Peace at all costs
When Phinehas the priest and the leaders of the community—the heads of the clans of Israel—heard this from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, they were satisfied. Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, replied to them, “Today we know the Lord is among us because you have not committed this treachery against the Lord as we thought. Instead, you have rescued Israel from being destroyed by the hand of the Lord.” Then Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, and the other leaders left the tribes of Reuben and Gad in Gilead and returned to the land of Canaan to tell the Israelites what had happened. And all the Israelites were satisfied and praised God and spoke no more of war against Reuben and Gad. The people of Reuben and Gad named the altar “Witness,” for they said, “It is a witness between us and them that the Lord is our God, too.”Joshua 22:30-34
From the text, the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half-tribe of Manasseh convinced Phinehas and the representatives of the ten tribes that they were sincere in their purpose as to why they built an altar. They were not intending to separate themselves with the Israelites and the altar was an expression of their unity with them. Phinehas felt that the explanation was convincing enough that he and “the other leaders left the tribes of Reuben and Gad in Gilead and returned to the land of Canaan to tell the Israelites what had happened. And all the Israelites were satisfied and praised God and spoke no more of war against Reuben and Gad” (vv. 32-33). They named the altar “witness” and peace between the tribes was achieved. But was God pleased that these two and a half tribes chose to live in the land not based upon God’s command? The matter seemed to be settled at this time but who can tell what can happen in the future. Will this altar really serve as a witness that these two and half-tribes will remain faithful to the One true God? Peace at all costs is not God’s will for there will be no peace at all. The decision was made based on human wisdom and the will of man. Real peace is not achieved through compromise. The tribes of Reuben, Gad and half tribe of Manasseh insisted “that the Lord is our God too” (v. 34). But if the Lord is their God too, why did they settle in a place not based on God’s choosing for them? If the Lord is their God too, why did they choose comfort over God’s will? Since these tribes were far away from the people of God, they easily gave in to the idolatrous practices of the people around them and that they became an easy target for the Assyrians. “But these tribes were unfaithful to the God of their ancestors. They worshiped the gods of the nations that God had destroyed. So, the God of Israel caused King Pul of Assyria (also known as Tiglath-pileser) to invade the land and take away the people of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh as captives” (1 Chronicles 5:25-26). Peace at all costs is not real peace if truth has been compromised and forsaken.