Joshua 22 Commentary
Chapter 22 gives us a smell of the Book of Judges. The trans-Jordan tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh are released to return to their inheritance in the east. The returning troops stop by the Jordan and erect an imposing altar. The other tribes interpret it as idolatry. The reader can judge for themselves. The reason given by the eastern peoples is both lazy and hideous. It is nevertheless good enough to avoid the first civil war.
The western tribes are pacified by the lame reason but we are not. We have sufficient evidence to suspect the motive behind this undertaking. Man has always wanted to build altars. And how we love to fabricate good and religious reasons!
If the eastern tribes worried so much about the glory of God, one would expect them to have carried with them copies of the law. There isn’t even any evidence of them having consulted the LORD over their vanity project. Even the priests among them are conspicuously silent.
And the western peoples’ reaction? Well, it looks decent enough but again we are not entirely impressed with them. Their concern is a possible wholesale punishment falling on the entire nation and not a brother’s concern for the glory of the LORD. The brother’s love for the LORD (first commandment) isn’t emphasized but that the sin of the eastern peoples would result in punishment on the western peoples indiscriminately. Of course they are right and they have good reasons for this fear but again we are not impressed with their core reasoning. Neither should we be impressed with today’s gigantic church projects that have nothing to do with the glory of God, though they are carefully clothed in very good religious lingo.
Nothing has changed. The eastern people’s motive for erecting an imposing altar is exactly the same reason for man’s vanity projects. Some vanity projects have good titles such as success, hard-work, talent, genius, ingenuity, comfort, development or expansion to the ‘glory of God’ for church people, but they all project pride of heart and a vanity seeker’s effort. The saint must worry about vanity. The saint must worry about the motives behind any investment. The church must worry about their own church projects. Is it truly to the glory of God?
For now we leave it here but watch this space.
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