Most of us realize that G-d works in patterns. We have seen His pattern of Election throughout the Scriptures. Tom Bradford, in our class lessons, has stressed this system of election in regards to the line of promise among the Biblical patriarchs… and the people of Israel… and the children of G-d from all nations. Dividing and electing. Dividing and electing.
But there is another pattern that exists and is in full-swing. It is the system of the enemy. We have all witnessed his motto, “DIVIDE and CONQUER”, and we have all been tools at one time or another that fall into the enemy’s hand. Some unwittingly… others not so innocently.
And as he walks to and fro across the earth, like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8), my question to myself… and to all of you… is this: Where is the love? There is a popular song out there in the world with this title… and it’s a good song (unfortunately performed by a group whose other songs are not so uplifting) and its focus is on injustice and hate in the world.
As Believers we know that the world is evil. We know that we are called not to be part of it and to endure and walk firm in our service. And yes, as expected, there are many signs of the enemy’s ‘divide and conquer’ plan of attack in the world today.
We could talk about divisions on a global level forever. The ugliest and most popular one that comes to mind here in the USA is the division created in politics; Republican vs. Democrat. It is interesting to me that while in some circumstances we will cry out that “A house divided cannot stand!”, we continue to totally contradict ourselves by believing that our system of government, the system of Democracy (a house literally divided), is a blessed ideal. Since I know that the Kingdom to come is NOT going to be a Democracy, but rather a THEOCRACY, I will continue to lament over a world that does not look to its Creator for direction.
I don’t typically quote outside of the Biblical texts, but in his book, Walden, Henry David Thoreau revealed a striking truth seen in society. He wrote: “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the roots.”Thoreau was commenting on the vicious cycle of people devoting their lives to ‘giving’ to the needy, and in essence, contributing to the needy remaining needy. It is along the same lines of the Chinese proverb: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” As Believers, however, we can take Thoreau’s statement to a much deeper level. As we fight the adversary, are we acting as landscape architects? Hacking away at the branches, causing his plan to grow fuller? Or are we stump removal specialists? Striking at the roots.
And again, I have to ask, “Where is the love?”
I see plenty of love within the family of Believers when we sing. Plenty of love… when we dance. Love by the boatloads when we share in a revelation of truth. And when a member of our family is truly distraught or in need, love comes leaping in from all directions.
But where is this same love when we hear a fellow Believer state an interpretation of our Father’s Word that we don’t agree with? Do we approach them in love and in humility, seeking to understand and receive G-d’s anointing of truth? Or do we coil up in hostility and agitation, seeking an argument, seeking to disprove him thus elevating ourselves? Dividing and conquering.
When we hear or see a member of the flock stray off course…do we try to help them get back on track with compassion and loving rebuke…. or do we judge and gossip and self-righteously condemn? Dividing and conquering.
The enemy’s tactics are not a mystery to us. Paul states this clearly in his second letter to the Corinthians. Moses reveals the tactics of the enemy in the Garden of Eden at the Fall of Man. Approach #1: Doubt G-d… Approach #2: Question His Authority… and #3: (his favorite, I believe, and most efficient) Cause man to exalt himself.
I have no doubt whatsoever that the enemy finds great pleasure in dissension among Believers. The history of the church has been his greatest tool in achieving this. And when we look out today, at ALL the denominations with ALL their different doctrines and ALL their different perversions of the Word- how can we possibly sit back on our laurels and call ourselves a universal name like “Christian”? How? How can we possibly define what a Christian even is? A little bit of this? A little bit of that? There are ‘Christians’ who also proclaim faith in a church establishment. There are ‘Christians’ who don’t believe that Yeshua was One with G-d. There are ‘Christians’ who still rely on works and those who only rely on grace. Dividing and conquering.
Peter writes in his first letter: “Be all of one mind.” (3:8) Some Bibles translate it ‘live in harmony,’ but the Greek says “Be all of one mind” and is stated also by Paul in Romans 15:5. Living in harmony holds more of a ‘to each his own as long as we tolerate one another’ feel to it. Being of ‘one mind’ demands singular focus, necessary submissiveness and a common purpose.
None of us should need any teacher but the One in whom is everything. But in His mercy and love for us, he gives us one another, equipping us with different abilities so that if we are steadfast in seeking His truth, we can search and find it together. But we must have love to make it work. Peter continued in his first letter (quoting Proverbs 10:12), “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins’.” (4:7-8)
The Hebrew concept of love is not just some intensely felt emotion. Love is a concrete action that in its fullness exemplifies all of the attributes that Paul goes into great depth to explain in his letter to the Corinthians. Love is patient, he says. Love is kind, etc. Hebrew culture already understood love to include all of these qualities. In the Hebrew mind, love is not a noun. It is a verb. An action of responsibility. An action of taking seriously that which G-d has blessed you with.
A great illustration of this is how we often look at the arranged marriages of the Bible as a sad, unfair thing. Some of us go as far as to think it ‘primitive.’ But if one truly loved G-d as commanded, he would see his chosen mate as a gift from G-d and protect and respect and love that gift showing all the kindness and patience and meekness and endurance possible! (No word in Hebrew is simple. Each represents a trail of actions built upon one another to create a stronger, more detailed understanding. We can relate the same words in other languages….it just takes a lot more words, like you see with Paul trying to explain Hebrew ahav [love] to the Greeks) And what does Paul say at the end? Faith, hope and love remain, but the greatest of these is love.
Yeshua, when asked what the greatest command was, responded the same way as always. By confirming what had already been written.
“Sh’ma Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad. V-ahavta et Adonai Elohecha b-chol l’vavcha u-v-chol naf’sh’cha u-v-chol m’odecha.”
Hear, Israel, the Lord our G-d, the Lord is One and you shall love the LORD your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul and with all of your might (Deut. 6: 4,5).
And then He said, “And the second is like it:
“v-ahavta l’reyacha kamocha” You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Love is the most important command for a very simple reason. If we have it, it bleeds into every aspect of our lives and we show it. And if we are showing it, we must be following G-d’s instructions, because these two realities are inseparable. John writes:
“Not writing as a new commandment, but one which we had from the beginning, that we should love one another. And this is love, that we should walk according to His commandments.” 2 John 1:5, 6
Loving G-d is walking according to His commandments. And since all of His commandments are GOOD, understanding them and having a heart of obedience to them out of love for the Father, results in the only logical outcome: We will be showing love to others!
“By this we know that we love the children of G-d: When we love G-d and keep His commandments.” 1 John 5: 2
Known in Judaism as the “Sh’ma,” the command found in Deuteronomy 6: 4, 5 is repeated in the Tanakh 10 times; in Deuteronomy and in Joshua. Repeated 10 times to the Israelites as they prepared to go into the promised land! G-d really wanted them to understand just how importantly love and His instructions in Torah were linked.
Do we see the connection today? Are we living G-d’s description of love, or our own interpretation of it? Hack at the branches and the enemy laughs. Attack the roots in the character of love, and he cannot stand against you.
Author: Jennifer Ross