The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
August 19, 1990


1) Hasty Judgments Can Lead To Misjudgments (Tom Edwards)


Hasty Judgments Can Lead To Misjudgments
by Tom Edwards

God's promise to give His people the land of Canaan was fulfilled soon after the beginning of the Mosaical period. Joshua 21:43-45 reads: "So the Lord gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it...not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass."

Now the battles were over; the land had been divided among the tribes of Israel; and the Reubenites, Gadites, and half of the tribe of Mannaseh returned to their territory, east of the Jordan River.     

Soon, however, a misunderstanding had arisen between these tribes and those Israelite tribes west of the Jordan River; this we can see in the following passage: Joshua 22:10-12,16: "And when they came to the region of the Jordan which is in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh built an altar there by the Jordan -- a great, impressive altar. Now the children of Israel heard someone say, `Behold, the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh have built an altar on the frontier of the land of Canaan, in the region of the Jordan, on the side occupied by the children of Israel.' And when the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered together at Shiloh to go to war against them....  Thus says the whole congregation of the Lord: `What treachery is this that you have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the Lord, in that you have built for yourselves an altar, that you might rebel this day against the Lord?'"

These nine and a half tribes became so enraged with their brethren on the other side of the river that they were ready to fight, for they viewed them as being idolatrous, unfaithful, and rebellious towards the Lord.

It is so easy for people today, just as it had been for those in Joshua's day, to jump to the wrong conclusions -- having not understood or known of all the facts. The story has been told about a six-year-old boy who came home from school one day with a note from his teacher.  The note suggested that the boy be taken out of school because he was "too stupid to learn." The boy was Thomas Alva Edison.

Another reason for making misjudgments is because people are often prejudice and hold partiality towards their own views; thus they generally see others as being "less informed." Many people hate to admit to their own mistakes and will sometimes go to extremes in trying to maintain a defenseless and absurd position. A conductor checking tickets in a train to Brussels once announced: "Everybody please get out at the next stop -- you are in the wrong train." Astonished, the passengers looked about at each other. Soon, however, the truth was discovered that it was the conductor and not the passengers who had boarded the wrong train.

Was the majority of Israel right for accusing Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Mannaseh of idolatry and rebellion? Had they truly understood the motives for these two and a half tribes setting up the altar?  If they had, surely they would not have acted so belligerently towards them. The purpose for this altar was not so they could become idolatrous, but rather it was to stand as a memorial for the descendants of the children of Israel west of the Jordan that they might not look down upon the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Mannaseh and consider them as heathens; but rather remember the time in which these two and a half tribes aided the rest of Israel in conquering the Promised Land; and, as a result, would not be able to say to them that "You have no portion in the Lord...." (Josh. 22:21-29).

Notice the effect this truth had upon the Israelites west of the Jordan: "So the thing pleased the children of Israel, and the children of Israel blessed God; they spoke no more of going against them in battle, to destroy the land where the children of Reuben and Gad dwelt.  And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad called the altar, Witness, `For it is a witness between us that the Lord is God'" (Josh. 22:33,34).     

How soon people's attitudes often change when they know the rest of the story. Several years ago a Santa Fe train was speeding through Oklahoma. In one of the coaches a young women was desperately trying to take care of a restless baby, whose crying was disturbing the other passengers. Across the isle a man shouted: "Can't you keep that child quiet?" On taking a further look at the young woman, he noticed that her dress was one of mourning. Then she replied gently, "I can not help it. The child is not mine. I am doing my best." The man then asked of the whereabouts of the mother to whom the woman answered, "In her coffin, sir, in the baggage car up ahead." Moved with compassion, the man now took the baby up in his arms, kissed it, and then walked up and down the isle with the little child, trying to make up for his harshness. His perspective and attitude had definitely changed after learning the full truth.

Yes, it is easy for any of us to make misjudgments if we are unaware of all of the facts. May we each learn the principle that Christ teaches in John 7:24 to "...not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."

Real love is a love that is patient, kind, not envious; a love that "believes all things" (1 Cor. 13:7), which is not indicative of gullibility, but connotes a willingness to give others the benefit of the doubt and takes the kindest views of other's actions and circumstances rather than being overly suspicious.

May we never be hasty to charge others with impure or ulterior motives before we know the rest of the story.  Remember, hasty judgments can lead to misjudgments.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

First published for the Tri-state church of Christ in Ashland, Kentucky, at 713 13th Street.

evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards