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Joshua 22:21-23:16


An altar is a place of exchange. In the case of Israel, their alter was a place where they exchanged their personal and national sins for God’s righteousness through daily blood sacrifices. For the 2 ½ tribes, their memorial, their large memorial was to be a reminder to whom? What one says and what one’s true intentions are is two separate things. It can be said that one’s actions speak so loudly that what is being said is drowned out. So unless we know what is truly in their hearts, we cannot discern their true intentions. However, we do have a record of what happened to both those on the east of the Jordan and those on the west. Their fruit, like our fruit gives evidence of what was in the heart.

The tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh had requested land not intended as their Promise, to be there substitute Promise. So what was the real intent of this memorial/altar. Had they since realized after really seeing the Promise that God had for them, that they had made a mistake and were to proud to say so? The problem with “memorials” is this: unless one is interested in history, they either become a place for pigeons to sit on and/or they become part of the scenery and all meaning is lost except by the tourists and the lovers of history and architecture.

To truly keep your mind focused on something, one must have a heart felt love for what is before you. Altar or no altar, memorial or no memorial the issue at hand is what is going on in the heart of both the 2 ½ tribes, east of the Jordon, and the 9 ½ tribes on the west. That is the same predicament we have today. Whether we have statues/paintings/icons of those, we have decided by consensus, to be godly saints, or we have sparse places of worship with plan walls, the issue is and has always been what is going on in the heart.

We justify our actions by appearances; GOD examines our motives. Clean living before God and justice with our neighbors mean far more to GOD than religious performance. (Proverbs 21:2-3 MSG)

Grace and peace,
Ramona

The scribes and chief priests set trap to Jesus on the issue of surrendering tax to Caesar. Jesus replied them. The Sadducees set another question to Jesus on resurrection. Jesus replied. Luke described an interesting challenge set by Jesus to 'them. Jesus asked them the relationship between the Christ and David. It seems that Jesus was not just hanging around and answered challenges. He asked them back.

I like Jesus's challenge to the religious leaders.

The book of Joshua tells how Joshua the son of Nun lead the Israeli people into the promised land when they conquered the land of Canaan. The book begins with GOD commissioning Joshua to lead the Israelis across the Jordan to the promised land. GOD parts the Jordan and the Israelis cross over on dry ground, Think Red Sea but without the pursuing army to worry the people. Joshua takes stones from the middle of the Red Sea to make an alter to God. Joshua sends to soldiers to spy out the land of Canaan, a villager named Rehab hides them in her home over night, she tells them to protect her when Israel enters the land, they tell her they will keep her and her family safe for keeping them safe, they return to there camp to tell Joshua all that they have seen in the land. The soldiers in the army, the Levites with the Ark of God and the people walk around the city seven times to make the walls fall down, then God tells them to destroy the city and everyone that lives there. In a LONG military campaign, the Israelites defeat ALL of the kings of Canaan to occupy the promised land. The tribes of Reuben, Gad, Mannassah want pasture land west of the Jordan so after ALL of the land is conquered they receive there land in the west, the rest of Israel gets land in the promised land to the east. The Levites were given towns among the tribes of Israel. As he prepares to die Joshua blesses the tribes of Israel and reminds them to always follow GOD. The Israelites are now safely in the promised land. I enjoyed the book of Joshua, for me it raises a lot of ethical questions, that are never fully resolved when I finish this book.

It struck me while reading the Old testament from Genesis to Joshua, how the Isrealites needed to be reminded of God's presense especially on their trip to the promise land. I suppose an altar or memorials are reminders for them how God was always with them (the parting of the red sea, the manna from heaven, the quails, the water from the rocks). Isn't this true today too? Some of us need memorials, signs such as the crucifix, the empty cross, images of saints). God is an ever present God though. I feel Him from His wonderful creations (a rose, the beauty of the sky, the universe). He even sends people in our lives (God knows I need a lot of them) to remind us of His mercies.

Criticism is hard to take especially when directed to us. However, with criticism we find learning. I need a lot of growing-up in this area.

Mike asked, "How are you doing in accepting criticism? This is a good question and I think it is a good barometer by which to judge ourselves. In Luke 20 we see the Sadducees coming to Jesus with their convoluted question. It just dripped with arrogance and condescension. Haven't you heard this tone from those who think their intellect and reasoning are so far above all those dumb Christians? Jesus' not only answers their question but He addresses their root problem, the lack of belief in the resurrection of the dead. Jesus does not reference some obscure passage with a far reaching application, no He quotes Moses at the burning bush! Every four year old present knew that verse. I think that this was a huge put down and humiliation for the Sadducees. It says in v.40 that no one dared to ask Him any more questions. So getting back to Mike's question, I think that when criticism really stings it is because I have let my own pride grow. It is a sign to me that it is time to repent and lay down the attitude. Someone once told me that we have a choice between humility or humiliation. The Sadducees were humiliated because they did not have an honest question. They were just trying to trap the Son of God and wound up looking really bad in front of all the people. When I choose to walk in humility and listen to that still small voice of correction, I can avoid the big embarrassing correction that will eventually come.

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