Divisions of Reuben
You the reader may ask what does this passage of scripture have to do with the church, to which I will say “much”. Let’s search God’s Word and see what we can find.
First, we find in Genesis that Reuben is the first of the promised sons to a promised son of a promised son of Abraham. He therefore had a priestly lineage. His name means “behold a son”. He was born in deception during a great division between sisters. Read here Genesis 29:23-32. I’m reminded of the great division and in fighting among churches in our day.
We find the word divisions more than once in the Bible. It occurs seventeen times. It means a “dividing” or sometimes a “portion”. In the New Testament it refers to separation or difference of opinion or doctrine as in Romans 16:17 where it means “to divide through sedition”. In 1st Corinthians 11:18 it applies to a “gap, split or schism”. In Judges it is referring to a “river or gully or valley” that separates one from another.
Let’s look at a man named Lot as a type of division for a moment. We see in Genesis 11 and 12 that Lot was a nephew of Abram. We also see that Lot is departing with Abram which was probably a pretty good idea for him and his family. All goes fairly well. Lot is blessed while with Abraham. Then in Genesis 13:10 we see that Lot decides to put division between himself and God’s man, another type of in fighting with the family of God. He falls prey to the lust of the eyes. For the rest of his life we only read of problems for Lot and his family. So it is for Reuben, and for the Christian who separates from God’s Word.
When Jacob calls his sons together for their blessings he tells Reuben in Genesis 49:4 that because of past sin he is “unstable as water” and “will not excel”. We find no repentance and sorrow for the past sin from Reuben. We find that this prophecy of sort did come to pass starting in Numbers 32. Here Reuben makes the decision on which part of the promised land they want instead of waiting on the Lord. They didn’t take refuge in Canaan land across the Jordan River. They later help Israel conquer the land but Reuben is never much in God’s Word after this. Their final departure is found in Joshua 22:9. My thoughts are that Reuben finally in Revelation 7:5 is given a place of work for Israel with the 144,000 called messengers of God.
Consider now I Timothy 4:1. Paul here instructs Timothy that “in the latter times some shall depart from the faith”. These like Reuben will not continue with the body of Christ but will “depart”, or divide from the true church. Dear friend, may I say we are seeing this in mass in our day. Church after church is giving into “doctrines of devils” (see above scripture reference).
I once knew a man that seemed to be a strong independent baptist (back then we were referred to as fundamentalist) he seemed to take a stand. By and by we lost contact for a few years. Then around 2002, I spoke to him again. My how time had changed him. One thing he told me was that if I like rock and roll I’d really like some of the Christian rock (falsely so called). I went away wondering if this man was truly saved, here consider Matthew 12:33. The Bible says “the tree is known by his fruit”.
We are drawn away from the word of God by the “lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life”, I John 2:6. The devil knows what works to get a Christian to fall and “depart”. It worked on Reuben so you better believe it will work on you dear friend if you don’t have the “whole armor of God”. We as children of God have access to the whole armor of God; we just need to “take” it. See here Ephesiansv6:13, the Bible says to “take unto you the whole armor of God”. You have to take it. Dear friend many men and women of the Bible and modern times forgot the armor of God when going about in the kingdom of the flesh.
What are some things that will cause us to depart, divide or have division? There are too many to list them all in a short article but here are a few. Some think that bigger is better so they depart to the “high steeple, lots of people” church that almost always is preaching a message that has been dirtied by the world. Some depart because of finance in the church and how it is used, most depart sadly because they’re “uncomfortable” with the gospel message some poor pastor continues to try and feed an unwilling soul. I’ve seen all these.
Christian beware of the “divisions of Reuben” who in Judges was too busy with the cares of life to come to the aid of their nation God placed them in. God will hardly use a Christian who departs a gospel preaching church unless God calls them somewhere else, otherwise they need to repent and return to the Lord and trust Him. Consider here II Corinthians 3:5, Paul here tells the church at Corinth “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God”. We then must go with God’s Word in our hand and let His sword do our fighting.
So believer when God calls go, when your church calls go, when you see a need go, and run with patience the race that is “set before us”, Hebrews 12:1. AMEN!