Jonadab was sick of it all. For a while it seemed there was meaning and purpose in all the killing. Unjust regimes and rulers were being cast down and a righteous king was taking over. At least that was how it should have been. But that was not how it was going.
Jehu had done his bit in cleaning things up, but not enough to turn the hearts of people back to God. Neither did Jehu himself seek to follow God with his whole heart.
What was the point of it all? All this jockeying for power and lands, did it make life better for the weak and the exploited?
Jonadab thought of Ben-Hadad challenging Ahab in a moment of drunken bravado. Then the ignominious defeat which followed.
Ahab, now that was another guy who was not content with what he had. Cedar-inlaid-with-ivory palaces were not enough for him, nor all the flourishing vineyards he owned. No, he had to murder Naboth to get his vineyard. Well… Jezebel arranged it to coax Ahab out of his sulks and pouts.
Jezebel. All that scheming, plotting, manipulating – where did that leave her? Or rather what was left of her? Not much, after the dogs were done.
He thought over Jehu’s offer to be part of his trusted team of advisors, now that Jehu was king. No doubt Jehu would compensate him handsomely if he said yes. But was it worth it? For how long would it last? Till the next drunken invader, till the next revolution?
Cedar-walls-inlaid-with-ivory palaces? Soul leeches!
Back at home in his tent, surrounded by his loving family, he distilled all the learning he had garnered into two simple instructions.
‘Don’t ever drink wine or alcohol. Keep your wits about you. Don’t desire to build houses and plant vineyards. It’s like a drug. It takes over your soul. You build a shelter, then you want to beautify it, so you look to get more out of your vineyards, then you realise it’s too small or not rightly placed and then you try to get the right one by any means possible… there is no end to it. So my sons, promise me, that you will live a life of contentment and prudence with what God has blessed us with. Promise me that you will teach your children like-wise and bring them up in like manner.’
His sons were faithful to their promise, and generation after generation abstained from drinking, and they all continued to live simple lives in the tents. Right up to the time of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah.
During Jehoiakim’s reign Nebuchadnezzer began his invasion of Israel and Judah, and gradually swallowed up the countryside.
At that time Jonadab’s descendants – the Rechabites – entered into Jerusalem seeking shelter and safety from King Neb’s armies. For nearly a century and a half, the Rechabites had remained faithful to the promise they had made to Jonadab.
All this had not escaped God’s eyes. He directs Jeremiah’s attention to them.
“Go to the members of the Rechabite clan and talk to them. Then bring them into one of the rooms in the Temple and offer them some wine.” Jer 35:2
Jeremiah is amazed to learn from the Rechabites of their promise and their faithfulness in keeping it.
In the whole grand scheme of things, seemingly insignificant people, and yet God noticed them. He noticed Jonadab turning away from worldly honours and office and being content with what God had blessed him with. God noticed the Rechabites and the way they honoured their word.
There are times when I wonder whether is any point in doing the things I do. Do they make a difference to anyone? Won’t the world continue to spin on its axis even if I give up doing the things I do? It will.
But that doesn’t take away from the fact that God sees. El Roi the God who sees.
In Sunday School we used to sing this song ‘Oh be careful… what you see/say/do… for the Father up above is looking down in love…’ And it left me with an almost indelible impression of a God who watches merely to find fault.
Oh yes, He watches over us with love and He does see where we are going off track, but it so that He can speak the right word in the right season to keep us from getting hurt. That is what the whole of Jeremiah is all about. God looking in love, speaking the right word of warning, well in advance so that His people might get off the road leading to destruction.
But His are Holy eyes of love. Here we see the God who sees and records the little acts of faithfulness.
Do you, like me, get discouraged and fed up with doing the ‘right thing’?
Well, let us take heart and courage from this little story of the Rechabites, pull ourselves up to our full heights and keep going. God watches over us. He sees. He notices. He does not forget.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Gal 6:9 ESV
For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love…
*** Two very small incidents. The first part of my post is purely conjecture on my part. All we know from the Bible is the Jonadab (or Jehonadab) in 2Kings 10:15,23 is that he helped Jehu in his war against the sons of Ahab and the prophets/priests of Baal. The next we hear of him is in Jer 35:6 where the Rechabites explain their vow and the reason for their lifestyle.
