Divided by the Jordan River

“Now to half the tribe of Manasseh Moses had given a possession in Bashan, but to the other half of it Joshua gave a possession among their brethren on this side of the Jordan, westward . . .”—Joshua 22:7 (NKJV)

If you’ve been following along in our study through the Book of Joshua, you’re probably aware by now of the compromise committed by the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh. As the nation of Israel was preparing to cross westward over the Jordan River into the Promised Land, these three tribes pleaded for permission to settle on the eastern side of the river instead. 

Permission was given but this decision did something very damaging to the nation—it divided them. This division was most acutely seen and felt in the tribe of Manasseh. You see, half of the people of Manasseh wanted to dwell in the Promised Land and the other half didn’t. Consequently, the tribe of Manasseh was divided as both halves eventually settled on opposite sides of the Jordan. 

Again, this division would prove damaging. The Lord wanted all of Israel to occupy the Promised Land as one. He didn’t want them divided by the natural boundary of the Jordan River because He knows (and as the history of Israel would reveal) His people are strongest when united and weakest when divided.

As Christians, that’s a principle we should be paying close attention to. The Church, the body of Christ, is so vast and encompassing, and we tend to downplay the dangers of it being divided. With so many different denominations and distinctions, it can be tempting to build up walls of division when and where we disagree. “Oh, that Church is so out there, I doubt they’re even legit. I heard that denomination’s beliefs are so far afield from mine that I want nothing to do with them.”

Be careful! Unless the truth of the gospel is being compromised, we’re making a mistake when we draw up these lines of division within the body of Christ. The thing is, we don’t help ourselves or anyone else by doing so. In fact, we only hurt the body as a whole—the very body that we’re connected to. 

Christ’s Church is strongest when united and weakest when divided, which is why He made it a priority to pray for our unity: “Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are” (John 17:11 NKJV).
May we learn from Manasseh’s decision to divide and set our hearts to pursue and promote unity in the body of Christ.

DIG: What damaging decision did the Tribe of Manasseh make?

DISCOVER: What principle can the Christian derive from their decision?

DO: When and where have you been guilty of dividing the body of Christ? Spend time today considering what God wants you to do about it and be intentional about being obedient and following through.


About the Author

Pastor Dan Hickling

Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.