There is a story in Joshua 23 that I smile at every time I get to read it. It has taken the Israelites almost 50 years to claim the promise land. And just when it seems the fighting is over a rumor spreads; apparently the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh were building their own altar. Here is the response of the other tribes:
"11 When the rest of Israel heard they had built the altar at Geliloth west of the Jordan River, in the land of Canaan, 12 the whole assembly gathered at Shiloh and prepared to go to war against their brother tribes."
Have you ever done this? Decided to go to war because of something you heard? Decided to confront without getting all the facts? Ever decided to go in with a pointed finger instead of asking humble questions? We all have. And, usually that end poorly. The Israelites were ready to wipe out three of their own tribes; they had assembled the people for war! But cooler heads somehow prevailed and verse 13 says:
"13 First, however, they sent a delegation led by Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest. They crossed the river to talk with the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh."
And guess what? When they actually took the time to talk with their brothers they discovered something that disarmed them. The people of the suspect tribes weren't building an altar to make the holy sacrifices on. They were building it as a memorial of their relationship with God. They wanted to make sure their descendants remembered who they were and who they worshiped. They were innocent.
Thank God the delegation was sent before the army. Next time you're ramping things up for a battle you might just stop...and send a delegation!
Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Josh 22-24