Category Archives: Bible Characters
Today we were eating a black cake, which was delicious. As we were making slices, one of the believers was there, so we gave her a slice too. She really enjoyed it and quite innocently, she asked us: “Is this cake made of Ragi flour?”
We ended up laughing so hard, she was quite embarrassed. Then I explained to her, that when she does not know what something is, she should just ask what it is, instead of trying to associate with something she knows. I don’t know if she understood what I meant.
But it made me thinking. She is quite uneducated and all she knew was the pulses that are typical Indian. So, when she ate something that looked black, she assumed it to be made of Ragi flour. While it was funny, I also realized something.
I am reading the Book of Job now and as I am reading, I saw many verses there, which have arguments defending God Almighty. And, I had used the same kind of arguments in the past to defend God, and in one case, I had used literally the same words. But the sad thing is all those verses were used by the friends of Job, who ended up accusing him of being wicked and then being reprimanded by our Lord.
By the grace of God, I don’t use such arguments anymore. But I realized that I too had a Ragi-flour-cake mentality. I did not know how great our Lord is; I had not understood how vast His love is for us; and, I had no inkling of what grace really meant. Whatever I knew little, whatever I had known from my little experiences, I had tried to defend the Lord. And now, I am ashamed how shallow I had been.
Lord, forgive me for all those instances where I tried to defend You with my “ragi-flour-mentality.” Instead of letting Your Son and His great sacrifice at Calvary take the centre stage, I let my little understanding and knowledge to explain Your ways. I deeply regret those who were hurt by me. May Jesus, Him crucified, be all in all in my conversations. May Your grace and mercy guide me in all my conversations. May Your Name alone be magnified. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
If we look at the history between the kings of Syria and Israel, we see only enmity between them. And most of the times, it was the Syrian kings who emerged victors, inflicting severe damage to the Israelite kingdom. But, because our God wanted to show that He alone is God, He gave a decisive victory to Ahab, the Israelite king, who summarily defeated Ben-Hadad, the Syrian king. Now, there was no love lost between these two kings who were sworn enemies. Yet, Ahab not only let Ben-Hadad live, he had his defeated foe share the victor’s chariot along with hum.
Ever since Adam sinned, the sinful nature of our flesh has been warring against the Spirit of God. If that is the case of someone like Apostle Paul (Romans chapter 7), then imagine how much our fleshly nature would rebel against the Sovereign Lord. Yet, our Lord not only saves us through His Son and our Brother Jesus Christ; He also makes us sit in the heavenly realms with Jesus Christ.
We should never forget that this is the grace of our Lord and it is His grace alone. There is no place for our works here. No matter how much works we do with our fallen nature, by default, it is not worthy to be placed with Jesus Christ, in the heavenly realms. It is the exceeding riches of His grace that allows us to share in the glory of His Son Jesus Christ.
(God)… raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. – Ephesians 2:6-9 (NKJV)
Yes, our Lord God is gracious. When we look into our fallen nature and how much His grace has elevated us, we will be really awestruck about how gracious He is. So, let us make sure we hold to this grace by our faith, and never boast about us. It is not about us; never about us. It is the grace of our Lord. And all the honour and glory belongs to Him. Praise be our Lord! Amen.
Enoch walked with God. – Genesis 5:24
This is an astounding statement: ‘Enoch’, a sinful man like you and me, ‘walked with God’! And ‘he had this testimony, that he pleased God’. In his daily life Enoch walked in company with the living God, living in God’s presence as his constant Friend, in whom he confided and by whom he was loved. What kind of man was Enoch? What kind of life did he live? The answer is clear: Enoch was a man of faith, and he lived a life of faith. He was not a sinless man. He did not live a higher life, a deeper life or a holier life than anyone else who lives by faith. It was not Enoch’s conduct, his personality, or his disposition that pleased God, but his faith in Christ (Hebrews 11:5-6).
There was nothing at all remarkable about the character or works of this man Enoch by nature, which caused God to look upon him with pleasure. Enoch did not win God’s favor by something he did. God was pleased with Enoch, because Enoch believed God. He believed that which God has spoken. Enoch’s faith was the same as Abel’s before him and Noah’s after him. The faith by which Enoch walked with God and pleased God was the same faith that the dying thief possessed. And it is the faith of God’s elect today.
