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The Danger of Overracting When “Someone Says”

As the Jews entered the promised land, the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh were given permission to settle on the east side of the Jordan provided their men helped conquer all the land west of the Jordan. After many months, these soldiers returned to their families bringing great riches from the conquest.

Joshua chapter twenty-two tells how they built a great altar on the east side of the Jordan, but it was not intended for sacrifice. It was a replica of the altar at the tabernacle. Its purpose was so that future generations would know by this altar that those on the east side of the Jordan had equal access to the altar at the tabernacle with those on the west side of the river.

Then it happened. "The children of Israel heard someone say, 'Behold, the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh have built an altar on the frontier of the land of Canaan . . .'" There was an immediate response based on the information and wrong assumptions about the purpose of the altar. "When the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered together at Shiloh to go to war against them." The whole congregation decided that those from Reuben, Gad and Manasseh were guilty of treachery, turning away from the Lord and rebelling against him (v. 16).

All of this was based on what "someone said." So often problems develop in families, friendships, the church and neighborhoods based of the interpretation of what "someone said." Hear the wisdom of God about this. When there is conflict, the person with the problem is commanded to go directly to the other person. That person who hears that someone has a problem with him is commanded to also go directly to the other person (Matt. 5: 23-24; 18:15).

The failure to do this often results in bringing outsiders into a matter that is not their concern. Those on the outside of such conflict must remember the words of Solomon. "He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him" (Prov. 18:13). When Israel reacted to incomplete information, major problems resulted.

Study Joshua chapter twenty-two. What was on the verge of creating war among God's people was averted when those who disagreed sat down and discussed the matter. There is so much to be learned about the proper way to deal with matters created by what "someone says." Remember His words, "Blessed are the peacemakers ..."

For His Cause,
Tim Woodward