Lesser known characters :: Jason


Jason was a Christian in Thessalonica who gave shelter to Paul and Silas. But the Jews in Thessalonica who were envious of Paul and Silas and who did not believe in the gospel of truth and freedom in Christ, that Paul and Silas preached, sought them both and came to the house of Jason and upon not finding them there, they took hold of Jason and some others there, and dragged them to the rulers of the city, accusing them of abetting and harboring Paul and Silas, whom them claimed to be guilty of treason against Caesar, because of their allegiance to Jesus Christ as King. Jason and the other had to post bond before being set free.

What can we learn from Jason?
Giving shelter to those who are preach freedom  in Jesus Christ can lead to one’s own personal freedom being taken away, but like Jason, we must extend hospitality and provide safe harbor to those who are proclaiming the one true King, Jesus Christ. Though Jason had to post bond for his release, in reality Jason was already free because of his faith in Jesus Christ, the one whom Paul and Silas preached. Man can imprison us and accuse us of treason, but it only true allegiance to the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ, that matters.

Acts 17:1-9 (KJV)
1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:
2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.
4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.
5 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;
7 Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.
8
And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.

9 And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.

Lesser known characters :: Jamin


Jamin was one of the many Levites who assisted Ezra in explaining and making clear the law to the people, so that they could understand it. The others were Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah. Interestingly Jamin in Hebrews means right hand. When the people understood the words, they first wept and then upon counsel from Nehemiah, Ezra and the Levites such as Jamin, they understood that the Joy of the Lord was their strength and they celebrated with great joy (Nehemiah 8:12).

What can we learn from Jamin?
We must be like Jamin, a right hand to those who are pastors and preachers (like Ezra), in explaining and making clear the Scripture, so that the people who hear it can understand it. For when they understand it, they will recognize the grace of God in Christ Jesus and weep in repentance, following which they will be filled with the Joy of the Lord in Christ Jesus.

Nehemiah 8:7 (KJV)
7
Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place.
8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
9 And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.
10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our LORD: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
11 So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved.
12 And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.

Lesser known characters :: Igdaliah


Igdaliah was a man that lived during the times of the prophet Jeremiah, during the days of Jehoiakim, son of Josiah king of Judah. Not much is said of who Igdaliah was, but what is said of him is voluminous in its commendation. Of Igdaliah, it is said, that he was a man of God (Jeremiah 35:4).

What can we learn from Igdaliah?
Now what may seem as a passing reference has deep meaning upon close scrutiny. When was the last time, someone referred to you or someone you know, as a man or woman of God? Imagine, what a honorable title that would be to bear. To be known as a man of God implies that the person belonged to God. To belong to God means that, that person has been bought with a price. 1 Corinthians 6:20 states that we have been bought with a price and the price that was paid for our redemption from sin and its wages, which is death, is the very life of Jesus Christ. We have been purchased with the blood of Jesus (Acts 20:28) and those who believe in this belong to God. All who believe are men and women of God, as they belong to God. We must seek such a title as well.

Do you belong to God as Igdaliah did?

Jeremiah 35:4 (KJV)
4 And I brought them into the house of the LORD, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan, the son of Igdaliah, a man of God, which was by the chamber of the princes, which was above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door:

Falling Towers


On September 11, 2011 millions around the world remembered the tragedies that struck a decade ago, when some terrorists in acts of kamikaze, flew airplanes into the World Trade Center towers in New York, bringing to ground these colossal structures and killing many innocent lives. My heart goes out to all those who were directly impacted by the loss of lives of their loved ones and our family wishes all those impacted, God’s peace that passeth all understanding that is found in Christ Jesus.

Luke 13:4-5 records of another tower that fell during the days of Jesus. This was the Tower of Siloam and when it collapsed, eighteen people were killed. Close introspection of the text, reveals certain hidden treasures. The first is that the fall of the Tower of Siloam was not due to the sinfulness of any of those who were killed. Secondly, Jesus in fact, cautions, that anyone that does not repent will perish as well. To repent is to ask God to forgive us of our sinfulness for when we confess with our mouth, repenting in our hearts, God is faithful and just to cleanse us of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9) and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). In other words, Jesus was saying that man made towers fall, but only in Him, can one find safety, for the name of the Lord is a strong and mighty Tower and the righteous (those who have believed in Jesus and repented) run into it and are safe (Proverbs 18:10).

