Posted by: lepages | April 13, 2011


My last preach from our teaching series in Joshua. Bit of setting the scene to start with, as we departed briefly from the series when a good friend, John Silondwa from Zambia came to preach for a week.

Joshua 22 – Communication


Dr. Who video clip

A bit of time travel this week! Having fast forwarded around 400 years from the time of Joshua to that of Daniel last week, we now find ourselves back with Joshua, but some time later from our last reading. All the land that the people were fighting for has now been taken and the Israelite people have been delegated their own areas of land for the different tribes of people. The two and a half tribes who had been encouraged to help their brothers take their land, even though they already had theirs' on the other side of the Jordan are given permission to return to their land.

We're going to read what happened from Joshua 22

READ Joshua 22

Trevor, when he put this series of teaching together from Joshua came up with an excellent title for this week....


This passage has so much to teach us about communication – it teaches us about the problems when we fail to communicate, it teaches us about the importance of communication, and it teaches us about the blessing of communication.

When I was praying over this passage and preparing for this morning on Thursday, it felt like the Lord wanted to communicate truth to me about communication, and I hope that I will communicate to you something of what I felt he communicated to me. As I prayed and read over the passage it felt like the Lord revealed point after point after point for me to share with you, to draw your attention to, for all of us to learn from, and to go away and put into practice. We're going to work progressively through the passage, under a series of headings.

The first thing we see about communication from this passage is that we all need reminding about things!

we need reminding v1-5

I give no apology if sometimes I repeat myself – there are things which it is worthwhile reminding ourselves of again and again!

When all the work was done in taking the land, in distributing it to the different tribes as their homeland, Joshua then draws alongside the Reubenite people, the Gadite people and half of the Mannaseh tribe and the first thing he does is remind them of what they've done.

of what we've done

We need reminding of what we've done so often.

He says to them, v2 “You have done all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded and you have obeyed me in everything I commanded.”

Some people have a big problem with pride in their abilities – the majority of us don't!

Many of us don't realise the significance of the things we do – and some times in our communication we need to remind one another of the good that has been done.

We may all be by nature self interested and selfish, have fallen far short of God's standards, but we are all also made in God's image, in his likeness, and God wants to use each one of us to accomplish good.

We need reminding not only of what we have done, but also

of what we can do

Joshua says to the people v3

For a long time now – to this very day – you have not deserted your brothers but have carried out the mission the LORD your God gave you.”

We need reminding of what we have done that we might continue in what we can do!

And Joshua takes it on further, reminding them of their basic calling as people of God v5 very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul.”

That's what God's calling to us as believers is!

To love the LORD our God,

to walk in his ways,

to be obedient to his commands,

to hold fast to him

and to serve him with all your heart and soul.

So who's up for it??!!

Let's not wait till the end of the preach to make a response, let's do it now.

If you're up for this, no matter how inadequate you feel, if you're up for loving God, walking in his ways, being obedient to his commands, holding fast to him and serving him full on – with heart and soul, then let's if we're able stand together – if you want to make the commitment but standing is difficult just open your hands before God – and we'll pray and make our commitment to him and seek his Spirit's strength.

So, anybody with me? Ready to go full on with God, as he calls us to?


We need reminding of what we've done, of what we can still do, but also

of what we still need to do

You see just because you've done something for God or with God doesn't mean he's finished with you yet! These tribes had completed one task, but the call to live for God wasn't to do a task, it was to live for him in every part of their beings – and God's call on your life and on my life is the same.

It's a big call, but it's an immense privilege to live for him!

In communication we not only need reminding, but

we need blessing v6-9

Joshua blessed the people. He gave them freedom to enjoy all the blessings that God had given to them.

If God has blessed you in anyway, spiritually with his presence and power, if he has blessed you through others around you, if he has blessed you with enjoying the wonder of his creation, if he has blessed you practically in some way, if he has blessed you financially – enjoy the blessings he has given to you – thank and praise him for his grace and favour upon your life – receive his blessings with thanksgiving.

For those of you who made a commitment to the Lord in response to his call to us, I want to pray a prayer of blessing over you – no need to stand, perhaps just open your hands where you sit as a way of saying I'm ready to receive all you have for me, and I'm going to pray for God's blessing on your lives.


In communication, it's all very well being reminded of who we are in Christ, who we are as human beings, what we've been enabled to do and can yet still do, it's all very well being blessed in conversation – and can I encourage you to bless others in your conversation – bless one another, encourage one another, build one another up – do that at any time, but make sure when you come together in your cell groups during the week that you build one another up, that you give one another opportunity to be blessed and to be a blessing

but at the heart of communication there is a need for explanation

we need explanation v10-20

When somebody comes along and does something of significance, something that has an impact on others, or affects others and doesn't explain why it has consequences.

Just yesterday morning several of us were talking after the community clean up about a number of things that have happened or haven't happened through the Borough council – one of the sources of ongoing debate in our town is the two silvery metal head sculpture type things at the top of Silver Street – some people like them, some people loathe them, but if there was at least some explanation about the reason for them it might go some way to understanding – even if you still didn't like them!

These 2 and a half tribes having crossed back to their territory on the other side of the River Jordan constructed themselves not an imposing metal sculpture, but we read in v10 an 'imposing altar'.

That says to me that it was akin to our two metal heads in its effect. It was big. It was visible. It's presence could not be missed.

