Beware of Assumptions of Sin

Ashley Anderson March 27, 2024

Beware of Assumptions of Sin

Joshua 22:10-34

Israel had just completed conquest of the land which Yahweh had promised

them on the west side of the Jordan River. The two and a half tribes whom

Moses had allowed to settle on the east side of the Jordan had faithfully fulfilled

their duties to help their brothers claim their land. So they returned to their

lands. Before they crossed the Jordan they built an altar on the west side of

Jordan similar to the one at Shiloh where the ark of Yahweh was kept and on

which sacrifices were offered to Yahweh. When the tribes in the promised land

heard about the altar they immediately assumed that the two and a half tribes

had built it in rebellion against Yahweh. Sacrifices were to be offered only where

the ark of Yahweh was being kept. They feared that all Israel would be judged

for what they assumed was an unfaithful act against Yahweh and prepared to go

to war with the two and a half tribes.

Phinehas, a priest, and ten leaders of Israel had accused them of sin, giving

them several instances of how unfaithfulness had impacted others besides the

ones committing the sin. Fortunately, the ten tribes allowed the two and a half

tribes to state their reason for building the altar. They stated that their action was

not an unfaithful or rebellious act against Yahweh. They did not build the altar to

turn away from Yahweh nor was it for the purpose of offering sacrifices. It was

for the purpose of witness to future generations that Yahweh is the God of the

eastern tribes, as well as, of the western tribes. Fortunately also, Phinehas and

the leaders of Israel accepted the motivation explained by the two and a half

tribes; they dropped their false assumptions regarding the motives for building

the altar. Peace and unity was maintained and war was averted.

Questions to consider:

1. What if the western leaders had maintained their assumptions of the motives

for building the altar and rejected the explanation given?

2. How willing am I to listen when I suspect sinful motives in another person’s


3. How willing am I to give up false assumptions when I have no solid reason for

holding on to them?

4. Do I realize that my assumptions may be based on faulty reasoning?

5. What harmful result might occur if I maintained my faulty assumptions of

another’s motives?