Early in the story, God’s plan took a devastating turn to the left. When sin entered the world, the most prevalent and consistent consequences we see in Scripture are the conflict, anger, rebellion, murder, strife, and division that repeatedly spring up. Here are a few noteworthy examples:
- First Murder: Cain and Abel allow competition for God’s favor to eclipse His purposes for their relationship (see Genesis 4).
- Family Division: Jacob chooses deception to grab Isaac’s blessing, and tears a family in two (see Genesis 27).
- Sibling Rivalry: Jacob’s sons. Eleven against one. Joseph gets the short end of the stick, when his brothers throw him in a pit and sell him into slavery (see Genesis 37).
- Leadership Coup: Upset with the leadership God appointed (Moses, Aaron, and Miriam), tribal lines come to light, and Korah, a Levite, rallies a rebellion. It doesn’t go so well for them (see Numbers 16).
- Tribal Isolation: After the people of God inhabit the Promised Land, we see gradual isolation invade the tribes of Israel. What was one nation begins to divide, caring more about their individual rights than the glory of God. It is summed up in the last statement of Judges: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit” (Judges 21:25 NIV).
- Divided Kingdom: After Solomon’s reign as king of all Israel, the divisions become deeper and split God’s people in two—the northern and southern kingdoms (beginning in 1 Kings 12).
All of these Old Testament accounts are a precursor to the divisions we find in the early Church. The New Testament writers constantly addressed conflict, quarrels, and party politics in their letters.
What does this say to us? Satan’s evil plot to leverage the effects of sin in our lives is real and time-tested. We need to see transformation among God’s people. Division dishonors His name. As we’ll see, His redemptive plan involves restoration in our lives that is meant to be a beacon of difference among His people.
Where do you see these kinds of relational dysfunction in your own community of believers?