Day: 36 | Plan: Joshua-Judges
Today’s Reading: Judges 12
Judges 12:5-6 (NIV) “The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan leading to Ephraim, and whenever a survivor of Ephraim said, ‘Let me cross over,’ the men of Gilead asked him, ‘Are you an Ephraimite?’ If he replied, ‘No,’ they said, ‘All right, say “Shibboleth.”’ If he said, ‘Sibboleth,’ because he could not pronounce the word correctly, they seized him and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two thousand Ephraimites were killed at that time.”
Why do we see conflict arise in the family of God’s people? Have you ever wondered why we can’t seem to get along? Maybe the better question is, “Why are we surprised that conflict exists among believers?” Christians may be saved from hell and promised heaven, but we aren’t spared the difficulties of sin on earth. The truth is, we can be just as selfish and short-tempered as those who don’t follow Jesus.
I wish it wasn’t so, but it is.
In the book of Judges we see examples of what happens when God’s people say they follow Him with their lips, but refuse to follow Him with their lives. Infighting, division and chaos are the result of this type of spiritual hypocrisy. And our conflicts in relationships are not reserved for those outside the kingdom.
When God’s people turn from God, they turn on each other.
A misunderstanding between Jephthah and the Ephraimites led to an “us versus them” conflict. After a battle, they continued their conflict and established sides by how an individual pronounced the word, “shibboleth.” This language litmus test separated God’s people; and at its conclusion resulted in the death of more than 40,000 Ephraimites.
There is no mention that they consulted God to work out their disagreements. Neither party attempted to sort out their quickly-concluded assumptions. Scripture doesn’t record that they tried to peaceably resolve their disagreements before resulting to drastic methods. God’s people didn’t act or respond at all like God’s people should. And rather than being a picture of grace, unity and truth seeking, Israel’s history has a black eye of infighting and violence.
Unity in community seems to be tied to faithfulness to the Father. Is it possible that our trivial relational conflicts indicate a lack of intimacy with God? We may not be able to avoid all conflict. I imagine it’s inevitable for broken people living in a broken world. But shouldn’t God’s people be best equipped to handle life’s hard relational places? Let’s stay close to God and each other.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, when conflict arises I don’t often think about how I might be responsible for the situation. I certainly don’t reflect on how my relationship with You could influence the situation. When conflict arises in my relationships, especially those in the body of Christ, help me avoid jumping to conclusions, believing the worst and giving up on biblical conflict resolution. I want to make the body of Christ better. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Part of the conflict in Judges 12 exists because the Ephraimites began with a premature... Read More
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