Tribes & Clans

Do you know the difference between a tribe and a clan?

This teaching is lost in Christianity today but it applies to the family of God and unlocks something very powerful.

When you read through the Bible you will come across genealogies. Although these can be boring and appear to be irrelevant, they are important. Not only do they reveal the bloodline of Christ they show that God’s people have been identified as a ‘family’ because the lineage of faith was literally passed down through families.

It started with Adam and Eve, then after the flood, God started over with the family of Noah. Families would splinter, tribes would form, but through the bloodline of God’s choice the people of God were given the identity of “Israel”.

Christ would come through the chosen Davidic bloodline and through Him we are now adopted into the family of God. It is a spiritual family, not defined by physical bloodline anymore, but by the blood of Christ.

It is how Israel was structured that brings breakthrough in the area of revival.

When Israel was addressed by prophets it was directed to the people as a whole but specifically to the leaders over the people. No different than the chain of command in a home or family, the buck has to stop somewhere, as it did in the Garden of Eden, the original domicile of peace. God holds the leader accountable and although discipline will flow to the people the leader has the ability to ‘turn the tide’ so to speak through repentance and obedience, leading the people under their charge to do the same.

Israel was structured in tribes and clans.

A clan and tribe may sound similar but they have specific differences. A clan is a group of people who have gathered together as a result of kinship. The main feature of a clan is that they are united around a leader. A tribe, on the other hand, is a group of people generally self-sufficient who live together sharing a common land. There were 12 tribes of Israel but there were sub-sects within those tribes.

There is a passage in 1 Chronicles where the tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh find themselves in a ‘battle of repentance’. Pay attention to the highlighted text:

“There were 44,760 capable warriors in the armies of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. They were all skilled in combat and armed with shields, swords, and bows. They waged war against the Hagrites, the Jeturites, the Naphishites, and the Nodabites.

They cried out to God during the battle, and He answered their prayer because they trusted in Him. So the Hagrites and all their allies were defeated. The plunder taken from the Hagrites included 50,000 camels, 250,000 sheep and goats, 2,000 donkeys, and 100,000 captives. Many of the Hagrites were killed in the battle because God was fighting against them. The people of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh lived in their land until they were taken into exile.

The half-tribe of Manasseh was very large and spread through the land from Bashan to Baal-hermon, Senir, and Mount Hermon. These were the leaders of their clans: Epher, Ishi, Eliel, Azriel, Jeremiah, Hodaviah, and Jahdiel. These men had a great reputation as mighty warriors and leaders of their clans.

But these tribes were unfaithful to the God of their ancestors.They worshiped the gods of the nations that God had destroyed. So the God of Israel caused King Pul of Assyria (also known as Tiglath-pileser) to invade the land and take away the people of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh as captives. The Assyrians exiled them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the Gozan River, where they remain to this day.”

– 1 Chronicles 5:18-26

This account marks the beginning of the Assyrian Captivity and preceded the deportation of the Northern Kingdom of Israel before it fell to Sargon II after a siege started by Shalmanesser V.

The Lord had long warned about the consequence of disobedience outlaid in Deuteronomy 28. But rather than just speak truth once, God sent messengers along the way to forewarn the people that the Lord would act if they did not repent.

How does this apply today?

Although not formally decreed, the Church [the new covenant family of God] operates in a structure of tribes and clans very similar to Israel during this time period. We call them denominations and churches.

The Church, as a corporate body, is the family of God. The denominations within the body operate as tribes and churches underneath that structuring operate as clans, where people gather around a leader.

Today, God’s call to repent operates in a similar fashion. One tribe [denomination] may worship America and politics, a god of culture, whereas another tribe [denomination] may worship theology or the spiritual gifts elevating signs, miracles and wonders. Each is guilty of their own idolatry and none can see their own sin. In the same light and in new covenant context we see in Revelation chapters 2-3 each representative church or clan [defined by city] had it’s own issues, some worse than others. In scripture the Lord tells them to repent, some with the warning of being spit out of His mouth for being lukewarm, and still the Lord sends messengers to the people and leaders today to warn them of impending discipline.

