When they came to Geliloth near the Jordan in the land of Canaan, the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an imposing altar there by the Jordan. And when the Israelites heard that they had built the altar on the border of Canaan at Geliloth near the Jordan on the Israelite side, the whole assembly of Israel gathered at Shiloh to go to war against them. So, the Israelites sent Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, to the land of Gilead – to Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh.
A true accounting of events helps clarify a situation, but a false accounting can turn into a rumor and create a volatile situation. The tribes that crossed back to the east side of the Jordan built an altar as a memorial, or “witness,” to remind future generations that they worshipped the one true God. They feared the possible apostasy of future generations who might forget the commandments of the Lord. The other Israelite tribes, however, thought they were setting up a separate altar which had been forbidden.
Phinehas and a representative from each of the tribes went to find out if the other tribes were “breaking faith.” The representatives told the tribes their concerns and listened and accepted their reply. Phinehas was able to discern the truth – the tribes east of the Jordan were not worshipping false Gods – and his report stopped the false rumors. Had the nine tribes not sent Phinehas and representatives to bring the truth into the light, the tribes may have gone to war.
Bringing controversies into the light weakens the position of the enemy, not allowing him to gain a foothold into the situation. If you hear a rumor about someone or something and are involved in the situation, always go to the source to seek the truth. If you are not part of the problem, or part of the solution, it is wise not to get involved. James writes that the tongue is a fire that sets a forest on fire with just a spark. (James 2:6) That is how rumors begin – with one false word – and spread like wildfire.
Have you ever been a part of a rumor that caused someone great hurt or harm? Have you ever been on the receiving side of a false rumor?
You know the destruction that is sown and the effects that are lasting. If you have been involved either way, ask the Lord to forgive you. Forgive those who have spread false rumors against you, and the Lord will free you from resentment.
Forgive me where I have gossiped or been part of false rumors. Help me remember that one spark can cause a fire that has hurtful effects. I forgive those who have spread false rumors against me. Give me courage to seek the truth when false rumors are spoken and to keep silent when temptation to spread gossip presents itself.
In Jesus’ name, Amen