In and out of situations
that tug of war at me
All day long I struggle
for the answers that I need
But when I come into His presence
All my questions become clear
And in that sacred moment
No doubts can interfere
In the presence of Jehovah
God Almighty, Prince of Peace Troubles vanish, hearts are mended
In the presence of the King
Through His love the Lord provided
A place for us to rest
A place to find the answers
In our hour of distress
Now there’s never any reason
For you to give up in despair
Just slip away and breathe His name
You will surely find Him there
In the presence of Jehovah
God Almighty, Prince of Peace
Troubles vanish, hearts are mended
In the presence of the King
In the presence of Jehovah
God Almighty, Prince of Peace
Troubles vanish, hearts are mended
In the presence of the King
*** I think we owe this song to Cathy Goddard, but I was not able to get any clear information about it. If you know who’s the author/singer of this song, please do let me know so that I can give the right credits.
Jeremiah is such a heart-breaking book. The prophet Jeremiah chronicles the story of a son and his Father.
A headstrong foolish rebellious son, intent on finding his own way and who ultimately finds himself in prison. A Father who sees what lies at the end of the road His son is travelling and tries every tactic and strategy to get His son off the path of destruction. Nothing works, for the ears of the son are shut. He does not trust His Father’s love, does not want to submit to the Father’s wisdom. He trusts everyone other than his Father, depends on untrustworthy friends, turns his back on his Father, and even begins to call lifeless things his Father.
Jeremiah brings an amazing revelation of the Father’s heart. A Father who loves with the depth of His being even though He knows that His son doesn’t love Him or trust Him. A Father who would love to defend and fight for His son but respects His son’s choice to go it alone. Tough love. A love that sees the inevitable consequences of His son’s folly and lays plans for His son’s rescue.
Jeremiah hears and records the Father’s pleas. He sees and records the stubborn foolishness of the son. He sees the son suffer the consequences of his foolhardiness. And Jeremiah gets an amazing window into the Father’s heart who sends a message of comfort and hope to his rebellious son who’s now cooling his heels in prison.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,
says the LORD,
thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Jer 29:11 KJV
Even though you are in captivity because of your foolishness and stubbornness
in making alliances with those who most certainly were going to fail you
in trusting in the city walls and the arm of man
in calling pieces of clay and wood your ‘father’
and believing that they were the ones who took care of you…
Even though you refused to listen to Me,
Even though you depised My messengers
and deleted and ignored My messages,
I AM and always be who I AM
I cannot stop being who I AM
Holy and True
Unchanging in my love
For I know the heart with which I think of you:
My thoughts, intentions,
the plans and preparations I make for you –
each one of them is
filled with a desire for your
rest from hostilities.
My thoughts are not evil
full of hate and anger
planning pain, unhappiness, misery,
motivated by a desire to give you
a lifeline of hope
something to hold onto
something to look forward to
to anticipate with pleasure
a certainty that what you wait for
will arrive and be fulfilled.
Then you shall call on Me,
and you shall go and pray to Me,
and I will listen to you.
And you shall seek Me and find Me,
when you search for Me with all your heart.
And I will be found by you, says Jehovah;
and I will turn away your captivity, …
Jer 29:12-14 MKJV
The Israelites begged Moses to cover his face because they could not bear to gaze upon the glory of God, however pallidly it was reflected on Moses’ face. They feared a God they could not control, a God who could not be bought and bribed, a God who was real – who spoke, who commanded, who did things.
Imagine, each time they looked at Moses face, they were reminded of the holy reality of God. Fear, fear of punishment, fear of falling short, fear of God’s requirements cast a veil over their hearts. It filtered the words into their hearts. Fear filtered out the love of God. Separated from the character of God, divorced from the reality of His love, the law became drudgery, a heavy burden, an insurmountable obstacle to peace and rest.
How can one submit to that which one fears? How can one believe in the goodness of that which one fears? How can one listen when fear forms a wall? In Jeremiah’s time, fear had so hardened their hearts and blinded them, that the Israelites could not hear the love and concern that God was voicing through His true prophets. Fear made every message seem ugly and threatening. Fear made them deaf to the promises that were woven into every warning.
But in Christ the veil is removed. He came with the express purpose of exploding the myths and half-truths about God. He came to tear down the barriers of fear and lies that would keep us from running to God. He came to show us the Father heart of God, His tender affection towards us.
He did not come to set some impossible standards, but He came to show us the purity of the righteousness of God, the amazing ‘other’/holy quality of His love. Love full of wisdom, truth, patience, strength and full of justice.
He came to reveal the true glory of God – the character of God. Glory, not as we think of it in our petty human minds, where we associate glory with plaudits and shining lights. Jesus came to reveal the full dimensions of God’s love, righteousness, truth, justice, grace, mercy, power.
