UP AND DOWN YEARS
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I don’t know whether you were able to read the Bible portions of our lesson this week for it was lengthy! But there’s a not-to-be-missed story found in the midst of all of the land appropriations by Joshua. The story has too many details for me to retell here completely, so if you have not read Joshua 22 and can stop now to read, do so and then return to this devotional.
For those who cannot, let me do a very brief summary. The two-and-a-half tribes who decided to settle on the east side of the Jordan are returning after doing their part to conquer Canaan. As they approach the Jordan they decide to erect an exact replica of the altar found at the Tabernacle. Word gets back to the tribes on the west side of the Jordan and things go awry from there.
There are quite a number of important lessons to glean from this story, and thus why it should not be overlooked.
There are quite a number of important lessons to glean from this story, and thus why it should not be overlooked. There were lessons learned on both sides—those tribes from the East and those from the West.
- Be transparent in your dealings with others. While the Eastern tribes meant no harm, they were not transparent in their plans. Because of this, it caused no end of grief and anger on the part of others that could have been avoided. A simple lesson, but an important one. Let people know what you are planning, and more specifically, why it is important to you.
- Listen carefully and respond calmly when falsely accused. This can be oh-so-hard to do! I’ve been there. The immediate response is to get defensive, interrupt, cry, get angry or a combination of all four. The Eastern tribes listened first, then responded. True active listening will make a difference in your encounters with others, no matter how challenging they might be.
- Don’t jump to conclusions based on appearances. The Western tribes were guilty of this in a big way. When they heard about the duplicate altar, they declared war on their kinsmen! Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, and they sent a delegation to investigate, but even the words offered by these leaders were harsh and unkind. Be careful that what you see is really what is there.
- If you’re in the wrong, be conciliatory, acknowledging your mistake. This is, perhaps, one of the hardest things to do—admitting you were wrong. It can make the biggest difference in your relationships. Sometimes we are wrong and need to let others know and then apologize for our actions. In the story, the Western tribes were wrong. They did not apologize but did leave satisfied with the explanation. While the Eastern tribes appeared to be gracious, an apology did seem in order.
- It’s good to be vigilant for God but be careful of extremes. The Israelite leaders were reacting strongly because they remembered their past. They specifically brought up events that led to serious consequences and punishment by God. So, their hearts were in the right place when they hurled their accusations, but in the end, they misrepresented God by their words and behavior. Absolutely guard and defend God, His Word, His prophets, and His commandments. Stand firm. But choose your words carefully and lovingly.
As parents, employees, managers, leaders, we will be confronted with people (children) who appear to be doing something wrong.
As parents, employees, managers, leaders, we will be confronted with people (children) who appear to be doing something wrong. It is easy to judge motives and jump to conclusions. And we may often be more right than wrong as we do so. But take to heart the lessons for today. Ponder how to best represent God to others, while holding firm to what you believe. When we follow these lessons we will renew our relationship with others.
As part of the division of land in Canaan, Joshua set apart six cities as “cities of refuge.” While they may not hold the same meaning for us today, they did carry important symbolism.
“The cities of refuge appointed for God’s ancient people were a symbol of the refuge provided in Christ. The same merciful Saviour who appointed those temporal cities of refuge has by the shedding of His own blood provided for the transgressors of God’s law a sure retreat, into which they may flee for safety from the second death. No power can take out of His hands the souls that go to Him for pardon. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us;” that “we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.” Romans 8:1, 34; Hebrews 6:18.” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 516)
Making it Real
The last part of Joshua 24:15 is one we know from memory: “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Whether you are an adult or have children, get out some paper, crayons, markers, glitter, and anything else you might have in your house to encourage creativity.
If your children can write or copy, have them write this portion of the verse on their paper. Then have them decorate it as they please. When they are done, hang their poster near the door of your house. If you have more than one child, use various doors—the front door, the back door, the bathroom door, etc. Leave them up so that each time you come in and each time you leave the family is reminded—we serve Jesus.
We did this in my home when our children were small. They are now in their early 30s, and we only took their artwork down a few short years ago when we replaced it with a wooden etching of the verse that now hangs over the doorframe. It was an activity that blessed our home for a long time, and it will do the same for yours.
Respond & Share
As for me and my house . . . what do you do that shows others you choose Jesus? Share with us in the comments below!
Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being the grandmother of two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus.