Finishing well

September 30, 2011, marks 21 years of my life as a born again believer. It was on this very day, 21 years ago, that my day of sorrows was changed into a day of joy, when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. And in this past 21 years, the journey with my God, Jesus Christ, has had its ups and downs. I’ve had mountain top experiences with Jesus being transfigured in my life and I’ve had the death valley experiences when I felt like I had lost the joy of my Salvation as a result of my own disobedient and rebellious lifestyle, having succumbed to the fiery darts of the evil one. And now as I reminisce of the past, looking forward to the future, I was wondering as to what I’d like to strive toward. I’d like to strive toward “finishing well.”

Recently, Sangeetha and I watched the movie, “The Book of Eli”, which was certainly a good entertainer, but what was even more impressive is the angles of faith that is portrayed in the movie. Denzel Washington (who plays the character Eli) is on a mission to take the Bible to the western shores, despite all the challenges and roadblocks he comes across, in a post apocalyptic world. Toward the end of the movie, he borrows from Apostle Paul’s final words as he prays the following prayer: “Dear Lord, thank you for giving me the strength and the conviction to complete the task you entrusted to me. Thank you for guiding me straight and true through the many obstacles in my path. And for keeping me resolute when all around seemed lost. Thank you for your protection and your many signs along the way. Thank you for any good that I may have done, I’m so sorry about the bad. …  Thank you for finally allowing me to rest. I’m so very tired, but I go now to my rest at peace. Knowing that I have done right with my time on this earth. I fought the good fight, I finished the race, I kept the faith.

21 years have gone by, and I don’t know how many more are ordained, but whenever it is the Lord’s appointed time, I’d like to finish well. I’d like this to be said of me that “Mano fought the good fight, Mano finished the race, Mano kept the faith.” and should it be that I depart from this world before the Lord’s return, I’d like the words that Jesus prayed, to be true, as my epitaphI have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” (John 17:4).

Points to ponder:
Jesus prayed “I have glorified thee (God) on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” Can that be said of you and me, should today be the last day ordained for our life?

John 17:4 (KJV)
I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

2 Timothy 4:7 (KJV)
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

Lesser known characters :: Joanna

Joanna was the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward. She was a follower of Jesus Christ. It is said of her that she and other women like Susanna and many others, ministered unto Jesus of their substance, meaning that they supported Jesus’ ministry and his disciples by contributing their own resources (Luke 8:3). Joanna is also one of the women that went to the tomb where Jesus was laid. She and the other women (Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and some others) were told of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, by two angelic beings. These women come back and tell the other eleven disciples of Christ, the account of Jesus’ resurrection conquering death, once and for all (Luke 24:10).

What can we learn from Joanna?
Like Joanna, can we support the ministry of Jesus Christ with our own personal resources? Let us remember that all things belong to Jesus already, we are merely stewards of what has been given to us.
Also, like Joanna (and the other women), we must be sharing the resurrection of Jesus Christ with others. In other words, we must be telling others that Jesus is The Living God, who has conquered death and is alive today, as we await His return.

Luke 8:1-3 (KJV)
1 And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,
And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,
And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.

Luke 24:9-10 (KJV)
9 And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.
It was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.

Lesser known characters :: Jehoiada

The story of Jehoiada, the high priest and husband of Jehosheba is recorded in 2 Kings 11 and 12. When Athaliah (the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel), usurped the throne of Judah and killed all the members of the royal family, upon learning that her son Ahaziah, was killed by Jehu, king of Israel, Jehosheba rescued Jehoash (aka Joash), the son the Ahaziah and rightful successor to the throne and hid him for six years in the house of the Lord. After six years, Jehoiada presents Jehoash and restores him as king (2 Kings 11:4-12). He then made a covenant between the LORD and the king and the people, that they should be the LORD’s people; and between the king also and the people (2 Kings 11:17). This led to the people destroying the idols of Baal in the land (2 Kings 11:18). King Jehoash reigned for forty years and did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as Jehoiada instructed him. Though Jehoiada was not a king, when he died at the age of a hundred and thirty, he was buried with the kings in the city of David, because he had done good toward Israel, toward God and his house (2 Chronicles 24:15-16).

What can we learn from Jehoiada?
Like Jehoiada, we must be willing to present the rightful King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ to the people and make a covenant between the LORD, Jesus Christ the king and the people, that they will belong to the LORD. This should lead to the tearing down of idols in our lives. When we love the Lord, and his people, as Jesus commanded us to, we may end up amongst the kings, when we depart, if that is in God’s will. Think about that!

2 Kings 11:1-4,12 (KJV)
And when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal.
2 But Jehosheba, the daughter of king Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king’s sons which were slain; and they hid him, even him and his nurse, in the bedchamber from Athaliah, so that he was not slain.
3 And he was with her hid in the house of the LORD six years. And Athaliah did reign over the land.
4 And the seventh year Jehoiada sent and fetched the rulers over hundreds, with the captains and the guard, and brought them to him into the house of the LORD, and made a covenant with them, and took an oath of them in the house of the LORD, and shewed them the king’s son.

12 And he brought forth the king’s son, and put the crown upon him, and gave him the testimony; and they made him king, and anointed him; and they clapped their hands, and said, God save the king.

2 Kings 11:17 (KJV)
17 And Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD and the king and the people, that they should be the LORD’s people; between the king also and the people.

2 Kings 12:2 (KJV)
2 And Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him. 

2 Chronicles 24:15-16 (KJV)
15 But Jehoiada waxed old, and was full of days when he died; an hundred and thirty years old was he when he died.
16 And they buried him in the city of David among the kings, because he had done good in Israel, both toward God, and toward his house.

Lesser known characters :: Jehonadab (aka Jonadab)

Ever wonder why some Arabian tribes are teetotalers even today?

When king Jehu of Israel, was on his mission to smite all from the house of the evil king Ahab, Jehonadab, the son of Rechab met him on his journey to Samaria. During this encounter, Jehu asked Jehonadab, if his heart was in allegiance with Jehu’s, to which Jehonadab responded “It is.” Upon hearing Jehonadab’s response, Jehu asks for Jehonadab’s hand which Jehonadab gives and Jehu takes it and uses it to lift him to ride with him in his chariot (2 Kings 10:15).

Later when Jehu subtly gathers the worshipers of Baal in the temple of Baal, so he could kill all the worshipers of Baal, Jehu asks Jehonadab to ensure that none of the servants of the Lord were present, so that the people of God (wheat) are not destroyed (uprooted) along with the servants of Baal (tares) (2 Kings 10:25; Matthew 13:24-29).

The next we read of Jehonadab is in Jeremiah 35 where he is referred to as Jonadab. Here Jonadab is used to contrast the faithfulness of the Arabian Rechabites over the unfaithfulness of Judah. Jonadab has instructed his people (the Rechabites) to never ever drink wine or build houses and his children to many generations were faithful to the commands of this man, unlike the people of God who were even unfaithful to the commands of even God. For this, God is faithful in promising that from the house of Jonadab, there will always be one who will stand to serve God (Jeremiah 35:19).

What can we learn from Jehonadab (aka Jonadab)?
First, when the people of God are fulfilling God’s mission, we must be willing to give our hands to partner and ride on that journey as did Jehonadab to Jehu. When asked if our heart is in allegiance with God’s work and his people, can we say “It is”?
Second, we must ensure that the people of God (believers) are sanctified (set apart) lest any believer perishes.
Finally, we must commission our children to refrain from practices that defile the temple of God (drinking wine) or focus on settling down in this world (build houses), so that we can attain the promise and privilege of serving God, all the days of our life and in any future generations.

2 Kings 10:15-16 (KJV)
15 And when he was departed thence, he lighted on Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him: and he saluted him, and said to him, Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart? And Jehonadab answered, It is. If it be, give me thine hand. And he gave him his hand; and he took him up to him into the chariot.
16 And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD. So they made him ride in his chariot.

2 Kings 10:23 (KJV)
And Jehu went, and Jehonadab the son of Rechab, into the house of Baal, and said unto the worshippers of Baal, Search, and look that there be here with you none of the servants of the LORD, but the worshippers of Baal only.