Have you repented? Have you run into the Tower that can and will never fall?

Luke 13:4-5 (KJV)
4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

1 John 1:7-9 (KJV)
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Proverbs 18:10 (KJV)
10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.

Lesser known characters :: Hophni and Phineas


One of my favorite movies that is based on a true story is “The Ghost and the Darkness” which is the story of two lions that terrorized and killed over a hundred people in Tsavo (Kenya) in the late 1800s. The people in that land felt that these lions were in fact evil incarnate as they continued their rampage, until John Henry Patterson, a military engineer, sent to build a railroad bridge.

In the Bible we see another kind of “The Ghost and the Darkness“; Eli’s two sons – Hophni and Phineas. Even though they were the sons of God’s priest, Eli, the Bible calls them the sons of Belial (the lawless, rebellious and worthless one who can have no concord with Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 6:15)). In order to gratify lust of their eyes (their own SELFish desires), they rebelled against God by abhorring the sacrifices and taking the choicest portion of the meat from the sacrifice even before it was offered to God, even by coercion; in a sense robbing God (1 Samuel 2:13-17). In order to gratify the lust of the flesh (their own SEXual desires), they slept with the woman who assembled at the entrance door of the tabernacle, making the LORD’s people to sin (1 Samuel 2:22-24). Hophni and Phineas were wicked and they brought judgment on Eli’s family, that no one in Eli’s bloodline will reach an old age (1 Samuel 2:31). God informs Eli through another person (referred to as the man of God) that both his sons will die on the same day (1 Samuel 2:34). Eli’s sin was that he honored his children more than he honored God (1 Samuel 2:29) and God had to send a priest (man of God) to a priest (Eli) because of the wickedness of his children and his misaligned priorities.

When the Philistines attack the armies of Israel, the ark of the Lord that held the glory of God is taken captive by the Philistines and both Hophni and Phineas die that day.  Upon hearing the news of the ark of the Lord being taken and the death of his sons, ninety-eight year old Eli falls back from his chair, breaks his neck and dies as well. His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phineas, who was carrying child and near her due date, upon hearing the news of the ark of the Lord being taken and the death of her husband, and in-laws, goes into labor and delivers a child whom she names, “Ichabod” meaning that the glory [of the Lord] has departed from Israel (1 Samuel 4:11-22).

What can we learn from Hophni and Phineas?
We may be children that hail from Christian priestly families, but we can still be called the sons and daughters of Belial, if we do not have concord (communion) with Christ Jesus and if we continue in the ways that war against the Spirit of God, gratifying our SELFish (lust of the eyes) and SEXual (lust of the flesh) desires. As children, when we rebel in such manner and sin, without giving God the honor that is due unto him, we are liable to inherit a curse, not just on ourselves, but on our bloodline as well. As parents, if we honor our children more than God, it is possible that God’s voice can be stopped from directly reaching us. But the worse of all is that a wicked lifestyle that gratifies the evil desires of the eyes and flesh can lead to Ichabod – the departure of God’s glory from one’s life. Let us be warned and be careful that we do not follow in the ways of Hophni or Phineas.

1 Samuel 2:13-17; 22-24 (KJV)
12
Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.
13
And the priest’s custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand;
14
And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither.
15
Also before they burnt the fat, the priest’s servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw.
16
And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force.
17
Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.

22
Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
23
And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.
24
Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD’s people to transgress

1 Samuel 4:11-22 (KJV)
11 And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.
12 And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head.
13 And when he came, lo, Eli sat upon a seat by the wayside watching: for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city, and told it, all the city cried out.
14 And when Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, What meaneth the noise of this tumult? And the man came in hastily, and told Eli.
15 Now Eli was ninety and eight years old; and his eyes were dim, that he could not see.
16 And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the army, and I fled to day out of the army. And he said, What is there done, my son?
17 And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken.
18 And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.
19 And his daughter in law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her.
20 And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it.
21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.
22 And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.