My friend, walking with God is neither more nor less than believing God. The only way anyone can walk with God and please God is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. No man pleases God, but his Son. No man walks with God, but his Son. And the only way any fallen child of Adam can please God and walk with God is by faith in his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our sanctification, like our justification, is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We grow in grace as we grow in faith. Having begun in the Spirit, we are not now made perfect by the flesh. We do not begin and go a certain distance by faith in Christ, and then finish our course by the works of the law. To walk with God is to continue as we began — by faith in Christ. ‘As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith.’
– From “Grace for Today” by Donald Fortner
In the previous blog, we saw that though we live in this world, we are seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realms; and that Ahab had Ben-Hadad come up into his chariot. Now let us consider these two things.
The first thing is that this was a decisive loss to Ben-Hadad. He had been losing battles after battles to Ahab, and in this battle alone, he lost 127,000 soldiers. It was a devastating loss. As a result of that, he had asked his arch-enemy Ahab for mercy. Mercy, he did receive and his life was reprieved; grace was added and he was called as the brother of his victor and shared his royal chariot.
Our flesh did fight with the Lord; our sinful nature waged a losing battle against the Most Holy God. The indwelling sin in us went to war with the Lord of the Hosts. And, we lost in a decisive manner. In humility, when we sought His mercy. We received His mercy and our sins are forgiven and our life is spared; but we also received grace after grace – abounding grace. Our Victor, our Lord Jesus Christ became our Redeemer and He is not ashamed to call Himself as our Brother; and we are seated in the heavenly realms with Him.
But how do you think Ben-Hadad would have behaved once he was in the chariot? Like a loser who lost everything? Like a mendicant who just begging for his life? Or like a king? Though he was a loser, and had to beg for his life, IMHO, when he was in the chariot, he would have behaved like a king. Not because he was a king, but because he was in the royal chariot, with the king. And that king just called him as his brother.
Yes, dear friend, we are with the King, the King of kings, Jesus Christ. We are seated with Him in the heavenly realms. Let us show our faith by our deeds. Let us behave in such a way that is worthy of being the siblings of the King of kings.
It does not matter where in the society we are. For all that matters, the society we live in may consider as trash. Our family may consider us as worthless; even in our eyes, we may be losers. Probably we are all that. But look up and see your Brother. Our families may be ashamed of us; they may not want to do anything with us. But there is Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, and He is not ashamed to be called as our Brother. Yes, He is calling you as His brother and His sister. HE is not ashamed of you. The LORD knows our failures; He knows our shortcomings. But in His grace, He has lifted us up, lifted up us higher than we deserve, higher than we can understand.
HE raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the ash heap, that He may seat him with with princes, with the princes of their people. (Psalm 113:7-8)
When Ben-Hadad rode that chariot with Ahab, he behaved in the manner that is worthy of a king; not because he was worthy of it, but because he was riding with the king in his royal chariot. Let us also behave in such a manner worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1). Let us leave everything of our old self behind us, let us behave in a manner worthy of being seated in the heavenly realms with our Lord and the King of kings, Jesus Christ.
The second thing is, though Ben-Hadad rode like a king in that chariot, he would have been mindful of the fact that all the adoration and honour that was being showered, rightfully belonged to Ahab. He knew that only Ahab deserved all the praise as a king. No matter how much adulation was shown to him on that day, he would have directed all that towards the king who spared his life and raised him up.
Let us never forget that, dear friend. No matter how high we are raised by our Lord Jesus Christ in this life, let us always make sure that He alone, He alone receives all the honour, glory and praise. For HE alone is worthy. Let us humble ourselves more and more, and let us glorify Him. Let us always point everyone to our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb that was slain, to His death and to His resurrection. Let pride be vanquished from our life and may the Lord alone reign in us. And may His Name alone be magnified. Amen.
The men took this as a good sign and were quick to pick up his word. “Yes, your brother Ben-Hadad!” they said. “Go and get him,” the king said. When Ben-Hadad came out, Ahab had him come up into his chariot. – 1 Kings 20:33
As we saw earlier, Ahab and Ben-Hadad were the worst of enemies. Yet, when the time came to take vengeance on Ben-Hadad, Ahab, an evil king by any standard, was merciful towards his arch-rival, calling him as his brother. But surprisingly, Ahab was very gracious towards Ben-Hadad. Not only he spared his enemy’s life and called him as his brother, he showed his sincerity by making Ben-Hadad come up into his chariot. This is grace, because of all the people in Ahab’s life, it was Ben-Hadad who did not deserve such a treatment.
