Thursday, June 29, 2023

 Nothing For Naught !  

If we could truly -- from our heart -- pray that prayer with child-like faith would we ever feel anxious and afraid?  Do our times of anxiety and fear not come when we have doubt that God is REALLY is in control of the details?   And if He really is, then what do we have to worry about??  
Our God is a God of details -- in His creation , in His plan, but also in His Word !  If there was one detail that escaped God's attention, He would no longer be perfect !  And perfect we know He is. 
We all acknowledge that God's word - our scripture -  is God-breathed and inspired but have we not all at times let our eyes skim over some obscure reference or some minor character or unpronounceable name and wondered why these details take up space in our Bible's pages?
Yet, we know in God's creation there is no unnecessary detail. Sometimes it is a very small detail by which some 'big' thing is held together !   Everything has a purpose!
Should we not expect God to be consistent in all of His work -  whether it be created acts or words?
I believe every word in the Bible is there for a purpose and reason, whether or not we see it.   But .. sometimes it just takes a little extra focused reflection and thought to see what the purpose is. 
 I want to look at a few of the 'obscure' characters in the Bible that I think have something to teach us. 

1. Two Thieves
Two characters that are familiar to us are the two thieves crucified with Jesus.   Interesting, isn't it that the crucifiers put Jesus in the middle.  Maybe so He could converse intimately with both.  Two thieves who had lived a life-style of crime serious enough to be condemned to the cruel death of crucifixtion.They obviously knew each other judging from their conversation with each other.  Yet, how different they were.  One held onto his hard heart and felt no remorse for his 'sinful' life.  The other, guilty of the same, looked at Jesus and his heart melted. He dared to ask !
 "Remember me ... !"  
Yes, Jesus remembered him!  He knew all the details of his life, and saw the honest acknowledgement of his sin. Without any hesitation Jesus simply welcomed him into the Kingdom  
Do you ... or someone you know...  feel that they are not worthy, that they dare not come to Jesus fearing He will justly turn them away? Point them to this thief on the cross.  For two thousand years he has been the witness to Jesus' freely  forgiving  ANYONE who asks.  No one will be turned away. (John 6:37)

2. Ehud - Used Because He was Different
Our second character centers in a rather gruesome story that is not pleasant to envision.  But it sits on our Bible page in Judges 3.  There is an insightful detail that is easily overlooked.  The character is Ehud.  You may not be familiar with him, so here is the back story.  Israel had been under enemy oppression for eight long years  - finally in their desperation they cried out to the Lord to rescue them.  And the Lord heard and answered by providing a deliverer, a man by the name of Ehud.  
Ehud was 'different' and maybe suffered ridicule because of it.  We so want to be the same as everyone else - we want to fit in , not stand out.   But the God of details gave us that characteristic that makes us different - because He has need of it, as we see in Ehud's life story..   
What was 'different' about him?  He was left-handed.  Different, awkward , when the world caters to 'right-handedness'. 
Ehud loved God - he was faithful, dependable and fearless!  
The enemy Israel feared was Eglon, king of Moab - the enemy God raised up against Israel because of their evil ways, , but he had served his purpose and now God needed to save his people from his cruel oppression of them.  

Ehud  had a plan. 
Fearlessly, he walked into the enemy's camp, accompanying those who were carrying the tribute demanded by Eglan.The tribute was delivered, but Ehud's plan required a private meeting with the king. so he shouted, "I need to see you alone, O King, I have a secret message from God for you."  The king, obviously curious what this message could be,  dismissed those with him.  Before they left, I'm sure they patted Ehud's left side to make sure he had no weapon.  
Because Ehud was left-handed, his weapon was not hung under his clothes on his left side but on his right !  The guards did not expect he would have a weapon on his right side ! That made it too difficult to access for a right-handed man.   
Therefore, because he was 'different', he had the advantage of surprise when his 'left-hand' reached over to his right side to pull out his dagger.  Before Eglon could react, it was too late. His life was over!  
Are you 'different' in some way?   Did the God of details not give it to you for a good purpose?  Have you asked Him how you can serve Him with the special gift He 'detailed' you with? 

