Tag: Old Testament

Psalms 133 – Unity and Anointing (Part 2)

2.0 Dew on Mount Hermon

Psalm 133:3a (KJV) “Like the dew of Hermon, and like the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion.” – The Second Illustration is the Dew of Mount Hermon upon the Mountain of Zion – Mount Hermon is the highest peak in Israel, located to the extreme North of the Promised Land.  At its slopes the four tributaries of the Jordan River begin. Snowcapped much of the year, it symbolized abundant moisture, God’s Gift to the dry land. The plants survive on the dew for the long, rainless summers of Palestine. Nightly, as the temperature drops, the humility in the air condenses to provide the needed moisture for plants. Its dew is heavy, and it is this heavy dew that also falls upon the mountains surrounding Jerusalem, situated on Mount Zion (Psalm 48:2). Since the dew comes from Heaven, it too is an apt image of God’s Blessing, because the Brethren Dwell together in Unity. 

  1. The Dew typified Holy Spirit in His Reviving Power through the “Life-Giving” Word of God – Deuteronomy 32:2a (NIV) “Let my teaching fall like rain and my Word descend like dew,” God’s Blessing that brings Fruitfulness.
  2. The “Anointing Oil” and the “Dew” – remind us that “Fruitful-Unity” is not something that we “worked up” but that God sends down. According to Delitzsch “Nowhere in the whole country of Israel is so heavy dew perceptible as in the districts near to Hermon.”
  3. This abundant of Dew from Mount Hermon is carried to Zion by the cold current of air sweeping down from the north over Hermon. – Such is the value and Power of “Fruitful-Unity” of the brethren – It is Refreshing, Quickening and Invigorating!!
  4. Dew comes from above and illustrates that “Fruitful-Unity” is from God, that comes upon Zion (the General Assembly of Believers – Hebrews 12:22-23), when brethren dwell together in “Fruitful-Unity!”
  5. When the brethren in the Church dwells together in Unity, the Divine Blessing permeates the Whole Congregation – J.J. Steward Perowne (“Commentary on Psalms”) states: “It is not the refreshing nature of the dew, nor its gentle, all-pervading influence, which is the prominent feature. That which renders it to the poet’s eye so striking an image of brotherly concord, is the fact that it falls alike on both Mountain.”
  6. The “Fruitful-Unity” comes from God’s Spirit, flowing over us like Oil, and the Heavy Dew (Reviving Power & Life-Giving of the Holy Spirit), descending upon us, bringing God’s Blessing of Life
  7. Our Unity comes from the Spirit of God flowing over us like Anointing Oil, and the Heavenly Dew descending upon us, bringing God’s Blessing of Life – Eternal Life, forever and ever. It is only God’s Spirit and His Promise of Eternal Life that will break down the sin in our hearts, crucifying our selfishness, making us one. As Psalm 133:1 says, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is.” Now let us live in it!!

2.1 Blessing of Life

Psalm 133:3b (KJV) “For there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” – Two illustrations (Psalm 133:2-3) –  the Desired Unity is both Fragrant as Oil; and Refreshing as Dew.

  1. The quality of both the Oil and the Dew is pervasive (all-encompassing) and diffusive (widely spread).
  2. The Oil does not rest on head, but flows down upon Aaron’s beard, and to the collar; and the Dew does not remain on Hermon but flows down on the Mountain of Zion.
  3. The Holy Spirit Who is both the “Oil” (Isaiah 61:1-3; Psalm 45:7; Hebrews 1:9), and the “Dew” (Psalm 72:6; Hosea 6:3; 14:5), possesses and is possessed by the whole Church of God, overleaping all Racial, Social, Cultural, and Sectarian Distinction – the Life of the Holy Spirit is imparted, so the Church has “Life for Evermore” (Psalm 133:3). True Unity is an Organism, not an Organisation (Ephesians 4:11-16).
  4. The Strong Accent on God’s Initiative – “The LORD commanded the blessing.”  What is God’s Gift – “Life for Evermore!” Unity and Brotherly Harmony released God’s Blessing – “God’s Life.”  The expression: “Life for Evermore,” is not found anywhere in the Old Testament except in Daniel 12:2.
  5. “Fruitful-Unity” not only gives life to the Individual and the Church but also makes the Individual/Church “a Living Example” to the World and helps draw others to Christ.
  6. “Fruitful-Unity” Renews and Revitalize Ministry because there is less tension to sap our energy.

Thus, it is important to be connected to each other in the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:16) and allowed the Holy Spirit to produce the “Fruitful-Unity” and “Fruitful-Anointing,” which will result in Personal as well as Corporate Success – The Individual and the Church will experience the “Refreshing Presence of the LORD” (Acts 3:19) – “the Dew” of the Holy Spirit (Psalm 133:3a).

The Importance of Amen (Part 2)

1.1.2 Affirmation of Leadership:

  • When the Ark of the Covenant was returned to its rightful place, King David read a Psalm he wrote to praise God, and the people affirmed his (David’s) Declaration with an “Amen” – 1Chronicles 16:36 (KJV) “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel forever and ever. And all the people said, Amen, and praised the LORD” (also Psalm 106:48). The “Amen” of the children of Israel affirmed the action of King David and the rule of the LORD in their midst.
  • When David hands over the Rulership of the Kingdom to his (David’s) Son, Solomon, Benaiah, one of the military Leaders made a declaration of “Amen” in agreement – 1Kings 1:36 (KJV) “And Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, answered the King, and said, Amen; the LORD God of my lord, the King, say so.” Benaiah, as the Leader of the Military, is affirming that he will back the reign of King Solomon.

