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Jumping to Conclusions

by Tim O'Hearn

One of the principal attractions in Acapulco, besides shopping, is the performance of the cliff divers every evening. Unfortunately, most tourists do not get to see them because the cruise ships pull in and out of port long before the performance, or people are not willing to pay the $30 (at least that was the cost in the late 1980s; now it is nearly $100) to get a good view from the opposite cliffs. These professional divers leap at night from heights of 100 to 135 feet into the waters at the bottom of La Quebrada cliffs. This has been happening for many years, and the divers are well aware of the condition of the waters below. If you are planning to emulate them at your local swimming hole, you should first check the water for depth and unseen obstructions; otherwise you might be jumping to a conclusion (of your life). People have been jumping to conclusions for a long time.

It might be said that Cain jumped to a conclusion. If Abelís sacrifice was accepted and his wasnít, it might have been Cainís conclusion that the way to be accepted would be to eliminate his brother. That illustrates the problem with jumping to conclusions. You may be wrong.

There is another example in the Bible of someone jumping to a conclusion. But in this case it was handled properly. Joshua 22 tells the story. Some of the tribes of Israel had been given land on the East Bank of the Jordan on condition that their men of war cross over and help conquer Canaan. When the fighting was over and the land had been divided, Joshua told them they could go home. As they approached the Jordan, they built an altar. The other tribes jumped to the conclusion that the two and a half tribes had built the altar to make sacrifices on, in violation of Godís explicit directions.

And the children of Israel heard say, Behold, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh have built an altar over against the land of Canaan, in the borders of Jordan, at the passage of the children of Israel. (Josh 22:11; one translation renders that last phrase as, ďand they did it on our side of the Jordan.Ē)

The other Israelites wanted to go to war. Joshua had a better idea. He sent Pinchas the High Priest and leaders from each of the ten tribes to talk to the leaders of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. He chose to look before he leapt.

After expressing their concern, these representatives let the others speak. What they said was that the altar was not for sacrifice, but so that future generations would be aware that those tribes east of Jordan had an equal part in Israel. They feared that they would later be looked upon as not part of the nation because of the physical barrier of the Jordan River.

How much heartache would we prevent if we were to follow Joshuaís example. When someone shares a post on social media that sounds right but puts someone in a bad light, do we research it to see if it is true, or simply e-gossip? Churches have been split because someone saw or heard part of a story and didnít bother to get the perspective from both sides.

Even if the conclusion to which you jumped is correct, it is still a bad practice. You might have been right once, but what about the other times. The problem with learning to jump to conclusions is that sometimes there might be rocks at the bottom of the cliff. Joshua knew to avoid landing on them.