The Genuine Ground of Oneness, by Witness Lee

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If someone tries to argue with you concerning the ground of oneness, point as an illustration to the situation of the children of Israel in the land of Canaan. Jerusalem was the unique place, the unique center, chosen by God to maintain the oneness of His people. Eventually, God’s people were carried away into captivity, some to Egypt, others to Assyria, and still others to Babylon. Originally God’s people were one, with a unique center of worship on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. But they became scattered into at least three major divisions. After the seventy years of captivity in Babylon had expired, God commanded the people to return to Jerusalem. A remnant of the people did return. By returning to Jerusalem, they spontaneously formed a fourth group among God’s people. Before the return from captivity, there were just three groups—those in Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon. Although these three groups were divisions, the fourth group, constituted of those who had returned to Jerusalem, was not a division. Yes, the fourth group was a distinct group, but it was a recovery, not a division.

Perhaps some of God’s people who chose to remain in Babylon said, "Brothers, you shouldn’t be so narrow. God is everywhere. We don’t need to go back to Jerusalem to worship Him. Consider Daniel. He loved the Lord and served Him without going back to Jerusalem. If he could stay in Babylon, then we are free to do the same thing." Under the Lord’s sovereignty, Daniel remained in Babylon even after the year Cyrus issued the decree ordering the captives to return to Jerusalem (2 Chron. 36:22; Dan. 1:21; 10:1). Prior to that time, he prayed daily with his windows opened toward Jerusalem. This indicates that Daniel desired to go back to Jerusalem; however, he was not given the opportunity to do so. Therefore, his case should not be used as an excuse to remain in Babylon, that is, to stay in division.

For God’s people to remain in Egypt, Assyria, or Babylon was to remain in division. Those who returned to Jerusalem did not cause further division. On the contrary, they shared in the recovery of the genuine oneness. Among the four groups, only they could be regarded as the nation of Israel. Although the ones who remained in Babylon may have vastly outnumbered those who returned to Jerusalem, those who returned could be regarded as the nation of Israel, whereas those who remained could not.

In principle, the same is true with respect to the nation of Israel today. It is those who have returned to the good land who are recognized as the nation of Israel, not those who are still scattered throughout the world. For example, the number of Jews in New York City may exceed the number of those in Israel. Nevertheless, as even the United Nations recognizes, the Jews in Israel make up the nation of Israel, whereas the Jews in New York do not. Those in New York may love the nation of Israel and may give generously to support it. Nevertheless, simply because they have not returned to the land of their fathers, they cannot be regarded as the nation of Israel. To be part of the nation of Israel one must be not only a Jew—he must be a Jew on the proper ground, that is, in the good land.

(The Genuine Ground of Oneness, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)