More To Know
9 Characteristics of the Authority To Edify
So much can be learned from Paul's example in ministry. His writings and what has been written about him provide a wealth of information. Most of us have not been given the same broad scope of ministry that was entrusted to Paul. However, the principles that he demonstrated are substantially helpful for anyone dealing with people. As mentioned in the previous post, we all will give an account of how we handled our assignments. To minister is to serve. Some people seem to think that ministry means to "be served". The qualities expressed in these passages reflect a passion and a purpose that is in harmonny with the heart of God for His people.
Key scriptures: II Corinthians 1:23 – 2:4 (KJV)
23 Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth.
Characteristics: pure honesty and truth. Paul isn’t trying to use reverse psychology to get them to think or do as he wishes. He doesn’t try to use deception, guilt or anger that so many use to manipulate the people.
Paul puts their well-being ahead of his own plans and personal ministry desires. A true shepherd is primarily concerned about the comfort, safety and health of the sheep. Paul demonstrated a shepherd’s concern.
24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.
Characteristic: humility. Paul acknowledged that he is not the big dog who is calling all the shots. He points out that he has no rulership over their faith or faithfulness. This encourages each believer to take responsibility for their own faith, including the growth, depth and maturing of that faith or belief system. Without direct, intentional attention, faith will stay the same, stagnate or wither, shrivel and shrink. Paul doesn’t see himself as a principal over them. He deems himself a co-laborer, a fellow-worker and a brother in the Lord.
2 But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.
Characteristic: patience. Even though Paul’s desire was urgent to interact with them in person, he was willing to wait until there was a release in his spirit from the Holy Ghost.
2 For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me?
Characteristic: sensitivity. Paul is attuned to the timing that would be the most beneficial for his readers. He does not push ahead just to suit his own agenda or schedule or preferences.
3 And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.
Characteristics: self-discipline and maturity. Even though Paul wanted an in-person visit, he resisted going. Maturity let him know that a poorly timed visit would not yield the results he hoped for. He did not want to cause sorrow or dread or heaviness by coming too soon. The delayed personal encounter gave them time to correct the concerns expressed in his writings to them.
4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.
Characteristics: wisdom and empathy. Paul put himself in their place imagining how his presence would affect their hearts, spirits and morale if he arrived too soon. Paul was not oblivious or uncaring about their spiritual condition or their likely reactions to seeing him in person. It would be like having to face a parent who had confidence and trust in you as a child and you violated that trust. If the relationship is healthy, the child is shamed, grieved, embarrassed and possibly fearful at the prospect of facing the parent. Paul did not want that for them. And it wasn’t necessary since he addressed the pertinent issues in his letters.
It is easy to become disgruntled or disappointed when serving. There are so many varying situations and types of people that require your attention. God has shown us, through Paul, what it looks like to wisely and carefully exercise the Authority To Edify.
The new year is fast approaching. May the abundance of the Holy Father bless you and your household with more than enough. May the wisdom of the Spirit of Truth usher you into an arena of Grace and Truth that will transform lives, comfort hearts and bring clarity of thought to each person who is a receipient of your ministry. God Bless You!
II Corinthians 10:8-9 KJV - For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed: 9That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters.
II Corinthians 10:8-9 AMP - For even though I boast rather freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed [of the truth], 9 nor do I want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters;
In the verses above the apostle Paul is writing to the church at Corinth. He speaks of the authority granted to him of the Lord for the purpose of edification or building up. From this passage here are six points about "Exercising the Authority To Edify".
Exercising the Authority To Edify
- Make a declaration. Don’t be timid about using the authority or delegated influence. Every born-again believer has this authority through the power of the Holy Ghost. We have this influence and should be using it every day. Paul was instrumental in the spiritual birth of many of the saints at Corinth. He was a spiritual father to them. As a father, a parent, he had the privilege and the responsibility of edification just like natural parents do. Those raising children are afforded a unique opportunity to shape young minds and help direct their spirits toward the Lord. In the whole scheme of things, this window of opportunity is very small. Natural parents start as the primary influencers in a child's life. Quite frequently this only lasts a few short years. Use the time you have wisely. Don't take these fleeting moments for granted. Pour generously, the strengthening wisdom of God, into young people's lives. This is important whether they are young naturally or young spiritually.
