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MESSAGE FOR THE FORTNIGHT
 






    






Rising above the “see” level!!!



“Do the seeing really see” wondered aloud the popular blind author cum lecturer namely Helen Keller in one of her lectures reminiscing her interactions with the husbands who weren’t able to recollect immediately (on being quizzed by the inimitable Keller) as to the colour of their wives eyes’...women with whom they have been in a covenantal relationship for a few decades now. Seeing is a marvellous sense that the all-wise Creator has bestowed upon most of His creation (barring the plants). While being able to see is a wonderful experience in itself, it needs to be said that lasting, fruitful relationships are built upon not one sees physically in an individual but what one wisely perceives in him/her. The issue is do we really see all that “we need to see” in a person whatever be the circumstances or are our perceptions and the relationships thereof with a person built on external, materialistic factors. Simply put, in gauging a person (first step in the relationship building exercise) do we remain merely “at see level” (limiting our perception of an individual to what is physically visible) or do we rise “above see level” ....meaning do we attempt to see beyond the physical realm whilst forming an opinion about him.

In this message, Yours truly aims to cast his spotlight on three instances in The Bible where the main characters’ in their relationship with another individual focused on invisible spiritual factors rather than the plainly visible physical ones’ even while deepening their bonds with the concerned. These perceptive souls’ would also subsequently reap the Divine blessings for their stunning actions borne out of wise perceptivity!!!

Poverty...


     Ruth 1:16-17                                           Ruth 2:1-3

Welcome to a quite familiar “rags to riches” story of Ruth. Welcome once again to this timeless, touching story which throws up new insights every single time we study it. What was the turning point in this riveting “poverty to prosperity” account? Doubtless the moment set in stone so to speak is recorded in chapter 1, verse 16 wherein Ruth says, “I’m accepting my mother-in-law’s God as my God, mother-in-law’s people as my people.” By saying so, she walks virtually into the Sovereign and Secure hands of God (read Covenantal relationship).

What made her take that “leap of faith”? The events at the beginning of chapter 2 provide us with a clue. Ruth says that she would like to go and glean in some of the fields as per the Levitical law which states that “the reapers during the harvest should not pick up any stray grain or crop... it is for the poor and the widows and foreigners to come and glean…” (Lev 19:9). How could Ruth the Moabitess have known about this Law? Quite certainly, she would have become conversant about this thanks to her Jewish mother-in-law, Naomi who would have surely educated her about the same. It is that familiarity with Naomi’s unique God of Covenant (Deu 8:18/ Neh 9:32) and His Word which accorded so much of importance to the “weak and poor” of the society at a time the universal social Law was “Might is right” that had made Ruth cling to her mother in law as iron-filings cling to the magnet. Amazingly so (one can say), since her mother-in-law herself had given the widowed Ruth the right to go back to her roots and remarry!!!

Ruth was from Moab where there were no such laws, which would take care of the poor and the needy, but even as she came to know more about God’s laws... His Word which was oriented towards the welfare of the poor and needy, she knew she was dealing with a God, who is different and that is what made her take that leap of faith. Virtually at a time when before her was the forlorn image of a poor, helpless widowed mother-in-law, Ruth perceived at that defining moment of decision-making something else!!! With this seemingly helpless woman was the very presence of God who had bound Himself into a covenantal relationship with her. By binding herself to her mother-in-law, she would be binding herself to that same benevolent God of her mother-in-law too!!!

Post this turning point in her life that the Redeemer God would

  • a) one day guide her steps not only to the field of Boaz, her Kinsman Redeemer (Psalm 37:23) but straight into the latter’s heart and
  • b) that one day she would one day become not only the co-owner of the very fields in which she went to glean but also be one of the pro-genitors of the Messiah Himself


  • is all now part of well-chronicled history (Matt 1:5).

    But what was the “key” to all the “blessings” and the “privileges” which came rushing Ruth’s way? Her ability to rise above the normal “see level” and perceive in her mother-in-law all that would inspire her to throw in her lot with the latter.

    Instability...


    2 Sam 15:19-21


    Heard of a Pakistani terrorist who would become one day become one of the key Generals’ of the Indian army? Welcome to yet another similar albeit a Biblical account which would figure in Ripley’s Book of Believe it or not. The David and the Ittai the Gittite Story, Ladies and Gentlemen!!! The residents of Gath were called Gittites....mind you one notorious Philistine Warrior and an avowed enemy number one of Israelites answering to the name of Goliath was also a Gittite- 1 Sam 17:4 (sic).

    Let’s pick up action from 2 Samuel Chapter 15 verse 13 onwards and what do we see? King David’s situation which was the very definition of instability!!! With the shocking News of rebellion of one of his favourite sons’ namely Absalom just trickling in, the totally unprepared (for civil war) King David justifiably presses, as it were, the panic button. One of immediate flight from Jerusalem his capital city with his loyal Jewish men in tow!!! Where would he flee for safety? When and where would he re-organize his army? With these kinds of misty questions hanging before David, it would take quite a loyalist to throw his weight behind him during this crisis. In this “gloom and doom” scenario, it is a safe bet that David was forced to rub his eyes in disbelief when he saw the Philistine Asylum seeker Ittai the Gittite marching right alongside his other Jewish loyalists at this hazy time of hasty flight from Jerusalem. What was David’s reaction??? Over to the Scripture...

    “What are you doing here? Go on back with your men to Jerusalem, to your king, for you are a guest in Israel, a foreigner in exile. It seems but yesterday that you arrived, and now today should I force you to wander with us, who knows where? Go on back and take your troops with you, and may the Lord be merciful to you.” - 2 Sam 15:19-20 (TLB)

    And Ittai’s perceptive response? Let the Scripture take over once again...