And He came to be the Way into the Father’s heart. No more hanging outside with bleating lambs, hoping the sacrifice is acceptable. He became the Lamb that was fully acceptable. No more downcast eyes and prostrate figures – John was lifted up and set on his feet, in the presence of the Holy God. True, the elders voluntarily fell down before the Throne, but they did that because they could find no words exalted enough or complete enough to express all that was in their hearts after they had experienced the beauty and glory of God.
The Door – stands open. Each day we can enter into His glorious Holy presence. Nay, more than that he has opened His heart to us to be our HOMES, to dwell in Him…
No more waiting for Moses, Samuel or Jeremiah to go between, to find out the will of the Lord. No! WE can enter and dwell in the Name of Jesus, to hear the voice of the Lord for ourselves. We can gaze upon His beauty, His holiness and be transformed by His love.
There is no fear in love,
but perfect love casts out fear,
because fear has torment.
He who fears has not been perfected in love.
We love Him because He first loved us.
1Jn 4:18-19 MKJV
Last week was a very eventful week. My daughter turned 21, and she graduated.
21 precious years of hugs, shared secrets, sticky hands, tickles and laughter…
21 glorious years of seeing God’s faithfulness and His mercies unfold day by day.
When my daughter was born, something went dreadfully wrong at the moment of her birth. The doctors could not find her heartbeat or detect movement for over twenty minutes. They told me they would do all that they could to save the child, but they wanted me to be prepared for a still-birth.
‘Still-birth? That couldn’t be? It couldn’t be happening to me… could it?’
Where does one go when all the help at hand expresses helplessness?
God. But why should God hear my cry? I had forgotten Him for years without number, wondered if He even existed.. My lifestyle certainly was way out of sync with what He would want for me.
Yet, didn’t He run to welcome the prodigal son? Didn’t He forgive David after he’d murdered Uriah and slept with Bathsheba? Didn’t David say that he’d rather trust himself to the hands of God than to the hands of man? What about the thief who hung on the cross, all he did was turn to Jesus and say ‘Lord, remember me…’?
I dragged my thoughts together to pray:
‘Lord, there is no reason at all why You should listen to me. I have lived a sinful life. There is nothing that I can bring You as an offering. All I can think of at this moment is that I’ve heard You are a compassionate God and that You are merciful. I know that as God You are the One who has the power to give life to my child. I’m asking You not to hold my sins against me, I am asking You to have mercy on this child that is to come into the world. Give this child life. Let this child be normal in every way. Lord, if You have heard and answered my prayer, would you give me a sign? Let the baby cry the moment it’s born ’
As I prayed I felt a deep peace enfold me, and this strong conviction took hold of me, that all was well, that my child would live.
Not long afterwards, my child was born. A girl. I could see her as the doctor held her up. Ashen and still.
‘Please God,’ my heart breathed, and even as my words were forming, she cried.
The neo-natal surgeon cried out, ‘Praise God!!! She lives!!!’
I held the precious bundle for a few seconds, before they rushed her off to the incubator.
Grace. I learnt about God’s grace that day. I deserved NOTHING, and yet, God chose to hear my prayer and He answered me so marvellously.
A month later I met the neo-natal surgeon who had attended my daughter at her birth. He was thrilled with her progress, but he cautioned me, ‘You are not out of the woods. Your daughter did not receive oxygen for 20mins when her heart was not beating. That is a long time. There will be an inevitable impact. Her physical reflexes seem to be ok. She most probably will be a slow learner and she will definitely be stunted in height.’
Again I felt that amazing deep peace and conviction flood my heart that all was well, and I replied, ‘My God does not do things in half measures. I believe that she is completely well, and she will be tall.’
The surgeon looked pityingly at me, but he let it go.
I wish I could meet him now.
My daughter graduated with a double major in psychology and anthropology, and she’s taller than me, and is taller than most of her friends.
Grace. Amazing grace that does not do anything in half measures. Amazing grace that responds to the broken, helpless cry of a sinner. Amazing grace that is willing to forgive my doubts, backsliding and neglect.
Grace. I’ve been reading through Jeremiah, and beneath the prophecies and indictments, one can hear very clearly our loving Father God’s heart – His longing to pour out grace and healing the moment His people turn back to Him.
Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Higher than the mountain, sparkling like a fountain,
All sufficient grace for even me;
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame;
O magnify the precious Name of Jesus,
Praise His Name!
Lyrics: Haldor Lillenas
being rich in mercy,
because of the great love with which he loved us,
even when we were dead in our trespasses,
made us alive together with Christ…
so that in the coming ages
he might show
the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us
in Christ Jesus.
Eph 2:4-7 ESV
It seems that we are living in a season of rebellions, revolutions, resistances and uprisings. Why?
There is a profound discontent all over the world with the governments, their policies and their impact on the common people.
