I Will Not Fight My Brother
The beginning for the Jews in Egypt was promising. As a favor and reward to Joseph, he and his family were given the choice land of Goshen to live, raise their families, and enjoy. However, after an excess of 400 years, a pharaoh would come to power who knew not Joseph. Perhaps this bit of Egyptian history was not imparted to this man during his rearing. He would come to perceive the Jews as a threat, inasmuch as they had multiplied into the millions. Indeed, “the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them” (Exodus 1:7).
Fading Into The Night
Fearing that the millions of foreigners on their soil could possibly join forces with an invading enemy, the Egyptian leadership was determined to foil any future insurrection by placing taskmasters to afflict the Jews; however, the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. They were grieved because of the children of Israel and became harsh taskmasters to them. “And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour” (Exodus 1:13-14). To supplement the plan and restrict growth, a policy of infanticide was developed. As the men and women were enslaved, toiling beyond reason, all the male infants were to be taken by Egyptian midwives and killed at birth, but the midwives feared God and would not do as they were instructed. Pharaoh then demanded all Egyptians take the newborn Jewish males and throw them into the Nile, to summarily drown and to satiate the appetites of writhing, voracious crocodiles.
Their lives were bitter, their spirits were beaten down, and their lineage became fodder for crocodiles. With seeming quiet frustration, the Jews would gather straw and walk into slime pits to make mortar, mortar that would eat the flesh off their legs. The pits would devour many of them. Some would simply disappear into the slime, their lives oozing away, fading into oblivion. Many were swallowed by darkness, bodies becoming frozen in time. The muffled moans of enslaved men and the heart-stopping screams of newborn babies mingled in the sweat and humidity of oppressive Egypt, annihilating hope, destroying the future.
Yet, although they were tortured and burdened with great hardship, the Jews did not pose a threat to Pharaoh. There is no record of protest, no dreams of rebellion. They developed no military plans. They were given to a slave mentality, and, sadly, even when their babies were being killed, they were strangely docile. Most prisoners are not so quick to surrender their spirits, to abandon all hope for escape. Many prisons and jails display weapons devised by prisoners. Their creativity leads to the need for invasive searches and metal detectors. They do not usually go so gently into the night. Yet these Jews, even as their babies are being fed to crocodiles, carry no placards and plan no uprising. They simply fade into the night.
Yet, They Are Fighting
Moses was divinely spared, and when he was grown, he became an instrument of deliverance. Exodus 2:11-15 states: “And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? Intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known.”
One day Moses is fighting the enemy, defending his people. The very next day, ironically and very tragically, two Jews were striving together. Two Hebrews were fighting – pushing, shoving and striving. They would not dream of fighting an Egyptian, but here they are fighting one another. Although beaten down, with the spirit of life sucked out of them, they summon enough energy to fight one another. They are of the same blood; they are of the same promise; they are of the same covenant; they possess the same hopes and dreams. Yet they are fighting.
Why are they fighting? We don’t even know. Was it over who made the most bricks? Was it over who gathered the most straw? They were enslaved, living in mud huts, yet they are fighting each other. Pharaoh is sitting on his throne, constantly issuing threats, killing children, and making their lives bitter, but here they are fighting each other. While Egyptians are feeding their children to crocodiles a short distance away, these men, oblivious to the sad irony, are attacking each other. The enemy is laughing. Souls are dying. The future is being lost. And they are attacking each other.
Brothers shouldn’t be fighting brothers. The enemy is out there, not in here. I proclaim to you today that I will not fight my brother. My need for those of like precious faith is greater than any differences. We are born of the same Spirit. We have the same blood flowing in us. We are brothers. And the enemy is trying to kill us and our children, and our future. I refuse to fight my brother. I must save my energy for the real enemy.
We wrestle not against flesh and blood. Or do we? We should be fighting against principalities, against powers, against evil forces intent on destroying us individually and collectively. We must keep our eyes on the true enemy. We must join forces and beat back the tyranny of Egyptian bondage.
Why Are We Fighting?