    “I vow by God and by your own life that wherever you go, I will go, no matter what happens—whether it means life or death.”- 2 Sam 15:21,

    Are not discerning readers’ seeing here a virtual action replay of the Naomi-Ruth tale enshrined in Ruth 1:15-17? Hmmmm...didn’t the wise Law insist on having two witnesses to underscore a point (Deu 19:15)... which in this case is benefit of wise perceptivity?

    Before the perceptive eyes of Ittai the Gititte, the image of David though physically forlorn was not one of instability but one of security. Presently chastising but a covenantal God would never leave him or forsake him forever (2 Sam 7:8-16) but rather would guard him as the “apple of his eye” (Psa 17:8).

    Now what benefits accrued to Ittai, courtesy his amazing perceptivity? Can you believe it...promotion to being one of the Commanders of David army (2 Sam 18:1-2)!!! Keeping in view, Ittai’s background is it not an amazing privilege especially when we factor in the fact that King David’s army is also called the “Army of God” (1 Chro 12:21-23 CJB). Boy...a despised gentile hailing from an enemy country now is helming a regiment of the Lord’s army!!! While such a juicy News item would have been heaven sent manna for WSJ (had it been in circulation in that Biblical age), for the faithful lot who feed on God’s Word treating it as spiritually nutritious food a la Jeremiah (Jer 15:16), it is yet another reminder of how the blessings (privileges) would come one’s way on account of wise decision making borne out of wise perceptivity.

    While on the subject of Absalom’s rebellion it wouldn’t be out of place to state here that out of 2 of David’s constant counsellors (1 Chro 27:33 TLB), the one (Ahithophel) who sided with Absalom went to an early grave whereas the other (Hushai the Archite) who threw in his lot with David had a blessed role to play in influencing (2 Sam 15:32-37/ 2 Sam 17:1-22) the outcome of that civil war.

    Mortality...


    Luke 23:39-43


    Let’s visit Calvary now on the first Good Friday and see an amazing scene unfolding with an amazing side character in it bearing very close resemblance to Ruth and Ittai of yore...yes I am alluding to the repentant thief on the Cross (Luke 23:39-43). What would one helpless dying man see in yet another hopelessly dying man that the former would seek a lasting relationship with the latter which would also guarantee eternal riches for the seeker eventually? Normally, such a move wouldn’t make any sense unless the latter were to answer to the Name...Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Now this very Jesus after His atoning death on the Cross for all of mankind would one day be ruling whole of mankind from the very place of His death...Jerusalem (Isa 2:1-4/ Rev 20:4)!!!

    Like perceptive Ruth and Ittai the Gittite saw in Naomi and David respectively not their hopeless situations but something more transcendental, the repentant thief too saw with his perceptive faith not a hapless victim of injustice but something more ethereal. In the far-sighted eyes of that Blessed repentant thief (figuratively speaking) Jesus’ hands were no longer nail-pierced but were now holding the Royal sceptre (Gen 49:10), His sweaty head was no longer adorned with a crown of thorns rather on it now was resplendent golden crown (Rev 14:14) and His marred body was no longer hanging helplessly on the Cross rather there He was...seated on the glorious throne in the Millennial age of the future (Psa 2:4-7/ Matt 25:31). Therefore the repentant thief by aligning himself with that future King of the coming age was perfectly securing his eternal future.

    Now onto a minor incidental subject not often touched upon in the Christian circles. That of miraculously fast-tracking the blessing promised...”You shall be with me in the paradise today”. Honestly speaking crucifixion by tying a person to the Cross does not lead to death in a day like nailing does. While there may be an endless dispute amongst the historians as to whether the thieves on either side of Jesus’ cross were tied or nailed to their respective Crosses’, the fact remains that but for Divine providence (we see it being enacted in John 19:31-33 in the breaking the legs of the thieves to expedite their expiry), the thieves wouldn’t have died that day and the Divine promise given to one of them would have remained unfulfilled. As the words of the Word (another name for Jesus- John 1:1) have to be fulfilled at any cost (Matt 24:35), Divine providence had it that the repentant thief enjoyed the presence of the Lord in the paradise that very day in perfect fulfilment of the Divine promise.

    Whilst almost drawing close to the end of my message Dear Friends, I would like to say this. Let’s be known as wise “perceptive Christians” of the mould of a Naomi, an Ittai or the repentant thief on the Cross rather than as merely “seeing” Christians. When we see a fellow Christian in dire straits, rather than taking the an easy and juicy route in front of us being judgmental and prejudiced (remember Job’s friends fell for it) let’s be sensitive to the fact that there is a Covenantal, Unchanging God “who wouldn’t put off the smoldering wick” (Isa 42:3/ Matt 12:20/ Heb 13:8) with that suffering Brother. In those circumstances’, let’s resolve to do all that would bring glory to our Heavenly Father and succour to the suffering one by first and foremost deciding to stand by the needy, whatever be the cost. And for taking such a God-honouring stand, it can be said without an iota of doubt, immeasurable blessings would come our way in this world or the Next (Matt 25:31-40) just as they did in the lives of three Biblical characters’, we focussed upon.

    In conclusion, let it be said that our actions vis-a-vis our needy Christian brethren need to be guided not so much by the fact as “who they are or where they are in their life journey rather by the one as to whose they are”!!!


    Suresh Manoharan
    An Unworthy Servant



    Ps… All those whose heart the Lord is touching say this Prayer right where you are…”Father, I confess I am a Sinner. Cloth me with Your Priceless Robes of Righteousness which Your Son Jesus Christ has purchased for me in the Cross. Fill my heart with the joy of Your Spirit. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.