I studied Joshua 22 yesterday. Joshua sent Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh to at last possess Gilead, their land of inheritance (vv.1-9). Near the Jordan river, these three tribes built a large altar (v.10). Thinking this a rejection of Yahweh, the remaining tribes in Canaan “gathered themselves at Shiloh to go up against them in war” (vv.11-12). To get the facts straight, eleven elders – led by Phinehas – were sent first to scout the situation and discern what purpose the altar served (vv.13-20). The altar, turns out, was to be a sign of Israel-Gilead’s faithfulness to Yahweh, that they had not forgotten the Law of God (vv.21-29). This relieved the elders, and war was avoided (vv.30-34).
Notice how ready Israel-Canaan was to kill Israel-Gilead. Their foremost concern was holiness. They thought the altar was representative of a new god and law that Israel-Gilead would now serve – a fourth of all Israel rejecting God for idols. In fear of God and zeal for His prescriptions, Israel-Canaan was willing to fight Israel-Gilead, to remove the part of Israel that was unholy (as they had just finished doing with the peoples of Canaan).
When a limb contracts gangrene, it needs to be severed.
I work at a coffeehouse. A common side-dish includes slices of assorted fruits. When I peel a banana and notice a bruised spot on the surface, I have to cut away the bad portion before the dish is servable. Most of the banana can be fine, but if one small part is bad – well, too bad. The customer didn’t pay for a bruised banana.
Christ didn’t pay for an unholy bride. He was sacrifice enough to secure for the church an eternity of glory – she will be sanctified (Ephesians 5:25-33). Therefore, walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called (4:1) – unless indeed you fail the test (2 Corinthians 13:5b).
- “If your eye causes you to stumble. pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell” (Matthew 18:9).
- “Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump” (1 Corinthians 5:7a).
- “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us” (2 Thessalonians 3:6).
The Gospel demands holiness (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9). Where grace abounds, grace is effective (Romans 6:1-2) – therefore, work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12b). Close relations with those not tethered to Christ will prove detrimental to your eternal joy (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). If Israel-Gilead is forsaking God, then forsake Israel-Gilead.
Sometimes we forget that our calling is to holiness, not friendliness. The latter must submit to the former.