- Know that this power was given to us by the Lord to use. He knew what He was doing when He gave it. We all will give an account of what we did with what He gave us to steward (Matthew 25: 14-30). It is not our power or our people. All belong to the Lord. All of us have seen, heard or experienced a ministry where those in leadership began to abuse the authority given them as a spiritual leader. It is vital to always remember that it is the Lord’s authority. We are simply ambassadors operating, ministering on His behalf, in His stead. Therefore, we are to utilize that power the same way He would.
3. This power was given to us to build up. The original wording translated “build up” has a reference to architecture and structure. So it is not an abstract concept. I believe that Paul's wording indicates that when we exercise this authority as the Lord intended, something with intentional design, critical form, and specified purpose is being established. The Lord doesn’t do anything willy-nilly. Everything has a purpose. When we exercise His authority, as He intends, the body of Christ is strengthened, encouraged and made free. When we are edified there is a virtue that is imparted to us. Our outlook is clearer and brighter. Bondages fall off or we have the strength to wrestle out of them and walk away. When we are edified there is a liberty that positively impacts our spiritual, mental, emotional and physical health.
4. Paul further distinguishes to his readers that his desire and use of this authority is not to tear them down, bring them down or destroy them. The very fact that he mentions this reveals that this misuse is a possibility. Not a possibility from or by Paul. His intentions are only good. But he warns (Acts 20:28-30) of those who do not have noble intentions and they will grievously damage the flock of God.
5. Paul also states that there is no shame in the proper dispensing of this power. He gives no credence to the naysayers, or the rebellious or the disobedient who accuse him of overstepping his authority.
6. Finally, at the end of verse 9, he emphasizes again that it is not his intention to exercise his authority through fear or ungodly dominance as some leaders do. Paul is careful to keep his love for God's people ablaze. Love covers the multitude of sins (I Peter 4:8). Letting the Lord love the flock through you will help keep fustration, anger and impatience at bay. We are to love the same way we are loved by our Heavenly Father.
The next post will review nine characteristics of the "Authority To Edify" gleaned from a portion of II Corinthians. Thank you for visiting this site!
Luke chapter one includes an extraordinary story of a Ministry Miracle: John the Baptist. Most bible readers know that John’s parents were elderly and his mother was barren (Luke 1:7). It was not likely, in the normal course of nature, that Zacharias and Elizabeth would ever have a child at this stage of their lives. But Zacharias had been praying for a son (Luke 1:13). God honored his request.
The account recorded in chapter one of Luke outlines an order of significance regarding the Manifestation of the Ministry Miracle entrusted to the priest Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth. Let’s see what Luke’s reporting reveals.
- Luke 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
Vocational and Family History. These two people were prepared for what they (or at least, he) were expecting. His calling as a priest and their family heritage helped prepare them for a blessing from the Lord. We don’t choose the lineage we come from but we do create a spiritual heritage for those who follow after us. Living a life that is serviced to the Lord builds a foundation that our descendants can build on. The life you live affects those who come after you. How we choose to live can make life easier or more difficult for the next generations. Believers should live so that our children and grandchildren don’t spend the bulk of their lives trying to overcome the shady reputations of those who went before them. We are to be honorable in all of our associations. All types of employment are not honorable. The vocation we choose is important. Are you in the field that the Lord has designed and destined for your life? Are you leaving a spiritually strong legacy for the next generations?
- Luke 1: 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
The spiritual posture and dedication of this couple was exemplary. They were committed to the ways of God and did not waver. They were secure in their beliefs and conducted themselves accordingly.
- Luke 1:7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
When God is going to actualize a miracle the natural odds are always against you. But there is no force, situation, circumstance or diagnosis that is greater than our God. It doesn’t matter what happened before or what didn’t happen before. At the appointed time God will bring to pass whatever He has determined.
- Luke 1:8-9 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course,
According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
Be diligent in your calling and work your assignments well. Don’t be late. Be reliable. Don’t be absent when you are expected or scheduled. Don’t take shortcuts. Zacharias was diligent in executing his priestly duties. Nobody always feels like showing up and giving 100%. But we are to do what we do as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23). If you knew that the Lord was personally inspecting your work and your attitude, would He be pleased?
- Luke 1:10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.
