Today's devotion from Joshua 22.
Joshua 22 should be a sweet chapter. It begins with the blessing of being finished. All that God set out to accomplish has been done. Three tribes had faithfully fulfilled their vows to fight for their brethren, and now have the blessing to return home. It's been long and arduous, but now it is finished.
However, there is a disagreement that happens before they get home. These three tribes decide that it would be a good idea to erect a replica of the altar. The people hear about it and get all stirred up. They are afraid that these tribes are already leaving the faith, or at least actively rebelling from the word of God that has decreed how and when to make offerings.
Phinehas, who appears to be a genuine man of faith, goes out to investigate. What he finds is not a people wandering from God, but fearful the the people of God will reject them. They are afraid that future generations would forget their contribution to the cause. Their idea is to create a replica of the altar to serve as a monument of testimony.
All that these tribes had accomplished was astounding, but the reward they really sought wasn't the spoils of war given to them before they went home. They wanted to be remembered as and considered a part of the people. I don't read pride as the motivator, but the sense of belonging. They belong to and with the rest of the people of God.
As I thought about that, it confirmed something we all know, but sometimes forget. People fear being forgotten. It's basic fear built into humanity. But even more than being forgotten is the fear of not belonging.
Can I just offer you this encouragement today? People may be ungrateful, but God will never forget you. People may exclude you, but God wants you to belong to Him in relationship and to find your place among His people. The establishment of the church is a witness to this.