The Prayer of Jabez

24 03 2012

DAY TWO HUNDRED AND NINE : 1 Chronicles 4 v. 9 – 5 v. 26; Romans 11 v. 11 – 32; Psalm 89 v. 19 – 29

1 CHRONICLES
Jabez – Jabez (name given because his mother ‘gave birth to him in pain’), is noted as being more honourable that any of his brothers, and he has a prayer he frequently prays to God:
‘Oh, that You would bless me
and enlarge my territory!
Let Your hand be with me,
and keep me from harm
so that I may not cause pain
.’
And this is a prayer God was pleased to answer.
All we know of Jabez – although he was born in great pain (and was even given a name which reflected that ‘agony’ – just so he never forgot it), he became the most honourable of all his brothers. His regular prayer was answered – for God’s blessing, for an enlarged territory (wider influence, tent expanded to include more in God’s kingdom, horizons widened), walking hand-in-hand with God, saved from harm, causing no-one else to suffer. It’s an inspired prayer.

The Judah family line continues, through Keluh, Kenaz, Othniel, Ophrah, Seraiah, Joab – who was ‘the father of Ge Harashim, so called because its people were craftsmen’ – through Caleb, Elah, Jehallel, Ezrah (and there’s a link into the Pharaoh’s family here, as Ezrah’s son, Mered, marries Pharaoh’s daughter, Bithiah), through Hodiah, Shimon, Shelah (including the clan of ‘linen-workers’, the rulers of Moab and Jashubi Lehem, and ‘potters who lived at Netaim and Gederah, working for the king’)

Simeon – Simeon’s family line is followed through, Nemuel, Shallum, Mishma, Shimei (who had sixteen sons and six daughters, but whose siblings had few children so the clan did not grow as big as others in Judah). They lived in Beersheba and many other towns until the reign of David. They had five villages surrounding, too. A record was kept of their ‘settlements’ and their ‘genealogy’.
The clan leaders are listed, whose families ‘increased greatly’, and they extended out to Gedor (east of the valley ‘in search of pasture for their flocks’), where they found rich, good pasture, ‘and the land was spacious, peaceful and quiet.’
The leaders attacked the Hamites who lived there, during Hezekiah’s rule as king of Judah. Five hundred Simeonites went on to attack hill country of Seir, killing the Amalekites who lived there.

Reuben – Reuben was Israel’s firstborn, but he ‘defiled his father’s marriage bed’ and his rights were passed to Joseph – so he isn’t listed first in the genealogies. Reuben’s sons are listed, through Hanoch, Joel, Beerah (who the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser took into exile); their relatives and clans are also listed, including Zechariah, Bela etc., who settled to the east, ‘up to the edge of the desert that extends to the Euphrates River’, giving space for their livestock.
Whilst Saul was king, they fought against the Hagrites, and defeated them, taking the land to the east of Gilead.

Gad – Next to the Reubenites were the Gadites (in the region of Bashan), who are listed including Joel, Shapham, Michael, Sheba, Abihail, Ahi (head of the family). They lived in Gilead, Bashan and the outlying villages, their livestock enjoying the fields of Sharon. The genealogical records were made when Jotham was king of Judah and Jeroboam king of Israel.
Between them (Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, to the east) there were 44, 760 military men ready for battle; skilled with shield, sword and bow. They needed their skills, being called to fight the Hagrites, Jetur, Naphish and Nodab. God helped them achieve victories, ‘because they cried out to Him during the battle. He answered their prayers, because they trusted in Him.’
Beating the Hagrites meant they acquired 50,000 camels, 250,000 sheep and 2,000 donkeys, along with 100,000 people.

The Half-Tribe of Manasseh –  this half-tribe were numerous, settling in Bashan up to Mount Hermon. The family leaders are listed, including Epher, Eliel, Jeremiah – ‘brave warriors, famous men’, but they were unfaithful to God, and ‘prostituted themselves to the gods of the peoples of the land’. So the Assyrian king, Tilgath-Pileser) was stirred to battle, taking the Reubenites, Gadites and half-tribe of Manasseh into exile (to Halah, Habor, Hara and the Gozan river).