“Amen” is an affirmation of what is transpiring: it affirms that – We are together. We support what Leadership is calling us to do.

1.1.3. Affirmation of Correction:

  • Nehemiah (in chapter 5) steps in to deal with the injustice of exploitation of the poor by their rich Nobles. In response the whole Assembly agreed to Nehemiah’s Directive by an “Amen!” and “Praise the LORD” (Nehemiah 5:13).
  • Apostle Paul’s letters to Timothy, in which he uses, the affirmation “Amen” five times (1Timothy 1:17; 6:16; 6:21; 2Timothy 4:18; 4:22) to guide his son, Timothy in Doctrinal Matters. The affirmation to Correction with an “Amen” is the acknowledgement that God’s Word is correct.

1.1.4. Affirmation of God’s Word:

  • Nehemiah 8:6, when the Scroll of the Law was opened after many years, the people expressed reverence and affirmation by “Amen” – Nehemiah 8:5a, 6 (NIV) “Ezra opened the book…….And Ezra praised the LORD, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded Amen! Amen! Then they bowed down and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.”
  • The 150 Psalms is divided into Five Books. Each Book ends with “Amen” except Book 5:
    • Book 1 – Psalm 1 to Psalm 41 – “Ends with a benediction and a double “Amen and Amen” (Psalm 41:13).
    • Book 2 – Psalm 42 to Psalm 72 – “Ends with a benediction and a double “Amen and Amen” (Psalm 72:19).
    • Book 3 – Psalm 73 to Psalm 89 – “Ends with a benediction and a double “Amen and Amen”
    • Book 4 – Psalm 90 to Psalm 106 – “Ends with benediction, an “Amen” and a Hallelujah” (Psalm 106:48).
    • Book 5 – Psalm 107 to Psalm 150 – “Ends with a call to Praise and a “Hallelujah” (Psalm 150:6).

1.2 The Mosaic Covenant

In the Books of Numbers and Deuteronomy, “Amen” is used 14 times, 12 times of which occur in Deuteronomy 27:15-26. Strangely, this passage relates to curses (chastening) that will befall the Children of Israel who act in ways detrimental to the community. As the Leaders of the Nation of Israel read these curses (chastening), they were not predicting what would happen if the people disobeyed God. They were calling upon the LORD to send these curses (chastening) on His people if they turned away from Him. These curses (chastening) were closely related to the Law Moses had delivered and explained, especially the Ten Commandments:

1.2.1 The First Curse (Chastening)

Deuteronomy 27:15 (KJV) “Cursed be the man who maketh any carved or melted image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen.” – Condemned idolatry and the violation of the First and Second Commandment (Exodus 20:1-6). To carve or cast an idol and worship it is to deny that Jehovah (The LORD) is the One True and Living God, and it is this sin that finally brought God’s Wrath on Israel. Even if a Jew worshipped an idol in secret and did not try to persuade others to join him, it was still a great sin and had to be punished (Deuteronomy chapter 13).

1.2.2 The Second Curse (Chastening)

Deuteronomy (KJV) 27:16 “Cursed be he who setteth light by (dishonoureth) his father and his mother. And all the people say, Amen.” The Second curse (chastening) relates to the family and home (Exodus 20:12). This answers to the Fifth Commandment.

1.2.3 The Third Curse (Chastening)

Deuteronomy 27:17 (KJV) “Cursed be he who removeth his neighbour’s landmark. And all the people shall say, Amen.” This deals with Encroachment of Property (Deuteronomy 19:14; Exodus 20:15). This answers to the Eighth Commandment.

1.2.4 The Fourth Curse (Chastening)

Deuteronomy 27:18 (KJV) “Cursed be he who maketh the blind to wander out of the way. And all the people shall say, Amen.” This reveals God’s special concern for people with disabilities. Leviticus 19:14 mentions both the deaf and the blind. An Individual/Nation who mistreated the people with disabilities would be judged by God.

1.2.5 The Fifth Curse (Chastening)

Deuteronomy 27:19 (KJV) “Cursed be he who perverteth the justice due the sojourner, fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say, Amen.” The focus is on treating with kindness and justice the helpless and unfortunate in the Land. Widows, Orphans, and Strangers – God called on His people (Israel) to champion the care and welfare of the Widows, Orphans and Strangers cause and see that they received justice (Deuteronomy 24:17,18; Exodus 22:21-24; Luke 18:1-8). Israel had been Strangers in Egypt for 400 years and the LORD had cared for Israel and judged the people, in Egypt, who abused them. If Israel does not care for the needy (Widows, Orphans & Strangers), God would also judge them. Among other things, this involves bringing their special tithes to the LORD every third year so the needy (Widows, Orphans, and Strangers) would have their needs met (Deuteronomy 14:28-29).

To be continued….. Stay Tuned…..

Reaping what you sow (Proverbs 12:14b) (Part 2)

Our Six Basic Responsibilities:

1. Our Words/Actions – Proverbs 14:8,14 “The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way…the backslider in heart will have his fill of his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied with his” For an Individual to enjoy his spiritual and mental health, he has to take hold of his life, as a child of God, and be responsible and accountable for his words/actions, both as benefit and the penalty. He must try not to shift the blame onto others or circumstances, for his failures. Developing this attitude helps him to understand his weaknesses and strengths, and thus, take advantage of the principle of “sowing and reaping,” – overcomes his weaknesses and builds on his strengths.

2. Make Proper Choices – God created us, Individually, with a free-will with the right to choose. If we do what is right, underpinned by God’s Love, we will reap the benefits of our choice: “A prudent man sees evil and hides himself, the naïve proceed and pay the penalty” (Proverbs 27:12). The right to choose and to make decision is ours, Divinely given, and we should make the best of it.

