When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he mobilized the house of Judah and Benjamin--180,000 choice warriors--to fight against Israel and restore the kingdom to Rehoboam.
I. THE UNSEEMLINESS OF DOMESTIC STRIFE. It is not only such murderous violence as darkened the history of the first human family, and such bitter strife as that which too often divides brothers and sisters into plaintiffs and defendants; it is also the unforgiven offence, or the interminable dispute, which keeps their lives apart, or makes cold the hearts that should be warm with love; and it is also the daily bickerings, accusations, contentions, which come beneath the Divine displeasure. It is not only the presence of strife, it is the absence of love; it is the want of kindness, considerateness, charity, sweetness of look and of tone, which gives dissatisfaction to him who is ever saying, "As I have loved you, love one another."
II. THE PAINFUL INCONGRUITY OF CHURCH DISSENSIONS. Apart from all ecclesiastical controversy, in regard to which there may be honest difference of opinion and of action without any real bitterness of heart, there is often found within the borders of the same Christian community a difference which hardens into a dissension. It is here that the strong, decisive command, against which is no appeal, should be heard, "Ye shall not fight against your brethren." We may not be able to define in language the exact difference between allowable and honourable and even commendable defence of the true and wise in Christian thought and method on the one hand, and a reprehensible and unchristian dissension on the other hand. But if" our eye be single," and our Master's cause be dearer to our heart than our own preferences, we shall know where the difference lies, and we shall heed the prohibition of the text, and the injunction of the apostle, "Be at peace among yourselves" (1 Thessalonians 5:13).
III. THE PECULIAR INIQUITY OF FRATRICIDAL WAR. How pitiful the sight of the armies of Judah arrayed against the armies of Israel; the children of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob seeking one another's life, shedding one another's blood! The people of God turning their weapons against each other, weakening the forces of righteousness, helping to extinguish the light that was in the world. Well might the prophetic word be uttered, "Ye shall not fight," etc. The Divine Father of the human family has, since then, looked down on many a sad and shameful fratricidal war - wars in which father and son, brother and brother, have met in deadly contest on the battlefield; wars in which the hearts of those united by the strongest bonds have been inflamed against one another by the fiercest passions. Surely negotiation and concession should be carried to the very last conceivable point before men "go up and fight against their brethren." But it may be said that the words point to -
IV. THE WRONGNESS OF ALL WAR THAT IS ANYWISE AVOIDABLE. And so, indeed, they do. For are we not all brethren? are we not all "members one of another"? Are we not, whatever our nationality may he, children of the same heavenly Father, possessors of the same spiritual nature, fellow-sufferers from the same great spiritual malady, fellow-strugglers against the same spiritual foes, fellow-travellers to the same solemn future? May we not all be the redeemed of the same Divine Saviour, workers in the same holy fields of usefulness, occupants of the same heavenly home? Is it well that we who are brethren, that we who, beneath our superficial distinctions, are so closely and deeply united to one another, that we should be planning one another's destruction, be rejoicing in one another's discomfiture, be exercising our utmost art and putting forth our utmost skill to shed one another's blood? To all those who would enter lightly or needlessly into war, comes the strong and solemn prohibition, "Ye shall not fight against your brethren." - C.
Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren.I.
II. III. IV. (J. Wolfendale.)
III. IV. (J. Wolfendale.)
IV. (J. Wolfendale.)
(J. Parks, D. D.)
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