Friday, 12 August 2016

Glory Arising from the Ashes of Defeat

" As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth..
 2And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.
 4We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  John 9 : 1 - 5.

In any relationship, the parties involved know what they should give and receive from each other .
The more special and more intimate the relationship , the more the expectations of reciprocity from the people involved .
The relationship between God and His people is sealed by covenant .
 Divine Covenant is founded on the word ( promises ) of  God which is infallible and it is sealed with the shedding of blood.
When Jehovah God chose a nation out of all the nations on earth , He entered into a covenant with them .
Firstly, divine covenant was sealed by the blood of bulls and sheep ; then it became the covenant sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ the Lamb of God. Hebrew 9: 11- 15.

As in all relationships , the Divine Covenant is packaged with promises of blessing , victories and glory from Jehovah bestowed on His people if they abide within the requirements of the covenant relationship. Exodus 19 : 3 - 8.
Jehovah God has been so faithful to His people that beauty , glory and victory has been the portion of His people ; so much so that even their enemies testified of how unique God's people were in all the earth.
 5.How fair are your tents, O Jacob, your dwellings, O Israel!
      6“Like valleys that stretch out , like gardens beside the river,
          Like aloes planted by the LORD, like cedars beside the waters.
      7“Water will flow from his buckets,
            And his seed will be by many waters,
            And his king shall be higher than Agag,
            And his kingdom shall be exalted.
      8“God brings him out of Egypt , He is for him like the horns of the wild ox.
            He will devour the nations who are his adversaries,
            And will crush their bones in pieces, and shatter them with his arrows.
      9“He couches, he lies down as a lion, and as a lion, who dares rouse him?
            Blessed is everyone who blesses you,
            And cursed is everyone who curses you.” Numbers 24: 5 -9.( NASB )

Ever true to His word, throughout the ages past, Jehovah has always shown up to deliver His people and God's people have always taken it for granted that they would always be victorious against any attack from their enemies.
After the Israelites suffered heavy casualties during one of their battles with their unrelenting enemy the Philistines, there was fear and astonishment in the battle camp of the Israelites.
Their resounding question was ; "Why has God forsaken us in battle today ?!" 1 Samuel 4 : 1-2.
"Why has God forsaken His people and  made His enemies to ask "Where is their God ?!"
 In their desperation for help , the Israelites resorted to bringing into their camp the Ark of the Covenant .  1 Samuel 4: 3- 4  .
As the Ark of the Covenant of  God entered the camp of Israel , there were shouts of  relief , joy and victory because of the people's  faith and trust in the delivering presence of Jehovah the God of Israel in their midst.
However in the camp of the enemy , the  Philistines were filled with fear as they heard the shout in the Israelite's camp ; for the enemies of  God's people knew about the awesome and unfailing power of Jehovah the God of Israel, the Mighty God in Battle and how He had  delivered  His people.
  1 Samuel 4: 3 - 8.
During this crucial battle, the fear in the camp of the enemy spurred them on to fight and they defeated the Israelites !
But on that day, the Israelite's shout of faith and show of trust in their God was not enough to get them their expected victory.
Why ? How did fear triumph over faith ?

When disappointments , delays and losses happen there could be one or several reasons for such.
Some of these reasons could be sin , doubt , fear, foolish choices; or it could be self-inflicted defeat through careless and shoddy preparation for battle.
SIN is the blanket name for all forms of disobedience of God's laws.
Faith births Obedience and these two conjoined are imperative in birthing blessings and victories .
Sin and lack of faith in God are usually the first accusations levied against people who have suffered  afflictions - heavy losses , delays, failures and disappointments.
Such afflicted persons would wonder and ask ;
 "What is my sin ; why has God forsaken me or forsaken us ?"
Their enemies and even family, friends and Church brethren would mock them saying, "Why have all your loud prayers , praises and church attendance not given you your expected blessings and victories ? Is your God deaf or is He sleeping or away on an extended trip ? Where is your God ?
"How about confessing your sins and changing your bad character ?"
" Surely you are being afflicted because you have sinned , because you had no faith , or because you have not engaged in long and loud prayer sessions and because you have not given enough money for the work of God ! "

On that day , Israel went into battle , expecting God  to fight for them , as usual .
But their expected victory and glory failed to materialise ; Israel suffered a great defeat and shame.
The people of God fled before their enemies !
Israel was astonished and they wanted to know why they had been defeated in battle .
 As if Israel  did not know why they were defeated !
Of a truth , Israel had sinned against God ; severally.
Before this defeat, God had issued His warnings to Israel about their sin and the repercussions they should expect when they disobeyed His laws.
All to no avail .The Israelites were a stiff-necked people .
“I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17: 10.6.
27When your dread comes like a storm And your calamity comes like a whirlwind, 
When distress and anguish come upon you.
 28 " Then they will call on me , but I will not answer ; they will seek me diligently but they will not find me,
29 Because they hated knowledge  and did not choose the fear of the LORD.…
Proverbs 1 : 27 -29.

