BIBLE CHARACTERS 16- Joseph of Arimathea

JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA

THE MAN WHO DID NOT HIDE ANYMORE

Mark15:43-46
The last few hours of the Crucifixion of Jesus must have been awful. I think some people had hoped that Jesus would come down from the Cross because He had done so many miracles. They did not quite understand why He just had to die!  And especially not that He did it willingly and obediently.

It is remarkable that we suddenly learn of Joseph of Arimathea and only for a short while because after the crucifixion we never hear from him again. He was someone who had the best influence on Pilate. He was rich, and a member of the Sanhedrin. He was also a person of interest and had significant characteristics. He was considered to be important among the Sanhedrin but for personal reasons he kept his Christianity hidden until Jesus was crucified. He was a disciple of Jesus, who waited on the Kingdom of God. Fearing for his life, he remained silent about his faith in Jesus [John 19:38]. After the crucifixion he walked boldly forward to plead for the body of Jesus. As we learn of Joseph of Arimathea, we also learn of Nicodemus, the disciple of the night, who helped Joseph to prepare the body of Jesus for the grave (according to Jewish tradition), and laid Jesus down in a clean new grave.

The lesson that we should learn from this story is the following:

We should not have fear for our lives when it comes to Jesus. Enjoy the confidence to stand up when you want to do something for Jesus. Someone who loves Jesus, proves it by their actions. If you serve the Lord in silence and secrecy, you may never get the opportunity to do something for God because people do not know who you really are. If Joseph of Arimathea had acknowledged his faith in Jesus he could have learnt with the disciples directly from Jesus, but he remained silent and in the process he missed many valuable lessons about the Kingdom of God from Jesus. He lost a lot through his silence.

(Credits to Lance Wubbels & Terry McDowell)

BIBLE CHARACTERS 15- Jael

JAEL

SHE WAS “GOOD” WITH A HAMMER –  Jdg 5: 24 – 27

Jael was not a Jew. Jael was the wife of Heber the Kenite. The Kenites were descendants of the Midianites from which Moses took his wife Sipphora. In her heart Jael was an Israelite and loved the people. If you read the above passage where Jael was praised for her act, it’s hard to believe that people justify her act; even the prophet Deborah approved Jael’s act. Yet Jael was a cold-blooded murderer.

Heber and his wife Jael pitched their tents in the north. Heber held friendly meetings with Jabin, king of Canaan, and specifically the king of Hazor. They were enemies of Israel. Sisera was the captain who was in charge of nine hundred iron chariots with which he surrounded Israel for the last twenty years and destroyed them. The Israelites were not trained or equipped to resist his hostility and blood lust. Jael witnessed year after year how Sisera captured innocent girls and women as slaves, one or two for every man in the regiment Jael did not like the brutality with which he conquered Israel. There was a possibility that she knew the women and children that were captured by Sisera from Israel, for fun and as slaves.

Someone like Sisera that plundered and murdered for twenty years, became known as a tyrant and people started to dislike him, even hated him. To everyone’s surprise, Deborah and Barak almost defeated Sisera and his warriors. (Judges 4:12-22). Sisera ran away scared out of his wits and arrived at Jael’s tent. He asked her if he could take shelter in her tent. Jael was aware of the fact that as long as Sisera lived, there would be no victory for Israel. The victory of Deborah and Barak was temporary. Sisera would rise up, attack and kill them again. Jael saw the vulnerability of Sisera and realized that she could save the Israelites from a devil that destroyed them. Without thinking twice, she took the tent pin in her hands, and in her ​​other hand grasped the hammer firmly and hit the tent pin into his head.  

Jael had made one thing clear for all Israel: bravery! The Canaanite captain Sisera, for whom even Barak was weary, lost his life at the hands of a woman who had no military training. All she had at her disposal was a hammer and nail. Because Jael saw a favorable opportunity to get rid of the tyrant that plundered Israel for twenty years, Israel enjoyed a forty long period of peace and tranquility after his death (Jdg 5: 31) . Young girls could now live in peace without fear that they would be snatched from their families and be used as sex slaves to please the warriors. You should ask yourself the question whether God created the opportunity for Jael, to grasp this opportunity given to her to save Israel? Was It God’s plan for a woman to get rid of the tyrant of Israel (His children). See 4:9 “Very well,” Deborah said, “I will go with you… the honor will not be yours, for the LORD will hand Sisera over to a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh,

According to God’s Word nobody therefore has the right to judge Jael for what she did. Maybe she was just a pawn on a chessboard that God used to put the enemies of Israel in check mate position by robbing them of their horrible captain.