Contrast this with our status. God could have just forgiven our sins; that would tell His great mercies. Jesus Christ calling us as His brothers and sisters, shows us the love He has for us and proclaims the great sufferings He took on our behalf. But, God did not stop there. For our Lord God is also gracious. So, He went ahead and made us sit with Jesus Christ in heavenly realms.
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. – Ephesians 2:6.
Now this is my problem. I believe the Bible. Therefore I believe that we are seated with Him in the heavenly realms. But do I understand the magnitude of this verse? The only thing I understand is that this verse talks about a glory that I cannot possibly even begin to understand. It is something beyond my comprehension. I know who I am. Like Ben-Hadad, I was an enemy of God. Everything in my nature was to rebel against God. And when I was finally made to realize my folly, not only the Lord forgave me my sins, not only Jesus Christ called me as His brother… now I am seated with Him in the heavenly realms. Oh, the wonderful grace of our Father!
However, we also have to remember that both Ahab and Ben-Hadad were kings. If we compare them, then we will realize that Ahab was the first generation king. That is, Omri, father of Ahab, was the first king in their family and Ahab was the second. But for Ben-Hadad, they had been kings for generations. And most of the time, the Syrian kings were victorious over Israel. So, when Ahab condescended to call Ben-Hadad as his brother and had him come up into his chariot, it was not a huge leap.
But I am not of royal blood. None of my parents infused any royal lineage into my blood. If at all they gave me something, they gave me a DNA filled with sin. Yet, here I am. God made His sinless Son to become sin for us, and we are called the brothers and sisters of Jesus; and seated with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. How great is His love for us!
So they wore sackcloth around their waists and put ropes around their heads, and came to the king of Israel and said, “Your servant Ben-Hadad says, ‘Please let me live.’ ” And he said, “Is he still alive? He is my brother.” – 1 Kings 20:32
When the servants of Ben-Hadad sought the mercy of Ahab, there were few obvious choices before the cruel king of Israel. He could have, of course, opted to murder his arch-rival. Or Ahab could have just forgiven Ben-Hadad and sent him his way. But, the king of Israel says, that “Ben-Hadad is my brother.”
Dear friend, when we seek the mercies of our Lord Jesus Christ, there are many ways in which He could deal with us. For our sins, we could lose our life on earth; or even the eternal life itself. Or we could be forgiven and sent our ways. But Jesus Christ chose to became our Brother. For us, it is a great honor. But to the Son of God, the Most Holy One, it is not a honor; it is something to be ashamed of. But the Bible tells that He was not ashamed to call us His brothers and sisters. (Hebrews 2:11)
Once I asked some fellow believers about how they see their relationship with Jesus. For many, Jesus is the Lord; for some, He is the Master. For few, He is the Husband. For others, He is their Friend. But not one of them said, Jesus is their Brother. The Bible says that He had to be made like His brothers in every way – like you and I in every way. Isn’t this amazing?
For this reason He had to be made like His brothers in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:17)
Jesus became, in every single way, like us. HE had the same nature as we have; He faced the same trials as we face today; He suffered temptations like we do. And why is this important? The Bible answers that in the very next verse.
Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:18)
Dear friend, Jesus knows your pain. Jesus understands your suffering. HE sympathizes with the amount of temptation you are facing. And He is able to. HE is able to help you. Not only to help you power through your pain and suffering, but Jesus is also able to help you from sinning. Because He won a decisive victory over the temptation, the tempter and the sin that so easily entangles us, HE is able to help you. Come to Him. Come to Jesus. Come to your Brother Who is ready to help you.
Now the men were watching closely to see whether any sign of mercy would come from him; and they quickly grasped at this word and said, “Your brother Ben-Hadad.” So he said, “Go, bring him.” Then Ben-Hadad came out to him; and he had him come up into the chariot. – 1 Kings 20:33 (NKJV)
Ahab was one of the most evil persons mentioned in the Bible. IMHO, only his wife Jezebel was worse than him. Yet, here Ahab did something out of character, it is astonishing.
Ben-Hadad, the king of Syria, had been a sworn enemy of Israel for generations. Ben-Hadad being the title of the king of Syria, there were many kings who were fighting constantly with Israel. To avoid their constant invasion, Ahab’s father, Omri, even shifted the capital to Samaria. And when such an enemy was defeated, Ahab showed kindness to him. Called Ben-Hadad as his brother and had him come up into the chariot, a honour indeed.