3. Do Our Best – Proverbs 18:9 “He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great destroyer.” Generally, an Individual’s mindset is to do as little as possible, with short-cuts, and expects great result; whereas “wisdom’s way,” is to do our best; to work to the uttermost perimeter of our God’s given talents and abilities, – reaping the benefits of hard work and diligent – Proverbs 22:29 “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before unknown men.” Laziness is self-destructive – Proverbs 12:24 “The hand of the diligent will rules, but the lazy man will be put to forced labour.

4. Continuous LearningProverbs 19:2 “It is not good for a person to be without knowledge.” The moment we stop learning and adjusting, we begin to back-slide in our God’s given gifting and ability. Life will not alter to suit our situation; we need to read and adjust and take hold of the best, in the situation. We are responsible to educate ourselves on the things of life – be STREET-WISEMatthew 10:16 “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye, therefore, wise as a serpent and harmless as doves.”

5. Doing to OthersProverbs 11:27 “He who diligently seeks good seeks favour, but he who searches after evil, it will come to him” The Bible teaches that “we do unto others, as we desire others to do unto us – Matthew 7:12 “Therefore, all things whatsoever you would that men should do to you: do you even so to them: for this is the Law and the Prophets…..shall also do to them; for this is the Law and the Prophets.”  Cain’s question: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Was a rhetorical question. We are responsible not to impose upon the welfare of others and to consider how our actions will affect them. Remember, we will receive back in kind the blessing or the misery we bring into the lives of others.

6. Good Conscience

Proverbs 28:18 “He whose walk is blameless is kept safe, but he whose ways are perverse will suddenly fall.” & Proverbs 21:3 “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” Our words/deeds must all be done in good conscience – Acts 23:1b “I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” Thus, in the law of “sowing and reaping,” we are first and foremost accountable to ourselves. When we are faced with a choice our criteria for judging what we should do should not be based on what others will think or what is in it for us, but solely on what is right (before God and our conscience). What we say and do must be right in the sight of God based on right motives and attitude, must leave us with a comfortable conscience. One of the ways to make our lives meaningful and easier is to live within the realm God’s Word – Hebrews 4:12 “For the Word (logos) of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Reaping what you sow (Proverbs 12:14b) (Part 1)

The Statement

Proverbs 12:14b “The deeds of a man’s hands will return to him.”

Law of Nature

Sowing and reaping is a universal law of nature, set-in-place by God. Every Farmer expects a harvest when he sows/plants; he knows that, except for the unforeseen weather conditions or natural disasters, he will be able to reap for the finance, time, and labour he invested. This law of “sowing & reaping,” applies to the physical world, but God has created within His universe a spiritual ecology, a principle of recompense that governs our actions and behaviour.Scripture teaches that for everything we do there is a consequence that is commensurate with the deed. This law of recompense (reward), is stated in God’s Word (Scripture):

  • Proverbs 12:14b “The deeds of a man’s hands will return to him.”
  • Galatians 6:7 explains: “Whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.”
  • Proverbs 11:18 “He who sows righteousness gets a true reward.”

These are God’s Great Promise, taken in the positive aspects. To a large extent we can determine the results of our actions by what we do and how we do it; since we can choose what to sow, we can dictate what return to us

  • Newton’s Third Law of Motion: “To every force and action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” 
  • Carousel Theory: “What goes around, comes around” – What we do boomerangs – it comes back to us in kind.

In a Situation – If we cannot control our temper, in a tense situation, we will get turmoil in return as Proverbs 15:18 warns: “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife.”  But, if we take hold of ourselves even when provoked, the end-result would be different, as “The (one who is) slow to anger pacifies contention…A gentle answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:18, 1). 

First Principle

We must Sow before We ReapGalatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” A seed that is not planted will not bear fruits. Planting carries with it the expectation of harvest. The human counterpart of this law of nature is that once we have done something we can never undo it:

  1. The result is beyond our control once a deed/word has been done/spoken.
  2. The result is predetermined by our action and once begun, is irreversible.
  3. A deed, once done, cannot be undone, All, we can do is live with the consequence, be it bitter or sweet.

Peter Marshall wisely observed that “small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.” The only way we can reap is to sow. Thus, we must consciously sow “God’s Goodness & Love” among us and to the people.

Second Principle

We Reap What We SowProverbs 10:4 “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.” & Proverbs 10:16 “The wages of the righteous bring them life, but the income of the wicked brings them punishment.” The nature of the reward is determined by what we “sow.” Righteousness is imbedded with its own reward, as with wrongful action/word. The results that are produced by our action/word will resemble those action/word. Every deed is followed by its corresponding effect. We reap whatever we sow.

Third Principle

We will Reap in Proper Time – Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Paul said that “in proper time we shall reap.” “In proper time” may be right away or a long time off because what we do can have one of two results: Immediate or delayed. This principle implies that we must consider the final, long-term results of our actions/words rather than immediate satisfactions. What we do now may affect the total scope of our life and the lives of others, months or even years from now.

Fourth Principle

We Reap More than We SowProverbs 11:24-25 “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper.” Again, this is illustrated in the physical world – “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains (just one grain; never becomes more but lives by itself alone). But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest” (John 12:24, AMP). The Word of God warns: “He who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly” (2Corinthians 9:6).

To be continued….. Stay Tuned…..

