The messenger and his message

2 Samuel 18 - Ahimaaz runs2Samuel 18:20: And Joab said unto him, Thou shalt not be the bearer of tidings this day, but thou shalt bear tidings another day; but this day thou shalt bear no tidings, because the king’s son is dead.

A certain man (Ahimaaz) is being told in the focus verse by Joab that he is not to take a message to the king. That message, was sad news mixed with good news (2Samuel 18:15-33). The message was not straight forward.

Absalom, King David’s son, had rebelled against him and chased his father from the throne. In the battle that ensued from that, Absalom was killed, even after David has specifically instructed his people not to harm him. So the news was not all sweet for David.

Two prophets in the bible had similar prophetic experiences: God told Ezekiel (Ezekiel 2:8-3:4) and John (Revelation 10:9-11) to each eat a book. It was sweet in their mouth but for John it was also bitter in his stomach. The message that John was asked to deliver has a mixed content, it was bit on judgment on the world and also of the coming reign of Christ and the total defeat of the devil.

Habakkuk also had a similar experience with God. After seeking God about the sinfulness of the children of Israel, God showed him that he was going to totally judge the people through a foreign nation, but Habakkuk thought that was taking it too far.

He liked the fact that God wanted to do something about the rot in Israel but he does not like the fact that God was going to use Babylon as the tool to do that, those he believed were even worse than Israel to start with (Habakkuk 1). God’s response was definitely bitter-sweet for him.

When God sent Samuel with a message to the house of Jesse, so that he would anoint one of his sons as king; on the surface, it was a good message but there are some pains that go with it. The anointing on David was what made him a fugitive, being hunted down by Saul the king. His parents left their home town because of that (1Samuel 22:1-4), became strangers in a foreign land. The call of God on David was bitter-sweet.

Paul the apostle was appointed by God to be an apostle, which was great. But there is the “bitter” side, which include being burdened for the churches all the time (2Corinthians 11:23-27), not being married, and the various opposition and trial that he faced along the way. So much so that because of the magnificent of the revelation he was given by God, a messenger of Satan was allowed to buffet him (2Corinthians 12:7).

For Mary the woman who carried Jesus for nine months, the coming of Jesus through her was a bitter sweet experience. It was grand to bear the Son of God and to have the privilege of nurturing him but to see your Son hang on the cross dying from the most ignoble death was surely painful, and tallies with the word that one Simeon told her that though her son brings salvation, a sword will pierce her (Mary) soul. And it did because of the pain of seeing his son dying on the cross (Luke 2:34-35).

The word of God has been described as double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12); it cuts in two directions, two sharp sides facing opposite directions. It cuts both the messenger and the hearers of the message. Paul told Timothy to take heed to himself and the message so as to save himself and the people (1Timothy 4:16). James says that we should not all be teachers because they would experience stricter judgment (James 3:1). The message does not just have implication for the audience but also for the speaker, it judges the speaker in any area of hypocrisy, while it judges the audience in the area of obedience.

God sent a prophet with a message. But strangely, the first thing he did was to ask someone to hit him. the first person refused, but the second really hit him that a wound mark was on him. God wanted it like that so that the message will be impressed on the prophet, it would not just be words spoken but the life lived, from the marks the message makes on him (1Kings 20:28-43). The message must make a mark on the bearer of the message, before it can make a mark on the hearer. The message that passes through you is on the level of the change that you have experienced by that word. You cannot impress on people more than heaven has impressed on you.

From the focus verse we see that Joab thought that the message of the death of the king’s sons, and the quelling of the rebellion, together with that was what a man like Ahimaaz, was not suited for. It’s therefore wrong, to like the message committed to a particular messenger so much that you want to copy it. We should all strive to be original, to lay hold of the dimension of wisdom (Ephesians 3:10) that God wants to express through us.

Another issue the focus verse brings up is timing. Ahimaaz was told that his time will come. But he does not want to hear that, he wants to run and run now. And he could not wait. He had the message but it was not his time; so capability does not automatically translate to divine mission. Like Jesus, we should be able to say: my time has not yet come (John 2:4).

Peter as a messenger did not have a problem with the message, his message was Jesus, but he had a problem with audience in Acts 10. As a Jew, there was tradition and also pseudo-spiritual reasons that prevented him from going to the house of Cornelius without divine persuasion, he needed to be convinced by God.

Going there delivered a message to Peter, as much as Peter was delivered a message to people. He opened his speech in the house of Cornelius, saying that he perceives that God is no respected of persons. That was the message he got. In the process of delivering a message, he learned more of the ways of God. Something was wrought in Peter that day. He had to move away from his prejudices; before he can speak the word of God to the people he was assigned to.

There is need for the messenger to be in preparation to be able to deliver the message. You can’t bear all messages, and there is time for everything; and the intention of God is that the messenger and the message will be one.

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