The lesson that we should learn from this story is the following:

There comes a time in our lives when we realize that we must take action to protect other children of God. Sometimes it requires from us to end a relationship with someone that keeps you from God, sometimes it’s an issue at work with someone that breaks you down all the time, whatever the situation, if you’re going to take action, you better know that it involves a risk. Jael’s own life was in danger. Sisera could have woken up when she was bending over him. He could have killed her, but she was willing to take the chance to save others.

(Credits to Lance Wubbels & Terry McDowell)

BIBLE CHARACTERS 14- Jabez

BIBLE CHARACTER – JABEZ

HE WAS A PAIN FOR HIS MOTHER – 1 Chronicles 4:9-10    

The simple prayer of Jabez had the people in uproar around the world with the explanation of Bruce Wilkinson. The emphasis must be on the prayer which he prayed that we should remember him for, and not for who he was. Nothing more is told of him and his brothers in 1 Chronicles. There is nothing about his personality, but the book is written about him as if he were very important.

His boldness was revealed on the day that he prayed this powerful prayer, led us to believe that he had a deep spiritual attitude, which caused ​​him to call to God in this manner as if it was natural for him.

His name Jabez means “painful” sorrow, we realize that even from birth he did not have it easy. But it pertains to his mother and his own life, the fact that he uttered this prayer shows us that he was afraid of the same type of life, [painful] as his mother, and for that reason he cried out to God to change his destiny.

In today’s life we see in one family a child who is always laughing, full of joy, happy and noticing the good things in life, however, in the same family we see a child who is different to the other child and is always angry, depressed and is uncomfortable about themselves, and sees life with discouraged eyes.  It is something we cannot explain. But what we can see is that Jabez tries to prevent himself  from experiencing the same thing as his mother who had a painful life.

In today’s life, every child should look to the sky and utter Jabez’s prayer before he starts his adult life. He definitely should put his trust in God to answer his prayer, and pray without doubting it. It touches God’s heart when He hears how a child cries to Him as his only protection and who can enlarge his area. This is the boldness which seeks God in each of us.

The lesson that we should learn from this story is the following:

What we learn is that each one of us can go to God with such confidence and ask for what we need, with particular knowledge that God will answer our prayers. Your total confidence in God for your daily blessings is a pleasure for God to give to you when you ask him. Walk boldly into God’s throne room (Hebr 4:6), ask what you need and what you want in Him as your Protector, your Lord and your Provider.

(Credits to Lance Wubbels & Terry McDowell)

BIBLE CHARACTERS 13 – Gomer

BIBLE CHARACTERS – GOMER

THE WIFE OF HOSEA

Hosea1:2-3
In Hosea’s time there were six kings of Israel in power within a matter of twenty-five years. Just as Amos prophesied, Hosea agreed that this was a period of wealth, scandalous luxury, and oppression of the poor. The people forgot God in this time and prophet Hosea had to tell the bad news to Israel of their fall. It was truly a difficult time to be a prophet of God. Hosea was a man who had great compassion for the poor. He loved his people, his wife and children. He was a good father. He was told by God to marry Gomer. Gomer was a classy harlot, and she was well known in the Royal House and only mingled with the important people, among other things was her sinful attractive and luxurious appearance. Hosea hoped that by marrying her, he would attract the attention of the King and the people. However, if we read this piece, we do see that Gomer entirely won his heart. He really loved her as a person. (See 2:14).

However, through her adulteress behavior she broke Hosea’s heart, and from this experience of a woman who did not love him, and a woman for whom he yearned for total surrender, helped him to write from God’s perspective. This is how God feels about his people. Through Hosea’s own life with Gomer, we read the sad story of  people who have pushed God aside and constantly commit adultery.

Gomer named the first born son from Hosea, Jezreel. Jezreel means “God’s vengeance will come down”. By doing what she did, she was trapped in God’s plan for His people without realizing it. Her second child was a daughter she named “Lo-Ruhamah”. It means “not loved,” without realizing it Gomer gave names to her children that actually describe God’s relationship with His people. With Gomer’s third child she called him “Lo-Ammi” which means “Not my people”, Again this name revealed God’s relationship with His people. The children that are born of a prostitute are “fruit from a unfaithful woman” was presented. On the spiritual side, it spelled out the relationship between God and his people Israel.