Prayer of Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:9-10) (Part 2)

The Prayer of Jabez

2. What He Prays

1Chronicles 4:10a “And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” Jabez is explicit in his Prayer’s Request in Four Distinctive Petitions: 

First,   for God’s Blessing1Chronicles 4:10a “And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed.” Jabez considers the Blessing from God of Israel of primary important and makes it his first request. He knows that without God’s Blessing all other things are of but little value or important. Do we? Jabez understands that all true blessings come from God. He knows that God has blessed the Nation of Israel. Jabez desires the personal blessing from God – “bless me indeed” carries an intensive force in the original, means “surely or richly bless.”  It is the language of fervent and affectionate desire. He is not content with a just feeling of general well-being but wants to experience the Divine (God’s) Blessing in a definite, personal way. If God’s Blessing is to be bestowed, it must be appropriated and experienced.

Second, for God’s Enlargement1Chronicles 4:10a “And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying…..and enlarge my territory.” – The enlargement of territory involves two aspects:

  • Enlarge his (Jabez’s) area of influence and blessing, thus becoming a blessing to others; William E. Blackstone was a man in the prime of his life, exclaimed: “Oh that God would give me a million dollars! I would use every penny for the evangelization of the world!” God knew that by training and experience that he was competent to administer such large sum of money. God also knew that Blackstone could be entrusted with such wealth. God, therefore, providentially placed in the hand of William E. Blackstone five million dollars for the evangelization purposes. He was faithful as a Trustee of this sum of money, and great multitude of souls came to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. William prayed, as did Jabez and God “enlarged his border.”
  • Jabez is praying for enlargement of the coast (border – Land) – to wrest more of the Promised Land from the Canaanites. God had promised the Land of Canaan to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Genesis 15:18-21). God renewed that promise to the Nation of Israel through Joshua just before they crossed the River Jordan (Joshua 1:2-4). Israel had entered the Land but had conquered only part of it (Joshua 13:1, 2, 13; etc). God reminded Joshua shortly before his death that “there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed” (Joshua 13:1). Thus, Jabez is asking God to give him more of that which God had promised to His people, Israel. It takes faith to believe God for the Land that is still in the hands of the Canaanites, etc., Jabez, in faith, makes the request for the Land which God had promised to His people.  

Third, for God’s Enablement1Chronicles 4:10a “And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying……..that Your hand would be with me.” – The Hand of God means the Guiding Presence and Empowerment of God. Jabez acknowledges the need for the guiding Hand of God in his undertaking of enlarging the territory (influence and land). He knows that God must lead him; but he also understands his need for the Manifestation of God’s Power and Presence in his behalf. Jabez confession is the recognition of his own limitation and ability. When he looks at himself and the situation he is in, he feels a sense of helplessness in achieving his goal.  Mother Teresa was laughed at because she wanted to build an orphanage and had but three shilling to begin with. She told her critics: “With three shillings Teresa can do nothing; but with God and three shilling there is nothing that Teresa cannot do.”

An Individual who recognizes his own inability to complete the task in his own strength and has learned to cast himself unreservedly upon God Himself to enable him to complete the task, would not be disappointed. The secret of the empowered life is to be found in continued “abiding” in Christ – “He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same shall bringeth forth much fruit; for without Me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Fourth, for God’s Preservation1Chronicles 4:10a “And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying……..and that You would keep (preserve) me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” – Jabez request that, in his struggle to attain the enlarged purposes of God in him; God would so work on his behalf that “evil,” or “harm,” would be kept away. Jabez desires the inauspicious implications of his name (Jabez = pains) might not be repeated in his own experiences – “that it may not grieve (pain) me.”  He has but to recall his mother’s feelings to be assured, she (mother) has suffered and experienced grief (pain) and sorrow. Jabez understands that left to himself he would inevitably succumb to the power of evil; he confesses a need for God’s Preserving Power against Evil; it is truth understood that leads a child of God to cast himself fully upon his God for preservation from evil and for empowerment to meet the trials of life; this is Jabez’s road to victory.

Logical Order – The order of the Jabez’s Fourfold Petitions shows a logical progression; he begins his Prayer:

  • He acknowledges God’s blessing as his highest good and priority.
  • This leads to a desire for a larger share in God’s Promises which God has prepared for God His People, Israel.
  • In his (Jabez’s) efforts to attain these blessings of God, he realizes his own limitation and weakness and pleaded for God’s Guidance and Empowerment to accomplish.
  • In his struggles he comes to see himself aright and is led to throw himself unreservedly upon God’s Grace; and it is here that he finds the desired blessings and victory.

God Responses

1Chronicles 4:10b “So God granted him what he requested.”   The ultimate test of every Prayer is the answer that it receives; the answer proves the acceptableness of the Prayer, and the Prayer of Jabez passed this test:

  1. God Answers

1Chronicles 4:10b “So God granted him what he requested.” God grants to Jabez his desires; his experience reveals that Prayer out of sincere heart and according to God’s Will receives God’s Answer.

2. Exact Answer

1Chronicles 4:10b “So God granted him what he requested.” – Jabez received what he has asked for; this answer is evidence that his Prayer is in God’s Will for him (Jabez) –“We have this assurance in approaching God, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of him” (1John 5:14,15 NIV). The lesson is that God, who knows the heartfelt desires and motives of Jabez before he expresses them, readily granted his request. It is the Prayer in accord with God’s Will for Jabez; God’s Word recorded in 1John 3:21-22 assures us that such Prayer receives an answer from God; this Prayer of Faith encourages us to wait upon the LORD as we approach Him with our needs and requests.

Jabez’s Achievement

1Chronicles 4:9a “And Jabez was more honorable than his brethren.” Jabez does not allow the implications of his name and his background to make him feel that he is a failure; Jabez’s achievement is a challenge to all who feel that they are severely restricted by an unfortunate situation and defeated by a personal “handicap.” The secret of the success of Jabez lies in his Prayer life and his Faith in God. It is upon his (Jabez’s) Prayer that the Biblical record lays special emphasis.

