It was a triumphant scene. The great compaign was over. The tribes of Israel were settled in their new homeland. The trbes of Reuban, Gad and Manasseh had chosen lands on the eastern side of the Jordan River, but they had faithfully fought side by side with the other tribes until all had rest. Now they were returning home with the blessing of the nation’s leader: Joshua.
“When they came to Geliloth near the Jordan in the land of Canaan, the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an imposing altar there by the Jordan. And when the Israelites heard that they had built the altar on the border of Canaan at Geliloth near the Jordan on the Israelite side, the whole assembly of Israel gathered at Shiloh to go to war against them.” Joshua 22:10-12
How quickly things turn. The western tribes were angy because they thought the eastern tribes were setting up a rival altar to the official one at Shiloh. They thought their neighbours were abandoning God to create their own new belief. They were all set to discipline the eastern tribes.
Fortunately, before they started fighing they sent Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, to go and try to sort things out. Given the chance to speak, the eastern tribes explained that this alter they had constructed would not be used for sacrifices, it was a monument to show all in the future that they too followed the Lord and were a part of his inheritance. Phinehas was pleased with this explanation and there was no war.
It can be so easy to jump to conclusions when we are angry. We often “go to war” without first sending in the diplomats to assess the situation and get a clearer picture. May that’s why James, who knew Jesus as Lord, saviour and brother, wrote:
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” James 1:19
Just imangine how more peaceful out homes, workplaces, nations, and even churches, could be if we followed this advice.