3. Elishama who?
I'm sure you could not tell me who Elishama was if I asked.  
We know every little about him.  He is briefly mentioned in passing in Jeremiah 36:12. He lived in the time when Jehoiakim, King of Judah ruled and God sent Jeremiah with a warning  message to the king.  Elishama, we read, was a scribe, in whose chamber Jeremiah's scroll was hidden.   Jehudi by order of the king went to get it,  and he read it to the king, who seized it and threw it into the fire.  
Why was it important for God to record that Elishama was a scribe in the service of the king?  
Many, many years passed - millenia, in fact. Then, in 1986 in an excavation in Jerusalem a clay seal was uncovered.  What was important about it is what was written on it... "Elishama, servant of the king."  
The world is always eager to prove God doesn't exist, that the Bible is a collection of fables and full of errors.   But God is in the details -  Elishama's name was needful to be recorded so that he stands as 'proof' that God's word is true -- EVERY WORD !!!  

4. Ittai the Gittite
Another character whom you may not be familiar with is Ittai the Gittite. (II Samuel 15).The Gittites lived in Gath but you may be more familiar with Goliath than with Ittai -- both Gittites. (II Sam. 21:19 says .. Goliath, the Gittite)   Obviously, the Gittites were Philistines, hardly the friends of Israel, yet here we have in our Bible reference to Ittai.  He has a message for us. 
Background -- King David was being betrayed by his own son Absolum. Absolom had won over   to himself many fellow Iraelites. He beguiled them with lies about how King David was a thoughtless judge, not caring about the peoples' complaints. If only he - Absolom- were king  he would certainly care for them with more empathy and support!   
David had to flee for his life and his supporters went with him.  Ittai and all the Gittites also went with David and when Daved noticed them he encouraged Ittai to go back and stay with Absolom, even referring to him as king.  I believe he was 'testing' Ittai's loyalty since David did not know why Ittai and his men had joined him.  They had only been with him for a day.   
But look at the words of Ittai in response to David telling him to go back home.  His words echo Ruth's words to Naomi -- that where David goes he will go , in life or death!  
His sincerity was obviously proven because king David subsequently put Attai in charge of a third of his army. (II Sam. 18:2)  
What is Ittai's message?  Don't judge someone by their family or their history or their ancestry or ethnic background.  Though Ittai was from a godless nation that prided itself on its giants - Goliath being one of them -  he chose to live contrary to his upbringing.  
God leads and judges everyone on their own merits and does not judge anyone for the sins of their father's. (Ez. 18:20)  
King David reflected God's heart in his attitude and actions toward Ittai.  He believed him and rewarded his loyalty, putting him in a position of trust.  

5. Dear Shiphrah and Puah ! 
 Then we have Shiphrah and Puah whose names are recorded in Ex. 1:16.  We know that because of their 'lie' , God's plan for the deliverance of Israel through Moses  unfolded.   These two midwives boldly stood before Pharaoh who could have with one wave of his hand, order their death but they declared that the Israel women were different from the Egyptian women in that they gave birth very fast , before the midwives even got there !   The obvious should have struck Pharoah.  If the midwives statement was true why did they have midwives??    God was pleased with the midwives and rewarded them with families of their own.  Why was that unusual?  I read one article that stated that midwives were not generally allowed to marry.  If that is true or not, we know God blessed them in a way that was very meaningful to them !  
The lesson they teach?  That it is okay to lie to save our skin or life?  No, I don't think so, although I know we all take pleasure in the picture of these two women standing so brazenly before the king with their cover story!  
I think the lesson they teach is that when we are brave enough to do the right thing even though we are disobeying authorities and our life may be in danger because of it, God will protect us, cover us, and reward our faithfulness.   

I hope the above glimpses into some of the lesser known passages of our Bible encourage and enrich your own Bible study.  And may you be encouraged to know how important you are in God's thoughts.  You may see yourself as a small detail ... but God sees you as an important piece in His unfolding eternal plan !  You are necessary and needful and  BLESSED in God's love for YOU !  

No comments: