Early in their history, Israel was threatened with civil war.
I. “THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL GATHERED… TO GO TO WAR”
A. Joshua 22:12
The Israelites were immediately prepared to punish their brethren.
B. Deuteronomy 13:12-18
God’s Law required this.
C. 2nd Corinthians 10:3-6
Within the present Covenant, warfare remains a duty, but of the spiritual sort in particular.
D. Romans 16:17; 2nd Thessalonians 3:6
Straying brethren must be dealt with.
II. “THEY SPOKE WITH THEM”
A. Joshua 22:15
Before engaging the battle, Phinehas approached the two and a half tribes with words.
B. Deuteronomy 13:14
The law that required war against wayward brethren first demanded inquiry.
C. Genesis 11:5; 18:21
Even God is known to “go down and see” before taking punitive action.
D. Proverbs 18:13; John 7:51
To decide another party’s guilt or innocence without investigation is shameful.
E. Titus 3:10
When those in the body of Christ take corrective action against members who are sinning, the process demands repeated attempts to admonish before rejecting.
III. “IS THE INIQUITY OF PEOR NOT ENOUGH?”
A. Joshua 22:17, 20
In his plea to the eastern tribes, Phinehas appealed to history, citing occasions of rebellion in Israel’s past that were met sharply by God.
B. 1st Corinthians 10:1-11
Under the New Testament, one outstanding value of the Old is that it warns the reader of the Lord’s severity against His people when they stray.
C. 2nd Peter 2:4-9
“The Lord knows how to… reserve the unjust under punishment”.
IV. “TAKE POSSESSION AMONG US”
A. Joshua 22:19
A solution was proposed. Phinehas did more than tell them they were wrong; he offered an alternative course of action.
B. Hebrews 4:15
What makes Jesus a fitting High Priest is His ability to sympathize with people. Phinehas demonstrated this quality by recognizing the temptations by which his countrymen may be burdened.
C. James 3:17
Heavenly wisdom is “willing to yield”. This quality was evident in that the western tribes’ territories would shrink if the eastern tribes resettled across the Jordan, but the offer was made regardless.
D. 1st Corinthians 10:13
With every temptation, God provides the “way of escape”. Phinehas was sure to facilitate that way.
V. “DO NOT SAVE US THIS DAY”
A. Joshua 22:22
Those tribes under scrutiny did not object to the principle of discipline. They did not suggest it was wrong to punish.
B. Acts 25:11
When the apostle Paul stood falsely accused, he, likewise, acknowledged the legitimacy of punishment for those who deserve it.
C. Psalm 7:1-5
That not everyone deserves to be punished does not mean that punishment itself is wrong.
VI. “A BORDER BETWEEN YOU AND US”
A. Joshua 22:25
The purpose of the altar, according to Reuben, Gad, and half Manasseh, was to emphasize the brotherhood they shared with the rest of Israel despite the physical boundary separating them.
B. Luke 9:49-50
Fellowship exists among all Christ’s disciples, regardless of personal acquaintance. It is frustrating to hear Christians speak of a shared meal as having fellowship because that is merely a manifestation of fellowship, not the fellowship itself.
C. 1st John 1:7
When a soul obeys Jesus, that one is instantly in the fellowship of all other souls who have done likewise, regardless of place or time.
VII. “FAR BE IT FROM US THAT WE SHOULD REBEL”
A. Joshua 22:29
They didn’t dismiss the concerns of others. They didn’t say their behavior was nobody’s business. They just pledged their full commitment to serving God.
B. Deuteronomy 12:13-14
The Law was clear and they had no intention of contradicting it.
VIII. “IT PLEASED THEM”
A. Joshua 22:30
The answer of the trans-Jordanic tribes allayed the concerns of their fellow Israelites.
B. Acts 11:1-18
Similarly, when the apostle Peter was called into question for visiting Gentiles, his thorough explanation was met with simple relief by his brothers.
C. Matthew 18:15
A satisfactory answer should satisfy. If we can win our brother with a word, we should be content. There is no need to press further.
By Bryan Matthew Dockens
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