Jeremiah 35:12-14;18-19 (KJV)
13 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Go and tell the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will ye not receive instruction to hearken to my words? saith the LORD.
14 The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, that he commanded his sons not to drink wine, are performed; for unto this day they drink none, but obey their father’s commandment: notwithstanding I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye hearkened not unto me.

And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you:

19 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever.

Lesser known characters :: Jehu

Prophet Elisha sent the son of another prophet to Ramothgilead in order to anoint Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat and grandson of Nimshi as king over  Israel. The son of the prophet does as he is told. He pours oil on the head of Jehu and anoints Jehu as king, during which time the prophet conveys to Jehu, the mission that the Lord had for Jehu. The mission that was given to Jehu was to annihilate and smite all of the household of Ahab as a means to avenge the blood of the prophets that Ahab and his wife, Jezebel had spilled (2 Kings 9:1-12). Upon his anointing as king by the Lord, we learn that the people who were with Jehu accept him as king over them as well (2 Kings 9:13).

Jehu started out by killing Jehoram (also known as Joram), son of Ahab and Jezebel (2 Kings 9:14-26) in Jezreel. He then pursued Ahaziah, the son of Jehoram and Athaliah, daughter of Ahab (2 Kings 9:27-28), to Gur near Ibleam and smote him there. Ahaziah fled to Megiddo and died there. Then Jehu returned to Jezreel and solicited the help of two or three eunuchs to throw Jezebel, the wife of Ahab down from the window from which she questioned, if Jehu had come in peace after calling him the murderer of his master, Ahab (2 Kings 9:31). The eunuchs throw Jezebel down and she is killed and eaten by dogs as was prophesied against her by prophet Elijah, for his wickedness and evil against God’s prophets (2 Kings 9:30-37). Jehu then turns his attention to the seventy sons of Ahab in Samaria and has the people of the land slaughter them and send their heads to him in Jezreel (2 Kings 10:1-11). He then goes to Samaria and on his way there, comes across relatives of Ahaziah (and hence of Ahab’s household) and he kills them all (2 Kings 10:12-14). Upon arriving in Samaria he slaughters all that remained of the house of Ahab, as was prophesied by the prophet Elijah (2 Kings 10:17). He then turns his attention to Baal, and the worshipers of Baal, whom Ahab worshiped. Subtly he conspires and acts to be a servant of Baal to gather all the worshipers of Baal and gathers them in the temple of Baal where he appoints eighty men to slaughter all the worshipers of Baal, after ensuring that there were none in that gathering who were worshipers of the LORD (2 Kings 10:18-28). Of Jehu, it is said, that he was the destroyer of Baal from Israel (2 Kings 10:28). And the LORD said unto Jehu, “Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.” (2 Kings 10:30).

However, Jehu did not heed to walk in the law of the Lord with all his heart and did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, which was idol worship. Jeroboam, the king of Israel (Northern kingdom) erected golden calves in Bethel and Dan and appointed priests to offer sacrifices unto them, for fear that his people would return to worshiping the one and true God, Jehovah, in the Temple of Jerusalem and ultimately return to Judah (Southern kingdom) (1 Kings 13:34). Prophet Hosea prophesies referring to these events, that God would avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu and cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel (Hosea 1:4). Why would God do this? Did not Jehu remove the idolatory of Baal from Jezreel? Jehu is guilty of murder for having destroyed the worshipers of Baal while he himself was an idol worshiper of the golden calves. Had he heeded to the God’s law that you shall not have any others gods before me or you shall not make any idols (Exodus 20:3-4), Jehu would not have to been guilty of bloodshed of other idolators. Jehu reigned in Israel for twenty-eight years.

