Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - 1Ch 4:9,10
"Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had
named him Jabez, [Jabez sounds like the Hebrew for pain] saying, 'I gave birth
to him in pain' " (1Ch 4:9).
"It seems very likely that the two unexpected verses about
Jabez, cropping up in the middle of the Chronicles genealogies (1Ch 4:9,10),
refer to Othniel. For the genealogy there is that of Judah, Othniel's tribe, and
Jabez calls on 'the God of Israel' precisely as Caleb also does (Josh 14:14), a
thing to be expected since they were both of Gentile origin, being Kenizzites (v
13 here). The phrase: 'more honourable than his brethren', may allude to the
fact that other members of the family did not share his union with Israel; or it
commemorates his fine work as saviour and judge of Israel (Jdg 3:8-11). His
request: 'Oh that thou wouldest... enlarge my border' is matched in Judges by
Othniel's tactful incitement of his wife to ask for springs of water as an
addition to her dowry -- what Jabez very appropriately calls 'a blessing' (1Ch
4:10; Jdg 1:15). And 'God granted him that which he requested.' Evidently whilst
Achsah was asking her father, Othniel was asking his Father" (Harry Whittaker,
"Judges and Ruth").
"Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, 'Oh, that you would
bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from
harm so that I will be free from pain.' And God granted his request" (1Ch
The NIV translates: "enlarge my territory" (instead of
"coast", as in KJV), rightly, I think. This is, in a microcosm -- so to speak, a
reference to the promises to Abraham: "all the land you see, to you I will give,
and to your seed" (Gen 13), from the great river Euphrates all the way to Egypt
(Gen 15), etc! The prayer is, in effect: "God, may I receive the promises made
to my father Abraham!"
In that sense, there is a prayer for material prosperity (a
token of which Jabez might receive in this life), but particularly wrapped up in
God's promise of eternal life, through the resurrection of the dead, and the
fulfillment of His great and precious promises. This probably has little to do
with a new car, or a new TV/VCR/stereo combination!
In the sense of the Abrahamic promises, notice how in Gen 13,
Abraham is promised all the land, "north, south, east and west"... AND a great
multiplying of his seed! Notice how this is echoed in the NT, when Jesus says:
"There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac
and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown
out. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take
their places at the feast in the kingdom of God" (Luk 13:28,29). This is an
interesting twist. In Genesis we hear God telling Abraham that he was "enlarge
his territories" in all directions, as far as he can see (did he see the whole
earth, in vision?). But in the gospels, Jesus seems to "interpret" this promise
(that is, the east, west, north, south allusion) to mean -- not only 'your
borders will be extended IN all directions', but especially 'people (Gentiles!)
will come to you (and God's kingdom) FROM all directions'!
And so there are two different (but very much related) ways by
which the promises to Abraham will be fulfilled: (1) the expansion of Abraham's
"territories" outward, and/or (2) the people of those territories coming inward,
to Abraham and his God! Either way, the same result is achieved!
Reading 2 - Eze 17
"The great parable of the two eagles and the vine describe the
situation in Zedekiah's last days. The great eagle is representative of
Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon; the other eagle speaks of the southern power of Egypt.
Both were important in the final history of the kingdom of Judah. The vine
represented Judah, the tender planting of Yahweh, which had become affected by
the disease of humanity, and sought for support from its companion nations,
ignoring the strength and power of Yahweh's protection. Eze 17 presents 'The
Allegory of Zedekiah, the Covenant Breaker,' and outlines:
Zedekiah's power set up by the Babylonian Eagle: vv 1-6.
The king turns
to Egypt for help: vv 7-10.
Zedekiah's treachery proves fatal: vv
The Zedekiah who keeps covenants: vv 22-24.
Thus the desolation brought about by Zedekiah (Yahweh is
Righteous), will be restored by a king with the name 'Yahweh our Righteousness,'
fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus the 'one whose right it is' will uphold
the name of the last king of Judah, and restore the throne of David in
accordance with the principles of true righteousness. Notice the constant
references to 'covenant' in this chapter (6 times)" (GE Mansfield).
Reading 3 - Luk 14:33
"In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything
he has cannot be my disciple" (Luk 14:33).
"The eternal reward we claim to treasure so highly and seek so
devotedly is perfection, spirituality, holiness, freedom from all the motions
and lusts of the flesh, closeness to God, total godliness in thought and action.
How badly do we really want this condition, and what are we really willing to
give up to get it? If we are not willing to sacrifice everything else, and drop
everything else in this life to strive for perfection in these divine things,
then we reveal that our professed devotion to them and desire for them is
shallow and weak. We really want the pleasure of this life and the flesh -- and
then God later, when this life is over, and the flesh is worn out and has lost
its excitement and appeal. Giving up what we have ceased to enjoy is no
sacrifice. God wants our best now, not our dregs" (GVG).
"There are only two ways to be: only two sides to take --
God's side and the flesh's side. We have got to be all the way over on God's
side in everything. We cannot mix it. We cannot have half-and-half. Salvation
depends on total choice of God's side of every decision, every issue, every
choice, every activity. Face it: it's for your life" (GVG).