What the Almighty God has done no power in heaven or on earth can undo it. King Artaxerxes under the impartation of divine love of God did send Nehemiah to rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem. He backed his authority with fund and ‘visa’ to be able to have free passage through other territories. On arrival there was ready opposition that tried to disturb and get the project un-executable in the persons of Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite as well as Geshem the Arab. Neh. 2 : 1-20 (NKJV). These people were so pissed off that they jeered at and mocked the Jews. They even went to the extent of putting up petition against the Jews with trump up allegation of possible plan to rebel against the King. They further planned to attack the builders who armed themselves in expectation. They never did because the Jews armed themselves spiritually and physically. Neh. Chs 3 & 4 (NKJV)
As it was in the days of Nehemiah, so it is now and would probably continue to be. The good news is: “but those who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits”. Daniel 11: 32b (NKJV)
As human as we are with our fullness and emptiness, it is not usual for one to see ones choicest creation or possession being misused, oppressed, abused and disgraced by others not so close to ones heart. The moment ones dearest possession cries out in anguish one must rise up in love to ensure alleviating the regrettable situation or total release from it. Nehemiah in exile and in the court of King Artaxerxes became sad because of the bad news concerning the gloom that beset the walls of Jerusalem, and even the temple. It was at a time when the princes and rulers of Jerusalem and Judah were in exile.
It is pertinent to stress that God’s compassion moved the king to see sorrow in Nehemiah’s countenance. He there and then set out to give Nehemiah the joy and happiness over what he needed most which neither hatred nor jealousy can spoil; Nehemiah chapters 1 and 2. Through Nehemiah’s love and total dependence in God through fervent prayers, King Artaxerxes sponsored the rebuilding of the broken walls of Jerusalem. There is none like God in showering his blessings with love over those who know HIM.
God is love and universal in scope. HE actually loves all whether Jew or gentile. The whole peoples of the world are His. God has no time for checking credentials to ascertain being Jew or Christian or any other religions of the world. In this part of the ongoing series on LOVE, God’s divine love was extended to Naaman, commander of the army of Syria. Syria at the time was enjoying victory over Israel, or seen as ‘enemy combatant’ that was not at peace with the people of God. The king of Syria, through the assurance of the captive girl from Israel sent Naaman to Prophet Elisha who only instructed thus: “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you and you shall be clean.”
Naaman thought Elisha was rude for not considering his status but was persuaded to do what the man of God directed him to do. In the end, he got completely healed. Pride and anger nearly deprived him of God’s divine love which was not up for grab or to the highest bidder. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases but it behoves us to obediently tap into this fountain of God’s compassionate love that transcends color or creed. Naaman realized the greatness of the God of Israel that has no equal in all gods in the world. ll King 5: 1-27
Life of Apostle Paul gave us an insight into how God extends his love to cover even the wicked ones. Paul, as Saul, had one sterling quality of intense dedication to duty. Man sees only the face but God sees the heart or that which is intrinsic and can always tap on man’s hidden resources to edify HIS holy name. In his fervor at rounding up Jesus’ disciples for imprisonment. Paul received High Priest’s mandate to hunt down Jesus’ disciples with their so-called “new doctrine”. It was on his way to Damascus that he met the risen Christ who commissioned him – Saul – (later Paul) and literally enlisted him as soldier in the gospel army. Acts 9: 1-16
Through thick and thin, pain and pang, along with trial and tribulation, his tenacious faith in Christ Jesus saw him through all the fall out arising from his missionary journeys among Jews and gentiles. He expectantly rose to the rank of “five-star general” meaning, he ran the gospel race to win the crown of glory.
A deserter in any national Armed Forces that are justly defending the territorial integrity of his country is anti-Paul the Apostle. A quitter in any tough assignment is apparently a total failure, God has a sacred duty to bless us but it is our duty to use our talent responsibly to his honor and glory. Apostle Paul really did.
In the present age, we often hear people say “an opportunity once lost can never be regained”. It is believed to be for scaring people away from having “a second chance”. As for ardent seekers, Jesus assured his disciples thus: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible”. Matthew 19: 26b (NKJV). Steadfast love of the Lord is always available to be appropriated by the seekers when things are going awry. Secondly, the risen Christ yanked Saul out of his wickedness and transformed him into a life-saver for eternity.