At our annual church meeting last Sunday we sought to explain some things, to consult over some other things. When we changed our service structure two years ago we did the same.

If, without explanation, we had just changed the way in which we conduct our worship and teaching I'm sure there would be some very negative reaction, because we don't understand!

We need explanation,

otherwise we misinterpret v10-12

Look how extreme the Israelites misinterpretation was! V11,12

..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.”

Honesty time!

Who here has ever completely misinterpreted someone else's actions or words??!!

Hands up!

We do!

We all carry prejudices, assumptions, and often, unless there is adequate explanation for things we so easily reach the wrong conclusions.... as the Israelites did here. Maybe we wouldn't think about going to war over it – though in history there have been many near crises as a result of misinterpretation of another nations actions – but perhaps we have said or done things which may have been hurtful or damaging as a result of our misinterpreting of what is going on.

In our communication we need explanation because otherwise we are apt to base on past experience

we base on past experience v13-20

Look at what the Israelites did. They assumed v16 that the tribes had broken faith with God, they'd turned away from the LORD. Why? Because they remembered others who had done that. They remembered the sin of Peor, when Israelite people had turned from Yahweh to worship the Baal god, succumbing, many scholars believe, to the attraction of Caananite temple prostitutes. They remembered, v20, the sin of Achan and it's negative affect, leading to deaths beyond his family. And they feared the same.

You may have interpreted someone's actions, someone's words based on past experience – and your interpretation may not have been wholly true – not that the reality of your fears and concerns were not very real.

This passage seems to me to impress on us the need to make clear explanations about our course of action and behaviour – it seems to me that it must echo a call conversely to us to be cautious in our making assumptions.

True communication is two way.

we need to respond v21-29

Faced with misunderstanding what do we do?

Go in all guns blazing? Attack the person who has misunderstood our actions, our behaviour, our words?

I think the response of the misunderstood tribes is a good model for us.

They didn't hold back, but neither did they just attack their accusers.

They proclaimed the truth of their position before God – they put God in first place as judge over them, reminding themselves and their accusers of who their God was and is, v22

The Mighty One, God the LORD! The Mighty One, God the LORD! He knows!”

and then they proclaimed, “And let Israel know!”

And then they explained – they made clear that they were not going after other gods, they were not trying to have their own place for worship, but they were honest too about their own fears – fearing that being the other side of the river, in future years they might get looked down on, it might be forgotten that they too were the people of God.

Separation can be a cause of difficulty.

Years ago, I remember a number of people saying 'How do you get on in Queens Park?' carrying a negative image of the community (which I do not believe is justified in any shape or form). The separation in our case of a railway line rather than a river.

We need to be prepared to give an honest response and explanation of ourselves if we are to communicate well – and sometimes we need permanent reminders, to keep on communicating something to us and to others – and the tribes built this altar to that as a permanent reminder both for subsequent generations of their own people and for subsequent generations of the other Israelite tribes across the river.

we need permanent reminders v21-29

Jesus knows how important permanent reminders are. And so before his death he gave his disciples a permanent reminder of what he was about to do for them – of how he was to give himself, of how his blood was to be shed, so that they could be forgiven, so that we can be forgiven, so that you can be forgiven... and put in a right relationship wit God. And he said, 'Take bread, break it and eat it, as a reminder of my body broken for you.' And he took a cup of wine and said 'Drink from it all of you. This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.'

And so we have this permanent reminder, most Sundays in the year, of Jesus' sacrifice and of all it accomplished, so that we keep our eyes and our gaze firmly fixed on the Lord Jesus, so that we don't lose heart, so that we don't lose focus and we keep him at the centre of our lives.


As we come to the end of the chapter, we see what can happen when good communication takes place.


can bring pleasure v30

READ v30

When Phineas the priest and the leaders of the community... heard what Reuben, Gad and Mannaseh had to say, they were pleased....”

I bet when they were told they could return to their own lands the tribes were pleased. I bet they were pleased when they were affirmed for what they had done and what they were still called to do. I bet they were pleased when Joshua blessed them.

I bet you are pleased when people take the time to communicate effectively with you.

So lets make sure we communicate well to bring pleasure to others – married couples, the best thing you can do for your marriages is to make sure you communicate well, you encourage one another, you bless one another. Parents and children, the same applies to you. And one could say it applies in every situation. We need to do that in our cells. We need to do it as a whole church, we need to do it in our families and in our work places and places of study.

Effective communication can not only bring pleasure, but it can (PP) also bring reconciliation and affirmation

can bring reconciliation and affirmation v31-33

The peoples were not only reconciled to one another, but affirmed one another.

When we have a problem with someone, so often we shut away and avoid.

But here, they came out into the open, they were honest, they overcame their prejudices and their assumptions based on past experience and as a result they were able to move on together. Perhaps sometimes we need to do that too – to talk honestly, openly, acknowledging our own faults and limitations, and see relationships put right, and actually be built up through the experience.

One final comment about effective communication as I hand back to Trevor & Margaret to lead us on in worship


can bring praise to God v33,34

v33 “They were glad to hear the report and praised God.

V31 they said, “Today we know that the LORD is with us...”

Let's communicate well together. Let's give testimony to what God does in our lives and to his blessings on our lives. And let us out of those things bring praise to our God!





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