Breaking Down the Dividing Wall
Part 2

By Lloyd Ellefson

God revealed Himself to Israel in remarkable ways, yet they failed to truly worship Him. They rejected the rule of God; they wanted to be ruled by a king so they could be like other nations. They were interested in natural blessings, but not in the spiritual blessings. So the kingdom of God could not be expressed through the nation of Israel. The spiritual cannot be expressed through the natural. Since Israel did not bear kingdom fruit, the kingdom was taken away from them. (Matt. 21)

Let's look at the history of the division that occurred in Israel. Under the good rule of David, the kingdom was enlarged and established! His son Solomon succeeded him, and his rule had a good beginning. In a dream, God asked Solomon what He should give him. Solomon asked for wisdom to rule wisely, and God was pleased to answer his prayer! Although Solomon was the wisest of the wise, and he was sought out for his wisdom, he misused it; his rule degenerated as he departed from God's commandments. He used his wisdom to accumulate natural things: horses, copper mines, gold, wives, concubines and idols. He led Israel into idolatry by building temples for his foreign wives to worship their gods. Because of this, he got into disrepute with God.

"Now the LORD was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not observe what the LORD had commanded. So the LORD said to Solomon, "Because you have done this, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant. Nevertheless I will not do it in your days for the sake of your father David, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen." (1 Kings 11:9-13) Solomon's disobedience caused him to lose the kingdom.

The rule of God in the kingdom of Israel was to be expressed by His chosen people. Israel failed to be an expression of God's purpose! However, God was merciful to Solomon for his father David's sake, and told him that the kingdom would not be taken from him during his lifetime. Soon after his son Rehoboam took office, Israel was divided - ten tribes formed the northern division, and two tribes (Benjamin and Judah) the southern.

God does everything for His own sake. He created man for His own sake; He gave the promises, He showcased Israel, He put away the flesh, etc., - not for Israel's sake, but for His own sake. To keep Israel from getting the exalted idea that they were chosen because they were better than others, God emphasized the fact that this was not the case. He chose them for His sake. Through Israel, God showed us that a natural kingdom, a natural priesthood, natural man, natural temples and natural sacrifices cannot take us into spiritual consciousness or spiritual rule. God wanted to convince people of this fact.

This shows us that all the wonderful things David had gained for Israel can be lost when man depends upon his own wisdom. The wisdom of Solomon provided good things for the earthly realm, but spiritually speaking, his wisdom lost the kingdom. In type it teaches us that if we operate in the wisdom or conceptions of the natural mind, we cannot obey the rule of the kingdom! Natural wisdom cannot take us into the kingdom of God.

"It came about at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him on the road. Now Ahijah had clothed himself with a new cloak; and both of them were alone in the field. Then Ahijah took hold of the new cloak which was on him and tore it into twelve pieces. He said to Jeroboam, `Take for yourself ten pieces; for thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, `Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and give you ten tribes (but he will have one tribe, for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel), because they have forsaken Me, and have worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the sons of Ammon; and they have not walked in My ways, doing what is right in My sight and observing My statutes and My ordinances, as his father David did.

"`Nevertheless I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand, but I will make him ruler all the days of his life, for the sake of My servant David whom I chose, who observed My commandments and My statutes; but I will take the kingdom from his son's hand and give it to you, even ten tribes. But to his son I will give one tribe, that My servant David may have a lamp always before Me in Jerusalem, the city where I have chosen for Myself to put My name.'" (1 Kings 11:29-36) Everything happened as God said it would!

Giving Jeroboam ten of the twelve pieces symbolized that he would be ruling over ten tribes. Since Jeroboam was of the tribe of Ephraim, the ten tribes of Israel that formed the northern kingdom, were sometimes referred to as Ephraim and sometimes Israel. Samaria became the capital. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin formed the southern kingdom, and it was called Judah. Jerusalem was its capital. The numbers, ten and two, remind us of the fact that only two of Jacob's twelve sons were born of Rachel - his beloved. Two is the number of witness, for two witnesses are required to establish a fact.