Life today is replete with success coming from second chance. Legendary Abraham Lincoln became US President after so many failed attempts at the presidency. In education there are so many remedial programs in place to help those who missed the first chance. Ford Motors after the bail-out is now doing fine. God loves humanity as a matter of course but does not close the window of asking for ones needs, second chance not withstanding. This is a prelude to the event concerning ‘Road to Damascus’.
God’s love is from generation to generation. The trio of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob demonstrated a two-way love cord that connected the three patriarchs to God’s love. It is highly significant in the life of Jacob, later called Israel. He became the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. The patriarchs all loved, trusted, worshipped and obeyed God. Even while they, the Israelites were in Egypt for 450 years in bondage, God never forgot his love bond with the lineage of the patriarchs. In his divine love, God saw the afflictions of His people – the Hebrews – and orchestrated their release from bondage. He used Moses, a Hebrew child but brought up as a prince of Egypt in all their arts and culture to effect God’s will. With filial love for the Hebrews he met out instant justice to a wicked Egyptian task-master and became a fugitive in the land of Midian for 40 years.
God commissioned him to go and secure the release of the children of Israel from bondage. In love God took them to the promised land but got rid of the disobedient generation that left Egypt before settling down in the land of Canaan. Armament in war does not ensure victory, rather God’s mysterious hand upon Israel brought down the walls of Jericho – a highly dreaded and fortified city – all because of obedience to the war strategies God gave them. Divine love when sustained conquers fear, defeat and sorrow in the life of man.
The series under non-carnal love is generic or in general term that stands for all non-divine love such as love of money and power to mention a few. It is therefore apt to exemplify the place of ardent and positive seeking something that is of value or as priceless as the promise of the coming Messiah Isaiah 7:14 and 9 : 6-7. The general belief then was that he would be a fighting king who would free them from serving the Roman Emperor.
At the baptism of Jesus, John the Baptist saw the sign God told him he would see to identify Jesus, John 1:29-36. John the Baptist’s witnessing coupled with Jewish expectation brought followers that became his disciples as ordained John 1: 37. With physical and spiritual freedom in view, those who met and interacted with him began to invite many more John 1: 41-45. The Psalmist declared in Psalm 34 : 8 “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good, Blessed is the man who trusts in Him” As of today, there is no genuine or divine love for what is satanic or merely unwholesome. The disciples kept together in divine love even after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Both Samson and Balaam failed to uphold the dignity associated with divine love because they could not bear the strain and stress of what it takes to have divine love. Balaam, a great sorcerer and highly respected failed to tread on the path of righteousness expected of him. As Balak, King of Moab, heard about the victorious entry of the Israelites into the promised land , he became terrified because it would be the turn of his kingdom to be sacked after overrunning Sihon – King of the Amorites.
King Balak blinded Balaam to the true meaning of various divine warnings he received from God. One would think that if it behoved God to give instructions to Balaam in his warning dreams on how to handle the request Balak made, he should have understood better. The divine signals were not for fun. The signals were very explicit. They included Balaam, the donkey that spoke in human’s voice and the Angel. Number 22 : 21-38 (NKJV). Balaam’s behavior is a show of love of money and power over and above loving or accepting God’s dicisive position on any matter before him – a mere mortal.
It is crystal clear that a man of God can lose his anointing if he fails to resist the devil to the extent that it must flee from him. As it was with Balaam, so it occurred to Samson born with heavy anointing on him. He had a clear mission to deliver the Israelites from the Philistines. He violated the agelong prohibition of marrying from non-Jewish clan, especially from the Philistines. He acted against parental advice. His first betrothed wife was married to his best man.
Samson went ahead with carnal love for another Philistine damsel- Delilah- a harlot. He lost possession of his anointing and fell prey to the beguiling power of Delilah’s ceaseless entreaties.
As soon as he spiritually deflated himself, the Philistines captured him and plucked off his two eyes (Judges 16 : 22). Samson without his anointing became an ordinary defenseless man. So it is in our everyday life that carnal love continues to destroy political careers of some prominent politicians.
If man could endeavor to love his neighbor as himself, the world would be a better place to live in. Those who could practice this way of life would enjoy the unavoidable result of their action.The road may be a difficult terrain but the end would be gracious. Hold on to this food for thought until I share with you again.