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The Dance of Mahanaim

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Posted on: 
1 Mar 2011
The Dance of Mahanaim

The Song of Songs makes an interesting reference to “the dance of the two camps” (6:13), or in Hebraic tradition the “Dance of Mahanaim.” We see it illustrated in II Samuel 2 in the bitter rivalry between the House of Saul and the House of David. The commander of each army, Joab for David and Abner for Saul’s lineage, send 12 young men into a gladiator-style battle before the two opposing camps. Yet as they pair off in hand-to-hand combat, they are all struck down. Realizing it is senseless violence, the deadly game is called off. Before long, David makes a feast of reconciliation with Abner, which would have included joyous dancing.

These represent two camps that were once in opposition to one another but have now come together in reconciliation, harmony and joy.

The long history of enmity between Israel and the Church is also a well-known and bitter rivalry, but in the last three decades or so, a revolution has taken place in Jewish-Christian relations. The unexpected has happened in that millions of Christians from all over the world have rediscovered the Jewish roots of their faith and have repudiated Replacement Theology, which played a major role in dividing the two camps.

Today, Christians stand with Israel, pray for Israel, and visit Israel out of a desire to demonstrate genuine love and care for a people that have given us all that we hold dear and cherish as Christians (Romans 15:27). Truly, the Dance of Mahanaim is taking place before our eyes!

However, even Christians are divided from one another and need to come together in joy and reconciliation. It is shameful to see how much of Christianity is divided over non-essential beliefs. Paul writes that “the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking but love, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit” (Romans14:17). That is, we should stop majoring on minors! How Christians dress, eat and act is not as important as long as they do everything in a godly manner and to the glory of God.

We should rather lay stress on the “essentials” that are under threat in every stream of the Church today. This includes such core biblical concepts as the Trinity, the sufficient and once-for-all death of Jesus on the Cross, the inspiration of God’s Holy Word, the visible Second Coming of Jesus, and the need for all people to repent and exercise faith in this finished work of Christ. We need to celebrate these things afresh and thus dance the dance of Mahanaim!

Naturally, as Paul acknowledges, we have been given by the Holy Spirit the ministry of reconciliation, “as though God were pleading through us” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). In this instance, he is referring to a lost world that is alienated from the love of God (John 3:16). Our calling is always to go and reach this world. Those outside of Christ are deemed enemies of God and thus we need to reach them in their “opposing camp” and bring them home to the banqueting house of God’s wonderful love. In this house, we will all dance the dance of Mahanaim!