Lesser known characters :: Hiram


Hiram was a king of Tyre who entered into a partnership with king David (2 Samuel 5) and later with David’s son, king Solomon to build the house of the LORD. When Hiram found out that king Solomon was appointed the king, Hiram took the initiative and sent his servants to king Solomon. Solomon sends word to king Hiram that he desired to build the house of the LORD, upon which Hiram rejoices and blesses God for having given David, his friend a wise son. Solomon recognizes that the servants of king Hiram were skilled workmen (unlike any other in the land) and the two make a league together. Hiram supplied the best skilled workers (2 Chronicles 2:13-14) to hew the timber and stones to build the house of the LORD (1 Kings 5:1-18).

What can we learn from Hiram?
Like king Hiram, we must take the initiative to reach out to those whom God has instituted in power. We must bless the Lord when we learn of one’s allegiance and desire to serve the LORD and build his tabernacle (house) in the hearts of many. We must provide our very best to serve in God’s work. We must partner and work alongside others who have a desire to build God’s house in the hearts of people, as did Hiram’s men with King Solomon’s men.

1 Kings 5:1-18 (KJV)
1
And Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants unto Solomon; for he had heard that they had anointed him king in the room of his father: for Hiram was ever a lover of David.

2 And Solomon sent to Hiram, saying,
3 Thou knowest how that David my father could not build an house unto the name of the LORD his God for the wars which were about him on every side, until the LORD put them under the soles of his feet.
4 But now the LORD my God hath given me rest on every side, so that there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent.
5 And, behold, I purpose to build an house unto the name of the LORD my God, as the LORD spake unto David my father, saying, Thy son, whom I will set upon thy throne in thy room, he shall build an house unto my name.
6 Now therefore command thou that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon; and my servants shall be with thy servants: and unto thee will I give hire for thy servants according to all that thou shalt appoint: for thou knowest that there is not among us any that can skill to hew timber like unto the Sidonians.
7 And it came to pass, when Hiram heard the words of Solomon, that he rejoiced greatly, and said, Blessed be the LORD this day, which hath given unto David a wise son over this great people.
8 And Hiram sent to Solomon, saying, I have considered the things which thou sentest to me for: and I will do all thy desire concerning timber of cedar, and concerning timber of fir.
9 My servants shall bring them down from Lebanon unto the sea: and I will convey them by sea in floats unto the place that thou shalt appoint me, and will cause them to be discharged there, and thou shalt receive them: and thou shalt accomplish my desire, in giving food for my household.
10 So Hiram gave Solomon cedar trees and fir trees according to all his desire.
11 And Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand measures of wheat for food to his household, and twenty measures of pure oil: thus gave Solomon to Hiram year by year.
12 And the LORD gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him: and there was peace between Hiram and Solomon; and they two made a league together.
13 And king Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel; and the levy was thirty thousand men.
14
And he sent them to Lebanon, ten thousand a month by courses: a month they were in Lebanon, and two months at home: and Adoniram was over the levy.

15 And Solomon had threescore and ten thousand that bare burdens, and fourscore thousand hewers in the mountains;
16 Beside the chief of Solomon’s officers which were over the work, three thousand and three hundred, which ruled over the people that wrought in the work.
17 And the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house.
18 And Solomon’s builders and Hiram’s builders did hew them, and the stonesquarers: so they prepared timber and stones to build the house.

Lesser known characters :: Hanani


When the king of Judah, Asa, sought the help of Benhadad, king of Syria, to fight against king Baasha, the king of Israel, instead of relying on the LORD as he did once earlier, when the Ethiopian Zerah came against him, Hanani was the seer that brought the rebuke of the LORD to king Asa (2 Chronicles 14). Hanani reminded Asa that he should have relied on the LORD and then stated that the eyes of the LORD are searching the entire earth to find out if there is one, even one, whose heart is perfect toward God. He then tells Asa that since the king had acted foolishly to rely on man (the king of Syria) instead of God (the King of all kings), that Judah will have wars and the peace that prevailed would be taken away. When king Asa hears of this rebuke through Hanani, he is angered and he imprisons Hanani (2 Chronicles 16:1-10).

What can we learning from Hanani?
Like Hanani, we must rebuke those who rely on man instead of relying on God. We must remind all those who act foolishly in trusting in others besides God, that God is searching for one with a perfect heart, even if the outcome of our rebuke and reminder may not be in our favor.

2 Chronicles 16:7-10 (KJV)
7 And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand.
8 Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand.
9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.
10 Then Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in a prison house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. And Asa oppressed some of the people the same time.

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