Why do Apostolics fight? Is it over who gets credit? Is it over who gets to preach? Is it over who sings the lead part? Is it over who gets elected? Is it over which organization is preeminent? Is it over the vestiges of racism and past mistakes? Is it because of organizational ignorance of other like-minded, effective organizations? We exchange blows over petty things when we need to be fighting weightier issues – secularism, racism, abortion, drugs and addictions, pornography and sexual perversion, attacks on the sanctity of marriage. We are too easily distracted, and the enemy sits on his throne and grins at our self-destruction.
We must work to reach the lost, to expand the Kingdom. We won’t succeed if we are fighting one another. Today is our day. Our potential is limitless if we don’t fight and strive with one another. Let us echo what Abraham told Lot, “Let there be no strife . . . between me and thee . . . for we be brethren” (Genesis 13:8). Abraham was willing to lay aside his pride and ego to keep a brother. Sometimes we spend too much time defending our pride and protecting our ego, and not enough time loving and forgiving. We focus on building our castles while the Kingdom diminishes.
We are deceived when we see enemies in our allies. Paul informed the Galatians, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:14-16). Biting and devouring is birthed from lust and carnality. To possess a warring spirit is not spiritual, and that applies to preacher relationships as well. James said, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (James 4:1).
We must not fight our brothers. We must not bite and devour one another. Biting and devouring have cannibalistic overtones. Some preachers walk around with preachers’ arms and legs hanging out of their mouths. Some sit around, digesting preacher body parts. Do I have to tell you that is not healthy? We were not made to eat human flesh. By doing so, we fill our bodies with toxins and poisons. And regardless of how fulfilled we may feel in the moment, we are what we eat. By eating one another, we become what we despised. Just as bitterness and unforgiveness destroys people, even so does biting and devouring one another.
We must not fight and bite and devour one another; rather, we must remember the words of Christ when He said to eat His body and drink His blood. I am persuaded that if we have more of Jesus flowing through our veins and being digested in our spirits, we will have less bitterness, unforgiveness, warring and lusting, biting and devouring flowing out of us. We need more of Jesus and less of us.
I Will Not Fight My Brother
One of the tragedies of the two Hebrews fighting was that they turned on Moses, causing him to flee to the wilderness. Moses was in the desert for 40 years. A whole generation was lost because two men chose to fight each other rather than the real enemy. A generation was lost to crocodiles, and a generation was lost in the wilderness. Deliverance was put off for 40 years. The Old Testament had to drag its feet for 40 years. Christ’s coming was delayed 40 years. Pentecost was delayed 40 years. Cornelius and the conversion of Gentiles were delayed 40 years. We are already a generation behind. A generation was given up because God’s people fought each other.
We don’t have more time to waste. Follow peace with all men. Be merciful. Be forgiving. Give the benefit of the doubt. Don’t harbor grudges. Let go of things holding you back. Be free. Promote liberty. We don’t have time to fight one another. I will not fight my brother. Our children are counting on us. As your fists are clenched, would you look over there – the Egyptians are trying to kill our children. The crocodiles wait on the bank. Come on. Drop your weapons and join hands. I can’t fight you. I need you. Our marriages are counting on us. As your fists are clenched, would you look over there – the Egyptians are trying to destroy our marriages. As we fuss over the insignificant, the real enemy is destroying our love and commitment. We must love our wives. We must embrace our children. We need the church to help us raise our children and protect our marriages. I will not, I must not, fight my brother. Revival is depending on us. As your fists are clenched, would you look over there – the Egyptians are succeeding in directing more souls to hell. Someone else dies and faces eternity while we fight and strive with one another.
We cannot afford to fight. I will not, I must not, fight my brother. Would you unclench your fists, reach out to someone close by, and pray for your brother? He’s not your enemy. Pray for your sister. She’s not your enemy. Let us pray one for another.
Rev. Robert Martin
Robert W. Martin serves as pastor of Hope Central and has pastored in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area for 28 years. Pastor Martin is a member of the UPCI, having previously served the ALJC in several capacities, including general superintendent. He has a wife, Alison, and three children – Alec, Noah and Myla.