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Inquire, Don't Infer


Have you ever been misunderstood? Or, have you ever misunderstood someone else, in particular, what they believe about God? I know I have. It is easy to jump to assumptions about others. We need to remind ourselves to inquire and not infer.

We are not the only ones who jump to conclusions without first asking all the right questions. After everything that had transpired, the time had come for the remaining tribes to return to the land they inherited on the opposite side of the Jordan River. Their land and families had been waiting for them since chapter 1 of this unforgettable quest. But before they left for their new homeland, Joshua implored them to keep the commandments of God and to serve Him all the days of their lives (v. 5).

The men’s devotion to Yahweh was seemingly short-lived. Not long after leaving, they built an altar near the Jordan (vv. 10, 19). Leaders of Israel were sent to persuade these men to repent and tear down their altar. They warned that the consequences of their actions would fall on everyone, just as they had before with Peor (Numbers 25) and Achan (Joshua 7).

The leaders of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh were shocked and realized they had been misunderstood. They clarified that they had indeed built the altar for the Lord as a reminder to surrounding tribes that they worshiped Yahweh (vv. 21–29). The altar was to be a witness between the two parts of Israel and represented unity between the eastern and western tribes. What appeared to be an act of defiance was really an attempt to create unity and glorify God.

>> Is there someone you may have misunderstood? Even if you think you know where they stand on issues about God and faith, perhaps it is worth taking a second look and listen before speaking. Your conversation may open doors. Even if you disagree, you will know how to pray for and help them along their journey.

BY Chris Rappazini

Chris Rappazini is the associate professor and program head of the BA and MA in Pastoral Studies at Moody Bible Institute and Moody Theological Seminary. He is the vice president of the Evangelical Homiletics Society and previously served as the associate minister of preaching and teaching at Southside Christian Church in Spokane, Washington. Chris and his wife, Ashley, and their three children reside in Northwest Indiana.

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