Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
In a very dark period of Israel’s history, the armies of the Northern kingdom of Israel, based at Samaria, attacked the Southern kingdom of Judah. This was warfare between two different groups of the children of Israel.
The prophet Oded confronted them. It was not right that God’s people should wage war against each other. The very presence of the captives was acting to defile God’s people. The victors were victorious over a people they shouldn’t have been fighting in the first place.
We freely grant the concept that God told his people Israel to subdue their neighbors. There was a purity of the covenant people of Israel which was not to be sacrificed and was not to be mixed with the customs and religions of the people around them. And they were promised a land and an inheritance by God. Yet at no time were they supposed to wage war against one another.
This is actually a sign of the character of God. As the one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, has no dispute or disagreement, exhibiting one will, God’s people are also supposed to reflect this character. It doesn’t mean we ignore truth claims and differences. It does mean that we are supposed to pursue purity, orthodoxy, without exception. No, we don’t do this very well, and have had trouble with it since the early Christian period, when some thought the Gospel should go to Gentiles and some didn’t. It was difficult to resolve that conflict. Our conflicts remain difficult to resolve. But we are called to unity, as God is one.
In their repentance, the Northern forces used some of the spoils of war to provide cloting and food for their captives. They then delivered them back to somewhere near their home.
In our repentance, we recommit ourselves to striving for agreement in matters of doctrine and pracice, and to not using our abilities to harm our neighbor. Rather, we seek to present a united message. Christians are focused on Christ crucified for sin. We learn from Scripture how to live a life which is pleasing to God in Christ. And above all, we are brought to repentance daily as we see the love of God for all nations.
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