Son of man, take a piece of wood and carve on it these words: “This represents Judah and its allied tribes.” Then take another piece and carve these words on it: “This represents Ephraim and the northern tribes of Israel.” Now hold them together in your hand as if they were one piece of wood. When your people ask you what your actions mean, say to them, “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take Ephraim and the northern tribes and join them to Judah. I will make them one piece of wood in my hand.” Ezekiel 37:15-19 (NLT)
Early in the reign of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, the Kingdom of Israel split into a Divided Kingdom with 10 northern tribes called Israel and 2 southern tribes called Judah. Sin always separates God’s people. Sin separates us from God and from one another. To make matters worse, the northern ten tribes were conquered by an enemy nation and taken exile. Later, the southern tribes would fall to Babylon. Separated from one another and now from their own land, it seemed like all hope was gone of ever reuniting and returning home. Why did this happen? Ezekiel tells us,
… it was punishment for sin, for they were unfaithful to their God…. Ezekiel 39:23b (NLT)
The consequences of sin can be devastating, especially when we ignore all the warnings and harden our hearts. God would use those consequences to break Israel of her pride and rebellion and turn her heart back to Him. He told Ezekiel to give them a message of hope with two pieces of wood. Not only would God revive the nation of Israel, but He was going to unite them again! Ezekiel was told to carve the name of Judah, representing the southern tribes on one stick, and then carve the name of Ephraim, representing the northern tribes on the other. Then, he was to hold them together in his hand as if they were one piece of wood. When the people asked him what that meant, he was told to say,
This is what the Sovereign LORD says, “I will make them one piece of wood in My hand… I will unify them into one nation … no longer will they be divided into two nations or into two kingdoms.” (Vs. 19-22)
What a miracle of restoration and reconciliation God performed! The same God who brought a nation back to life and united a divided kingdom offers healing to broken lives and relationships today! How does He do it? With two pieces of wood – except that these two pieces form a cross where the Son of God would pay the sin debt for you and me! He died in our place so that we may be reconciled to God and one another. That which sin had separated can once again be united through Christ! Has sin separated you from God and others? Turn to those two pieces of wood where Jesus died and experience forgiveness. Only those who experience forgiveness can offer it as well. Out of forgiveness comes reconciliation and restoration!