Prayer of Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:9-10) (Part 1)

The Prayer of Jabez

Jabez’s Prayer interposed the Genealogies, which is revelatory – 1Chronicles 4:9-10 is called the “the Prayer of Jabez” – 1Chronicles 4:9-10 “Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, ‘because I bore him in pain.’ And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So, God granted him what he requested” (NKJV). 1Chronicles 4:9-10 reveals the birth and the journey of Jabez who has the faith to ask God for blessings:

His Name – Jabez

1Chronicles 4:9b “His mother called his name Jabez, saying, ‘because I bore him in pain.’” The inauspicious name, Jabez (“he gives pain”) is given to him by his mother, because it is more than the normal birth-pain, as it also involves his “painful-period” of growing up; which he overcomes – 1Chronicles 4:9a “Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers.” Just what causes Jabez’s mother somber reaction is not known. Whatever the cause of her grief, her gloomy reaction in giving him this name, “Jabez,” destined the son throughout his life to be the symbol of her sorrow; but how does Jabez reverse such inauspicious position??

Jabez’s Prayer

1Chronicles 4:10a “And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’  More space is given to the Prayer of Jabez than to his achievement of outstanding honor. Jabez Prayer is one of the most comprehensive in the Bible, and shines forth like a brilliant star in the midst of a Genealogical Catalogue of Names; it is his Prayer that makes him so outstanding:

  1. To Whom He Prays

Jabez Prays to the God of Israel – 1Chronicles 4:10a “And Jabez called on the God of Israel.” Jabez knows that “the God of Israel” has entered into Covenant Relationship with the Nation of Israel. The LORD (Jehovah) had chosen the children of Israel as His Special People (Exodus 19:5-6) and has given them special privileges. Jabez, being a Member of the Covenantal Nation, he calls upon “the God of Israel” in full assurance of faith that he would receive an audience with his God. We too can call upon God our Father through His Son, Jesus, with full confidence because of our relationship with God our Father through the New Covenant established in Jesus Christ. In addition, the term “God of Israel” could also be understood in two ways:

  • Israel, the Man – The reference is to Jacob (Supplanter = Deceiver) who becomes Israel; Jabez knows the story of Jacob and his transformation under the mercy and grace of God. Jacob, the Supplanter becomes Israel, ruling with God (Genesis 32:24-28); thus, Jabez could pray in confident, with the expected outcome. 
  • Israel, the Nation – Jabez knows what God has done for the Nation of Israel – God has redeemed the Nation of Israel from the Egyptian bondage (Exodus 12) and provides and preserves the Nation of Israel in the Wilderness Journey; established the Nation of Israel and settled the Nation of Israel in the Promised Land; thus, Jabez is able to approach God with complete confident.

To be continued….. Stay Tuned…..

Be Strong and of Good Courage (Joshua 1:9) (Part 2)

4. The Promise

We can be strong and courageous because God keeps His Promise, and He will bring it to pass. Joshua can “be strong and of good courage” because God keeps His Promise and He will bring it to pass – Joshua 1:6 “Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers (patriarch) to give them.” For Israel, the Promised Land is not just God’s Promise, but their Inheritance. God has promised to the Patriarch (“fathers”) the Promised Land (Canaan-Land Genesis 15:18-21) and Joshua is “to be strong and of good courage” to cause the people of Israel to enter in and take possess and divide the Land as the Israelites’ Inheritance. The word land is mentioned 87 time in the Book of Joshua, because this Book is the record of Israel’s entering, conquering and taking possession of the Promised Land. God has promised to give the Land to Abraham (Genesis 15:18-21). God reaffirmed the Promise to Isaac (Genesis 26:1-5); to Jacob (Genesis 28:4, 13, 15; 35:12) and their Descendants (Genesis 50:24). There are two different tenses of the word give that are used by God as promised to Joshua (Joshua 1:2-3):

  • Legal – In Genesis 15:18-21, the Land is promised to Abraham and his Descendants – In Joshua 1:2, God affirms (present tense) to Israel the Land, “The Land which I am giving to them.” In Joshua 1:3, the Promise of the Land is spoken in the present perfect tense, an accomplished fact – “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you.”  From this moment onward, the entire Land legally belonged to the Israelites, but they still have to appropriate it.
  • ExperientialJoshua 1:3 “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you.” The Promised Land becomes theirs, experientially, when they put the soles of their feet on every area of the Land.

Thus, there is a difference between legal possession and actual (experiential) possession; the Israelites need to appropriate the Land and claim possession by putting the soles of their feet on the Land. Israel has received the entire Promised Land legally from Joshua 1:3 onward, but they have to inherit it by putting the soles of their feet on every area of the Land, through conquests.

We have all of God’s Promises (2Corinthians 1:20), but we need to appropriate (“put the soles of our feet”) on these Promises of God through the “rhema-Word” of God’s Spirit (Romans 10:17), after we have received the “rhema-Word” from God’s Spirit, we need to set our face like flint (Isaiah 50:7) and begins to declare (John 22:28) and act on them (faith-determination – Hebrews 11:1). Thus, it is important to understand that we have God’s Promises (2Corinthians 1:20), legally, but we need to inherit these Promises, experientially; these two (legal & experience) are very important basic principles.