In every case right through history, where there has been a rebellion/revolution, it has been against a government that has proved itself to be:
- Uncaring of the needs of the people
- Greedy, seeking only personal gain
- Lawless – applying laws for self-benefit, subverting laws to maintain power, while the members of the govt. themselves refuse to submit to the law.
- Oppressive and exploitative
So the people rise up, because they hope to establish a government which will be the opposite of the one they have been enslaved by. They hope that the new government will be:
- Caring of the needs of the people
- Seek the prosperity and growth of the people
- Just/lawful – where the law is applied justly, tempered with mercy; where the govt. itself subjects itself to its own laws.
- Engages in dialogue with the people so that systems can be continuously bettered
Why? Why would you want such a government?
When a government cares for its people and is just and free, a climate is created where people can enjoy peaceable lives, trade prospers, the standard of living improves. In this world there is already so much pain and suffering – either through sickness or relationships. People long for peace on at least some front, so that there is a sense of stability and security.
When I read through the prophets, especially Isaiah, I see a picture unfolding of a government, a world system that we are all longing for.
A world in which there is no war,
Where everyone can carry out their trade peacefully,
Where all our labours bear good fruit,
Where we have the time to enjoy the fruit of our labours,
Where there is no more sickness or death,
Where there is no more pain of broken promises,
Where love has made all things complete and perfect,
Where the lion can lie down with the lamb,
Where none will make us afraid.
It is interesting that every author who has tried to create an utopia, finds that it ultimately turns into a dystopia, because of one incorrigible factor – human nature. At some point or the other, covetousness – the desire to be the one in power, calling the shots, enjoying privileges –kicks in, and then the inner corruption of man is revealed.
Who can forget William Golding’s book ‘The Lord Of The Flies’? I think it has to be the most spine-chilling book I have ever read. A group of boys stranded on an island try to work out a system so that each one is fed, protected and taken care of. What happens is that in time, privilege systems evolve, a tyrant emerges and lynch mobs develop. (I won’t say more, because if you haven’t read the book, I think you should get hold of it and read it.)
The sad thing today, is that people desire the original vision and plan of God for life on earth. But we reject His government. We have seen the outline of His blue-print and we are trying to take it and build it our way. It’s not going to happen. We only have the outline. He has the true, complete blue-print.
Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is within us. Meaning – each of us has the capacity within us to decide which government to choose – the government of satan or the government of God.
We have read this a thousand times at Christmas –
“… A son will be given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders. …
His government and peace will have unlimited growth. …
He will uphold it with justice and righteousness now and forever. …’
What if we really accepted the kingdom of God, took Him at His word and we asked Him to govern our thoughts, emotions and will?
Human nature is the greatest stumbling block to utopia – the kingdom of peace and righteousness. Jesus deals with that Himself by dwelling in us and setting to work from within to bring about a government that is just, fair, honest, upright, kind and complete. There is no place for our human nature if Jesus dwells within us.
Day by day Jesus sets about dismantling the ruinous impact of the corrupt decrees that ruled us, guided our thoughts and initiated our behaviour. We experience greater circles of peace within us. We experience greater circles of peace around us, as our responses to situations and people are now being formed by thoughts which are governed by a throne of True Wisdom and Righteousness.
Jesus said that one does not get a light and hide it under a bushel. We have taken it to mean that we should go out and talk a lot about Him.
But I think what Jesus meant was that if you receive a truth, you cannot tuck it away, hoarding it away as a miser hoards pennies. A truth is given to light your path. To become light for others. That can happen only if we allow that truth to shape our thoughts and govern our behaviour. The change in us will bring a ripple effect in the communities where we are. Jesus said that men would look at our actions and glorify God, not that men would listen to what we have to say and glorify God.
If each of us who professes the name of Christ, actually submitted to His Kingship, listened to His voice and submitted to it, the spread and sway of satan’s kingdom would diminish. We would see the kingdom of peace and righteousness (that all the world wants but is rebelling against) being established.
We spend a lot of time whining and protesting against unfair world systems. But nothing is going to change unless we Christians, ourselves begin to truly submit to the kingship of Jesus.
Would people be so anti-Christian if our walk matched our talk? If they actually saw kindness and grace, truth and integrity in the ordinary Christians they encounter daily, and not just in a lonely Mother Teresa?
One day, God is going to require it of us Christians. He is going to ask us – ‘I gave you My Son. Cleared all your debts. Gave you a new life, all that was needed for life and godliness through My Holy Spirit. Taught you every truth that you needed to know, why then did you continue in rebellion to me? Why did you not trust me? Why did you continue to rule your life in co-operation with satan? Why did you cause my Name to be profaned among the nations? Why did you take My Name in vain, if you did not intend to honour me by obeying me?’
