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Posts Tagged ‘blessings’

It came about that when she (Achsah) came to him, she persuaded him to ask her father for a field. So she alighted from the donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you want?” Then she said, “Give me a blessing; since you have given me the land of the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So he (Caleb) gave her the upper springs and the lower springs. (Joshua 15:18,19).

Imagine what it must have been like to live your entire youth as a nomad. Your people wander through a wilderness area for many years. Every morning you wake up and get to look forward to manna for breakfast, manna for lunch, and manna for dinner. There are constant threats from hostile neighbors. What are your options here? You can just try and get by or you can wander around with a chip on your shoulder.

Or you can keep your faith in God. You know that at some point you and your family will Achsahfind a permanent home because God promised it. You grew up with a man who lived his life in obedience to God and taught you to trust God also. This is the story of Achsah, brave and determined daughter of Caleb.

Many of the Israelites did not believe God. After they came out of Egypt their leader Moses sent twelve spies into the land promised by God. Ten of the spies would not trust in God’s strength to fight for them. Only Joshua and Caleb insisted that the people should not rebel against God “and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them” (Numbers 14:9).

All of the then living adults, including the ten cowardly spies, died in the wilderness for their sin over a period of forty years. Achsah and the others who had been born since then would go into the Promised Land with only two of the original generation remaining alive – their new leader, Joshua, and Achsah’s father, Caleb.

By now these men were in their eighties, but God had blessed them with health and vitality. Caleb said, “I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in” (Joshua 14:11).

Caleb still had enough strength to do battle against the giants in the land of Canaan. Joshua allowed Caleb to subdue the particular piece of land that would be his own eventually. It included the “hill country about which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the Lord will be with me and I will drive them out as the Lord has spoken” (Joshua 14:12). This land was the area around Hebron.

Caleb drove out all of the inhabitants and was given the land. While doing battle he put forward an interesting proposition. He pledged his daughter to the brave man who would conquer Kiriath-sepher.

If we didn’t understand what was really going on we might be tempted to think that Caleb was just an opportunist using his daughter as a pawn. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Don’t forget, he was an old man. He was looking forward to retiring. He knew this land would go to his descendants. Caleb was concerned that he got a really worthy son-in-law and not just a mediocre husband for his daughter who would be a great heiress. This new son-in-law must be courageous, smart, uncompromising in faith, and as strong as himself. He wanted a man who would help his daughter raise his descendants to wholeheartedly worship Yahweh.

Othniel was such a man. He proved his love for God, his uncle Caleb, and Achsah by capturing Kiriath-sepher. He won his bride and they were ready to settle down and enjoy their blessings.

However, the land of the Negev that they were given was very dry and barren. It would have been difficult to grow crops there or water livestock.

And so, Achsah ventured forth to visit her father. This woman had inherited his courage and faith. She grew up with a man who had stayed the course. Achsah learned from her years in the wilderness that God wants to bless those who stay true to Him. She saw God’s promises come true and she dared to ask for what she needed.

Achsah:springs of waterWhen Achsah alighted from her donkey Caleb asked her what she wanted. She boldly requested, “Give me a blessing; since you have given me the land of the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs” (Joshua 15:19).

Achsah had three brothers. No doubt Caleb provided for them too, but we don’t know much about them. We have only Achsah’s story given to us by the Holy Spirit.

Though Solomon would not write about the Proverbs 31 woman for hundreds of years in the future, Achsah would have fitted the image very well.

Note three of the many ways:
1. Achsah proved that she was a good businesswoman. She knew that the land would now be worth much more than before. She and Othniel would be able to take care of a very large household. Caravans would be able to stop and water their animals. Travelers would be able to bring trade. She would be like the “merchant ships; she brings her food from afar” (Proverbs 31:14).

2.  “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain” (Proverbs 31:11). Othniel let Achsah ask her father for the land with the springs. Her husband trusted her. Perhaps this was because he knew that his wife had learned courage, strength, and fortitude from her father. We don’t know how old Achsah was when the Israelites reached the Promised Land, but she must have watched her father all of her life be one of the bravest, strongest, and most faithful of men. She certainly learned her boldness at the knee of an expert! Perhaps she was the apple of her father’s eye as his fearless daughter.