5. Perspectives

We, who have received God’s “rhema-Word” (Romans 10:17), are to be strong and courageous to live out that “rhema-Word” in the face of fear, doubt, discouragement, and battles; thus, it is more than receiving the “rhema-Word” but having the courage to live it out. God’s Promise will be done in God’s ways in God’s time. Joshua was to be strong and very courageous as God has given His Promise and he (Joshua) was to live out that “Rhema-Word” in the face of fear, doubt, discouragement and battles – Joshua 1:7-8 (NKJV) “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success.” Moses had led the children of Israel out of Egypt, the Land of Bondage. The First Generation of Israel died in the Wilderness because of disobedient (Numbers chapters 13 & 14). Joshua was given the responsibility to lead the New Generation of the children of Israel into the Promise Land. God’s assurance came to him (Joshua) after the death of Moses and before the Conquest of the Promised Land.

6. God’s Presence

God promised His Presence to go with us, thus, we need to learn to work from a position of God’s RestExodus 33:14 (NKJV) “And He (God) said, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Joshua was to be strong and to be of good courage because of God’s Commission and God’s Presence – Joshua 1:9 (NKJV) “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

  • God’s Commission – “Have I not commanded you?”
  • God’s Presence – “For the Lord God is with you wherever you go.”
  • God’s Command of “boldness and courage” – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage.”

God’s Commission and His Presence are God’s Enablement. In the years to come, whenever Joshua faced an Enemy and was tempted to be “afraid,” he was to remember that he was the Leader who has the Divine (God’s) Commission and carried the Divine (God’s) Presence, which is Divine (God’s) RestExodus 33:14 “And He (God) said, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Whenever things go wrong and Joshua is tempted to “be dismayed,” he needs to recall God’s Command – and take new courage, learn to work from the position of God’s REST.

7. People

God will bring people alongside us to co-labor with us and we need to recognize, accept, and appreciate the people that work-alongside us, drawing strength from one another.  God moved the people to support and encouraged Joshua – Joshua 1:16-18 (NKJV) “So they answered Joshua, saying, ‘all that you command us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we heeded Moses in all things, so we will heed you. Only the LORD your God be with you, as He was with Moses. Whoever rebels against your command and does not heed your words, in all that you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and of good courage.” As God did to Saul when he (Saul) was anointed as King over Israel – God’s provided him (Saul) with valiant men whose hearts God has touched – 1Samuel 10:26b (NKJV) “And valiant men went with him, whose hearts God had touched.” To begin with the Leaders of Israel encouraged Joshua by assuring him (Joshua) of their complete obedience (Joshua 1:16-17a) – “Command us and we will obey! Send us and we will go!”  The Leaders of Israel have no hidden agendas, with no concessions to ask; total commitment to Joshua’s Leadership, “by assuring him (Joshua) that their obedience is a matter of life or death” (Joshua 1:18).  The Leaders of Israel encouraged Joshua to “be strong and to be courageous” (Joshua 1:18); by reminding him (Joshua) of Moses word of “be of good courage,” when he (Moses) sent him (Joshua) and the other men into Canaan to spy out the Land (Numbers 13:20); Moses also repeated the words when he (Moses) commissioned Joshua as his (Moses’) Successor (Deuteronomy 31:7, 23). These words of encouragement to “boldness and courage” were written in the Book of the Law, and Joshua was commanded to read that Book and meditate on it day and night (Joshua 1:8).

Four times in Joshua chapter one, the words “be strong and of good courage” are spoken (Joshua 1:6-7, 9, 18). The first step toward winning the battle and entering into our Inheritance is to let God encourages us (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9) – “See the Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the LORD your God of your fathers, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 1:21, NIV); and the Leaders to encourage us (Joshua 1:18); and then for us to encourage others.

Be Strong and of Good Courage (Joshua 1:9) (Part 1)

The Statement

God has promised to Abraham and his Descendants (Isaac, Jacob, and Israel) the land from the Rive of Egypt to the River Euphrates, as their inheritance (Genesis 15:18-21). The Book of Deuteronomy lays the basic principles for entering into and remaining in their inheritance. The Book of Joshua describes the actual experience of the children of Israel as they applied these principles and entered their Inheritance.

Life consists of “changes” (transitions) which are challenging but with many unknowns – “fear, doubt, hope, etc.” The way an Individual trek through these “changes” matter because the Individual perspective determines how or where he ends up.  In the change (transition) of Leadership in the Nation of Israel from Moses to Joshua, God gives the Sevenfold Encouragement of “be strong and of good courage:”

  1. God’s Past Faithfulness

Remember God’s faithfulness in the past, He has seen us through before, He will see us through again. God is in all our situations. The transition of Leadership from Moses to Joshua was about to take place and he (Moses) reminded the people of Israel of God’s past faithfulness, encouraging them “to be strong and of good courage” (Deuteronomy 31:6) – Israel experienced victories in the past, on the east side of the Jordan, when Israel defeated Sihon and Og, destroying the Canaanite Nations; God assurance to Israel that the Nation will again experience victories, in the future, when the Nation crosses over Jordan under the Leadership of Joshua. – Deuteronomy 31:3-6 (NKJV) “The LORD your God Himself crosses over before you; He will destroy these nations from before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua himself crosses over before you, just as the LORD has said. And the LORD will do to them as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites and their land, when He destroyed them. The LORD will give them over to you, that you may do to them according to every commandment which I have commanded you. Be strong and of good courage, do not fear not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”  

2. God’s Purpose

An Individual’s obedience will impact others; and his faithfulness to God’s assignment is for the benefit of others – “heart towards God and hands towards people.”  Joshua was to understand God’s purpose and “to be strong and of good courage” to lead the people of Israel into their Inheritance of the Promised Land, promised to the Patriarch (“fathers”) – Deuteronomy 31:7-8 “Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, ‘be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them and you shall cause them to inherit it.’”

