Summary: The 9th sermon in a series on Joshua which focuses on the dangers of jumping to conclusions before we know the facts.
1. I want to begin this morning by assuring you that I am not a closet alcoholic as the skit suggestsed. The skit was written to introduce this morning’s sermon because though not jumping to conclusions isn’t something we talk about often, it really is important.
2. Have you ever had a time when you jumped to a conclusion that simply wasn’t right? You don’t even need to answer that question because I already know the answer. First impressions are often right, but they are also sometimes totally wrong. At times we think we know what’s going on only to discover later that we weren’t even in the ball park when it came to seeing what was happening or why someone was behaving the way they did.
3. Let me introduce the passage we’ll be looking at this morning by giving you a bit of history about what had happened earlier after the Jews conquered the land on the East side of the Jordan River. Moses was going to abandon the land, because the promised land was on the other side of the river, but the leaders of Gad, Rueben and half of the tribe of Manassah had asked if they could stay in the land they had already conquered, because it was just what they needed for their flocks. The land was rich & fertile and there were fine valleys for grazing large flocks. In addition, the land had plenty of water as well. It seemed perfect. Moses agreed on the condition that they had to go across the river with their fellow Jews and help conquer the land of Canaan. After that task was completed they would be allowed to return to their own homes once more. That’s where we are this morning.
4. The Battle for Canaan had been going on for 5 years. So what we read about this morning is at the end of a lengthy war, not what we might guess was a 45 day conflict if we didn’t really study the story of Joshua. The land is finally subdued to the point that the soldiers from 2½ tribes have been given permission to return to their homes and families.
5. You may be sure that soldiers from all the other tribes had said their good-byes & there were probably numerous hugs and slaps on the back. Then the 2½ tribes left to cross the Jordan River and return to their families on other side. The soldiers could probably barely wait to get home, their kids had now grown up & they had many stories to tell of all the great things God had done.
6. As the men of Rueben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh made their way east they passed landmarks that must have brought back memories of what God had done. Happy as they were to be going home, it wasn’t easy to say good-bye to their brothers and leave behind the nearness of the priesthood and the tabernacle containing the ark of the covenant. They were leaving the land God had promised to bless. They were going home; but somehow they began to feel isolated from the nation of Israel. That’s probably what prompted them to do what at first glance didn’t make much sense. Let’s read it in our text this morning, though I will warn you that what they did may not make much of an impression at first. Let’s read our text together.