Can A Divided House Stand? +Bonus Is Beelzebub Satan? #187
Hello friends and happy Thursday to you! Rejoice with me, as we have passed 1/2 of the year reading the Word of God together. Yesterday, July 1, marked our halfway point. 6 more months of daily podcasting to do. This is my first attempt to do a daily podcast, and I’ve immensely enjoyed it. Thank you for participating in this journey! Today’s Bible readings include Joshua 4, Psalms 129-131, Isaiah 64, and Matthew 12, the home of our focus passage.
Most people in America associate the phrase “House Divided” with Abraham Lincoln, because he famously used it in a speech in the 1850s:
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.
Lincoln’s House Divided Speech
Used in that context by Lincoln, it is clear that he was not promoting unity at any cost. Rather, he was suggesting that the central issue facing the Union – slavery – had to be resolved in order for the house to not be divided. Unity built on compromise of moral or biblical principles will always be untenable. That said, unity is called for and demanded by Jesus, and a huge question all Christians must face is how to seek the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace while not forsaking the Word. Romans 14 is a tremendously important passage in this regard, urging believers to only draw lines of separation over clear Bible commands and truths and not over doubtful matters or opinions. Let’s read Matthew 12 and see what Jesus has to say about unity and division. Also – pay attention for Jesus’ reference to Beelzebul, because we are going to discuss in a moment whether or not Beelzebub is the same entity as Satan.
Side question – is Beelzebul = Satan??
It’s a great question, and I have a fairly lame answer…’maybe.’ Beelzebub (“Lord of the flies”) and Beelzebul (“Lord of the skies/heavenly realms”) both refer to the same entity.
From wikipedia: In the Testament of Solomon, 1st century, non-Scripture, pseudoepigraphic text. Beelzebul (not Beelzebub) appears as prince of the demons and says (6.2) that he was formerly a leading heavenly angel who was (6.7) associated with the star Hesperus (which is the normal Greek name for the planet Venus (Αφροδíτη) as evening star). Seemingly, Beelzebul here is synonymous with Lucifer. the text describes how Solomon was enabled to build his temple by commanding demons by means of a magical ring that was entrusted to him by the archangel Michael.
The Bible reference comes from 2 Kings 1: 1 After the death of Ahab, Moab rebelled against Israel. 2 Ahaziah had fallen through the latticed window of his upper room in Samaria and was injured. So he sent messengers instructing them: “Go inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, if I will recover from this injury.” 3 But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Go and meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and ask them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron?’ 4 Therefore, this is what the Lord says: ‘You will not get up from your sickbed—you will certainly die.’” Then Elijah left.
The name also appears in Luke 11, where we can see the clearest connection between Beelzebul and Satan: Luke 11:14 Now He was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon came out, the man who had been mute, spoke, and the crowds were amazed. 15 But some of them said, “He drives out demons by Beelzebul,the ruler of the demons!” 16 And others, as a test, were demanding of Him a sign from heaven. 17 Knowing their thoughts, He told them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is headed for destruction, and a house divided against itself falls.18 If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say I drive out demons by Beelzebul. 19 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, who is it your sons drive them out by? For this reason they will be your judges. 20 If I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.
So, Jesus mentions Satan and Beelzebul in the same context, but not in a way that indicates that they are the same entities. My best guess is that Beelzebul is a separate entity from Satan, but I confess that I do not know, and my guess is based on the fact that the Bible never clearly identifies the two as the same entity.
Main question: Can a divided house stand? The answer is, of course, no! I am deeply worried about my country – the U.S. because we are the most divided I’ve ever seen in my life. Divided on political issues, divided on race issues, divided on pandemic response, and so many other things. I belong to several online Facebook groups of many Christians, and it grieves me to see genuine brothers and sisters argue and bicker about those kinds of issues – issues where the Bible doesn’t give us direct and obvious commands – just like people of the world. We must not, however, be like the people of the world in that regard.
Here’s a couple of powerful thoughts from Spurgeon on divided houses and divided churches:
The church is a permanent and important institution, founded on a Rock, built with art, and arranged with wisdom. In a church one of the most delightful conditions is the compactness of unity: “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” A church should be one in creed and one in heart, one in testimony and one in service, one in aspiration and one in sympathy. They greatly injure our Jerusalem who would build dividing walls within her; she needs compacting, not dividing. There is no joy in going up to a church which is rent with internal dissension: the gladness of holy people is aroused by the adhesiveness of love, the unity of life; it would be their sadness if they saw the church to be a house divided against itself. Some bodies of Christians appear to be periodically blown to fragments, and no gracious person is glad to be in the way when the explosions take place: thither the tribes do not go up, for strife and contention are not attractive forces.
Spurgeon quoted in: J. I. PACKER, “Introduction,” in Psalms, Crossway Classic Commentaries (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1993), 259.
It has long been my joy, beloved in the Lord, that our heart has not been divided. We have walked together these many years in holy fellowship, and, imperfect as we are, yet there have not been divisions among us. There has been no division about doctrine. We have agreed upon the great truths of God. There has been, I believe, no division about who shall be greatest. We have been content each one to occupy his place in the church, and to work on. It is not our goodness that has made it so; it is only the power of God’s Spirit which has kept us, who otherwise might readily have been sundered—kept us as the heart of one man in sacred unity. Oh! let it always be so—let it always be so! May these eyes be closed in the darkness of death long before I shall see you contending the one against the other. If it should ever happen that I should be unfit to go in and out among you to your edification, may I be laid aside, and some other found round whom you may rally as one man, that by any means and every means the church may be kept in its integrity—one in heart—a threefold cord which cannot be broken. Let each man endeavour to avoid giving offence to his brother. Let us all be members unto edification of the same one Lord, one faith, one baptism. May the same Spirit abide in us, and work with us to God’s glory, for we well know that a divided church is found faulty. It is faulty so far as anything like usefulness is concerned. The strength that is spent in division is so much taken away from service. When the children of God use their swords against one another, they are not using them against the adversaries of the Lord. May our strength never be spent in division. A house divided against itself must come to naught, but strong in the unity which God shall give us may we not be found faulty
C. H. Spurgeon, “The Divided Heart,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 62 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1916), 410–411.
And a closing pair of commands from the apostle Paul:
10 Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction.
1 Corinthians 1:10-16
One more – in hearing this realize that one of the first signs that the people of God are being worldly is disunity, bickering, arguing and division.
Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?
1 Corinthians 3:1-4