3.  “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land” (Proverbs 31:23). Here is an amazing thing. Truly this husband of Achsah was well known in the gates as the first judge of Israel. We have a continuation of the story of Caleb, Achsah, and Othniel later in the book of Judges. (See Judges 3:9-11.)

Othniel continued to prove that Caleb’s faith in him was correct. As part of his responsibility as judge he had to go to war against Cushan-rishathaim, king of Mesopotamia. God blessed Othniel with extra strength as He had his father-in-law. Othniel prevailed against Israel’s enemy and then the land had rest for forth years.

What can we learn from Achsah’s story?

Achsah was blessed with a godly father and husband. Caleb wanted her to be protected when he was gone. He wanted to be sure that she would be able to enjoy her inheritance and pass it on the their progeny. That is why he put forth a challenge that would bring forth the right man for her.

We can be like Achsah when we pray. She had strong faith and trust that God would keep His promises. Our heavenly Father wants to bless us. We should be bold as she was when we present our petitions. We should not be surprised if our Father gives us even more than we asked.

Achsah was a woman who boldly asked.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened…. how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”  (Matthew 7: 7,8,11).

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As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth (Job 19:25).

“There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. Seven sons and three daughters were born to him” (Job 1:1,2).

We all know the story of Job. Many preachers have used him as an example of how to have patience when things are all going wrong. Job’s story helps us to understand that we need to trust God no matter what.

The thing that strikes most people is how utterly unfair Job’s trials seemed to be. Here was a man who was so righteous that he even offered sacrifices to God for his children in case they had been sinning. Things were going along really well for Job before Satan came along and tried to make him deny God.

God allowed Satan to take away Job’s ten children, his livestock, and his servants. Job did not sin but replied, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed by the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

Next, Satan asked God if he could ruin Job’s health. God gave Satan permission to afflict Job, but to spare his life. Satan smote Job with sore boils from his head to his foot. We are not sure what disease caused these boils but they were so painful that Job wished he had never been born (Job 3:1).

We find Job sitting by the ashes, scraping himself with a potsherd. This was a fragment of a piece of pottery that was to scrape away the pus and perhaps the worms (maggots?) that got into Job’s body. Was he sitting near ashes to sterilize the piece of pottery? It is very likely that the ashes were there for Job to put over his head as people did in his day when they were in mourning.

This is how Job’s wife finds him when she comes to talk to him. We are shocked at what job-wifeshe says and she has been castigated for it by historians and theologians ever since. Job’s wife said, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9).

Now, it is sad that Job’s wife did not seem to have the same amount of faith that Job did. But I think it is time to reflect on her side of the story.

As a woman I know what it is like to watch a loved one suffer. Once when one of my children was really sick with the flu I even prayed that God would take the sickness from her and put it on me. It was so hard to watch her suffering and crying. I know that helpless feeling when all you can do is stand by and pray and nurse your loved one, staying awake all night in order to give them even a little comfort if possible. We don’t know how much pain and anguish Job’s wife must have been feeling.

Just a while before this, all of her ten children had been killed. Did she know why? The Bible doesn’t say whether or not Job knew that the whole thing was done by Satan with God’s permission. As a matter of fact, he probably didn’t know. We can figure that out from the next forty-one chapters. Job’s three friends come to visit him and “console” him. They find all kinds of reasons for why Job is being tried. They don’t suggest the devil and Job doesn’t either. Job questions God, but without losing his faith.

We do not know whether or not Job and his wife had conversations. She stayed with him all of that time. She must have served him and nursed him as best as she could. We know that Job loved her and honored her. “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” (Job 31:1). He was a faithful, covenant man who remained true to his wife. I hope that during this time he was able to convince her to repent and stay true to God.

Maybe she was a bit weak. I do not know what it is like to lose a child, let alone all of my children at once. And she didn’t even know why. Perhaps she deserves a bit more of our sympathy.

