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Chinese8/19/2005English
經文:約書亞記廿二章
鑰節:「如今耶和華你們上帝照著祂所應許的,使你們弟兄得享平安,現在可以轉回你們的帳棚……。」(22:4)
提要

        以色列人在迦南地的主要戰役都打完,上帝也賜給他們安息後,約書亞就召聚了約旦河東二個半支派的戰士,感謝他們忠實的履行了他們的義務,幫助以色列人征服迦南,得享平安。

        約書亞解除了流便、迦得、瑪拿西半支派的兵役,准許他們回到約旦河東的地業上與家人團聚。不過他們並沒有空手而回,他們也分得豐厚的戰利品,作為他們為上帝完成使命的報酬。

        雖然他們在軍事上的責任結束了,但約書亞清楚的告訴他們,他們對上帝的屬靈責任沒有結束。在讓他們離去之前,約書亞像摩西一樣,用強烈的語氣命令他們要非常謹慎的「遵行」上帝的誡命律法,「行祂的道」,「專靠祂」,盡心盡性愛祂、事奉祂(22:5)。愛上帝不僅是一種情緒,還包含了行動、服事、順服、對上帝忠誠。耶穌說:「你們若愛我就必遵守我的命令」(約14:15)。歷史顯示,河東的以色列二個半支派並沒有按著所當行的愛上帝,他們陷入可悲的偶像崇拜,遺忘了他們起初的愛。

        在回家的路上,這二個半支派所建的一座壇差點因誤會而引起一場大戰。在迦南地的以色列人聽見這個消息就遽下結論,以為那座新壇是為拜偶像之用;或者是河東的支派想與他們的以色列同胞隔絕;他們也可能以為河東的支派想在那座壇上獻祭給上帝,因為該壇建得跟會幕的祭壇一樣。不論哪一種情形都是嚴重的違反律法。摩西說得很清楚,獻祭的地方只有一處(除非上帝另立別處,如8:30~31),就是上帝立為祂名居所的會幕。

        河西的支派很有智慧的先派代表去查明真象,也可能想試著救回他們。大祭司以利亞撒的兒子,熱心的非尼哈是調查團最適合的領隊。先前當以色列人拜巴力毗珥時,他表現出忌邪的心,為上帝潔淨祂的百姓(17節;民25:6~13)。如果這些河東的支派果真犯罪,非尼哈一定會讓他們受懲罰。他舉亞干之例向東區的同胞說明,他們的罪會帶來集體的罪,上帝的怒氣也會降在整個以色列國中(20節)。

        河東支派極力否認他們有任何背叛的企圖,他們的解釋也讓調查團感到滿意。他們解釋說,築壇不是為了獻祭,而是作為他們忠於上帝的「證據」,以及表達他們想與其餘支派永遠聯合在一起的願望。此外,他們的子孫也可以藉著那座壇曉得,他們與以色列原為一,敬拜相同的上帝,也有相同的權利在河西的會幕敬拜上帝。

        建這樣一座壇或許並非必要,因為上帝並沒有吩咐他們這麼做。事實上,歷史還證明此壇並沒有達到保持以色列合一的目的。上帝自己定了計畫,賜給他們維持合一的方法:以色列所有的男丁要一年三次到上帝的聖所朝見祂(出23:17)。因此,合一的關鍵在於順服上帝,而順服上帝則是愛祂的自然結果。如果我們愛上帝,「行事為人與蒙召的恩相稱……用愛心互相寬容」,便能與主內弟兄姐妹合一(弗4:1~3)。

禱告

        主耶穌,您期望信您的人都能合而為一,像您和天父合一一樣,求您賜給我們這樣的大恩典,使我們天天合一,願他人看見這樣的合一而想要加入我們,同在基督堙C奉主耶穌聖名,阿們!

English

Scriptures:Read Joshua 22
Key Verse:“The Lord your God had given rest to your brethren, as He promised them; now therefore, return and go to your tents…”(Joshua 22:4)
Overview

        After the main battles had been won and God had given rest to the tribes settling in Canaan, Joshua summoned the warriors from the two and a half tribes in Transjordan to thank them for faithfully fulfilling their obligation and promise in helping to conquer Canaan and bring “rest” – peace and safety from any danger (1:14-15; Num.32:17-22).

        He honorably released the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh from further military duty and allowed them to return to their families and their land of inheritance on the east side of the Jordan. However, they did not return empty-handed; they were enriched by the dividing of the spoil of war – a reward for their valuable service in the mission they helped to accomplish for the Lord.

        Through their military duty was finished, Joshua made it clear that their spiritual duty to the God of Israel would never be completed. Before he gave them leave, he strongly charged them with words like those of Moses, that they were to be very careful to “do” and “keep” God’s commandments, to “hold fast” to Him and “to walk in all His ways”, to “love” Him and “serve” Him with all their heart and soul (22:5). Loving God is more than just an emotion; it is doing, serving, and walking in constant obedience and true loyalty to Him. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). History proved that the Transjordanian tribes did not love God in the way they should have, for they fell sadly into idolatry and forgot their first love.

        The altar the tribes erected on their way home almost let to a huge war because of misunderstanding. The children of Israel within Canaan were alarmed when they heard about it and jumped to conclusions. They may have associated this new altar with idolatry, or interpreted it as a desire of the eastern tribes to separate from their fellow Israelites; or it may have been thought that they intended to sacrifice to God upon it, for it was made to resemble the true altar in the Tabernacle. This would be a serious transgression of the Law. Moses made it clear there was to be only one place of sacrifice (unless God commanded otherwise, e.g. 8:30-31), and that was at the central sanctuary where God had chosen to put His Name.

        It was wise of the western tribes to first send a delegation to discover the facts and to possibly try to turn them away from sin. The zealous Phinehas, son of the high priest Eleazar, was the right person to lead the group. He had previously displayed great zeal for God in purifying the nation when they fell into sin at Baal-Peor (v.17; Num.25:6-13). If these eastern tribes were guilty, he would be the one to see they were punished. As he illustrated with the example of Achan, their guilt would bring collective guilt and God’s wrath upon the whole nation (v.20).

        The eastern tribes’ strong denial of any rebellion and their explanation satisfied the delegation. They explained that the altar was not for sacrifice; rather it was built as a “witness” of their loyalty to God and their desire for lasting unity with the rest of the nation (that was why they built “their” altar on the western banks of the Jordan). Also, because of that altar, their descendants would know that they were one with Israel, worshipped the same God, and had the same right to Him at the Tabernacle.

        Erecting this altar was probably a needless thing to do, since God had not ordered it. In fact, history proved it did not serve its purpose in keeping the unity. God Himself had given the plan and the means to keep the unity: in obedience to Him, all the men were to go and appear before the Lord three times a year at His central sanctuary (Ex.23:17). The key to unity, then, was obedience to God, which is a result of love for Him. If we love God the way we should and “walk worthy of the calling… bearing with one another in love”, then unity with our fellow believers would be possible (Eph.4:1-3)

Prayer

        Lord God, You desire the unity of Your people. Please make us one as never before. You prayed, Lord Jesus, that Your followers would be one, even as You and Your Father are one. Grant this great blessing to us today and every day, and may others seeing this unity desire to join us in Christ.


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