After Gomer bore her children, and Hosea loved her for three years, she finally broke away and went back to her previous life of shame and immorality. In chapter two you can read how Hosea calls to her love. In chapter three he called to the loving Gomer that was full of mistakes. It explains again how God felt towards his people. He loved them, but their persistent errors and failures brought God just sadness, with time.

Gomer was not recognized as important anymore in the Kings House as the immoral woman, her age was against her. She was not so attractive and her body had lost its vitality and youth after three children. Once she was rich and lived in luxury as an immoral woman (2:5), but now she received a few pieces of fruit and coins (3:2) in exchange for her body. The ordinary man of the street could get access to her as an adulterous.

Then a miracle happened. Her husband comes to take her from the streets. He gave her money and other necessities and asks her to come back once and for all to be his wife, and his wife alone. No man was interested in her any more. He asks her to come home to him and the children. In the same way God comes to us and asks us to repent of all our immorality and accept Him as our only husband (Creator, Saviour and God). He expects that we will return to freedom and love, comfortable life and abundance in what we need out of our own free will.

The lesson that we should learn from this story is the following:

When you see how Hosea loves the immoral woman, and how he begs her to stay with him and accept his love, just think how much God loves us, we that sometimes live as immoral [spiritual] women. Read 1 John 4:8. Nothing else is as important but to accept God’s love and allow him to protect you, to comfort and care for you as His bride.

(Credits to Lance Wubbels & Terry McDowell)

BIBLE CHARACTERS 12 – Heman

BIBLE CHARACTER – HEMAN

THE MAN WHICH SAW IN THE DEPTH OF HIS SOUL

1 Chron 25:5

Heman was King David’s seer. He had a prophetic gift to see into the spirit realm. He was in the service of King David. Heman saw his own soul from childhood, and he was instructed from God to describe his soul. We read about it in Ps 88 – read through the Psalm. David also had a gift to see spiritual, but not in his own soul as Heman. For this reason, David appointed Heman as his seer to look into (David’s) soul to see when he had sinned. In this way Heman was the only one that knew the king’s sin and no one else. Read Ps 51:3 that David wrote when he at one time saw his own sins in the spirit.

Many people who had sinned found hope in the words of Heman in Ps 88. Even today people find hope in the Psalms. Even though Heman wrote this Psalm when he was very old, he realized that he had in his whole life looked into the depths of people’s souls. This is a gift that not many people have. This Psalm is very dear to us, even today. Read the whole chapter 25 of 1 Chronicles about Hemans’s life’s story.

The lesson that we should learn from this story is the following:

Just as God had given Heman an extraordinary gift, where he had to assist and help the King, God can use you to help others. It may be someone who is in a higher social position than you, but God can use you to help that person with the gifts He gives you.

(Credits to Lance Wubbels & Terry McDowell)

BIBLE CHARACTERS 11 – The Eunuch from Ethiopia

BIBLE CHARACTERS – THE EUNUCH FROM ETHIOPIA

HE COULD NOT WAIT TO BE BAPTIZED

Acts 8:26-29

And an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying: Arise, and go toward the south to the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. It is a lonely road. Then he got up and went. And there was a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch, a public servant of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who was over all her treasure, and came to Jerusalem to worship. And he was returning and sitting in his chariot reading about the prophet Isaiah.

On the day that Stefan was stoned to death a great persecution broke out against the disciples, and Saul began to overcome and eradicate the Church of Christ. He went from house to house and arrested Christians. Philip left Jerusalem and went to Samaria and preached there. The Spirit of the Lord advised him to take a deserted road to Gaza. Here we see Philip’s obedience to the Spirit. An angel appeared to Phillip. On the way Philip wondered if he had made a mistake since many people came and went, Roman soldiers, merchants of Arabia and Egypt, but none specifically attracted his attention. Philip saw a man of influence, the keeper of the Ethiopians. He was in charge of the treasures of the Queen of Ethiopia and was a man of great influence and authority. This man sat and was reading from the book of Isaiah, immediately Phillip knew why he was sent to the man. Without introducing himself, he asked the unidentified man whether he understood what he read. Without hesitation, the man asked how he could understand if no one explained to him – what an open invitation!

Immediately Philip knew why he was placed on this road. Philip didn’t wait for an invitation and sat with this man and told him everything about Jesus and what had happened to Jesus. Philip told the story with so much passion that the man wanted to be baptized immediately.  As soon as the man was baptized, Philip was taken up in the spirit once again and the eunuch continued his journey with a jubilant heart.

The lesson that we should learn from this story is the following:

Just as the Ethiopian, we should not hesitate to read God’s Word, even if we do not understand what we read – God will always send someone to explain the word for us. We must be willing to listen when a spiritual leader explains God’s word to us.

