Ripples of Regret

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.”—Joshua 22:10 (NKJV)

When you read through the Bible, you start to notice some reoccurring storylines—subplots that persist and don’t seem to go away. That’s deliberate, it’s the Holy Spirit’s way of calling our attention to something important that we need to heed. 

One of those thematic threads is the decision for the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh to not settle in the Promised Land but on the adjacent eastern side of the Jordan River. This was nothing short of a compromise and would eventually prove to be ruinous for them. And it’s something the Scriptures keep referring to, as in the passage above where we’re told that these tribes got together and decided to build an “impressive altar.”

Now, this may not sound like a big deal at first. Weren’t altars used in worshipping God? Yes, but notice the response this gets from their countrymen who had obediently settled the land on the other side of the Jordan River: “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” (Joshua 22:12 NKJV).

That escalated quickly! Just a few verses earlier Joshua was blessing these people and now they are preparing to go to war against them. Word about this altar got out, and the rest of Israel assumed it was for idolatrous purposes and deserving of death. How did this happen? Why would the rest of Israel be so quick to assume the very worst?

It happened because of compromise. If only Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh had decided to settle alongside with the rest of their people, it wouldn’t have allowed for such a breach of communication and trust. But because they were geographically cut-off, it led to a sense of spiritual separation and division. A nation that was meant to be united was quickly becoming divided. 

Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh’s compromise continues to produce ripples of regret. Again, God records this for us so we can take heed and learn the consequences of compromise. Spiritual compromise only undermines the integrity of the relationships that matter most to us. When we deliberately choose something that God does not want for us, it inevitably leads to distrust and division in our relationships.

The solution is simple, stick to what God has clearly marked out in His Word. Abide within the boundaries of the life that carries the promise of His blessing and don’t settle for anything less! 

DIG: How did compromise continue to haunt Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh?  

DISCOVER: What’s the lesson to be learned from this?

DO: Based on what you read today, outline a biblical model you can follow to safeguard yourself from compromise. 

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.