We need to stop and think deeply. What would we answer?
Repentance. Rebellion. These two words have been buzzing around in my head the last few days.
I’ve typed paragraph after paragraph only to hit the ‘delete’ button once I was done.
Then I realised that what I wanted to say was this:
Repentance is our rebellion against the false king (satan, self, flesh, sin… whatever you may want to call it).
It is that moment when we decide that we will no longer obey the dictates of a corrupt throne that only brings misery by its decrees.
It is that moment when we look at the cross and realise that the marionette strings are broken and we are no longer helpless slaves/puppets helplessly jerked about according to the whims and fancies of our former slave masters.
It is that moment when we stop eating the food that is being fed to the swine and remember that there is a banqueting table in our Father’s house.
It is that moment when we decide to step through the torn veil, the broken body of Jesus and enter into the loving embrace of our Father in heaven.
It is not about beating our breasts, tearing our clothes and crying ‘Woe is me!’ It is about receiving the grace that is being given freely to us by the Father through the shed blood of Jesus.
It is about recognising that the True King is Jesus, and that His throne, His kingdom is of righteousness, joy and peace, that His decrees always bring shalom – peace, wholeness, a sense of well-being.
It is about realising that to be yoked to Jesus, to be under His command is a place of peace and rest for the soul.
His decrees only lead one in the paths of righteousness which lead to peace and life.
His commandments can be trusted, because He instructs us out of love, out of a desire to see us walk in freedom, no longer under the yoke.
There is a little phrase that God is very fond of. You find the Old Testament peppered with it, generally in the context of God promising to rebuild Israel if they return to Him after their apostasy. It is that little phrase – ‘and none will make them afraid.’
That is the heart of God. To see you walk tall. To walk free. To enjoy life to its fullest. Not to indulge in fleshly pleasures that promise much, but only leave dust and ashes behind. But to savour each moment, to truly enjoy each person one encounters, to experience life. Not afraid of men, seeking always to win their approval, but set free to be exactly who you were meant to be.
Satan deceives us into thinking that we will enjoy life to the fullest, and be the freest if we do what pleases us, and do things ‘My Way’. But as the Indians say – that is ‘maya’ – an illusion. Satan hates us. He doesn’t want anything good for us. His greatest desire is to use us and then slowly crush and destroy us.
GOD is the One who loves us. He desires GOOD for us. He is the One who actually wants us to have life in its fullest. He is the One who breaks the chains, draws us out of the pit, gives us a home we can go to. He stands with us in our War of Independence.
Some weeks ago I had re-blogged Bruce Buchannan’s post – When we get our friends and enemies confused. We tend to do that a lot. We get our friends and enemies confused. God is the One who is on your side. He is your friend, not enemy. He is not the party-pooper you think He is. Right now, He is preparing the greatest party ever known – the Wedding Feast of His Son.
Rebel, by all means. But rebel against the government that must be brought down – the one of darkness, deceit, sickness, death – the kingdom of satan.
Merriam Webster says “Rebellion is an open, armed usually unsuccessful defiance of or resistance to an established government”
But if a rebellion is successful, it is then called a War of Independence.
So let’s put on the armour of God, and rise up in a War of Independence from the tyranny of satan, self, the flesh. Jesus is right with you. The power of His life, His inextinguishable life, He gives to you. And that power de-thrones the most persistent Master Puppeteer. What hideous irony that satan convinces us that God is the Master Puppeteer, while all along satan is the one pulling strings enjoying the sense of power that brings him.
Repentance does not end with rebelling against the unrighteous kingdom.
Repentance is completed when we submit to God, accept His rulership, willingly obey His commandments knowing that they come from a heart of love, which truly desires our freedom and wholeness.
When Jesus said, ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand’ He was saying:
Rise up, throw of the chains that are holding you down from being the person you were created to be. Why are you seeking the living among the dead? Why are you labouring for things that cannot satisfy? Things that are temporary and only leave you feeling deflated, used, discarded, worthless?
Receive instead the Love that will complete you, satisfy you. The Love that treasures you. The Love that can be trusted to lead you safely home. The Love that will cause you to blossom and fulfil every potential that is hidden in you. A Love that never fades, and will last into eternity and beyond. Don’t listen to the sower of weeds. Listen instead to the Voice of One who loves you.
… because of the blood of my covenant with you,
I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.
Return to your stronghold,
O prisoners of hope; …
Zec 9:11-12 ESV
submit yourselves to God.
Resist the Devil,
and he will run away from you.
Jas 4:7 GNB