From 1 Chronicles 3-5
Today we briefly look at a descendant of Judah’s named Jabez. His name was a real pain – literally. But he had faith in a big God who could turn his circumstances around. In the gospel we see lots of people believing Jesus could help them. When your circumstances weigh you down, who do you pray to in faith?
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
The first few chapters of 1 Chronicles are hard going, but there are a few gems buried among the genealogies. In today’s we read about some of the descendants of Judah.
4 The sons of Judah: Perez, Hezron, Carmi, Hur, and Shobal.
2 Reaiah the son of Shobal fathered Jahath, and Jahath fathered Ahumai and Lahad. These were the clans of the Zorathites.
3 These were the sons of Etam: Jezreel, Ishma, and Idbash; and the name of their sister was Hazzelelponi, 4 and Penuel fathered Gedor, and Ezer fathered Hushah.
These were the sons of Hur, the firstborn of Ephrathah, the father of Bethlehem. 5 Ashhur, the father of Tekoa, had two wives, Helah and Naarah; 6 Naarah bore him Ahuzzam, Hepher, Temeni, and Haahashtari.
These were the sons of Naarah. 7 The sons of Helah: Zereth, Izhar, and Ethnan. 8 Koz fathered Anub, Zobebah, and the clans of Aharhel, the son of Harum. (1 Chr 4.1-8)
“The meanings of these names and the occupations of the people give extra realism: Bethlehem is ‘Bread House’, Ir Nahash (12) is ‘Bronze Town’; Ge Harashim (14) is ‘Craftsmen’s Valley’, and in other towns linen-workers and potters flourish (21–23).” (Carson, D.A. et al. eds., 1994. New Bible commentary: 21st century edition 4th ed., Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.)
Names bear special significance to the people. They carried weight and people thought their destiny was shaped by their name. Which was unfortunate if you didn’t like what your parents called you.
9 Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and
his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.”
10 Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!”
And God granted what he asked. (1 Chr 4.9-10)
“Jabez is described as “more honorable than his brothers.” But following an ancient belief that the name represents the character, there was a fear that evil consequences might follow for the boy (cf. Gen 35:18).” (Thompson, J.A., 1994. 1, 2 Chronicles, Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)
But Jabez was not content to let his name (‘pain’) shape his destiny. He had faith in God. He believed in a big God who answered prayer. His attitude and prayer pleased God.
Jabez is commended as being more honourable than his brothers because despite his name he believed God could overcome his name and bless him.
“Jabez called on the God of Israel to turn any possible disaster into blessing. God granted his request and responded to an earnest prayer. The power of God can overcome the liabilities of the past and the present. The Chronicler believed in the efficacy of prayer and spoke of this often in later chapters.” (ibid)
Jabez asked that the LORD’s hand might be with him. There are several instances throughout the Old Testament where the people of God recognise and desire the LORD’s hand on them (Ezra 7:9; Ps 80:17; 119:173; 139:5, 10; Isa 42:6). His experience is one example where a seeming disability or bad state of affairs can be turned around by having faith in God.
“He prays to the “God of Israel.” … This descriptive designation of God would mean at least three things with Jabez. The God of Israel is for him, (1) the God of his fathers; (2) the God who had often wrought wonderful works of interposition, of deliverance, of victory and conquest, on behalf of his people; and (3) he is especially the God whose pronounced and most gracious covenant of truth and mercy was with Israel. The aids of memory are great aids for faith. (Spence-Jones, H.D.M. ed., 1909. 1 Chronicles, London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.)
The gospel shares with us the following story of faith.
20 And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, 21 for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” 22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. (Mt 9.20-22)
She could have resigned herself to suffering for the remainder of her life. But when she heard about Jesus and his power to to heal she believed. When Jesus recognised what she did he also was commended for her faith and given her earnest desire.
When your circumstances weigh you down, continue to trust in him.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2016. All Rights Reserved.