Epiphany 2022, Gospel of Matthew, Day 23 of 58

Gospel of Matthew, Day 23 of 58, January 25

Reading

Matthew 12:22-50

https://bible.oremus.org/?ql=510097203

Scripture

25He knew what they were thinking and said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 

Observation

Around 930 B.C. after the death of King Solomon, the kingdom of Israel split into two kingdoms. The northern kingdom of Israel, primarily composed of the following 10 tribes: Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, Dan, Zebulun, Naphtali, Rueben, Gad, Asher, and Simeon. The southern kingdom of Judah incorporating the following tribes: Judah and Benjamin.

Now you might ask, “I thought Joseph and Levi were also sons of Jacob (Israel)?” You are correct. Ephraim and Manasseh are two sub-tribes of Joseph. The Levites have no land, and were distributed by God among all 12 tribes for leading worship in the Tabernacle and the Temple. This division of kingdoms was devastating for Israel’s witness at the crossroads of world powers like Egypt, Assyria, Greece, and Persia. I believe Jesus alludes to the division of kingdoms.

Nonetheless, he also is referring to warring factions in the 1st century Roman Palestine such as the Zealots, Sadducees, and Pharisees. Eventually in 70 AD, the Second Temple (lavishly renovated and expanded by Herod the Great was destroyed by the Romans.

Subsequently, the Romans banished Jewish people from Palestine, and they scattered to other parts of the Roman Empire in an event known as the Diaspora, which means dispersion or scattering of people groups. Jesus prophecy came true.

Application

I have heard people talking about another Civil War in the United States. I disagree that there would be any repeat of the devastating, bloody, and internecine conflict of the 19th century. There is an article from the Brookings Institution (a bipartisan think tank) that offers a similar assessment

What I do envision for our country is continued erosion of shared democratic values that will lead to greater government corruption, economic instability, and social upheaval. Like the Roman Empire, no country can be on top for ever.

Complacency and decadence leads to decline. Clearly, the American government and politicians have lost the trust over the years. Nevertheless, the church is not immune from a crisis of confidence. Confidence in both the church and democratic governments is at all time low. The polarization of American politics has led to a house divided that will not stand. The same goes for the church.

Similarly, historic denominations have divided along polarities as well. I believe we need to unit around the feet of Jesus as our King. It we agree on Jesus, we can come together to rebuild the faith of the hurt and lost citizens of our country. This kind of zeal for sharing Jesus could bind up the nations wounds. We do not have to accept division and discord.

Forget about the Donkey! Forget about the Elephant! Let us worship the Lamb! He alone is worthy of praise. If political leaders sow discord and division for their own hold on power, then I say vote them out, and pray for leaders who make the healing of our country their number one priority because unity is a priority on God’s agenda. Let us not seek our own agenda that divides, but let us seek God’s agenda that unites.

Song for prayer and contemplation:

Prayer

Lord, we are your children. Yet, we fight with each other like spawns of Satan, the Accuser. Helps redirect our worship to you, and refocus our anger on the sin and injustice of our land. Help mend the wound of our nation by seeking your will for our lives. May we never degrade your kingdom’s prerogatives by bending them toward the will of a political party or our own selfish desires. In the Name of Jesus our King we pray. Amen.

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