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Let’s read Ezekiel 37:15-17 which says, “The word of the LORD came again unto me ,saying, Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.” Let’s also read verses 20-22, “And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. And say unto them, Thus saith the LORD God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be a king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all.”

It is clear from these verses that the “two sticks” symbolize the division of the nation of Israel into a “southern kingdom” called Judah and a “northern kingdom” called Ephraim, or Israel. This sad division began in 931 B.C. when, according to 1 Kings 12:19, “Israel rebelled against the house of David.” Verse 20 tells us that Israel took a man named Jeroboam “…and made him king over Israel: and there was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only.” How tragic! This favored nation that God had taken up in grace, so they could be a light to the heathen nations all around them, were now divided and opposing one another. Instead of being a testimony to the one true God, they became a stumbling block to the Gentiles and God’s Name was blasphemed because of them.

This division continues to this day but the passage we are considering assures us that the day is coming when God will reunite His earthly people in the land as a single nation. The “one stick” represents this reuniting of the house of Judah and the house of Israel. Jeremiah 31:31-34 sheds further light on this. It reads, “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which covenant they break, although I was a husband to them, saith the LORD: But this covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Not only will God reunite His people in the land, but He will bless them with all the blessings of the New Covenant! Under the Old Covenant of Law the people were cursed, for verse 32 informs us, “which covenant they brake.” But under the New Covenant of Grace, which is based on the death and resurrection of Christ, God will “forgive their iniquity” and His Word will be written “in their hearts.” In a word, they will be “born again,” with new hearts that will enable them to live in harmony with each other and bring eternal glory to their God!

Is there a message for the church of God today in this? I believe there is, for just as Israel became divided so the church has been splintered into countless sects and denominations. Not long after the church was formed the apostle Paul wrote these solemn words in 1 Corinthians 1:10, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you.” He went on to speak of divisions that were forming as men formed parties based on their favorite teachers.  The seed of division that took root in Paul’s day has grown into a full-blown tree today. This should cause us to hang our heads in shame, for just as Israel’s failure to remain united led to the Gentiles blaspheming the Name of God, so the many divisions in Christendom has caused the unbelieving world to speak ill of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thankfully the day is coming when all divisions shall end, for just as God will reunite Judah and Israel into one nation when Christ returns to set up His kingdom, so He will bring about perfect unity in the body of Christ at the time of the Rapture. Ephesians 4:13 assures us that at that time we will all “attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (NASB). Praise God for the grace that will bring us together and perfect us, and that we’ll never be divided again!  (147.1)  (DO)