Unity is a powerful message, and it calls to the deepest parts of us. E Pluribus unum—Latin for “Out of many, one”—is the motto of the United States. In this motto is the desire that no matter where people came from, and what differences they might have, they can be united in the United States. This is a great motto and a great goal. However, it’s easier (but not always easy) when the people come from the same general area (Northern Europe, for example) than when they come from diverse places (like anywhere in the world). Finding unity in such diversity is a struggle at best. It is worth it though.
When Ezekiel is speaking, he is speaking to a people that were now divided. No longer were the tribes of Israel under one banner. As a result of the division, animosity developed between people groups that at one time viewed themselves as one. Military and political conflict was occurring. That God led Ezekiel to preach this message shows us that the division of Israel was not what God wanted. It wasn’t the goal. A united Israel that worshipped God—and God alone—was what God wanted. David’s line would also again be king over this united land, which was a tie back to the height of Israel and a tie forward to the coming of Jesus, son of Joseph of the line of David.
By the time of Jesus, the dream of unity was long gone, so it seemed. Samaria (formerly the Northern Kingdom of Israel) had lost most of its Israelite-ness but retained enough to know where it came from. The bloodline was corrupted from a Jewish perspective, but the ties were there. Into this Jesus—who was speaking to Jews—spoke of those that were in another flock. Jesus said he was gathering them, too. No longer would there be multiple flocks. There would be only one flock.
“There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus.”—Galatians 3:28
Time and time again God speaks to unity across all the human boundaries that we have made.
1) Where is God calling you to be a unifier, and not a divider?
2) Why is the temptation so strong to separate ourselves from others? When is it good, when is it bad?
3) What behaviors, tendencies, or beliefs cause others to separate themselves from you? What of those things are God-oriented, and what are self-oriented?