Jordan rather than on their own side.
From the sounds of it, this altar attracted a lot of attention. It wasn’t long before word reached the others. Despite the fact they were prepared to go to war over this, they decided first to send a delegation to confront the eastern tribes.
I can just picture this meeting. The eastern tribes would be a little perplexed at such an official visit. They were likely still getting used to being “at home” and yet happy to see their old friends. However, the scowl on their faces would have led to a bit of fear or at least confusion.
And then the tirade began. “The whole community of the Lord demands to know why you are betraying the God of Israel. How could you turn away from the Lord and build an altar for yourselves in rebellion against him?” Rather than let them answer, the delegation continues to paint the picture of doom and gloom. If you’ve ever tried to get a word in edgewise, that’s how I imagine the eastern tribes were reacting.
What seemed to be a possible threat to God from what the delegation had assumed, turned around when the real truth was actually revealed. It was to be a memorial to remember God. They feared the boundary of the Jordan River may cut them off from their true inheritance, their faith and devotion to God. “It will remind our descendants and your descendants that we, too, have the right to worship the Lord at his sanctuary with our burnt offerings, sacrifices, and peace offerings. Then your descendants will not be able to say to ours, ‘You have no claim to the Lord.’”
What a beautiful display of faithfulness. Yet the wrong assumption had been made. It can often take a bit of time to let the truth sink in and replace the false belief. That happens to us as well. When we find ourselves believing something that isn’t true and then uncover the truth, we can often go through a period of disbelief, reprogramming our minds, and our acceptance is often a slow process. I was glad to see that the delegation was pleased and ready to share the real truth with the rest of the people.
Take some time today to reflect on a new truth that has been revealed to you. Ask God to help you truly embrace his plan for your life.
Let’s pray … Lord, I don’t want to rush to the wrong conclusions about you or situations in my life. Help me to keep my eyes open and be always searching for the truth. Thank you for the patience you have with me as I figure out the plan you have for me. Open my eyes and heart to be ready to be your servant. In Jesus’ name. Amen.