11 Feb 2018

Cont'd from the last post

Coached for the combat

And I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph, and I will bring them again to place them; for I have mercy upon them: and they shall be as though I had not cast them off: for I am the LORD their God, and will hear them.

In our text, Jehovah the God of the Israelites addresses Himself to two members of the same family: Judah (the southern Kingdom) and Joseph (the northern Kingdom of Israel). Of Judah, He says, “I will strengthen.”  Of Joseph, He says, “I will save.”  One was going to be strengthened to fight; the other was going to be saved from the fight. In the end, He was going to “bring them” (both the saved and the strengthened) to their “place” of inheritance.

Some will enter their place by grace, others through battles, but they are better off who earn their certificates.

Judah was the smaller of the two kingdoms. If anyone was going to be saved from their troubles, it should have been Judah, the smaller of the two. Nevertheless, God was not judging by physical size, for although Judah was much smaller, that kingdom had been spiritually stronger and more faithful than Israel, which had gone off from the beginning with Jeroboam, serving Baal the anti-God. God had confidence in the ability of small Judah to beat the enemy in a way that bigger Joseph would not be able to.

The word translated “strengthen,” is gabar in Hebrew, which means, to be strong, to prevail, be great, be mighty, to strengthen, be stronger, be valiant. Therefore, when God says here that He would strengthen Judah, He was saying that He was going to make Judah mighty and stronger than before, by means of the impending challenge that He was going to allow. The God who knows the end from the beginning was not only going to allow the challenge, He also guaranteed Judah’s triumph in the same breath, assuring them that they would prevail.

The word translated “save” is yasha in Hebrew, which suggests to open wide the door and cause to flee, to free, to succour, defend, deliver (or deliverer), help, preserve, rescue, to be safe; it means to get victory. Joseph was going to get victory, not from battles that he would fight and win, but from battles that God was going to fight for him and then open wide the door to cause him to flee from.

God says that in the end He was going to “bring them [both those who fought and those who were saved from fighting]again to place them,” because He has had mercy on both. The word translated “place” is yashab in Hebrew, which means to sit down (specifically as judge), to dwell, to remain, to settle, to marry. In proper Nigerian parlance, it would mean to settlesomebody, who has done you a service. In all, the picture is that of ultimate rest that God assures, beyond all the troubles, whether confronted or saved from.

When God says, “I… will hear them,” it suggests that they may have been calling unto Him to save them from those troubles that have caused them to cry thus to Him. God heard them all, but he was not going to save them all. He was going to save Joseph only, while He would strengthen Judah to go through.

What is the essence of a prayer that God has heard if one is not saved from the troubles that provoked the prayers? If God hears us, should He not deliver us? How can anyone say that God has heard them if He does not save them from their troubles? What does it mean for God to hear? Does God hear some people merely to prepare them for trouble, and others, to save them from it?

In the remaining part of this year and that to come, God shall save you from needless battles, but may He strengthen you for the battles that you must fight (see Judges 3:1-4), so that He can enlarge your territory and settle you. Amen.

 

From The Preacher’s diary.


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