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Brother Against Brother

Mark 13:12
Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.

The history of family betrayal could be traced back to the first family in Genesis. Cain killed Abel. They were brothers, and their parents were Adam and Eve.

Cain, the firstborn, tilled the soil. His younger brother Abel was a shepherd. Both made sacrifices to God. But God favored Abel's sacrifice instead of Cain's.

Out of envy and jealousy, Cain murdered Abel. God punished Cain to live a life of wandering, but set a mark on him so that no man would kill him. Cain then dwelt in the land of Nod. Since then, the sin of evil, violence and greed continued to spread within family circles and ties.

Family betrayal is a complete violation of trust and responsibility. It inflicts some of the most devastating pains and heartaches upon the affected family members and loved ones.

These sufferings of betrayal are further magnified by a sense of hopelessness, helplessness, vulnerability and exposure. These pains are far worse than those afflicted outside the family. Those closest to our hearts will pierce the deepest nails causing the greatest grief and pain. The closer the relationship, the greater the pain of betrayal. As a result, the very foundation of family is being destroyed.

King David was a man after God's own heart. He was no stranger to family betrayal. He had 21 sons, 19 named, and 2 unnamed - presumably died in infancy.

1 Chronicles 3:1-9
1 Now these were the sons of David who were born to him in Hebron: The firstborn was Amnon, by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; the second, Daniel, by Abigail the Carmelitess;
2 the third, Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith;
3 the fifth, Shephatiah, by Abital; the sixth, Ithream, by his wife Eglah.
4 These six were born to him in Hebron. There he reigned seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years.
5 And these were born to him in Jerusalem: Shimea, Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon—four by Bathshua the daughter of Ammiel.
6 Also there were Ibhar, Elishama, Eliphelet,
7 Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia,
8 Elishama, Eliada, and Eliphelet—nine in all.
9 These were all the sons of David, besides the sons of the concubines, and Tamar their sister.

  • David's firstborn, Amnon, was killed by his brother, Absalom after he raped Tamar, Absalom's sister (2 Samuel 13:28-29).
  • David's third son, Absalom, was killed by Joab after he mounted a rebellion against his aging father David (2 Samuel 18:15).
  • David's fourth son, Adonijah, plotted to gain the throne after the death of David. Solomon had him executed (I Kings 2:13-25).

Psalm 55 was written by King David. It was a lamentation in which the psalmist grieved because one of his closest friends had betrayed him.

Psalm 55:12-14
12 For it is not an enemy who reproaches me;
Then I could bear it.

Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me;
Then I could hide from him.
13 But it was you, a man my equal,
My companion and my acquaintance.

14 We took sweet counsel together,
And walked to the house of God in the throng.

This was a prophetic reference to Jesus Who eventually suffered the worst and most treacherous betrayal of all time! Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus for just thirty pieces of silver.

Matthew 26:14-16
14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests
15 and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver.
16 So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.

Psalm 41:9
Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted,
Who ate my bread,
Has lifted up his heel against me.

John 13:18
"I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’"

However Jesus did not become revengeful, resentful, bitter or angry. He did just the opposite. He overcame evil with love! After receiving a kiss from His betrayer, Jesus still addressed Judas as friend.

Matthew 26:50
But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?”
Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him.

Despite the pains and sufferings, we can overcome betrayal with the same love of Christ. This power comes directly from God! There is strength in forgiveness. There is breakthrough in love. And love never fails!

After David lamented a betrayal, he provided a clue in how to overcome the pain.

Psalm 55:16-17
As for me, I will call upon God,
And the Lord shall save me.
Evening and morning and at noon
I will pray, and cry aloud,
And He shall hear my voice.

Firstly, we cry out to God. We do not try to retaliate or handle the matter by ourselves, we take it to the Lord in prayer! It is in God's hands now!

1 Peter 3:8-9
Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.

Secondly, we must remember the example of our Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of repaying evil with evil, Jesus taught us how to do good even to those who harmed us:

Matthew 5:38-45
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.
41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.
42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Thirdly, we can overcome the bitterness of betrayal by forgiving the betrayer. The word "forgiveness" contains the word "give". When we forgive someone, we not only give ourselves a gift of a grudge-free life, we also give the other party a gift of freedom against personal retaliation. In a wonderful divine exchange, we trade our bitterness and anger for the love of God.

Luke 18:27
But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”

It is enormously and extremely difficult to forgive anyone who has betrayed us or hurt us badly! But with God, all things are possible!

Romans 12:9-21
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.
10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;
11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
2 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;
13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
20 Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

When we have truly experienced the agape love of God, we will understand what it means to be loved unconditionally and undeservedly, and how to love others with the love of Christ in return! Overcome evil with good! Overcome hatred with love!

Finally, we must forgive time and time again until brotherly love begins to flow again like precious oil from heaven.

Matthew 18:21-35
21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.
24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.
25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.
26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’
27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’
29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’
30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.
31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.
32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.
33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’

34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

Psalm 133
1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!
2 It is like the precious oil upon the head,

Running down on the beard,
The beard of Aaron,
Running down on the edge of his garments.
3 It is like the dew of Hermon,
Descending upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing—
Life forevermore.

When brothers dwell together in unity, precious oil from heaven will flow, healing every wound and pain. Every debt is forgiven. Sorrow will turn into joy, and mourning into dancing! Celebration and rejoicing will begin! A new beginning has arrived! For there, God commands the blessing of life forevermore! Amen.


Written on: 23 June 2017