3. Personal Word

We should write-down God’s personal word to us; this will serve as a reminder of encouragement during difficult and discouraging times when doubt and fear set in. God gave through Moses His Personally Word to Joshua – Deuteronomy 31:22-23 “Therefore Moses wrote this song the same day and taught it to the children of Israel. Then he (Moses) inaugurated Joshua the son of Nun, and said, ‘be strong and of good courage;’ for you shall bring the children of Israel into the land of which I sworn to them, and I will be with you.”

We should write-down God’s personal word to us; this will serve as a reminder of encouragement during difficult and discouraging times when doubt and fear set in. God gave through Moses His Personally Word to Joshua – Deuteronomy 31:22-23 “Therefore Moses wrote this song the same day and taught it to the children of Israel. Then he (Moses) inaugurated Joshua the son of Nun, and said, ‘be strong and of good courage;’ for you shall bring the children of Israel into the land of which I sworn to them, and I will be with you.”

  • The Character of God (Deuteronomy 32:1-4).
  • The Kindness of God to His people, Israel (Deuteronomy 32:5-14).
  • The Faithfulness of God to His people, Israel (Deuteronomy 32:15-25).
  • The Vengeance of God against His Adversaries (Deuteronomy 32:26-43).

The Song Traces God’s dealings with Israel and is a concise review of the Nation’s (Israel’s) History, from their Wilderness sojourn to the judgements in the end times. It is both Historic and Prophetic in the Revelation.

To be continued….. Stay Tuned

Joshua’ Life & Exploits (Part 12)

Concerned about the Future

7. Succession Process

“There is no Success without a Successor” – Joshua remained submissive to the Divine chain of care.  He never once attempted to displace Moses’ Leadership, even when Moses had grown old and could no longer do what Joshua could do.  Joshua waited until his time come, just as David waited for King Saul to leave the scene.  Saul was killed in battle (1Samuel 31) and then the Elders of Israel came to Anoint David, King over the united Israel (2Samuel 5:3; 1Chronicles 11:3).

Secondly, Joshua learned to be strong and courageous in his own style of Leadership. At the onset on the Book of Joshua, God commands Joshua to take courage. “Moses my Servant is dead” (Joshua 1:1-2), God says to him, “Now therefore, arise and go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them – the children of Israel” (Joshua 1:2).  Joshua was the Military Leader, different from Moses’ Diplomatic or Reform Leadership Style, so, Joshua has to decide not to imitate Moses’ Style, but to be himself.  The timing could not have been more perfect.  Joshua entered Leadership in the Season when Israel needed Military Leadership, not Diplomatic Leadership.

8. Joshua’s Lesson

The Practical Lesson of the Book of Joshua is that God keeps His Promises and enables His Servant to be Successful if His Servant trust Him and obey His Word. Also, the lesson is that God has a rich Inheritance for His Children now, and they can claim it by faith. This lesson is amplified in the Book of Joshua, especially chapters 3 and 4. We have seen that, when it comes to the things of the LORD, there are several kinds of People in this world:

  • Many People are still in World and need to walk in faith of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Others have trusted Christ and been delivered from bondage but are wandering in the wilderness of unbelief because they would not enter their Inheritance by Faith.
  • Still others have “sampled” the Inheritance but prefer to live on the borders of the blessing (the two-half tribes of Israel, on the East bank of Jordan – Reuben, Gad, and half-tribe of Manasseh).
  • Finally, there are those who follow their Joshua (Jesus = “Jehovah is Salvation”) and enter the Promised Land and claim their Inheritance.

Remember, Crossing the Jordan River and Entering the Land is the picture of dying to self and the old life and entering our spiritual inheritance here and now, enjoying the fullness of God’s blessing as we serve the LORD and Glorify Him. It is what Hebrews 4 and 5 call “entering into His (God’s) Rest.” The greatest need in the Church today is for God’s People to see how much they are missing by wandering in unbelief, or by living on the borderline of the blessing, and then to claim God’s Promises and enter our spiritual Inheritance. We are a deprived People because we have failed to claim our spiritual riches; and we are a defeated people because we have failed to trust our Joshua (Jesus) to lead us on to victory. Too many of us are like Achan, stealing from God, when we ought to be like Caleb, claiming the mountains and overcoming the giants.

9. Joshua’s God

The LORD, not Joshua is the key Person in the Book of Joshua. As we read the Book of Joshua, we discover many wonderful truths about God. To begin with, He is the God of His People, Israel, the God of the Covenant that He made with Israel through Abraham and confirmed in Isaac and Jacob and Israel (Psalm 105:8-15; 1Chronicles 16:15-22) and executed by Moses. Though Moses is dead, the Living God is still at work in and through His Chosen People, Israel. When Joshua commanded the People, he often call God “the LORD your God.” Israel belongs to Him.

  • But God is also “the LORD of all the earth” (Joshua 3:11). While He has a special relationship with Israel, He established that relationship to bring His blessing to all the Nations (Genesis 12:1-3). The Nations in Canaan Land heard about what God had done for Israel, and they were afraid (Joshua 2:10-11); for none of their gods had ever done such mighty deeds.
  • The LORD is the God who keeps His Promises. He has promised the fathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) of the Jewish Nation that He would give them their Land, and He kept His Promise (Psalm 105:8-15; 1Chronicles 16:15-22).
  • The LORD has promised Moses that Israel would drive out the Nations in Canaan Land and defeat them, and He kept that Promise too. At the close of his life, Joshua was able to say to his People that not one thing had failed of all the good things that the LORD their God spoke concerning them – Joshua 23:14 (NKJV) “Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth. And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing which the LORD your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed.”
  • The LORD is the Holy God, who will not tolerate sin. When Achan disobeyed, the ban that God has put on Jericho, God withdrew His Protection. The Army of Israel was defeated at Ai, and they could not expect victory until Joshua dealt with the sin in the Camp. But He is also the Forgiving God who cleanses us when we confess our sins (1John 1:9), and then gives us another opportunity for victory.
  • The LORD is a God who requires on the part of His People – before Israel could enter the Land, they had to submit to the requirements that God had laid down; for they were His Covenant People. The LORD told Joshua that the Secret of his Success would be Faith and Obedience to God’s Word. God had the Plan for the Conquest of the Land; all Joshua had to do was obey that Plan.
  • The LORD is the God who never fails! We may fail Him, but He will never fail us. “When God ordains our Service,” wrote J.Oswald Sanders, “He is morally obligated to see us through” (Robust in Faith, p.72).

