“Go!…Has not the Lord gone ahead of you?” (Judges 4:14)
One of the ways in which God uses His judges to deliver His people is by sending them as a herald of unity. During Deborah’s times, the Israelite men were scattered across the nation, made timid by their own weakness and the nine hundred iron chariots of the enemy. God sent the prophetess Deborah to proclaim His Word, assuring His children of deliverance and relief. This promise made the hearts of the warriors bold once more, uniting them in purpose and faith behind the God who had always gone before them in power and majesty.
It’s amazing how easily God’s children become disobedient and rebellious, divided in spirit and purpose, and intimidated by wicked foes. Thanks be to God for Deborah and other heroes of the faith who boldly proclaim His Word and ignite zeal and unity in scattered spiritual warriors. All Christians, regardless of creed or denomination, share a love of the Gospel message and fight the same spiritual foes. God does not tell us that we should fight only alongside those who are in exact agreement with our every thought – in fact, quite the opposite: “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose” (Philippians 2:1-2).
God’s orders specifically tell us to seek and find reasons to be united with other Christians, and all of these reasons are rooted in Jesus Christ and flow from Him: encouragement, comfort, fellowship, tenderness, and compassion. He doesn’t say that we should ignore our differences in doctrine and beliefs, but rather should continue to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), diligently examine the Scriptures (Acts 17:11), and to search the Word of God for its life-giving testimony about Jesus Christ (John 5:39). But even as we continue to strive for unity in all things, we must remain united in our faithful proclamation of repentance and forgiveness, by grace through faith. Just as God’s promise through Deborah emboldened the Israelites and united them in purpose, so God’s promise through His Son Jesus gives His warriors today strength of heart and unity of spirit.
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me…May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20-21,23)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, unite the hearts of Your warriors that we may follow Jesus boldly, striking out with Your Word against unbelief, ungodliness, and despair. Grant that all Your children may deal kindly and compassionately with each other out of love for You, that the world will see Your love reflected in all that we do. Guard us against schisms and divisions, and heal the wounds in the body of all believers through the faithful study and proclamation of Scripture, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.