Jabez: ‘Keep me from harm’

canada-goose-216015_6401Chronicles 4:10: Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.

Jabez had a list of prayers for God. He wants God to bless him, enlarge him, have his hand with him, and keep him from harm, so that others will not experience pain because of his own bad experiences (1Chronicles 4:9-10).

But the pain Jesus experienced on the cross was prophesied to affect Mary. Simeon an old man when Jesus was born told Mary his mother that because of what his son will go through, a sword will pierce her own heart, as her son comes to harm on the cross while she watches, for the sake of saving the whole human race (Luke 2:34-35). A pain was also in the heart of God as He severed connection with his Son the first time ever (so that joy will come to the world).

Also, when we experience persecution, Jesus experiences pain from it, because we are his body. When Paul (as Saul) was persecuting the church, Jesus stopped him in his tracks, saying why are you persecuting me (Acts 22:7-8)? That encounter changed his life forever. Realising that he was causing pain to God, to Christ by doing what he taught was the best, causing him to re-examine his theology, and began a journey with the one true God, rather than the ideas of him that were espoused by his teachers handed down over centuries.

He would re-examine his stance towards Christians, the history of the relationship of God with the nation of Israel, and how that will change going to the future. He would learn to wrap his mind around a new assignment of taking the message of the gospel to the gentiles, helping to populate the camp of Christians, which before, he wanted nothing more than to deplete.

But Jabez did not want to cause pain; his pain does not achieve any grand world plan. Unlike Jesus’ pain on the cross that helped to procure salvation for us. Jesus asked that the Father would keep him from the harm on the cross but he was refused for the eternal good of those who believe.

But for Jabez, his was a curse-induced cycle of pain. His mum inadvertently released a curse on him because of his painful birth. Afterwards he continued to experience painful things and people around him were. He was prone to causing pain to others without meaning to. He became a focal point of pain. When people think about him, they remember the disaster he experienced or he caused, even though he was the best among his peers. No matter the good he did, he could not escape the cycle of pain that has marked his history.

But rather than “resign to fate”, he decided to take his case to God and God answered him, with a stupendous release of blessing that changed his “cursed” situation. Nothing is hopeless when God is concerned. With man it may be impossible but nothing is impossible with God even a longstanding situation like Jabez’s.

There was a man who was paralysed for 38 years; he received his healing in a moment of time through the intervention of Jesus Christ (John 5:1-9). The man was helpless as helpless can be, and left to vegetate at the poolside waiting for the occasional stirring of the water by an angel.

When Jesus met him, he was full of complaints and analysis of his impossible situation. But things changed when he met Jesus and acted on his words.

Peter, after an all night of fruitless fishing in the Sea of Galilee, was asked by Jesus to take a new action. And by recognising and obeying Jesus, the result was nothing but mind-blowing (Luke 5:4-7).

Jesus healed a woman bent over on the Sabbath day, and has been like that for eighteen years. He told her: woman thou art loosed from your infirmity (Luke 13:12). His word made all the difference in her life. It released the power of God into a bad situation. The length of time the bad situation had persisted is irrelevant when the power of God is at work.

On getting down from a mount where he was transformed before three of his disciples, Jesus was met with a long-standing situation of satanic oppression in the life of boy whose father said he had been experiencing since he was a child, with damning consequences. When the deaf and dump spirit grips the child, he gets thrown into the fire and water; it was definitely a suicidal spirit. Jesus cast that evil spirit out with a word, and the boy went home free from his longstanding oppression (Mark 9:14-28).

John prayed for a recipient of one of his letters that he would prosper and be in health as his soul prospers, similar to the prayer Jabez prayed (3John 1:2). The bible has said that rather complaining, we should let our request be made known to God (Philippians 4:6).

David actively sought God to keep him from harm. He said the Lord is my shield (Psalm 3:1-3); he does not ascribe his safety in battle to himself. Faced with enemies on many sides he said that the lord gave him victory.

God said that no weapon formed against us shall prosper and every tongue that shall rise against us, we shall condemn, and would therefore be ineffective against, would not harm us (Isaiah 54:17). Jesus said no weapon formed against us shall prosper (Luke 10:19).

Harm can be done to people, not just by swords of metal but by swords of the tongue. Solomon wrote that some people speak and their tongues wound others, as if it is a sword (Proverbs 12:18).

For Naboth a man who owned the vineyard near the house of King Ahab to be killed, the king’s wife Jezebel had to arrange for people to lie against him that they heard him blaspheme against God, after which he was stoned to death for Ahab to take over his vineyard (1Kings 21:1-16). David declared that God would save his people from the strife of tongues (Psalm 31:19-20).

The king of Moab, Balak wanted to harm Israel but spiritually, so he hired Balaam to curse them. That was supposed to predetermine the defeat of Israel in the event of a battle between the two countries, through the spoken word (Numbers 22-24). By controlling the spiritual atmosphere through a curse, Balaam could control what happens in the natural. God’s tool is a blessing, which he had proclaimed on Israel (a positive spiritual force that causes natural result as the history of the nation has shown).

Strength for strength and with the reputation of the amazing things that God has done for the Israel as they ran over their oppositions, defeating them and they seemed invincible, Moab did not stand a chance with the Israel.

Balak does not want to go the way of previous kings who had confronted the nation of Israel, so he wanted to deal with them through by hiring Balaam to curse them, but God stopped him.

Just as God saved Israel from that curse, Jesus came to free us from the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15). He said we should not fear man who can only kill the body but we should fear the one who is able to destroy the body and the soul in hell (God), which is the greatest harm, eternal harm, which in actual sense we do to ourselves by rejecting Jesus as the means of salvation (John 3:16).

Jesus said that if we believe in him (as the ticket to heaven) (John 5:24); we have passed from death to life. He said that we should rejoice because our names are written in the book of life (Luke 10:20). Jesus said that the least in the kingdom of God is greater than John the Baptist (Luke 7:28). He is capable of much more spiritual impact.

The greatest harm that can come to humanity was done when Adam sold us as slaves to the kingdom of the devil (Luke 4:6-8). But when we believe in Jesus, we are taken from the kingdom of darkness, the place of harm, to the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13), with joy unspeakable (1Peter 1:8-9), glory, and the peace of God, marking our lives.


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