Secondly, EVERYONE’s SOUL IS IMPORTANT FOR GOD – He will send you to one that is important to him. Furthermore, we must remember that our explanation must be given with passionate conviction so that our testimonies can encourage others to accept Jesus, and to be baptized. Do not hesitate to share your testimonies. You never know where and when God is going to use you.

 

BIBLE CHARACTERS 10 – Eliezer

BIBLE CHARACTERS – ELIEZER

THE MAN WHO GAVE AWAY HIS POTENTIAL INHERITANCE WITH LOVE

Gen 15:2-3

We meet Eliezer from Damascus who joined Abraham on their journey to the Promised Land. Eliezer was a faithful servant of Abraham and served him for longer than fifty years. Abraham complained to God that he did not have an heir, and even went as far as to announce to Eliezer that he would be the heir of Abraham’s wealth. Abraham had more than a thousand slaves and many cattle – he was enormously rich in earthly possessions.

Eliezer was present when the promise came to Abraham that he would have a son, despite Abraham’s promise that Eliezer would inherit everything, he waited patiently for God’s plan to unfold. Even when Isaac was born, Eliezer meekly accepted that he would not be the heir. Abraham later sent him to his own family to find a wife for Isaac. Eliezer could have made a plan to get rid of Isaac and the family so that there would be no one left to inherit the treasure, and that he would be the sole heir of Abraham’s riches, but he meekly traveled the 400 miles to Mesopotamia to find a bride for the sole heir. His own hopes of greatness and riches lay shattered at his feet.

At the pit, Eliezer prayed that God would give grace to Abraham and to send the right bride for Isaac, he prayed that the woman would be hard working, amiable and humble. God answered his prayer at the well where Rebecca fetched water. He requested of Rebecca to supply himself, the men and ten camels with water, she meekly did so without any reluctance, her good personality was exposed here, as Eliezer notice. Then Eliezer did not rest until he had made ​​known the purpose of his trip.

One could reason that when Eliezer was halfway he could have wandered off with the camels, cattle, jewels and treasures that were sent with as a gift for the bride and claim it for himself. But Eliezer was an honest man and served his master Abraham faithfully. Whether he was a slave or a free man, Eliezer was free in his religion and his relationship with God. He served the Lord like Abraham did. The English proverb “Like Master like Man” never had so much meaning in any story.

As Paul correctly stated; Slaves should obey their masters. Eliezer served his master with love and faithfulness. He never talked back and never stole (Titus 2:9-10), he was a good slave, probably one of the best in the word of God. Eliezer had the chance to steal, and to be a thief, but he chose not to fall. He chose in the midst of potential riches to remain a slave and to bring obedience to the day for the prosperity of Isaac.

The lesson that we should learn from this story is the following:

We are slaves of Jesus Christ and just as Eliezer gave an example of a good slave, so should we be good servants for Christ. We need to put our own interests aside – especially worldly desires and carnal desires, and we must stand in obedience to God our Lord. Even if it means that we must give up our treasures and valuables.

(Credits to Lance Wubbels & Terry McDowell)

BIBLE CHARACTERS 9 – Pharaoh’s daughter

BIBLE CHARACTERS 9

PHARAOH’S DAUGHTER – THE WOMAN WHO COULD NOT RESIST A BABY Exodus 2:5-10      

It is remarkable to see how God in His greatness, used a woman to serve as a savior to help a servant of God. Her name was not even mentioned, but she showed compassion by taking an abandoned baby in her care. Not only was her longing for a baby lulled, but she saved a baby’s life.

As the Israelite’s grew in number, Pharaoh decided to kill the boys by throwing them into the Nile where crocodiles could devour them. It was a sacrifice he gave to the water-spirits. In this way he stopped the Israelite slaves with multiplication and progress. Moses’ mother hid him for three months but out of fear that he would be found and killed, she made ​​a plan to bring him to a woman who showed her love towards children. God’s plan for Moses can be clearly seen in the fact that Moses was placed in front of the enemy in so that he could be saved. Amid her father’s command that all babies should be killed, we see that this Egyptian princess show a heart of love towards an unknown baby. The facts were sure it was a baby of their enemies. She reached out to the helpless. Her sensitive nature is evident through what we see in this piece where we see how God can even use your enemies to save your life.

Not only is God’s Character portrayed here, but we see further how this Egyptian princess in her wisdom realizes that it was a child from Israel, and she asked that an Israelite woman look after her baby and nurse him. How wonderful is God with His plan. Who is there that can still create such a perfect plan?