After the division of the kingdom, Israel was set aside and later given to the nations. David was of Judah, so God kept the tribe of Judah for David's sake. God's promise to David that one of his posterity would sit on his throne, would be fulfilled through Judah. The birth of Jesus, as proved by the genealogies, came about through the tribe of Judah as prophesied. God also kept Jerusalem of the tribe of Benjamin, because it was His holy city, a type of the covenant. To retain the types of these two covenants, he kept these two tribes. It is interesting to note that the kingdom of Judah consisted of one tribe from the sons of Leah, and one from the sons of Rachel. God kept one of each for His own purpose to fulfill His promises.

The sad history of Israel and Judah is described in 1 and 2 Kings, and in 1 and 2 Chronicles. To keep the people of the northern tribes from mingling with the people of Judah, Jeroboam established a counterfeit worship. The golden calves, like the ones Moses destroyed, were reinstated, and a priesthood - not of Levites but of commoners - was installed. Idol worship and the other sins Jeroboam introduced in Israel, also became rampant Judah. Therefore God's protection was removed from Israel, and the Assyrians conquered them and carried the people away as captives. There they lost their identity and were consumed by the world.

Many scholars have wondered what has happened to these ten tribes. Some surmise that their progeny have migrated into Germany and Denmark, then to the British Isles, and from there to the Americas. Their language and customs distinguished them from other nations, and it is quite possible that many of them made pilgrimages to other lands. I have no problem with that. But that is not the point, for we are interested in the spiritual significance.

Judah's punishment was postponed because they had some good kings periodically. Later the Babylonians took them into captivity, but after 70 years they were permitted to return to their land. Judah's seventy-year captivity in Babylon as well as their return had been prophesied. The prophets were mistreated for these dire predictions, but it happened just as God had said!

However, just a small remnant came back to rebuild the temple and to re-establish the pattern of worship prescribed by God. They tried to purify the priesthood by eliminating those who were not of Levitical descent. But many remained in Babylon, for they were satisfied with their life there, and were absorbed by the world. In order to fulfill the prophecy that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, would be born in Bethlehem, it was necessary for a remnant to return.

Judah and Benjamin were not selected because they were better than the others, but because God needed a remnant through which He would fulfill His promises. A scattering of Levites was included with Judah and Benjamin. Those Levites who were upset with the counterfeit worship system in Samaria, went back to Judah.

The kings of Israel and Judah had their differences, and were constantly fighting each other. But this was not God's will for them.

Let's remember that there is no inheritance in the flesh - in the natural! Physical Israel is not the true Israel; only those who have the faith of Abraham are. True Israel is being gathered by the gospel. Jesus said that He receives everyone who has been given Him by the Father! He will not lose any of them, and He will raise them up on the last day. He keeps them all! This is what He said, so this is what we believe! There are multitudes, both of the Gentiles and the Israelites, who have died in their sins.

"But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law..." (Gal. 4:4-5) At the time Jesus was born, the Jews were living in the land God had promised them - Jerusalem being their capital. This was necessary for the fulfillment of His promises. They did not deserve this privilege, but God extended this grace to them. He works everything according to the counsel of His will!

Jesus came to the Jews living in Judah and Galilee. Only a few were from the ten tribes. Their national name of Israel or Judah had been discarded and they were now being called Jews. Some people think that the name Israel should only be used in reference to the ten tribes. But in the beginning all the tribes were included in that one name.

All the promises are fulfilled in Christ! He is the complete fulfillment of the promises! Spiritual promises are fulfilled spiritually - not in anything natural, and that includes natural Israel. So the whole nation of Israel was rejected. Christ's flesh veiled His true identity. The flesh has no affiliation with the spiritual and it keeps us from seeing the spiritual. Jesus Christ ushered in a new dispensation! His sheep, the ecclesia, the called-out ones, are being called out of the world - out of the world system and out of the flesh system.