And we are worshipping the Holy One of Israel. Our Lord Jesus Christ has no traces of evil in Him. HE is all compassionate, merciful and gracious. Then imagine how He would treat those who run to Him for surrender.
Dear friend, the world you believed in may have betrayed you. You may feel defeated and on this day, wondering what you could do. Then, run to Jesus. The King of kings. HE will call you as His brother, His sister. And He will proclaim your name before our Father and His Father. And He will restore your soul. Come to Him. To the true King of Israel.
Joseph’s gone, Simeon’s gone, and now you want to take Benjamin. – Genesis 42:36 (MSG)
In his depression, Jacob sees that everything was working against him and he blames his sons for his misfortunes. Then he lists two things that had happened already and one more thing that was going to happen as evidence to his misfortunes.
But what Jacob did not realize that El Shaddai, God Almighty, according to His plan, made Joseph the ruler of Egypt, so that Jacob could spend his old days in the prosperity of Goshen, in the embrace of his beloved son Joseph.
Just like Jacob, in our depression, we may list all the things that we have lost. But, dear friend, if God is on our side, trust that all things work for the good of those who love Him. Believe in Immanuel, Who saves the best for the last.
1. Joseph is gone.
Joseph, the beloved son, had to go, if Jacob had to see the great works of our YHWH. Though Joseph looks so perfect, there were some minor imperfections in him that had to go out of his system, if the LORD had to fulfil His purpose for Joseph. So, he had to be separated from his doting father and had to be purified by the Word of God till His Word was fulfilled.
Dear friend, probably you have lost something that is so dear to you. It could be a relative, a friend, a loved one; or a job or a possession that was so dear to you. But, believe that our loving Father is in the process of creating something far beyond our imagination. Don’t worry about your “Joseph”, for the Only Wise God is fulfilling His purpose in ways we cannot even fathom.
2. Simeon is gone.
Yes, dear friend, our anger must go if we need to see the great blessings that the Lord has already prepared for us. Thoughts of bitterness and vengeance do not have any place in the Goshen that the Most High God has prepared for you. Our “Simeon” must be put in prison. We should never rely on him to get us out of tight spots. So, if you have to endure circumstances where you are very angry, but you are unable to pour out your wrath, then praise the LORD. Because Simeon must be in prison if you prosper in your life.
3. Benjamin must also go.
Benjamin, the son of right hand, had to go. The son on whom the aged patriarch was reliant upon. The backup for Joseph must go before Jacob could see the original beloved son, Joseph, attired in royal garments.
We all have our “Benjamins.” It could be that jewel you have, hoping to sell it when an unexpected expenditure comes. It could be a friend of yours who you trust with your life. It could be a savings you have, hoping that it will help you in your old age. It could be a son or a daughter who you are sure will take care of you. There is nothing wrong in any of them, but when the Holy God takes your Benjamin away, thank Him, for your blessing is nearer than you think.
May the LORD Who prepared the Goshen area for his aging patriarch, will also prepare a place of rest and comfort for you, who have suffered so much in your life. Amen in Christ.
When we are in depression, it feels so right to blame others; almost like a catharsis. Despite how it makes us feel better, it is never right. We will never be able to see things clearly when we are in depression. And we will end up hurting people who truly love us.
In the last blog, I mentioned how, in his depression, Jacob saw that everything was against him but that was not true. In the same verse, he also accuses of his sons, by declaring, “You have bereaved me.” (Genesis 42:36). In his depression, he thought Joseph was dead and even Simeon might have died in the prison. And, he blamed his sons for these losses.
Though his sons had played a part in the disappearance of Joseph, Jacob had no idea of that. For all he knew, Joseph was devoured by a wild animal. But if we look the Scriptures closely, we will see that the affliction suffered by Jacob due to the loss of his beloved son was his own making.
1. It was Jacob who sent Joseph to his brothers, when he knew pretty well that they were jealous of his beloved son and even hated him. (Genesis 37:4-13) Yet, he sent Joseph among them. Jacob would surely know about how the righteous Abel was murdered by his jealous brother, when they were alone in the field. Even Jacob himself had fled from his own brother. Yet, he sent his beloved son to meet his 10 very jealous brothers in the field.