Acknowledging the presence and power of God to deliver them would make men to seek Him for His intervention and deliverance.
Disobedience of God's words is an evidence of lack of faith in the power of God.
This an invitation to defeat and disaster on the battle front.
Israel had sinned and grieved God severally and they had forgotten the warnings of Jehovah that sin would result in their defeat in battles with their enemies.
The Israelites believed in the power of God's presence in their midst but Israel had sinned against God  therefore incurring the wrath of God .
Why pay lip-service only to this awesome God without the corresponding heart-service ?
Isaiah 29 : 13- 14.
When people disobey God's word and thereafter they end up in a jam;  then,  they would remember God and His love , His mercy and power to deliver.
They would suddenly remember the same God whose word and presence they disregarded before they landed in their self-inflicted jam .
 God's love, grace and mercy are taken for granted by people who show disregard for God and His commandments; yet they expect to be spared the consequences of their sin.

But is sin , lack of faith and insufficient prayers the only reasons for defeat and failure in human lives?
Beloved reader, have you been beating your chest  with pride , like the Pharisee in Luke 18 : 9 - 14 ;  or have you been pointing your fingers at afflicted people , accusing them and claiming self-righteousness and superiority over  them?
If you have been guilty of doing all these , what you are saying , in effect , is that you and other persons who have been blessed by God, have received your miracles because you have  not sinned or because your characters are better than those of people who have not received their expected blessings .
 What about your own sin which is different from the sins of the persons whom you are mocking?
How "good" is your own character ?
How much prolonged prayers and large offerings have you made to qualify you to receive your blessings from God?
And WHO has never sinned ; among all the humans who can testify of the blessings of God  ?
" If You, LORD, should mark iniquities,O Lord, who could stand?
  4 But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared ". Psalm 130 : 3, 4.
Indeed , there are millions of persons who do not even acknowledge God in their lives ; and they have no space for God when planning their time and money , yet they have received freely of those same blessings and victories which the people of faith are expecting to receive .

Israel sinned and they suffered heavy losses in that crucial battle with the Philistines.
However , subsequently,  the hand of God and His purpose for that defeat was revealed in spectacular dimensions through the events that followed as recorded in the Biblical accounts in 1 Samuel chapters 5 and 6 .
God's grace , sovereignty and His infinite wisdom determine the course of the affairs of men .
Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. John 9 : 3
God's ways are past finding and His reasons for events in human lives are beyond human comprehensionIsaiah 55: 8-9.
The Philistines did not know God ; yet they went into battle propelled by fear and not by faith  but they triumphed over the people of God who had made a great shout of faith in their God.
"That You may be feared ..."
The heathen mocked the God of Israel because they had defeated His people !
After their victory , the Philistines were emboldened and they displayed the effrontery of placing the Ark of the Covenant which bore the presence of Jehovah God, next to their own god Dagon !
If Israel was not defeated how would the heathen have had a testimony of the impotence of their god to condemn Dagon with the same mouth with which they had mocked the God of Israel ?
Israel's defeat led to the manifestation of the power and the glory of Jehovah God before the heathen.
Never before had the presence of God been carried  as a trophy of defeat; with great heathen celebration ,into the same place of worship of the god of a heathen nation.
But God showed Himself mighty in the midst of the heathen by  striking fear , awe and reverence in the very heart of the pride of the heathen .
Why did God wait for Israel to be defeated before showing His mighty hand ?
Why does God wait for His people to be afflicted , to weep and mourn before delivering them?
God says He has bottled every tear shed by His people Psalm 56:8 ; and He has heard the mockery heaped on them . Psalm 89 : 50-51.
Why has God allowed  these tears to be shed and these mockeries to happen at all, before intervening to stop them ?  
If Israel was not defeated and the Ark of God was not taken , how else could the heathen know the difference between Jehovah and all other gods ?
" This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day ". 1 Samuel 5:5.

Why are you despondent and why are you  joining your enemies to mock God and to ask ,
"Where is THIS God?" 
 If you did not hit the bottom of the pit of despair and shed the tears of defeat and shame inside the deepest and darkest dungeon;  how then would you have been promoted from that prison to the palace where you are today ?
How then would your enemies have no choice but to bow the knee before you ?
" And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt ". Genesis 41: 43
If your mockers who celebrated your fall and defeat have not been made to eat their own words today ; how then could they have acknowledged the glory of God in your life as they are doing right now?
Have you never read this Scripture: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
This is from the Lord and it is marvelous in our eyes ? "  Mark 12 : 10 -11.
If God had not stood by and watched people as they ganged up  to stop your blessings , how else could the mouths of these same persons become sour ; when they are forced to bear testimonies with their own mouths about your glorious blessings ?
28. They said, “We see plainly that the LORD has been with you. So we said, let there be a sworn pact between us, between you and us, and let us make a covenant with you, 29that you will do us no harm, just as we have not touched you and have done to you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the LORD.” Genesis 26: 28 - 29.

May God manifest His beauty and glory from  the ashes of every  fiery furnace of defeat in your life . Amen.



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