Summary: Joshua: Picture of the Faithful Leader

Joshua provides the good example of the Leader whose Faithfulness prompted God to raise him up. Over the three divisions of his life (40years in Egypt; 40 years in the Wilderness; 30 years in Canaan), God gradually moved this trustworthy man into Leadership. The Signs of Joshua’s Faithfulness:

  1. Obedience – Exodus 17:18-16; Numbers 32:10-12.
  2. Servanthood – Exodus 23:13; Joshua 11:15.
  3. Loyalty – Exodus 33:11; Numbers 11:24-30.
  4. Courage – Numbers 13:8, 16, 25-30; 14:5-10.
  5. Promotion – Numbers 27:15-23; Deuteronomy 34:9
  6. Responsibility – Deuteronomy 31:7,8.
  7. Power – Deuteronomy 34:9.
  8. Credibility – Deuteronomy34:9.

Joshua’s Faithfulness challenges us even today to lead as he did – Joshua spied out the same Land at the same time as the other ten Spies, but he and Caleb returned with a different report (Numbers chapters 13 & 14).  Joshua lived ahead of his time (Numbers 13 & 14). Joshua faced several challenges: He followed Moses in the Wilderness Journey; he has to cross the Jordan River at the time of the flood (Joshua 3:15) – Joshua had to conquer mighty Jericho. When Israel began to make progress in taking the Promised Land, some disobeyed God and brought defeat on the Nation, Joshua overcame it all – the defeat at Ai (Joshua 7) and the compromise with the Gibeonites (Joshua 9). Joshua’s dream, his determination, and his ability to develop his Leadership skills enabled him to soar beyond his own Personal Gifts (Joshua 23 & 24).

Joshua’ Life & Exploits (Part 11)

Concerned about the Future

3. Israel’s Present Responsibilities (Joshua 24:14 – 28)

One of the key words in this section is serve, used fifteen times. To serve God means to fear Him, obey Him, and worship Him only. It means to love Him and fix our heart upon Him, obeying Him because we want to and not because we have to:

  • Israel has to make their decision (Joshua 24:14-18) whether they would Worship and Serve the LORD.
  • Personal devotion was required (Joshua 24:19-28).

4. The Good Land

Three times in this brief address Joshua called the Promised Land (Canaan) “this Good Land” (Joshua 23:13,15-16):

  • When God called Moses at the Burning Bush, He promised to take Israel into “the Good Land” (Exodus 3:8).
  • Joshua and Caleb described the Promised Land (Canaan) as “the Good Land” after forty days of investigation (Numbers 14:7).
  • In his farewell message Moses used the phrase “the Good Land” at least ten times (Deuteronomy 1:25,35; 3:25; 4:21-22; 6:18; 8:7,10; 9:6; 11:17). The argument is obvious: Since God has given them such “the Good Land,” the least they could do is live to please Him.

Meditating on the Goodness (God’s Glory – Exodus 33:18-19) of the LORD is a strong motivation for obedience. James connects the Goodness of God with our resisting of temptation (James 1:13-17), and Nathan took the same approach when he confronted King David with his sins (2Samuel 12:1-15). It was not his own badness but his father’s goodness that brought the prodigal son to repentance and then back home (Luke 15:17). “The goodness of God leads us to repentance” (Romans 2:4, NKJV). The danger is that the material blessings from the LORD can so possess our hearts that we focus on the Gifts and forget the Giver, and this leads to sin (Deuteronomy 8).

5. Summary

Joshua’s three Admonitions in this Address need to be heeded by God’s People today:

  • Keep God’s Word (Joshua 23:6).
  • Cleave to the LORD (Joshua 23:8).
  • Love the LORD (Joshua 23:11).

Too many Christians have not only compromised with the world but also have capitulated to the world, and the Lord Jesus is not first in their lives. People who think only what they can get today are only Opportunists and are not Leaders with the “shepherd-heart,” they are “hirelings” (John 10:12-13). The Leader plants the “right-seeds” that will bear fruit in years to come for the benefit of others, and Joshua does that.

6. The Days of Judges (Judges 2:1-23)

Moses had Named Joshua as his Successor, but it is significant that God did not tell Joshua to appoint a Successor. The Elders who have served with Joshua guided the Nation after his (Joshua’s) death (Joshua 24:31), but then the People went astray and began to disobey the LORD and worship the gods of the Canaanites (Judges 2:6-15) – why did the next Generation failed to know the LORD and what He had done for Israel? Because the people of Joshua’s generation failed to keep their promises and teach their children and grandchildren to fear and serve the LORD;” God kept His Promise and chastened His People, first by bringing other Nations into the Land (Judges 2:14-19), and then by taking the Children of Israel out of their Land, the Northern Kingdom to Assyria and the Southern Kingdom to Babylon. God promised that He will re-gather His People Israel and establish them in their Land (Isaiah 11-12; 51-52; Ezekiel 36:24). Then “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).

To be continued….. Stay Tuned…..