Category Archives: Bible Characters
“It came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land” (1Kings 17:7).
Week after week, with unfaltering and steadfast spirit, Elijah watched that dwindling brook; often tempted to stagger through unbelief, but refusing to allow his circumstances to come between himself and God. Unbelief sees God through circumstances, as we sometimes see the sun shorn of his rays through smoky air; but faith puts God between itself and circumstances, and looks at them through Him. And so the dwindling brook became a silver thread; and the silver thread stood presently in pools at the foot of the largest boulders; and the pools shrank. The birds fled; the wild creatures of field and forest came no more to drink; the brook was dry. Only then to his patient and unwavering spirit, “the word of the Lord came, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath.”
Most of us would have gotten anxious and worn with planning long before that. We should have ceased our songs as soon as the streamlet caroled less musically over its rocky bed; and with harps swinging on the willows, we should have paced to and fro upon the withering grass, lost in pensive thought. And probably, long ere the brook was dry, we should have devised some plan, and asking God’s blessing on it, would have started off elsewhere.
God often does extricate us, because His mercy endureth forever; but if we had only waited first to see the unfolding of His plans, we should never have found ourselves landed in such an inextricable labyrinth; and we should never have been compelled to retrace our steps with so many tears of shame. Wait, patiently wait! — F. B. Meyer
Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. – 1 Samuel 1:13 (NKJV)
Nowadays, you need to be verbose in prayer for people to realize how much you are suffering. If you remain calm, not talking much about your afflictions, then either you have no problems or you are not suffering enough.
Especially with the latest motivational self-help books asking you to “speak your heart out, tell exactly how you feel, don’t let the emotions remain in your heart”, many Christians are taking this route. Yes, when we tell others aloud about our problems, we feel as if the burden has reduced. But, it is what we feel. In truth, nothing has changed. It is sad that more Christians seek a temporary relief for their problems, when the Prince of peace is waiting to give a permanent solution.
In today’s world, if you even have a headache, you need to post in Facebook; you need to send a tweet about how bad you are feeling; and of course, a photograph on Instagram is a must so that others understand your pain. Then you need to monitor to see how many likes and comments you get, and who gave the first like, and who took time to comment… It is really sad that a generation is wasting their life, instead of spending their time in prayer.
One of the verses about prayers in the Bible is written about Hannah. It says that despite all her sorrows, only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Yet, later she tells Eli that she had poured out her heart before the Lord (v.15). Yes, we can pour our hearts before the Lord without our voices being heard.
This is what our Lord Jesus Christ taught us about prayer. If we read the Sermon of the Mount, in the segment where He deals with prayer, Jesus says to pray in secret so that our Father Who sees in secret will reward us (Matthew 6:6). May the Spirit of God help us to internalize our feelings and pour it out in secret to our loving Father, so that we may receive the rewards He has for us. Amen.
Hero worship is, unfortunately, a common problem among Christians today. We have our favourite preachers, evangelists, ministers and servants of God, authors and pastors. We may even have certain political leaders as our heroes. And we end up worshipping these heroes, knowingly or unknowingly.
There were few times when I saw some theology posted online and had the temerity to point out certain Biblical verses which directly contradict the said theology. And then the wolves would come out – how dare you question our pastor/preacher/minister of God? Do you have his anointing? No one knows who you are, but our pastor/preacher/minister has so many followers on Facebook, Twitter, etc,.
But no one would say whether what I wrote is correct or not, based on the Bible. That’s never the problem. How dare you question our ….?
Especially in Pentecostal churches, the hero worship is so easily visible to human eyes, except those who are into it. The church attendance would drop if certain pastor is not preaching; the church will be full when a certain person leads the worship.
There are some Christians who believe that God our Father do not listen to our prayers, but if such a minister of God prays, then there will be an immediate answer to those prayers. So when they need prayers, they will write to those ministers of God or call them, so that they can get an instant answer from God through the “direct line”.
Is it wrong to have someone else pray for us? Of course not. Is it wrong that some men of God are asked to intercede on our behalf. No, it is not. But to depend on them, to follow them blindly, is wrong and it will lead to spiritual idolatry and spiritual adultery.
In Exodus chapter 32, we see the idolatry of Israelites. But what we don’t read between the lines is most revealing.
That morning, they collected manna – which was provided by our Lord God.
That day, they drank water that came from the roc – again the provision was from our God.
During the entire day, when they were busy preparing the idols, they were under the shadow of the pillar of cloud – provided by God.
During that night, when they were worshipping the idols and celebrating, they were received light by the pillar of fire – provided by God.
If all these were not enough to remind them of the presence of God among them, they were at the base of Mount Sinai and the peak was covered with clouds, symbolizing the glory and presence of the LORD God.
There were thunders and lightning that would have reminded them the awesome power of our God.
Imagine this. After eating the manna and drinking the water provided by the Lord our God, they proceeded to create and worship an idol under the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire that the Lord had given them in His mercy. HIS awesome power and magnificent glory were visible whenever they looked up. Yet they went ahead and created the idols. Why? Because they were worried about their hero, Moses.
Exodus 21:1 says: Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”
Since they could not see their hero and did not know what happened to them, they decided to choose another leader… no, wait, no, they did not do that. That would have been the right thing to do. Instead, when they thought they lost Moses, they replaced him with idols. Hero worship had led them to idolatry. And there were so many things that would have reminded them of the presence of the Lord among them, the LORD God Who actually brought them out of the land of Egypt. But when people have heroes, true and living God cannot be seen – only idols can be seen.
So, who is your focus? Are you looking only Jesus, Him crucified or your preacher? Are you focussing your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, or some Christian author whose books have revived your faith? Let us focus our eyes only on Jesus and Jesus Christ alone. Amen.
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.