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FRIDAY FEATURE - ‘Unity Among the Brethren’

A Biblical Model for True Leadership in Israel

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Posted on: 
17 Jan 2020
FRIDAY FEATURE - ‘Unity Among the Brethren’
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments.” (Psalm 133:1-2)

The Psalmist tells us that it is both “good” and “pleasant” when “brethren… dwell together in unity." (Psalm 133:1)  However, the political situation in Israel today is anything but unified as the people have been struggling for more than a year now to elect a new government.

Currently, Israel is in the midst of its third election campaign in the past year, with voting to take place again on March 2nd.  Israeli voters are highly frustrated with the current stalemate and yet most seem to be sticking with their old parties. Meantime, their leaders are refusing to make compromises which could produce a governing coalition. At the heart of the current impasse is a battle over whether long-serving prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu should stay on as head of the government.

The various parties had to file their lists of candidates this week, and while there were a few hurried mergers and joints lists, there were no big surprises. The latest polls indicate that little has changed in the left/right balance which might break the political deadlock. Most of the surveys have the Blue & White faction up on Netanyahu’s Likud party by a few Knesset seats, but they also were slightly ahead before the elections in April and September, only for Likud to make last-minute comebacks each time. Russian strongman Avigdor Liberman appears to still be the swing vote and it would be in his power once again to break the impasse should he choose to do so.

Things could begin to shift in the coming weeks, however, as Netanyahu is on the brink of losing his battle for parliamentary immunity from prosecution in the three criminal cases being brought against him. Should that happen, he could already be sitting in a courtroom facing trial in the closing days of the campaign, which would not be a good image for Likud [which, by the way, means “union” or “consolidation” in Hebrew].

Given how long this has taken and the unprecedented nature of the electoral logjam, one cannot help but sense that Israel is actually locked in a spiritual battle over its future. And they could certainly use our prayers for some “unity” among the brethren.

The Psalmist likens this unity to the precious anointing oil which ran down Aaron’s beard and clothing when he was installed as High Priest over Israel. And while this imagery may be appealing, it was actually a very difficult and painful moment for Aaron.

After his brother Moses had received all the Lord’s instructions on the priestly duties, it was now time for Aaron to be set in place as High Priest and begin offering ritual sacrifices to God. Leviticus chapters 8 to 10 describe these events in detail.

We read that Aaron put on the special garments, breastplate and turban of his office, and Moses poured the anointing oil over his head. Then he was told to stay outside the tent of meeting for seven days to perform sacrifices to purify himself and his sons for service. In the end, the Lord was pleased and sent holy fire to consume the offerings on the altar, causing the people to shout and fall on their faces in awe (Leviticus 9:24).

But then Nadab and Abihu, two of Aaron’s sons, offered “strange fire” before the Lord. Bible scholars differ on exactly what this meant, but the Lord was very displeased and slew the two sons of Aaron. Yet Moses insisted to Aaron that the consecration process was not finished, and thus he could not tear his garments or mourn the loss of his sons – “for the anointing oil of the Lord is upon you” (Leviticus 10:7).

So Aaron had to stand, stiff-lipped, outside the tent of meeting with the anointing oil still dripping down his beard and garments, and continue his priestly duties for the sake of the nation. No tears or sign of grief! It was a very painful moment for Aaron, but as they watched the fear of the Lord came upon the people, bonding them to the Lord’s chosen leadership. It also further cemented the relationship between Moses as the senior leader and his brother Aaron in a subservient role as High Priest.

That is what the Psalmist praised as both “good” and “pleasant,” when “brethren dwell together in unity.” At that moment, Israel was a nation which feared the Lord and respected His chosen leaders. And those leaders earned that respect due to the personal price they paid in the sight of all the people to serve in leadership positions.

Israel today could surely use some sort of unmistakable confirmation from heaven over their leaders, so that the people might fear the Lord and respect His choice. And those vying for leadership over Israel should consider that being a ruler over this chosen nation may require personal sacrifices which few are willing to make. 

May our prayers somehow help them all along the path to national unity, self-less leadership and godly fear.


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