As it came to the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh, they had clan leaders who were mighty warriors and men of good repute, but still the sin of the overall tribe had to be held to account and they were sent into exile nonetheless.

This means that God deals with sin on every level: personally, in your clan, your tribe and ultimately corporately. 

When confronted with sin we have the responsibility of personal repentance. But leaders of clans and tribes have the added responsibility of leading people under their charge to safe and peaceful domicile in the ‘promised land’ through the process of repentance. Clans and tribes working together bring about corporate revival.

If tribes and clans are waging war against each other it is a sign of sickness, no different than our physical bodies. To war against each other is to have lost sight of the common enemy.

How does this lead to breakthrough?

For the Church to walk in power we have to first repent of our love for the world, for our desire to be accepted by it. We have whored ourselves out to the gods of money, power and politics, the gods of this world. We cling to idols no different than God’s people in the days of old. But like Gomer or the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh we too can be sent into exile to learn the valuable lesson of unadulterated relationship.

We think we are above this, that our sonship and new covenant relationship removes this responsibility, but our pride creates a powerful delusion and sore miscalculation.

There is a passage in 2 Chronicles which has been rejected as of late, primarily because we are not seeing breakthrough from our application of the passage, but it does have application to our day.

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14

Although “land” in context was written to Israel regarding their dwelling in the physical Promised Land as marked by the Temple, the text has application today to the Body of Christ because we are God’s people, called by His name. This passage is often misapplied to America as a type of new Israel which God is supporting above all other nations. On the contrary, this applies to His body throughout the earth and that God wants to heal every land through His people.

It simply means that corporate repentance leads to corporate breakthrough.

It means that tribal unity and clans working together will produce a corporate, unified cry of repentance that will lead to breakthrough. It will heal the nation of God first, the family of God (1 Peter 2:9), then allow for healing power to flow through us into the city and country in which we abide.

Of course unity for the sake of unity is not the purpose and can be an equal idol. We must hold fast to sound doctrine and the teachings of truth. Many will fall away in the last days and fall to deceptive teachings. But so far as only methodological or tertiary differences separate tribes, it would be wise to seek God together and demonstrate humility. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. It is humility that leads to breakthrough.

Last year I took two young church leaders in our city to lunch. Both representing power and authority, the largest churches in our city, mighty clan leaders of good repute.

In the Spirit I told them.

“You will either have revival or riots!”

One joked and asked if I was wearing my ‘prophet hat’. But as lunch dismissed, weeks later, the shooting in Dallas took place. The services for two of the fallen officers took place at those very churches.

Dallas has been prophesied over and targeted for revival by many. But revival happens on God’s terms, not ours. We are not the ones to organize it, God does. Our responsibility is to repent, individually and corporately. Until then we will experience no breakthrough but only the physical manifestation of the spiritual reality around us.

In the past I have warned that ebola in Dallas, a wasting disease among us, was a warning. I believe the shooting in Dallas is representative of a spiritual war taking place in our country which manifested in our city. That the spiritual war is manifesting in Dallas for a reason, because it is a fight to block the supernatural manifestation of God’s power, a spiritual battle for revival. If we do not repent I believe greater tragedy comes to Dallas and our nation. Dallas is a stronghold for Christ, we have been given much, but much is required with our influence.

We have an opportunity before us that the leaders of yesteryear longed for. To lead the nation through the process of repentance. For tribes and clans to repent together, showing the nation and world a picture of Biblical unity they have never seen before. In doing so, unlocking the doors of revival and uncovering ancient wells of life giving water prayed for by saints that have gone before us.

Repentance is waging war against sin. Sonship and God’s love does not mean you are omitted from this responsibility. That teaching is Satanic and the spirit of the age. We must wage war against sin, not to elevate sin, but so that we decrease in our flesh and the Spirit is allowed control. So that Christ takes His rightful place as Lord of our lives.

Heaven is watching and breakthrough is available to us but we must choose life over death.

2017-07-13T17:32:28+00:00

About the Author:

Matt Cote is the Founder of Concept Church, a digital media ministry. He is the author of the book, End Game.