What can we learn from Jehu?
Jehu was anointed with oil on his head, and he followed the mission that God had ordained for him, which was to remove the evil king Ahab’s household from the land. Jehu was a zealous man for the Lord. In fact, in his visit to Samaria, as he is on the mission to annihilate Ahab’s household, he meets Jehonadab, the Rechabite and expresses his zeal for the LORD (2 Kings 10:16). In his mind, Jehu did what was expected of him to do, but his heart was not totally upright before God. Jesus said, you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind (Luke 10:27). Jehu loved the Lord with all his mind, which is evident from the zeal he had for the Lord, but Jehu did not love the Lord with all his heart for he gave place for the golden calves (idols) in his heart. He destroyed the idols on the outside, but he failed to destroy the idols within him. Many a times, we act like Jehu as well. We are zealous for the Lord and intellectually we are willing to fight and serve God, but when it comes to the matters of the heart, we uphold the idols of power, prosperity, pleasure, position and popularity in our hearts. Let us not be Jehu, who came to be the destroyer of the idols on the outside but he succumbed to the idols within; who was anointed in his head (mind) to serve, but had a heart that was diametrically opposite to obeying the commandments of the Lord.

2 Kings 10:16-17; 28-31(KJV)
16 And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD. So they made him ride in his chariot.
17 And when he came to Samaria, he slew all that remained unto Ahab in Samaria, till he had destroyed him, according to the saying of the LORD, which he spake to Elijah.

28 Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel.

29 Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan.
30 And the LORD said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.
31 But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin.

Hosea 1:4 (KJV)
4 And the LORD said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel.

Lesser known characters :: Jehiel

1 Chronicles 29 records the event of king David offering his personal  and precious gold and silver in order to build the house of the Lord. He asked the people, as to who was willing to consecrate their services to the Lord. The people willingly and wholeheartedly agreed to be of service in building the house of the Lord. Those who had precious stones found them and gave (with a perfect heart) to be used as a treasure in the house of the Lord. They sent these gifts through the GershoniteJehiel ( 1 Chronicles 29: 8 )

What can we learn from Jehiel?
Jehiel was trusted by the people to deliver the precious stones of the people, to the treasure of the house of the Lord. Those who believe in Jesus Christ are precious in his sight and they are living stones (1 Peter 2:5). Like Jehiel, can we be trusted to present those who are precious in God’s sight to him?

1 Chronicles 29:8 (KJV)
8 And they with whom precious stones were found gave them to the treasure of the house of the LORD, by the hand of Jehiel the Gershonite.

Lesser known characters :: Jeduthun

Jeduthun was a chosen and appointed by king David to give thanks unto the Lord (for His mercy endures forever) (1 Chronicles 16:41:42). His service was distinct as he was appointed to prophesy with harps and psalteries and cymbals, giving thanks and praising the Lord (1 Chronicles 25:1,3). Interestingly, the meaning of the word Jeduthun in Hebrew means praising. Jeduthun is referred to as the king’s seer (2 Chronicles 35:15)

What can we learn from Jeduthun?
Like the king David chose Jeduthun, the King of kings and the Lord of lords has chosen all who believe in Jesus Christ to be ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18) i.e., to prophesy (preach) the good news that God’s mercy endures forever and to give thanks and praise his name for God’s bountiful mercy. Are you and I diligent in our service to be referred to as the seer (prophet or mouthpiece) of the King of king and Lord of lords. Will anyone be able to look at our lives and say, “He or She is like Jeduthun, The King’s Seer”?

1 Chronicles 16:41-42 (KJV)
41 And with them Heman and Jeduthun, and the rest that were chosen, who were expressed by name, to give thanks to the LORD, because his mercy endureth for ever;
42 And with them Heman and Jeduthun with trumpets and cymbals for those that should make a sound, and with musical instruments of God. And the sons of Jeduthun were porters.

1 Chronicles 25:1-3 (KJV)
Moreover David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals: and the number of the workmen according to their service was:
2 Of the sons of Asaph; Zaccur, and Joseph, and Nethaniah, and Asarelah, the sons of Asaph under the hands of Asaph, which prophesied according to the order of the king.
3 Of Jeduthun: the sons of Jeduthun; Gedaliah, and Zeri, and Jeshaiah, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under the hands of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with a harp, to give thanks and to praise the LORD.

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.
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)
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: