July 15 – United: Country – 1 Kings 11 & 12

Read 1 Kings 11:26-12:33

The Old Testament nation of Israel is different from our nation. It was the result of the promise of God to a man and his wife. He promised them land and progeny. God’s intentions were that theirs would be a theocratic nation, over which He would reign. He gave to them laws that were to govern their relationships with Him and with one another. Even though they would, at times, reject His leadership and rebel against His laws, they are His chosen people. The United States, meanwhile, is different. In spite of claims of some to US “exceptionalism” or our past expansion influenced by a sense of “manifest destiny,” we are unlike the nation of Israel.

Still, there are parallels between Israel of the past and the United States of the present that can be identified. One of those similarities is illustrated in today’s reading…division. For God’s chosen people, that was felt at an extreme level. For them, it was a geographical division between north and south. The ten northern tribes grouped together and were called “Israel.” Meanwhile, the two southern tribes remained together and were called “Judah.”

Beyond geography, they also experienced division in their allegiance. The northern tribes were led by Rehoboam. Jeroboam ruled over the southern tribes.

What Israel (ultimately Israel and Judah) experienced was division in its extreme form. I don’t envision that for our nation. But neither do I desire any kind of divisive tension for our nation.

Given our differences and our shared experience (at different levels) of division, are there Biblical principles that guide our personal responses today? There are two that are touched on in other devotionals this week. Let’s remind ourselves of them here.

  1. We are to submit to and honor the leaders over us (Rom. 13:1-7; 2 Pet. 2:13-17). Both Peter and Paul wrote those principles at a time when it was not easy to live as a Christian under the Roman government of the day. Still, they recognized the government’s God-given role (practiced albeit imperfectly) to punish and protect. They pointed God’s people to obedience and respect.
  2. We are to pray for the leaders over us (1 Tim. 2:1-7). Once again, as Pastor Dave recently pointed out, Paul wrote this at a time when the Roman government was overbearing. Keep in mind, God uses leaders to accomplish His will (Prov. 21:1). Somehow, prayer plays an important part in seeing His will accomplished (Matt. 6:10) and in our experience of personal peace (1 Tim. 2:2; Phil. 4:6-8).

Submit, honor, and pray!

Steve Kern

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