Ezekiel 37:15 says, "The word of the LORD came again to me saying, `And you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write on it, "For Judah and for the sons of Israel, his companions"; then take another stick and write on it, "For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions." `Then join them...'" One stick was for Judah and the children of Israel, and the other was for Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and the house of Israel. This prophecy meant that they were all going to be one!

Furthermore, Ezekiel was told to join the sticks into one stick, that they might become one in his hand. In vv.18-19 it says, "When the sons of your people speak to you saying, `Will you not declare to us what you mean by these?' say to them, `Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will put them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand."

Why did God make a distinction between "Judah and the sons of Israel" and "Joseph, the stick of Ephraim"? The former were descendants of Abraham, but the stick for Joseph and Ephraim included Gentiles. Joseph did not have a Hebrew wife, for he married an Egyptian woman. Yet he became the redeemer, not only of the Israelites, but of the Egyptians and the surrounding nations.

So this promise reaches into Egypt and the Gentile world, and declares that it too has an inheritance! Long ago, when Jacob prophesied over Manasseh and Ephraim, the sons of Joseph, born of an Egyptian woman, his right hand crossed over to Ephraim, the younger son, giving him the blessing of Jacob. (Gen. 48:13-19) In Abraham's time, Ishmael did not receive any inheritance; it was only for Isaac, the son of promise. Here is a new development - the nations, the Gentiles AND the Jews, are included in the inheritance.

By this object lesson God is saying that there is now no distinction between the Jews and the Gentiles. He is putting the Jews and the Gentiles together that all might enter into the glory of God!

In v. 24 Ezekiel prophesied that "My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them." At that time David had already been dead for many years. So this obviously refers to Jesus.

Peter declared that Jesus is that descendant of David. "Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seatÿone of his descendants on his throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. This Jesus, God raised up again..." (Acts 2:29-32)

The coming of the Spirit brought a new law because it ushered in a new kingdom with Jesus sitting on David's throne. The coming of the Spirit makes us ONE in Christ. The Holy Spirit teaches us His judgments and how to observe His statutes. Those who have not received the ONE who God has established to be Lord of all, will not experience this.

Ezekiel goes on to say, "They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons' sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. (37:25-26) This will cause the Gentiles to see God's ability and they will know that God is LORD!

In Ephesians 2 we read, "Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called "Uncircumcision" by the so-called "Circumcision," which is performed in the flesh by human hands." All the peoples of the world were divided into two groups - the Jews and the Gentiles; the circumcised and the uncircumcised. There was no third group, because everyone was either a Gentile or a Jew. Neither group had it made; neither group was justified before God. The works of the law cannot justify anyone in God's sight! (Rom.3:20) Through the law comes the knowledge of sin!

Everyone is subject to the verdict of the law, and it says that everyone has come short of the glory of God; all men have sinned; all are guilty! No individual and no nation is exempted. God had consigned all to death! Both groups needed to be brought into life!

In the natural, circumcision and the law of Moses brought a division among people. In Christ, this division is taken away by placing both groups into the new man! It is important that we understand the difference between the spiritual and natural realization of Jew and Gentile! In the natural there is Jew and Gentile, but in the spiritual they are one - all have sinned and all need to be put into Christ. This is the fulfillment of God's promise to Ezekiel when he took the stick of Joseph and Ephraim and put them together with the stick of Judah to make them one! God made them one by giving them one Lord, and that Lord is Jesus Christ!

"Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall." (Eph. 2:12-14) God is not trying to improve the flesh. All, both Jews and Gentiles, have a wrong idea of what constitutes sin. God is dealing with that delusion by bringing us truth.

God in Christ Jesus has made us all one in Christ! This includes the uncircumcision and the circumcision, the nations and the nation of Israel. It eliminates all separateness of nations, of flesh, or anything else. By putting both groups into the new man, the dividing wall is taken away! This is the good news of the gospel!

God bless you! Amen.

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