“When they came to the region of the Jordan that is in the land of Canaan, the people of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an altar of imposing size… And when the people of Israel heard of it, the whole assembly… gathered at Shiloh to make war against them.
“[They] sent… Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the priest, and with him ten chiefs,.. and said to them,..‘What is this breach of faith that you have committed against the God of Israel in turning away from following the Lord by building yourselves an altar in rebellion against the Lord?..’
“Then the people of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh [answered].., ‘The Mighty One, God, the LORD! The Mighty One, God, the LORD! He knows; and let Israel itself know! If it was in rebellion or in breach of faith against the Lord, do not spare us today for building an altar to turn away from following the Lord… may the Lord himself take vengeance. No, but we did it from fear that in time to come your children might say to our children, “What have you to do with the Lord? For the Lord has made the Jordan a boundary between us and you people of Reuben and Gad. You have no portion in the Lord.” So your children might make our children cease to worship the Lord. Therefore we said, “Let us now build an altar… to be a witness between us and you.” Far be it from us that we should rebel against the Lord and turn away… by building an altar.., other than the altar of the Lord our God that stands before his tabernacle!..”
“Phinehas said.., ‘Today we know that the Lord is in our midst, because you have not committed this breach of faith…’ The people… called the altar Witness, ‘For it is a witness between us that the Lord is God.’” Joshua 22:10,12-14a,16,21-26a,28b-29,31,34
Before crossing west over the Jordan into the promised land, two and a half of Israel’s tribes had chosen to settle in the east. After helping their fellow tribes conquer Canaan, they returned home and erected an altar, to which Israel aggressively reacted. Their earnest response reveals humility and noble intention to keep God at the fore. (Joshua 1:12-15; 22:1-6)
When challenged or accused of illicit motives or wrongdoing, are we immediately defensive, or willing to be examined and exposed for any wicked way in us? Is there any breach of smugness, superiority, or sloth? Of rebellion, greed, or self importance? A small breach unchecked will grow wider with every indulgence, every flirt with boasting, each skirt of the edges of depraved talk and company, and soon be a crevasse. (Psalm 139:23-24; Jeremiah 12:3a)
If we are living in or entertaining sin, God in love will not spare the needed repair. Sometimes He sends brothers in Christ to confront us, or prompts us to be such an agent for another. Is it our habit to cover up, hide, and live lies in attempt to deceive others? Or do we shirk our Christian responsibility rather than challenge someone at God’s command? We should weigh every decision against the will of God instead of personal drive and desire, knowing it is before Him that we are accountable. (2 Corinthians 5:11-21)
Lord, convict me of any breach of faith in my inward being. Keep me grounded in honesty and truth, that my every decision be made with pure intent and a desire to glorify You alone. (Psalm 51:6)