It is wise and of utmost importance to have like-spirited people in close proximity both naturally and spiritually. We need support. No one person can complete their assignments alone. The prayers of the righteous avail much (James 5:16) and set the atmosphere for the presence and power of God to operate.
- Luke 1:11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
You may not see an angel or have a conversation with an angel. But angels are present all around us. You are not alone. God will hasten His Word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12). God will provide confirmation and encouragement while you are doing what He called you to do. Don’t give up. Help is present.
- Luke 1:12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
The natural man cannot comprehend or understand the vastness, the breadth and depth of what God can and will do on your behalf. Even believers often try to explain or grasp the ways of God according to their human intellect. It doesn’t work. (I Corinthians 2:14)
- Luke 1:13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
This verse, this one sentence is remarkable! It demonstrates a five-point consolation that is astounding!
- Fear not…you have nothing to fear. This is a message of comfort.
- Zacharias…this is so personal. They are the only two there so there is no mistaking who Gabriel is addressing but the angel still calls him by name. God knows exactly who you are, where you are, what you desire and what you have been dealing with your entire life.
- thy prayer is heard…acknowledgment and assurance that all you have been believing and doing is not in vain.
- and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son…his whole household is affirmed, included and expanded.
- and thou shalt call his name John…divine instructions are always a source of comfort to obedient souls.
- Luke 1:14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
Not only will there be a personal or individual response of joy and gladness but this Ministry Miracle will also produce an ever-widening circle of gladness among those who love the Lord. This particular manifestation of the birth and ministry of young John still makes hearts rejoice even today.
Luke 1:15-17 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.
16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
The purpose and assignment of the blessing and ministry must be made known. Godly instructions are always vital. We may not understand the importance of divine direction. God does not explain everything. He wants us to do what He says because we trust and revere Him. In His own way, God will reveal the character of the ministry gift, the discipline required to strengthen and distinguish the gift and the undeniable power of God that is present and active through the gift.
- Luke 1:18-20 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.
19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.
20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
There is a consequence for doubt and unbelief. We should not entertain doubt or unbelief on any level or minimize their effects in our lives and ministry. We can still function when dealing with the consequences of not wholeheartedly embracing what the Lord has said. But we don’t function as easily. Doubt and unbelief foster restrictions and limitations and our interactions with others require more effort for them and for us.
Luke 1: 21-22 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.
22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.
When God is dealing with you in a special way, other people notice even if you don’t say anything about it. There is a different anointing and a different grace on your life when the Lord has chosen you for a unique assignment.
- Luke 1:23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
Don’t try to move ahead or above what the Lord has said. When you have completed what you were summoned to do at this point, go home. Don’t attempt to create a platform. Don’t do any more or any less than has been communicated to you at this point. When further communication is needed, God will provide it. Use this time to study, meditate, rest, refresh, spend time with your family and friends. Keep doing what pleases the Lord and share His love in abundance.
- Luke 1:24-25 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,
25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
The actualization of what God promised shows up! It is wise not to go shouting from the rooftops what has taken place. In due time the blessing, the ministry, the anointing will become evident. God will introduce what He has done for you in His own way and in His own time.
This outlines fourteen points of significance that are evident in this story. What are you expecting from the Lord? Are you prepared to receive it when He sends it? Are you faithful in all that He has already entrusted to you? Have you already settled in your mind and spirit that you have left no opportunity for doubt and unbelief to influence your journey? I pray that you are encouraged and fortified in your expectations from the Lord.
Isaiah 52:1-2 is an excellent prescription for deliverance. Even believers can be plagued with undesirable thoughts, habits, feelings, emotions and actions. We all have dealt with these types of issues at some point in our lives. But for the believer it is especially troubling to be involved with anything that is not in harmony with a Christ-centered life.
There is always a Remedy In the Word for whatever is troubling you. Isaiah 52:1-2 illustrates the Mindset of Deliverance and offers a practical process for stepping out of bondage. Of course, there are other ways and means of gaining the freedom Jesus died to give us. No one method works for every person or every situation. We do know that the Lord speaks to us through His Word. He is the Word (John 1:14). Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). Any deliverance, any true freedom is only attained through Him.