2. Though the brothers schemed and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites, they never told their father that Joseph was murdered. Instead, they dipped the multi-coloured robe of Joseph, in blood of a goat and sent it to Jacob. As soon as he recognized the robe, it was Jacob who assumed that a wild beast had devoured his son, and was afflicted in his soul from that day one. Now, I am not a forensic expert. But Jacob was a shepherd all along his life. He would have been in the right position to realize that the blood scent was quite familiar – that of a goat. (I may be totally wrong here) But in his depression, he came to a conclusion fast; his faith on a bad news was so unshakeable.
3. Yet, he never sought the presence or the counsel of God, despite all the pain his heart was suffering. It only prolonged his pain. Probably even if he had sought the counsel of God, the Only Wise God would not have revealed His plan to Jacob, but He would have surely comforted him. Yet, Jacob did not seek Him, the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac.
Even in the case of Simeon, it was Jacob who delayed his sons from returning to Egypt to secure the release of his imprisoned son. Since there was a delay, Jacob again assumed the worst and blamed his sons for that.
Dear friends, often we don’t realize that it was our mistakes, small or great, that lead us to the afflictions that we suffer. We may not know where we went wrong, but if we analyse ourselves in the light of Scriptures, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we will see that it was our fault all along the way. But, I know it is very difficult for someone in depression to accept that they were the one to be blamed for all the troubles. However, we can make sure we don’t blame others for our misfortunes.
And let us not jump to conclusions very fast. When some things go wrong, don’t assume the worst. For one Titanic that sank, there are hundreds of ships that cross the Atlantic on a regular basis. So, when things go wrong, wait till you know something for sure.
And finally, seek your Immanuel. Jesus is with us. When you seek Him, you will find Him. In your depression, do not blame others. Do not try to find who is to blame. Just try to find Jesus. May the God of all comfort, comfort you and deliver you.
All these things are against me. – Genesis 42:36
When I was growing up, I was fascinated with the patriarch Abraham. Isaac did not intrigue one way or other; Jacob, sort of hated him. So, it bothered me that the Lord repeatedly calls us, the believers, as Jacob, or sons of Jacob. But the more I meditate on the Bible, two things are very clear.
1. I am more like Jacob, with all his faults and criminal brain. Not surely Isaac, the meditating and less talkative patriarch. Not Abraham, the great patriarch, the friend of God. But with my flaws, and sullen outbursts, I am more like Jacob.
2. And God loves me; loves me a lot more than I can understand. The love and grace He had showered on Jacob, He showers on me, too. Now, I am slowly understanding why the LORD calls me Jacob, or sons of Jacob.
Though none of the things that Jacob assumed were happening, he strongly felt that all these things were against him. Oh, how many times I had thought so, that everyone, including the LORD Himself, had turned against me, and was later ashamed to realize that I had been thinking toooooooo much of myself.
But has the LORD been against me? I have to admit that I am guilty of thinking that the Lord has forsaken me, that His right hand is up against me. May the LORD forgive me of my blasphemies.
Even before Jacob was born, our Lord God in His tender mercies, had chosen him over his brother Esau. (Romans 9:11-13). Though Jacob was not the first-born, the Lord gave him the inheritance of his father Isaac. When he ran away from his brother’s wrath, he did not seek the Lord in prayer; he just slept. It was the God of Abraham and Isaac, Who appeared to him in a dream and made a promise unto him. When Laban tried to cheat him, God gave him counsel and helped him. When Laban followed with the intent of hurting Jacob, it was again the Lord Almighty who warned Laban not to harm Jacob in anyway. How can we forget the all-night wrestling match God had with an old and withering Jacob? In everything, if anything, all these things were working for Jacob.
And I am not the best of my family. There are some well-educated, some well-behaved, some morally upright persons in my family. Yet, in His mercies the LORD has chosen me to be His child. Jesus Christ, the First-born of God our Father, gave up His inheritance for me. When I ran towards the world, I did not seek the Lord, for I was in deep sleep (figuratively), yet He made a promise to me, that He would never leave me nor forsake me; and till to this day, He has been true to His promise. When the world tried to cheat me, the Spirit of God gave me wisdom and the direction to walk in, and He became my strength to walk in those directions. When the world came up against me, the Lord became my Protector and saved me from its wrath.
Oh, how ungrateful I have been to accuse God of against me!!! Oh, Lord, forgive me for accusing of such vile things. Help me to know Your will and make me understand that You are in charge of everything that is happening around me. May Your Name alone be praised. Through Christ, Amen.