ROMANS
Ingrafted Branches – Paul picks up the wonderful imagery of the root and the branches, similar to Jesus’s talk with His disciples in the upper room, where He reminds them that He is the vine, and they are the branches. Their primary task is to ‘remain / abide in me, and I in you’.
Here, the Gentiles are likened to wild olive branches which are grafted onto the ‘cultivated olive tree’, where Israel has been pruned and cut back to make space for the Gentiles to be grafted on.
Israel’s transgression has enabled salvation to come to the Gentiles –
‘but if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fulness bring!’
Paul hopes that the success of his mission to the Gentiles will ‘arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.’
‘for if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?’
If the first fruits of the dough is holy, the whole batch will be infused with holiness.
If the roots are holy, the branches will also be holy.
The Gentiles are not to boast that Israel’s branches have been cut off, and theirs (the Gentiles’) have been grafted on; they are not to be arrogant, but to be afraid (‘if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either.’)
They are to remember,
‘You do not support the root – the root supports you.’
God’s character is described as STERN ‘to those who fell’, but KIND ‘to you, provided that you continue in his kindness’.
The pruned branches can be grafted in again, ‘if they do not persist in unbelief’; they will readily accept being grafted back in, as they are the natural branches for the olive tree.

All Israel Will Be Saved – Paul is determined that the ‘brothers’ are not ignorant of what God has revealed – ‘Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.’ He quotes from Psalm 14 v. 7 and Isaiah 59 v. 20 – 21, as a reminder that the ‘deliverer will come from Zion’ and that Israel will be saved.
Addressing Gentiles, Paul describes Israel as ‘your enemies’ as regards the gospel, but ‘loved, as the patriarchs‘ as regards their ‘election’.
‘for God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable’.

Once disobedient, now the Gentiles have now received mercy ‘as a result of their (Israel’s) disobedience’.
in order that the Israelites, now disobedient, might ‘receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you (Gentiles)’.

‘God has bound all men over to disobedience  so that He may have mercy on them all’ – it is humanity’s fallenness (the result of freewill) which gives God room to extend His mercy, and transform lives.

PSALM
‘My Lord, my God, You spoke in a vision

Your faithful heard You say,
‘Look at the might of the warrior – I did that.
See how a young man has been lifted high amongst You – that was Me.
My servant, David, I have chosen, anointed (with holy oil), sustained and strengthened.
No enemy can defeat him, no wickedness tie him down, for I am on his side.
Foes will be crushed, enemies struck down.

MY FAITHFUL LOVE WILL BE WITH HIM

and he will be lifted high, conquering sea and rivers.
David will honour Me,

‘YOU ARE MY FATHER, MY GOD, MY SAVIOUR, THE ROCK’.

He will be my firstborn, heir, and head of the household,
most highly exalted king amongst earth’s kings.

I WILL MAINTAIN MY LOVE TO HIM FOR EVER
AND MY COVENANT WITH HIM WILL NEVER FAIL.

His family line will be firmly established
and his kingdom will last as long as the heavens.

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Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved

19 03 2012

DAY TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHT : 1 Chronicles 2 v. 18 – 4 v. 8; Romans 10 v. 5 – 11 v. 10; Proverbs 18 v. 7 – 16

1 CHRONICLES
Caleb Son of Hezron – Caleb’s sons with wife Azubah, with Jerioth,. and with Ephrath, are listed. Also, Hezron bears a son, Segub, through his liaison with the daughter of Makir. Segub became the father of Jair who was in charge of 23 towns in Gilead.
After Hezron’s death, his wife Abijah bore him a son, Ashhur, who became the father of Tekoa.

Jerahmeel Son of Hezron – Jerahmeel is Hezron’s firstborn, and his sons are listed : Ram, Bunah, Oren, Ozem, Ahijah. With his other wife, Atarah, he had a son, Onam. Ram’s sons are listed. Onam’s sons are listed (the son born with his ‘other wife’), Shammai and Jada – and their descendants are traced.
(David encountered the Jerahmeelites during his military raids in southern Judah).

