“And when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him” (Joshua 6:5).
The shout of steadfast faith is in direct contrast to the moans of wavering faith, and to the wails of discouraged hearts. Among the many “secrets of the Lord,” I do not know of any that is more valuable than the secret of this shout of faith. The Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.” He did not say, “I will give,” but “I have given.” It belonged to them already; and now they were called to take possession of it. But the great question was, How? It looked impossible, but the Lord declared His plan.
Now, no one can suppose for a moment that this shout caused the walls to fall. And yet the secret of their victory lay in just this shout, for it was the shout of a faith which dared, on the authority of God’s Word alone, to claim a promised victory, while as yet there were no signs of this victory being accomplished. And according to their faith God did unto them; so that, when they shouted, He made the walls to fall.
God had declared that He had given them the city, and faith reckoned this to be true. And long centuries afterwards the Holy Spirit recorded this triumph of faith in Hebrews:
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.” – Hebrews 11:30
— Hannah Whitall Smith.
“Faith can never reach its consummation,
Till the victor’s thankful song we raise:
In the glorious city of salvation,
God has told us all the gates are praise.”
The finest china in the world is burned at least three times, some of it more than three times. Dresden china is always burned three times. Why does it go through that intense fire? Once ought to be enough; twice ought to be enough. No, three times are necessary to burn that china so that the gold and the crimson are brought out more beautiful and then fastened there to stay.
We are fashioned after the same principle in human life. Our trials are burned into us once, twice, thrice; and by God’s grace these beautiful colors are there and they are there to stay forever.
– Cortland Myers
Earth’s fairest flowers grow not on sunny plain,
But where some vast upheaval rent in twain
The smiling land . . . .
After the whirlwinds devastating blast,
After the molten fire and ashen pall,
God’s still small voice breathes healing over all.
From riven rocks and fern-clad chasms deep,
Flow living waters as from hearts that weep,
There in the afterglow soft dews distill
And angels tend God’s plants when night falls still,
And the Beloved passing by that way
Will gather lilies at the break of day.
“Unto you it is given . . .to suffer” (Philippians 1:29).
God keeps a costly school. Many of its lessons are spelled out through tears. Richard Baxter said, “O God, I thank Thee for a bodily discipline of eight and fifty years”; and he is not the only man who has turned a trouble into triumph.
This school of our Heavenly Father will soon close for us; the term time is shortening every day. Let us not shrink from a hard lesson or wince under any rod of chastisement. The richer will be the crown, and the sweeter will be Heaven, if we endure cheerfully to the end and graduate in glory.
–Theodore L. Cuyler
As I wrote in one of the previous blogs, the Hebrew word for blessing, ‘barak’ is translated as ‘curse’ in the Scriptures four times only. All those four instances occur in the first two chapters in the Book of Job. Yesterday, we saw that the first instance mentioned in Job 1:5 is mistranslated because of our limited understanding of sin. Today, God willing, we will see the next two verses where the word ‘barak’ is translated as ‘curse’.
Those are Job 1:11 and Job 2:5.
“But stretch out Your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face.” (Job 1:11, NIV)
“But stretch out Your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse You to Your face.” (Job 2:5, NIV)
I have grouped them together, since both have identical words, both were uttered by Satan, and both times in the presence of the Lord Almighty. If you use ‘bless’ instead of ‘curse’, this is what we get.
“But stretch out Your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely bless You to Your face.” (Job 1:11, my paraphrase using the literal translation of the word ‘barak’)
“But stretch out Your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely bless You to Your face.” (Job 2:5, my paraphrase using the literal translation of the word ‘barak’)
Now, I am sure you can see that the sarcastic tone is more evident in this original translation. The common translation simply says that if God allowed evil to happen in the life of Job, he would curse the Lord. But the original, literal translation says this: right now, since God is protecting Job and made his life prosperous, Job is blessing Him. But let God stretch out His hand and allow evil to happen in the life of Job, then he will not just bless God, but will bless Him to His face.
The devil is being sarcastic here, and it is more evident when we use the original word intended by the Scriptures.
God willing, we will deal with the actual words that Job’s wife said tomorrow. May the Spirit of the Lord be with us. Amen.
When I heard that the Government of India was making NEET exam compulsory for admission to medical institutions, I spent hours dissecting why it would be tilted towards students from higher economic circles and from urban cities. But… I should have prayed.
When the State Government of Tamilnadu complied to the diktat’s of the Central Government, I analysed and said that the State Government was going to be duped by the Central Government. But… I should have prayed.
When the State Government was duped by the Central Government, as I had predicted, I kept telling everyone who was listening: “See, I told you so!”. But… I should have prayed.
When one of the students in high school came to me, crying that she won’t be able to study to become a physician, that her dreams were shattered, I felt compassionate towards her and wept with her. But… I should have prayed.
When the TV News showed the confused topper of the State Examination won’t be able to get a medical seat, I sympathised for her and posted a Facebook post. Got many likes and few comments, saying that I nailed the issue. But… I should have prayed.
When I saw that topper’s eyes on the other day, I could see that she was lost. I felt pity for her and was talking about her to everyone I met. But… I should have prayed.
This morning, as I was talking to my wife about that kid. And comforted myself that she being a topper, there would be many people to help her and she would soon excel in some other course of study. But… I should have prayed.
This afternoon, as I was watching the news, there was a “Breaking News”, showing that student did not know what to do with her life and in a moment of desperation, had committed suicide. And at that moment, I realized that… I should have prayed.
Father, please forgive me. I do understand that I won’t be able to share the burden of everyone in this world. But those people You bring into my life, I could offer a prayer for few seconds. This time, I have failed. Please forgive me, through Jesus Christ, for
I should have prayed.
“Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
God had to bring Abraham to the end of his own strength, and to let him see that in his own body he could do nothing. He had to consider his own body as good as dead, and then take God for the whole work; and when he looked away from himself, and trusted God alone, then he became fully persuaded that what He had promised, He was able to perform.
That is what God is teaching us, and He has to keep away encouraging results until we learn to trust without them, and then He loves to make His Word real in fact as well as faith. – A. B. Simpson
I do not ask that He must prove
His Word is true to me,
And that before I can believe
He first must let me see.
It is enough for me to know
’tis true because He says ’tis so;
On His unchanging Word I’ll stand
And trust till I can understand.
— E. M. Winter
So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did regularly. – Job 1:5 (NKJV)
In the previous blog, I mentioned that the word ‘barak’ was translated as ‘curse’ in four verses in the Book of Job. The first instances is in Job 1:5, when Job said that probably his sons had sinned and cursed God in their hearts. The literal translation must read as: “Perhaps my sons have sinned, yet blessed God in their hearts” (YLT). So how do we understand that?
First let us see why the translators changed the meaning of ‘barak’ from blessing to curse, based on the context. Since Job was worried about his sons committing sins while being drunk, we won’t imagine that the sin would involve blessing God. Most of the drunkards curse God, or take the Lord’s Name in vain. So, changing the meaning of ‘barak’ from blessing to curse fits into our simple understanding of sin.
Simple understanding of sin is quite ‘simple, it is white and black in nature. This is sin, this is not. So, we group curse with sin, because both are dark in nature. We won’t group blessing with sin, because they are polar opposites. But, true Christians, who have battled with sin, like Apostle Paul writes about in Romans chapter 7, would know that sin is not that easy to define. It is not a simple – “they were drunk, they had sinned, therefore they would have surely cursed God”.
Sin makes people stupid. It blinds their eyes. Now, let us read the Young’s Literal Translation again.
“Perhaps my sons have sinned, yet blessed God in their hearts.”
Can we bless God while sinning? Can we give thanks to God, while doing something unholy? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. In my Christian life, I have seen three types of people thanking God while sinning.
1. The flippant ones: I have seen some rich kids, who are Church-goers, brought up in good Christian family, getting wasted on one of those days, spending so much money on sin, and say, “Thank God, my old man is loaded.” Did they really thank God? No. But deep in sin, in a flippant manner, they thank God for giving their parents so much money.
2. The guilty ones: This is the majority crowd. I have seen young believers thanking God so profusely, if we don’t know why they were thanking God, we would be easily deceived. I have spoken with some of them, and have found that they were leading a double life. They have committed sin knowingly and all the time, they have been praying, “Lord, please let no one know about this sin. Please. If You have to punish, You punish me. But, let no one else find out.” And when they are not caught red-handed in their sins, they actually thanked God for the ‘mercy’ He has shown them. I mean, they sincerely pray to God while sinning, and thank God for His mercies. It took me a while to make them understand that sin is an abomination to God and instead of asking Him to cover your sins, next time pray that you do not sin.
3. The ones with no chance: Many years back, I had this Christian friend who used to visit me during weekends and we would go to the Church together. One weekend, he was a no-show. But when I came back from the church, there he was, with a guilt-ridden face. I found out that he had a sexual encounter with a woman he did not even know, and hence did not feel like coming to the church. When I heard this, I just asked, “What were you thinking?” And he blurted out his answer and it sort of stunned me. His answer was, “I guess, I was really thanking God for this.” He was sincere in his response and when I probed further, he explained. He was from a strict Christian family, where even looking at a TV ad was considered a deadly sin. Because of his upbringing, he had trouble talking with girls, and hence had no friends from the opposite sex. Boys also had avoided him, because he was considered “a walking woman repellent”. So, he was very sure that he was never going to marry and that he would be die as a virgin. So, when he got a chance, though he knew it was a sin, he was grateful that God had given him a chance after all. He was genuine in his thanksgiving.
Now, I know it is stupid. Blessing God for a chance given to sin. But, sin makes us stupid. It makes us to do stupid things. I had seen people doing stupid things because of sin, was astonished how could they be that stupid, and then went and did those very stupid things because I had fallen in sin. Is it hypocritical? Yes, it definitely is. Is it inappropriate? Without any question. Yet, people keep doing that, because sin makes us hypocritical and stupid.
Now stop and think about Job’s sons. They had everything to live a luxurious life; yet, the Bible tells that on his appointed day (Job 1:4), each would arrange a feast in their houses. The appointed day refers to their birthdays. These were rich kids. Their day to day life could have been a feast. But once a year, on their birthdays, they had feasts. Even then, the next morning, they had to wake up early, so that they could be sanctified by their righteous father. In such an austere life, Job had every reason to believe that they might have blessed the Lord while sinning. And it is worse than sin itself – thanking God for giving a chance to sin, implies that God is the reason for sin. It is against the nature of God Most Holy. It is blasphemy and scandalous. It is also hypocritical. In every way, blessing while sinning is worse than sinning and cursing. That was why Job called his sons early in the morning to sanctify them.
Job had understood human nature better than us, and knowing how sin would make us do stupid things, like blessing God for a chance to sin, he said: “Perhaps my sons have sinned, yet blessed God in their hearts.” It is our limited understanding which changed the meaning of the word ‘barak’ so that we understand the verse as we wanted to. Sin makes us stupid. Let us accept and praise the Holy Spirit for opening our eyes so that we can see the price of our stupidity, the Savior Who was crucified for our iniquities.