Wednesday, November 14, 2012

1 Chronicles 3 & 4: Prayer of Jabez



1 Chron 4:9-10 Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain."  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.


1 Chronicles 3 & 4 continues the genealogies from David (chapter 3) and Judah (chapter 4) to the post-exilic generation. Besides the names of the descendants of David who were kings up till the time of the exile, the rest were probably born in exile (v.17 onwards). Similarly, the descendants of Judah was traced all the ways from the beginning to the returnees' generation. Of all the names in chapters 3 & 4, the most notable name that was highlighted was one Jabez from the lineage of Judah: "Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain." 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" (1 Chron 4:9-10).

The highlighting of Jabez's prayer shows us the power of prayer to bring about God's pleasure and power in a person's life. That God is pleased with Jabez is indicated by the fact that his life, though rather anonymous, was given two verses to describe, while the rest of the more famous names were just a two-word mention, as "son of" so-and-so. The book by Bruce Wilkinson, The Prayer of Jabez (published in 2000) has sold 9 millions copies. Essentially, the message of the book says that it's okay and pleases God to ask Him to "bless me and enlarge my territory". The message of the book echoes the heart of many Christians who are longing for affirmation to seek prosperity for themselves. 

Personally, I don't think Bruce Wilkinson is endorsing the Prosperity Gospel, but is simply affirming the truth that God delights in answering prayers that are heartfelt and sincere. Our God is as concerned about our physical and material needs as he is with our "spiritual" needs. The problem with Evangelical Christianity is that we tend to over-spiritualize the Gospel, making it too other-worldly so that we end up with a salvation that is more Greek than Hebraic. Salvation has become a matter of saving "souls" (the disembodied spirit) rather than saving persons (the whole person--body, soul and spirit). The Lord's Prayer affirms that it's okay to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread".

Father, You are a God who delights in delighting us with answers to our prayers. You make no distinction between the "spiritual" and "material" needs because You see us as whole persons. Thank You for the Gospel that saves body, soul and spirit. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to leave your comments.