Commentators, scholars, and Bible teachers have been divided on this story for a very long time. The question of whether or not this division of the nation of Israel was according to God’s will, or not, will be answered (largely) according to how one views the sovereignty of God. Be that as it may, from an outcomes point of view, the division was ultimately not the best.
Almost as soon as Israel had rest in the promised land, and the men of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh were released to return to their possession, the natural division between the two-and-a-half and the nine-and-a-half tribes descended into conflict. My third and final point in the message two Sundays ago was “Division in the nation inevitably leads to conflict.”
It is almost shocking how quickly division can lead to conflict. Every married couple knows this. If you and your spouse are divided on a decision, idea, or opinion, the division can lead to conflict in seconds. In more than twenty years of pastoral ministry, I’ve been a mediator—in counseling situations—between divided parties on many occasions. Countless times I’ve observed that division not only leads to conflict, but conflict fuels more division resulting in greater conflict, until things spiral out of control.
This is where we are as a nation. We are divided. Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand” (Matt. 12:25) I am deeply troubled by the things that I am seeing in our nation. I think you probably are as well. While I am generally an optimistic person, and have (ultimately) an optimistic vision of the future (when Jesus returns and rules), the current conditions of our nation are troubling.
King David wrote:
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
It is believed that these words were penned around the time that the King’s son, Absalom, mounted a coup against his father, leading (nearly) to a full civil war. Division leads to conflict. And during this time, one of the greatest things we can (and should) do is pray.
I want to encourage you to pray. Pray for our nation. Pray for our leaders. Pray for those that are desiring justice. Pray for those that are oppressed. Pray for those that protest. Pray for those in law enforcement. Pray that God would move the hearts of men to be humble, and to turn to God in faith.
At the end of last year I sensed that 2020 was going to be a year of chaos. At that same time I attended a meeting led by Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church. During the meeting, Pastor Rick said, “Wherever there is conflict and chaos God is getting ready to move.” Pray that God would move to bring true peace and order our chaos.
Beginning July 1st we are going to be seeking the Lord in prayer for thirty-one days. During that time, Pastor Mark will be providing daily direction on ways in which you can pray. I want to encourage you to do two things. First, consider social distancing from social media (and maybe even the news media) for 31 days in July. Second, follow along with us as we seek the Lord in prayer during that same period of time. If you’d like to receive our daily prayer-minders, subscribe at prayerminder.lifeinconnection.com.