When Job’s wife told him to curse God in her despair and anguish, Job answered her with much patience. Some scholars have said that Job’s wife was not a believer. They believe that her response was a pagan response. I’m not so sure. We only have one sentence uttered by her. We don’t hear about her again, and only indirectly, until the end of the book.

What did Job actually say? “You speak as one of he foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10).

Job said that his wife speaks “as” one of the foolish women speaks. He didn’t say she was a foolish woman. He remonstrated with her. Then he implored her to accept whatever came from God. We are not told if she repented at this time, but we do know that she stuck with him. She did not go somewhere else. After all, not only had their children been killed, but also all of their donkeys, oxen, sheep, and camels. Their livelihood was gone. Job was in no shape to go out and work. And he couldn’t get any help because all of his servants had been captured or killed as well. Job’s wife went from being very rich to very poor with no prospects. In our day, this would be a good time to run home to mother!

job:3counselorsNot only was her husband ill and needing her sustenance, but now three guests show up. They stay for many days. Customs at the time demanded that she feed and show hospitality to them.

Did she listen in to their conversations? Did she want to know the answers to her husband’s questions? Job’s wife was a witness to his growth in knowledge and sanctification. Eventually Job realizes the truth.

He praises God and says, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me. I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees you; Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:2-6).

Job finally acknowledges that Jehovah is Lord of all. He is willing to let God be God. Job is willing to submit to God. Then God declares to Job’s mistaken friends that Job is right.

Job passed the test. His wife was with him. We hope that she followed his lead and humbly repented to God.

In any event, God blessed Job and his wife. He gave them ten more children and twice as many belongings as before. His daughters were considered the fairest in the land. Surely their mother had something to do with that.

I am not sure about Job’s wife’s relationship with God. But, I do sympathize with her and hope that if that kind of trouble comes to me I will cling to God as hopefully she did.

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So Hilkiah and those whom the king had told went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tokhath, the son of Hasrah, the keeper of the wardrobe… and they spoke to her regarding this. (II Chronicles 34:22).

It is popular at this time of year to make predictions about what the coming year will bring. Sometimes predictions are wild guesses; sometimes they are wishful thinking; but many times they are more like prophecies. What is the difference? What makes a prophecy?

The prophets in the Bible were inspired by God and so they could make accurate predictions about the future. Not all of the prophets were men; there were a number of women including Miriam, Deborah, and Huldah.

Our story this week is about Huldah. I’d be willing to bet that most of my readers have never heard of her. Even if you have, I wonder what percentage of folks have ever heard a sermon on her – probably less than 1% would be my guess.

Yet, in her day, Huldah was a very important woman. God used this faithful woman to give a very important prophecy to King Josiah. Here’s her story.

King Josiah reigned near the end of the Jewish Southern Kingdom before the Babylonian Captivity. The Northern Kingdom had already fallen due to God’s just judgment on them for hundreds of years of disobedience and idolatry. As God had warned them, they were carried off into captivity. The people in the Southern Kingdom had been more faithful and God was holding off the judgment of captivity on the Southern Kingdom for a few more decades.

Josiah was only eight years old when he began to reign. He sought God with all of his heart. He purged the land of Judea of all of the idols and cleansed the temple in Jerusalem. Then he ordered the rebuilding of the newly purged temple. While the workers were cleaning it, the “book of the law” was found. It had been missing for many years. Previous bad kings, like Josiah’s father Amon, had never bothered to read it much less think it important enough to obey.

When portions of the book of the law were read to Josiah he was truly frightened. He realized that the Israelites had been disobeying God for many years without repenting. He knew that God’s wrath was very great because the people had been disregarding God’s word. He wondered if God would bring the disasters on Israel that were foretold by other prophets.

Huldah,prophetessJosiah wanted to know if the book that was found was genuine. If it was, then he knew that God’s wrath would soon be on them. Josiah sent a few men, including his personal seer, to seek out Huldah, a prophetess, so that he might learn whether or not the book was the actual “book of the law” and what he should do if it was.