Consistently following the principles expressed in these verses will result in freedom. You may have to repeat them more than once to gain complete release. We also know that maintenance is vital. No one expects to clean house once and never have to do it again. Maintenance is required. Prayer, meditation and scripture reading are daily maintenance requirements to maintain freedom. Other spiritual strengtheners, like fasting, are done less frequently but are just as helpful.
Isaiah 52:1-2 KJV
Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.
2 Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.
14 Realities of Deliverance
- Verse 1 – Awake…
Wake up!!! Realize that whatever has you bound is not of God. If it isn’t of God, then refuse to accept any part of it. Don’t make excuses or allowances for it. Don’t hold onto any part of it, not even a smidgen. It is important for us to be fully aware. Drowsiness clouds our thinking and our perception. Don’t let sin or error or ignorance (not knowing) lull you to sleep or dull your spiritual senses. Realize the truth about the situation and be determined to change it.
Wake up to the truth of Who God is and Who He created you to be. Decide to live in His Love, in His Power, in His provision and according to His Plan. Don’t accept anything less!
When God says something once, He means it. Here he says twice to “Wake up!!” There is an urgency to be awake and aware. Wake up and see the situation the way the Lord sees it. His view is always perfectly clear and absolutely correct. Wake up and gain His perspective.
3.…put on thy strength…
Rebuke and refute weakness. Don’t give weakness any license to operate in your life. Our words can either give weakness our power or send weakness away. Use words that speak of your strength and power in the Lord. Nehemiah 8:10…the joy of the Lord is your strength.
Know who you are in the Lord. He called you Zion! He named you, He loves you, He chose you. Zion is a high place in the holy land. You are not just some random human being who got here accidentally. ‘Zion’ means ‘marked’ or ‘distinction’. You have significance and worth: know it, own it, live it.
5.…put on thy beautiful garments…
Change your clothes! Throw off the sackcloth and ashes (garments of mourning). Dress for success. Your success is in the Lord alone! Changing your clothes is an indication of a change in attitude and perspective. Put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-18). The covering that the Lord has provided beautifies and protects the ones who wear it. Stop seeing yourself in rags and put on everything the Lord has made available to you (Job 29:14, Psalm 132:9, Isaiah 11:5, Isaiah 59:17, Isaiah 61:10, Revelation 19:8).
In place of ‘Jerusalem’ put your name there. Jerusalem signifies a spiritual hub or an epicenter. Jerusalem represents the function of spiritual activity. God chose Jerusalem and put His name there. He chose you and called you by His name. You are to be a spiritual influence in the Kingdom of God. You matter. You have purpose and you were chosen to make a difference.
7.…the holy city…
Jerusalem is a special city and you are a special person. Just like the city, you were chosen and designated by God to show forth His holiness and His glory. He wants to reign in you! You are to be holy unto the Lord. That means to fully and authentically represent Him in every way: the way we speak, the way we clothe our bodies, the lifestyle we live, every action, every thought and every motive should align with the principles of God. No human can accomplish this alone. We need the Holy Spirit to guide and help discipline us in all facets of our living.
8.…for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.
From now on you are to only allow what pleases and glorifies God. Uncircumcised represents those who have not come into covenant with the Lord Jesus Christ and received Him as Savior and Lord. Receiving Him as Savior means a person has accepted the Lord’s free gift of salvation. They have repented of their sins and are endeavoring to walk in the newness of life that Christ died to give them. Receiving Him as Lord means that He is now King of your life. You have Him seated on the throne of your heart without any competition.
Unclean is anything that isn’t pure by God’s standards. Not purity according to the world’s standards or your family’s standards or the standard of the fellowship with which you may associate, but God’s standard. Anything that is not pure according to God’s specifications is unclean.
9. Verse 2 – Shake thyself from the dust…
Shake yourself out of stagnation and dreariness. Get your spiritual circulation going again. You are not stuck. That is a lie from the enemy. He wants you to think that where you are is where you have to remain. That is not true. Get all the dullness off of you. Shake loose and live in the liberty that Christ, the Anointed One, already purchased on your behalf. That liberty is yours. It has already been bought for you. Get out of the dirt and live in freedom.
Stand up! Stop laying in the past. Stop wallowing in what was or what could have been. This is a new day and you have opened your eyes to see and enjoy it!
