Fight For Unity

Message: In Joshua 22 the men who had crossed the Jordan to help their brothers take the promised land were commended, rewarded and sent back home on the other side of the Jordan. The land given to them for their inheritance was not part of the promised land, but they helped fight for it and were still very much a legitimate part of the tribes of Israel. They were afraid that they wouldn’t be seen or recognized as part of Israel by future generations because they were physically separated from the rest of the tribes because of the Jordan River. They built an altar as a symbol that they were part of Israel and worshipped the same God. The rest of the tribes saw the altar and thought they were building it out of rivalry and rebellion, so they came to fight them because of their fear of God’s punishment on all of them. All of this was so ironic to me because although the separated tribes didn’t feellike part of the whole, the rest of the tribes clearly recognized them as part. They came to confront them because they knew from past events that if even one person out of all of Israel sinned and stirred up God’s anger, they would all be punished. At first I didn’t really understand why the altar was seen as a rival or rebellious thing, but as I read through the footnotes in my bible I remembered that they had only ever had one tabernacle and altar. This was set up on the promised land side of the Jordan. If those on the other side had actually used their second altar it really would have caused a very real and very serious separation between them. The irony is that the intent of building it was to construct a symbol of unity, but the implications behind it caused division. The beauty here is that when their brothers came to confront them, they came together instead. The explanation that the altar was a symbol of unity and not an act of division was well received. The conflict was resolved and true unity was achieved. Like a true Hallmark movie ending, everyone came together, named the altar and said “it is a witness between us that the Lord is God”. What I loved the most about this is that the resolve was not that one side or the other was more right. The unity was in the fact that the Lord is God. There is so much opposition going on in our country right now and where Christians are supposed to be representing the Lord’s Kingdom, many are distracted trying to repair the broken kingdoms of this world that have already been marked for destruction. I fully believe in voting and protecting the people around us who are vulnerable and marginalized, but this is a kingdom battle that can’t be fought the world’s way. God’s way is not to repair the kingdoms of the world because they are set on the wrong foundation. What if Christians all over the world put down their weapons and accusations against each other and came together under the unity that the Lord is God. Under that alone there is unity, and in that alone will we recognize the mark of God on each and every person in the world.

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