The Clans of Caleb – Caleb’s sons are listed (Caleb is Jerahmeel’s brother), Mesha and Mareshah (father of Hebron). Hebron’s sons are listed, Korah, Tappuah, Rekem and Shema. The lines through Shema and Rekem are listed. Caleb also had sons with his concubine, Ephah – Haran, Moza and Gazez. Caleb had other sons with another concubine, Maacah – Sheber, Tirhanah, Shaaph (father of Madmannah) and Sheva (father of Macbenah and Gibea).
Caleb also has a named daughter (unusual in a long string of male names), Acsah.
The line is traced through Ephrathah, through Hur. His sons are Shobal, Salma and Hareph.
Shobal’s descendants are the Manahathites, Ithrites, Puthites, Shumathites and Mishraites…
Salma’s descendants are Bethlehem, the Netophathites, Tirathites, Shimeathites, Sucathites, Zorites and the clans of scribes living at Jabez.

The Sons of David –
David’s sons are divided into those born in Hebron (v. 1 – 4) and those born in Jerusalem (v. 5 – 9).
David’s sons in Hebron are Ammon, Daniel, Absalom, Adonijah, Shephatiah, Ithream (born of six different mothers), while David rules for seven years and six months there.
David’s sons in Jerusalem are Shammua, Shobab, Nathan and Solomon (all four born to Bathsheeba), Ibhar, Elishua, Eliphelet, Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Eliada and Eliphelet (what, two Eliphelets? Now that’s confusing) – nine sons.
And their sister Tamar is named.
David rules in Jerusalem for thirty three years.

The Kings of Judah – the kings of Judah from Solomon to the fall of Jerusalem are listed, through Rehoboam, Abijah, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Josaih, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah.

The Royal Line After the Exile – the descendants of Jehoiachin the captive are listed, through Shealtiel, Pedaiah, Zerubbabel, Hananiah and Elioenai – important leaders during Judah’s post-exilic period.

Other Clans of Judah – Judah’s family line is listed first amongst the tribes, as ‘Judah was to be the instrument of the promised blessing (Gen 49 v. 6 – 12)’, through Perez, Reaiah (the Zorathites), Etam, Jezreel (with one sister listed as Hazzelelponi), descendants of Hur (‘firstborn of Ephrathah and the father of Bethlehem’), Ashhur (with his two wives, Helah and Naarah), Koz (father of the clans of Aharhel son of Harum).
ROMANS
Israel’s Unbelief (cont.) – Paul seeks to argue from Moses himself that ‘the righteousness that is by the law’ produces merely people ‘who live by them’ (or at least try to), whereas the ‘righteousness that is by faith’ produces people who embody the word, ‘it is in your mouth and in your heart’.
‘That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’
‘Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.’
And again, Paul contends that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile  – ‘the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him.’
‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
The evangelical challenge is to tell the world, ‘how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?’ But God has called some specifically to this task, and all of us, generally.
‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’
Not all in Israel have accepted the good news, Paul insists. It is one thing to listen, it is another thing to really hear :
‘Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
And Paul quotes various passages from Isaiah to argue the point that Israel has had every opportunity to hear and believe the word, but some have become a ‘disobedient and obstinate people’, whilst God has ‘revealed Himself to those who did not ask for me (seek me)’.

The Remnant of Israel – Paul underlines the belief that God has never ‘rejected’ his people. He reminds his readers that he, himself, is an Israelite – descended from Abraham, a Benjaminite. Reminding them, too, of the story of Elijah, when he felt totally alone, and God informed him of a remnant He was saving for Himself, ‘I have reserved for myself 7,000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal’.
‘So too, at the present time, there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace’.

How easy it can be for those of us ‘saved by grace’ to adopt or learn default habits which suggest our works deserve God’s favour, His saving us. It’s a battle inside to remain ‘free to serve’, rather than to ‘serve to gain our freedom’.

So, some who sought eagerly for righteousness, have never found it.
Indeed, some were even hardened against it – ‘God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear’.
King David, himself, asked of such – ‘May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see…’

PROVERBS
‘A fool’s mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul.
The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.

Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honour.

He who answers  before listening – that is his folly and his shame.

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.’