11. …sit down…
Take your place in the Kingdom of God. There is a seat with your name on it. Claim what is yours: righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. (Romans 14:17) Sit in the Kingdom with your Heavenly Father and be in the closest proximity to Him. In His Presence is fullness of joy and at His right hand there are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)
12. …O Jerusalem…
God knows you and calls you by name. You belong to Him. He created you as His own.
13. …loose thyself from the bands of thy neck…
Through the power of the Holy Spirit you have the strength and the wisdom to get free from the bondages. God has given you the resources and the knowledge to get those bands off your neck. You are no longer a slave. You have been made free! (John 8:36) The anointing that destroys yokes is available to you. (Isaiah 10:27)
14. …O captive daughter of Zion.
Your only captivity is in the heart of the Lord. He captured you in His heart. He engraved your name on the palms of His hands. (Isaiah 49:16) He loves you because you belong to Him. You are not an orphan and you are not alone. You are not without significance. You are God’s Child of Recognition. He knows exactly where you are and who you are. He loves you beyond what you can comprehend. Your mistakes don’t change His mind about you. Accept His forgiveness and be at peace in the heart of righteousness where He has placed you.
Closing observations – Notice that all of the instructions are for us to do. So often people are wanting the Lord to do all the work on our behalf. Guess what? He already did it! He did everything that needed to be done in order for us to walk in liberty. We have to wake up, we have to put on strength. We have to decide what garments will clothe us. He already gave us the garments of praise to vanquish the spirit of heaviness. (Isaiah 61:3) All we have to do is follow His instructions and use what He already gave us.
Genesis 37, ends with ten of the sons of Jacob (Jacob was also called Israel) acting out an extremely cruel deception against their father. Those who are familiar with the story know that the ten brothers harbored intense jealousy and disdain for the eleventh brother, Joseph. The ten carried and nursed among themselves a vile hatred against him. So much so that the majority agreed to sell him into slavery but report to their father that he had evidently been killed by a wild beast. The brothers’ hearts were tremendously blackened by the sin of jealousy. They were more content to see their father in deep depression, grief and mourning than to live peaceably with Joseph. The ten brothers, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar and Zebulun all kept the secret for about 13 years that they had faked their brother Joseph’s death.
Genesis 38 continues with a portion of the life of one of the ten brothers.
The fourth in line of the ten brothers was Judah. He possibly could not endure watching his father’s heart weep for the son he thought was dead. It was Judah’s idea to sell Joseph instead of killing him. Killing Joseph had been their original plan.
Genesis 37:26-27 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
26 Y’hudah said to his brothers, “What advantage is it to us if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Yishma‘elim, instead of putting him to death with our own hands. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh.” His brothers paid attention to him.
When Judah made the suggestion to sell Joseph he was probably feeling pretty good about himself. He may have thought he had even come up with a ‘noble’ alternative to taking the life of their own flesh and blood. Plus the brothers gained a bit of money by selling Joseph for 20 pieces of silver. However, seeing his father in such misery after the brothers led Jacob to believe Joseph was dead, probably began to take a toll on Judah’s conscience. Judah’s bright idea to sell his own brother possibly didn’t seem so keen as he watched his grief-stricken father wrestle with the death of his son day after day.
Genesis 38 opens with Judah having left his brothers and his father’s house to go stay with a friend. I imagine Judah was wanting to distance himself from the part he played in the callous deception with which he and his brothers had assaulted their father. No doubt he was plagued with guilt and regret but felt it was too late to tell the truth. So he left…possibly thinking he could forget his father’s aged and forlorn face. By changing the scenery of his surroundings maybe he thought he could push the memory out of his mind of his confused and frightened 17-year old brother as he was unceremoniously shuffled off to a foreign land in shackles and chains.
Whatever the reason, Judah left home and stayed with his friend Hirah. It appears that Judah actually took up residency there in the land of Canaan. He got married and he and his wife had three sons: Er, Onan and Shelah.
When the sons were of age Judah chose a wife for his eldest. The wife’s name was Tamar. Genesis 38:7 is the verse from which the title of this post was drawn: “When God Seems Harsh”.