Now in our day, many people jump to the conclusion, due to their preconceived ideas about whether or not God uses women to minister, that Huldah was the only prophet available. These are the same folks who say that God only used Deborah to be a judge because there were no men available (See Judges, chapters 4 and 5). While it is true that God used more men than women to serve as prophets, we should not take that to mean that women are second best. If God used a woman, then she was the right person for the job. We should let God be God and not second guess HIm.

Anyway, the story of Huldah will blow away the reasoning that God only uses women when He has no men available.

Consider the fact that there were five other men available. Who were these men? Were they just youngsters or lesser prophets?

They were Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Jeduthan (the king’s seer). There are four Old Testament books bearing the names of the first four of these prophets. They were all alive at the time, but the king’s messengers went to Huldah’s house. It would have been so easy for Josiah to turn to his personal seer and ask him what God would have him do, but he sent his men to ask Huldah.

They knew that Huldah was a mature, Godly woman and that she was well respected by all. They did not need to go any further than her house to find out what God’s will for the king was.

Huldah responded with the message that God gave her. It was pretty horrific for the Jewish people. “Because they have forsaken Me and have burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore My wrath will be poured out on this place and it shall not be quenched” (II Chron. 34:25). However, since Josiah had repented and sought God, Huldah gave him this promise, “‘Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and because you humbled yourself before Me, tore your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,’ declares the Lord” (II Chron. 34:27).

Truly, Huldah was a remarkable servant of God. It could not have been easy for her to give such a scaryHuldah, Jerusalem prophecy to her people, but it was the truth and she boldly spoke it. Whether or not Christians have honored her as much as they should have, the Jews have held her in high regard as a prophet. Today you can see the monuments in Jerusalem that they constructed in her honor.

There are a couple of other things to note with this story.

One, does it have something about it that sounds familiar? Do you recall Solomon’s words when he finished building the temple and dedicating it to God? Solomon asked God to bless the people. Solomon also knew that the people might not continue to obey God as faithfully as they should. Solomon knew that God promised the Israelites that they would be taken into captivity as punishment for their sins. Of course we know that this would indeed happen a few years after King Josiah died. The Babylonians would come and defeat the people and carry them away as God foretold.

Recall that Solomon asked God to remember His people and forgive them if they should fall into idolatry. If the people should remember God again and humble themselves and ask forgiveness Solomon beseeched God to “hear from Heaven, from Your dwelling place, their prayer and supplications, and maintain their cause and forgive Your people who have sinned against You” (II Chronicles 6:39).

King Josiah certainly knew that God had been patient with the Israelites for hundreds of years. He knew that righteous judgment was upon them. But he humbled himself and sought God’s forgiveness. Huldah assured Josiah that God had heard his prayer and forgiven him. Because Josiah found favor with God, Huldah foretold, “Behold, I will gather you to your fathers and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, so your eyes will not see all the evil which I will bring on this place and on its inhabitants” (II Chronicles 34:28).

Josiah read the words of the book of the law to the people and they decided to obey God during Josiah’s reign. After Josiah’s death, the kings of Egypt and Babylon took captive Josiah’s sons as foretold.

Huldah was a true prophetess. We know this because her message came true. That was God’s test for His prophets. And her message was both a reminder and a fulfillment of the one that Solomon had given many years before.

We don’t have “inspired” (I mean like those in the Bible) prophets today, but can we prophesize to a certain extent? May we, by using God’s Word predict what will happen this year?

I believe that we can. If we continue to mock God, we will have judgment. I do not know what form that will take, but we already have a “bad king” in the form of the current evil administration and so some predictions are possible.

If Christians don’t wake up and do something it is a sure thing that many more innocent unborn babies will die. It is a sure thing that much more injustice will be done. It is a sure thing that the hard won freedoms for which our forefathers fought and died will disappear one by one. God has told us what the consequences of our sins will be. Even a quick study of Biblical and Church will show that God keeps His promises to bless and to judge.

The answer to solving our problems is the same as it always was – we must repent of our sins, ask God to forgive us, and beseech His mercy. Then He will hear from Heaven and forgive His people (II Chron. 6:39). He has also promised to bless us richly if we obey. I pray that we will get back to focusing on God and His glory. When we follow God we will have much happier things to predict!

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