Unification News for January 2002
Divine Principle Volume 6 * Part 5
An historical parallel exists between the eras of the Old Testament United Kingdom and the United Christian Empire. Both periods lasted for a total of 120 years each.
The Old Testament monarchy started with Saul, who was anointed as the first king of Israel by the prophet Samuel. He was succeeded by his former armor-bearer and son-in-law, David, who made the newly-captured Jerusalem his capital. Henceforth, this city became the epicenter of Hebrew religious and cultural life.
David in turn was succeeded by his son, Solomon, who is credited with building the royal temple which came to serve as the center of Jewish activities. At the same time, however, Solomon took wives from foreign nations, allowing them to worship their own gods. From the standpoint of the Hebrew historian (I Ki 11:1-13), such tolerance was a heinous sin.
Divine Principle looks at the reigns of Saul, David and Solomon in terms of their dispensational importance. The ultimate purpose of this period was to build a Temple which was to foreshadow the coming Messiah. In a mystical sense the Temple, which was the center of Jewish life, was a symbol of Christ who was to come as the restored center of human society. That David was willing to build the Temple, and that Solomon finally achieved it, was of understandably significant import in the historical providence of God.
Corresponding to the Old Testament United Monarchy, the United Christian Empire also lasted for approximately 120 years, beginning in 800 A.D. Just as the Hebrew united monarchy was begun by Saul, who was anointed king by the prophet Samuel, so the United Christian Empire was inaugurated by Charlemagne, who managed to have himself crowned by Pope Leo III. With his coronation, effected at St. Peter's Church on Christmas Day of 800, Charlemagne became the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire.
Now a theocratic stamp had been placed on the empire, and Western Christendom was at last united in a kingdom of God of which Charlemagne was the earthly head.
After both the Hebrew United Kingdom and the United Christian Empire had been established, both kingdoms became beset by conflict and division for periods of roughly 400 years. When Solomon compromised his devotion to Yahweh both by allowing his foreign wives to worship their own deities and by neglecting to fulfill his other obligations, the seeds were sown which destroyed the United Kingdom. The kingdom was subsequently divided into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah.
According to Divine Principle, because Solomon had united with Satan, God split his kingdom in order to separate the good from the evil. The northern kingdom of Israel was in a position comparable with that of Cain, somewhat alienated from God, and the southern kingdom of Judah was in an anointed position similar to Abel's.
Accordingly, several notable ethical and spiritual advances took place in Judah. For example, great prophets arose who emphasized the moral and ethical components of religious faith, concern for the weak and the oppressed. Beginning with Amos, these men were the first to realize the place of morality in religion. Yet, in spite of the emergence of these Hebrew luminaries, the division of the United Kingdom continued. Just as Cain had failed to respect the status Abel apparently had in the eyes of God, so Israel failed to respond to the spiritual influence of Judah. The Lord's efforts were being rebuffed.
In the Christian era a similar disunity afflicted the Holy Roman Empire of Charlemagne, largely because of disagreements among his grandsons. Gradually, the kingdom was divided into three parts--the kingdoms of the East Franks, the West Franks and that of the middle--Italy. Italy ultimately came under East Frank control, and so the division became one between the kingdoms of the East Franks or the Holy Roman Empire, and the West Franks or the kingdom of France. According to Divine Principle, the eastern kingdom, containing the seat of the Roman Catholic Church, now became the primary object of God's dispensation; it occupied an Abel position, as had Judah during the time of the Hebrew kingdom.
A significant further parallel between the Old and New Testament divided kingdoms is that generated by the rise of certain Roman Catholic monks and saints. These spiritual giants correspond to the Hebrew prophets mentioned earlier. As Israel and Judah were warned by the prophets to repent of their sins, so monks and saints of the Catholic Church attacked the vices of powerful churchmen. For example, Dominic, a Spaniard (1170-1221), founded the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) to reform the Church through preaching and teaching. Likewise, Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) formed the Minor Brethren to preach repentance to all and love for the oppressed.
Following the Divided Kingdoms, the periods of exiles, first of the Hebrews and then of the Roman pope, provide a further comparison between the Old and New Testament epochs. Because both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah failed to repent, and thus failed to establish the foundation for the coming of the Messiah, they were taken captive into Babylon. This exile lasted for 70 years. Likewise in the Christian era, a corrupted papacy was moved to France, also for 70 years.
Let us first examine the Old Testament exile. The northern kingdom was invaded by the Assyrians and destroyed in 721 B.C. The southern kingdom was invaded by the Babylonians in 597 B.C. Mass deportations were ordered, beginning a whole new period in Israelite history. It is said that over 10,000 Jews were carried off to exile in Babylon.
Corresponding to the Babylonian exile, the papacy experienced a comparable captivity. When the medieval popes did not correct their errant ways, the papacy was exiled to France and remained there under the control of the French king. It was a period of confusion and humiliation for the Vatican and the Church.
When the period of papal captivity was over, the papacy was divided between Rome and southern France; later a further subdivision was made. These parties were finally integrated, and the papacy was revived in Rome. The papacy was thus reconstructed through a three-stage process. Including the times of captivity and return, the period lasted for 210 years.
After the Babylonian captivity, the Jews also returned in three stages, which developed over a period of 140 years. Combined with the 70-year exile, this meant that 210 years had elapsed after their Babylonian captivity began, matching the 210 years of the papal exile and return.
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