Genesis 38:7 CJB
7 But ‘Er, Y’hudah’s firstborn, was evil from Adonai’s perspective, so Adonai killed him.
Genesis 38:7 King James Version
7 And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord slew him.
Yikes! I don’t know your thoughts but to me, this seems rather excessive. There are plenty of other wicked folks in the bible but God didn’t just get rid of them with no explanation. There was the wicked king Ahab and his evil wife Jezebel spoken of in I Kings 19-22. I Kings 21:25-26 has this commentary about Ahab.
I Kings 21:25-26 KJV
25 But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.
26 And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.
The bible account of Ahab’s reign is horrendous. The details given about his rulership and character offer nothing virtuous. And yet even this man, who was supremely wicked, was shown mercy by the Lord.
I Kings 21: 29 KJV
29 Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house.
In contrast, it seems that Er, the son of Judah is not given the same degree of consideration. The extent of his life and death are expressed in one line. No details. No explanation. No offering of second chances are shared in the text.
Genesis 38:7 King James Version
7 And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord slew him.
Straight to the point. No coddling. No wooing to do better. Bam…you’re dead.
As if that wasn’t shocking enough, something similar happens to his brother Onan.
Genesis 38:8-10 KJV
8 And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.
9 And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.
10 And the thing which he did displeased the Lord: wherefore he slew him .
Following the custom of the time, the third son was then promised to the twice-widowed Tamar. But because of what had happened to his first two sons Judah was afraid to let the third son marry Tamar.
Onan, the second son of Judah, did not want to have and raise a son and not get credit for it. According to the custom, he was to marry Er’s widow and raise up seed for his dead brother. Onan would be the biological father but the son would be considered to be Er’s. Onan refused to do it. He was more concerned with his own personal legacy. So the Lord killed him too.
This seems harsh. It seems rash. We see Ahab who was an unthinkably wicked king over God’s people and yet God shows him mercy. The bible doesn’t explain anything about Er’s life. He is simply described as wicked and the Lord cuts him off. Onan decides he doesn’t want to continue his brother’s legacy. Perhaps that way of thinking is a bit selfish but hardly seems worthy of a death sentence. Does it?
Have you ever looked at people who seem to get away with all sorts of lewdness and don’t seem to suffer any consequences? Then another person has one seemingly small slip-up and pays dearly for the error. At first glance it seems imbalanced and unfair. But God is never wrong. He is never imbalanced or in error.
Judah, one of the first ten sons of Jacob, is the line through which the Messiah would come. Er’s wickedness could not be a part of the lineage of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Our Heavenly Father had already determined that Jesus would be the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Jesus had to be a descendent of Judah, presumably through one of his sons. Er was swiftly disqualified. The bible isn’t specific about what kind of wickedness Er practiced. But whatever it was, was sufficient for him to be erased from the lineage.
Likewise, Onan, refused to participate in God’s plan. What God had orchestrated was far greater and exponentially superior to any of the individual players.
You may not know why God seems to have restricted your activities more than others. It may seem to you that other believers have more liberty in God than you do. You may look around and think that God seems to be requiring more of you than He does of some of your acquaintances and friends. The reins with which God guides your life are to help you fulfill God’s purposes for your life. What you do should bring glory to the Father. There is no comparison between the blessings of obedience and the consequences of disobedience. Sometimes what God is requiring doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal. You may feel that it isn’t necessary to do it exactly like He said. Or you may want to take a shortcut and eliminate some steps of the process. But He doesn’t do anything without purpose. Don’t neglect your assignment or any portion of it. All of it is important. Whatever the Lord has instructed you to do, do it with vigor and set yourself in complete agreement with God. Don’t complain about it. Understand that he made you and He is all-knowing. You have a reason for being here. Fulfill your purpose so that God gets all the Glory. Amen.
Not to leave you hanging, in case you don’t already know the story, Jesus is descended from the line of Judah. But it wasn’t through any of the three sons mentioned above.
Tamar, Judah’s widowed daughter-in-law, disguised herself as a harlot and was impregnated by Judah after his wife died. Because of her disguise, he did not know it was her. Imagine his surprise when he found out he was about to be the father of twin boys by Tamar. The first-born twin Pharez is the one that carries the legacy to the birth of Jesus.
None of these people knew how vital their decisions were. Just like many of us, they just thought they were making normal, everyday choices. Every believer should be attuned to the voice and heart of God. What is He saying? Am I obeying?