Where did we get the phrase “United we stand, divided we fall”? The concept is a biblical one (Mark 3:25), but the phrase was penned in 1768 by John Dickinson, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. In “The Liberty Song” Dickinson expressed the magnitude of the quest for the young nation and the importance of unity and collaboration: “Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all! By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall!”
In today’s passage, Joshua and his officers were preparing the people to gather supplies for their quest. In a few days, they would cross the Jordan River and attempt to take possession of the Promised Land which the Lord was giving them (vv. 10–11). This involved not just one person, but everyone. In verse 11, Joshua used the second person pronoun five times. Every single person needed to be on board for this treacherous campaign. In verses 12 to 16, Joshua stresses the value of unity with those who had already received their inheritance east of the Jordan. The Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had no compelling reason to leave their families or risk their lives. However, they could not sit on the sidelines while their neighbors went off to battle. This was a testimony to the Jewish value of companionship. German theologian Otto Eissfeldt observed, “To Israelite thought, unity is prior to diversity, the community is prior to the individual.”
The tribes’ response (vv. 16–18) demonstrated that they were loyal to Moses, faithful to one another, but more importantly, they were devoted to God. Did God need them to fight His battles? No. Were their lives more purposeful, complete, and honoring to the Lord because of their willingness to stand with their neighbors? Absolutely!
>> Today we celebrate the U.S. Independence Day. We remember the courage and unity of those who fought to establish this nation. How can we promote a commitment to unity within the body of Christ? Consider how you can strengthen unity with fellow believers.
Let’s pray according to the apostle Paul’s exhortation in today’s key verse to “keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” May we strengthen our unity with fellow believers!