The lesson that we should learn from this story is the following:

You never know if someone in the family of your rival will come to meet you. God uses your enemies to save you time and again without you realizing the full impact. This Egyptian princess’s love for her neighbor came to the fore in this story. Each of us should use this trait to reflect where we could help our enemies to save their lives. Do not forget to do good, even for your enemies. Help them, care for them, feed them, clothe them, enfold and raise them up in a Christian environment – you will reap the rewards.

(Credits to Lance Wubbels & Terry McDowell)

BIBLE CHARACTERS 8 – Cleopas

BIBLE CHARACTERS 8 

CLEOPAS – The man that had the shock of his life – Luke 24:13-18

Cleopas and his companion were two men from Emmaus who were going to Jerusalem for the Passover, as it was their tradition. They were disciples of Jesus. They were not part of the twelve disciples, (Luke 10). Cleopas told his companion that they should leave the city after the Crucifixion in Jerusalem. His was heartbroken because he believed the city could never be saved, especially since Jesus was crucified. He no longer wanted to be in the city where they crucified Jesus, and on their way going back to Emmaus a stranger suddenly joined them. The stranger inquired about why they looked so sad and with a slight irritation Cleopas asked the stranger why he doesn’t know what happened in Jerusalem? When the stranger enquired about this event, Cleopas told him about what happened to Jesus’ Crucifixion. Then he told the stranger why he was so sick with longing and depression.

Read Luke 24:19-24. After the explanation from Cleopas to the stranger; he began to refer to the scriptures, Moses and the Prophets who wrote that Jesus had to suffer and die for the sins of the world. As the stranger talked, Cleopas and his companion were dragged into the narratives of Jesus’ story. The stranger had so much knowledge, and spoke with such authority about the life of Jesus. It seemed that this stranger’s heart and scriptures were one. After they walked seven miles to Emmaus, Cleopas invited the stranger into their house to eat. Cleopas asked the stranger to pray over the food, and we can read with amazement how their eyes were opened the moment when Jesus broke the bread and gave thanks. In that brief moment they recognized Jesus as the one who was crucified, and when he gave them the bread they received the true Bread of Life in His presence. The next moment he was gone!

The lesson that we should learn from this story is the following:

The Word is alive and Powerful. Just as Jesus opened the scriptures for Cleopas and his companion on the road, in exactly the same way God the Holy Spirit can open the true Word of God today for your everyday life. Read the Word! When you feel sad and it feels that the world has forgotten you, remember that the Word lit the fire in the hearts of Cleopas and his companion. Take the true Word of God and receive the Word in your heart, it will burn like a fire and you will recognize Him as Cleopas, his companion recognized Him.

(Credits to Lance Wubbels & Terry McDowell)

 

BIBLE CHARACTERS 7 – Benaiah

BIBLE CHARACTERS 7

BENAIAH – THE GOOD FIGHTER – 1 Chronicles 11

Benaiah was the son of Jehoiada, and he was a brave man, a man of great deeds, from Kábseël. He defeated the two heroes of Moab; and he went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. He also smote the Egyptian, a big man, five cubits (seven and a half feet tall); and in the hands of this Egyptian was a spear like a weaver; but he went down to him with only a stick and pulled the spear out from of the hand of the Egyptian and stabbed him and killed him. This was the deed of Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; and he was known among the three mighty men but was not part of the three. He was honored more than the thirty, and David appointed him over his guard.

Benaiah was the type of guy you would not mess with. You stayed out is his way. He was a nobody who became somebody. He chose to rise above the ordinary military fighters. The fact that he killed a lion; two mighty men of Moab and also a big Philistine with his own spear, causing the stories to spread about him. He was not only strong, but also wise. He knew how to out-perform the enemies. It was for this reason that David put him in charge of his Warrior Army. David soon learnt that it was good to be surrounded by brave men and not those who are fearful, and Benaiah was known as a brave fighter.

The lesson that we should learn from this story is the following:

In the church today we need Christians that have the same fighting spirit as Benaiah had, for our spiritual battles with the devil and demons. There is never time to be fearful because we are constantly engaged in a spiritual battle. Like Benaiah, we must decide that we are with Jesus and that we have the power of Jesus to defeat the lion. As long as we clothe ourselves with Christ, no one can do anything to us, read Eph 6:11 AND PUT YOU’RE ARMOR ON!

(Credits to Lance Wubbels & Terry McDowell)