Thursday, July 13, 2017

The altar of witness

The altar of witness 1
With Joshua as their leader, the Israelites had crossed the River Jordan and many of the towns and cities in the Promised Land.
The altar of witness 3
The Israelites, with God’s help, captured much of the land but there were still seven tribes of Israel that had not yet captured the territory they had been allocated.
The altar of witness 6
One tribe however, the Levites, were not to be given land as they were priests of the Lord. They consulted with Eleazar the High priest, Joshua and leaders of the other tribes. saying, ‘The Lord instructed Moses to give cities to the Levites for our homes, and pasture land for our cattle.’

The altar of witness 9
So in this way, the Lord gave to Israel all the land He had promised. They conquered it and lived there. The Lord gave them peace, just as He had promised.
The altar of witness 11
Joshua called together the troops from the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh living east of the Jordan. ‘You have obeyed the Lord in every order I have given you,’ Joshua told them. ‘Even though the campaign has lasted a long time you have not deserted the other tribes. Now go and live in the land Moses promised you on the east of the river Jordan and continue to obey the Lord your God.’
The altar of witness 12
The troops from these tribes headed for their lands. But before they crossed the River Jordan they built a large monument in the shape of an altar on the west bank.

The altar of witness 13
When the tribes on the west of the river saw the altar they were angry and feared the troops from the tribes to the east had set up a rival place of worship. Such was their fury they were ready to go to war against their fellow Jews.
The altar of witness 14
Before attacking, they send a delegation to the eastern tribes. It included Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the High priest and a representative of each of the tribes. ‘Why have you built an altar of rebellion against the Lord God,’ they asked. ‘The one true altar of the Lord is at Shiloh where the Lord lives among us all.’
The altar of witness 15
‘We have not built this altar in rebellion,’ the eastern tribes protested. ‘The river Jordan acts as a barrier between our tribes and yours. We wanted this monument to remind your children that we too worship the Lord God. The altar is not for burnt offerings or sacrifices but a symbol of the relationship with God that both of us have. We will only worship God at the altar in front of the Tabernacle.’

The altar of witness 16
Phinehas replied, ‘The Lord is among us because you have not rebelled against the Lord as we thought. Instead, you have saved us from destruction!’
The altar of witness 17
Phineas and the delegation returned to the tribes on the west side of the River Jordan and explained why the monument had been built.
The altar of witness 18
The people of Reuben and Gad named the altar ‘The Altar of Witness,’ saying, ‘It is a witness between us and them that the Lord is our God too.’

The altar of witness
When the tribes east of the River Jordan build an altar it nearly causes war.
Joshua 18:1 - 22:34

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