Prayer Of Jabez
Blessed of the Lord Part Two
In part one we examined the concept that the blessing of God is a lifestyle we live not an object or opinion sought for. We also learned that the blessing of God is synonymous with the favor of God. We know that God has an unconditional love, but Godís love and favor are not the same. Itís possible to have Godís love, but not be walking in His favor. To walk in Godís blessing we walk as a "Favored One" of the Lord.
To be favored of God is not a normal condition for human flesh. The fallen condition of the human heart is to maintain a "Favor Me" attitude. The more we enter the blessing of God the "Favor Me" attitude is crucified and we become a "Favored One" of God.
The latest vogue Christian doctrine on the lips of the body of Christ is the book entitled the Prayer of Jabez written by Dr. Bruce Wilkinson. This simple booklet is excellent and superb, but in part two we will apply the principles of walking as a favored one of God with the prayer of Jabez.
JABEZ (Historical Data)
A descendant of Judah, but of what family is not apparent. The only mention made of him is this remarkable account: "And Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother named him Jabez saying, 'Because I bore him with pain.' Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, 'Oh that Thou wouldst bless me indeed, and enlarge my border, and that Thy hand might be with me, and that Thou wouldst keep me from harm, that it may not pain me! And God granted him what he requested" (1 Chron 4:9-10). Keil (Com., ad loc.) supposes that this is a record of a vow made by Jabez, the conditions only being given. "The reason of this is, probably, that the vow had acquired importance sufficient to make it worthy of being handed down only from God's having so fulfilled his wish that his life became a contradiction of his name, the son of pain having been free from pain in life, and having attained to greater happiness and reputation than his brothers." (The New Unger's Bible Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1988.)
1 Chron 4:9-10 And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow. (10 And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested. (KJV)
Historically, Jabez was an insignificant person in the genealogy of Israel. These two verses are the only reference made concerning this person. In our eyes Jabez was a man who had little impact on the historical narrative of Israel. Thank God our eyes are not Godís eyes, because God heard the prayer of Jabez, and granted his request. According to this holy prayer, the blessing of God had four basic elements.
Is it possible that these elements could be found in the blessing of God?
"ÖOh that thou wouldest bless me indeedÖ"
barak (baw-rak'/OT:1288); a primitive root; to kneel; by implication to bless God (as an act of adoration), and (vice-versa) man (as a benefit); also (by euphemism) to curse (God or the king, as treason): KJV - X abundantly, X altogether, X at all, blaspheme, bless, congratulate, curse, X greatly, X indeed, kneel (down), praise, salute, X still, thank.
In part one we studied the concept that the blessing of God is not and object to be sought from God, or an opinion God might have of us. The blessing of God is a path we follow, a lifestyle we live in God. We know that the blessing of God is synonymous with His holy presence. When we abide in Godís presence we abide in His blessing, and we cannot abide in Godís presence without embracing the path of the Cross. To be the favored one of God we must be crucified with Christ.
When Jabez prayed his famous prayer he was seeking Godís favor and His holy presence in his life.
"Ö and enlarge my coastÖ"
When we read that Jabez prayed for God to enlarge his coast. This is a confusing statement. How can we apply these concept to the blessing of God today?
gebuwl (gheb-ool'/OT:1366); or (shortened) gebul (gheb-ool'); from OT:1379; properly, a cord (as twisted), i.e. (by implication) a boundary; by extens. the territory inclosed: KJV - border, bound, coast, X great, landmark, limit, quarter, space. (SEC)
(OT:136)gebuwl or (shortened) gebul-- a border, territory a) a border b) territory (enclosed within boundary) c) a region, territory (of darkness) (figurative) (Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon)
Jabez asked God to enlarge his sphere of responsibility and prosperity. It is interesting to note that in the Chaldee translation of this verse Jabez prayed for God to "Öenlarge my borders with disciplesÖ".
Is it possible that Jabez desired for God to enlarge his sphere of spiritual influence and responsibility?
Should this be the case then Jabezís prayer came from the heart of God. It would appear that the prayer of Jabez was not motivated by a "favor me" selfish attitude.
"Ö and that thine hand might be with me, Ö"
In the Old Testament hands are symbolic of various forms of human action; for example pure hands represent pure actions while "hands covered in blood" denote violence and cruelty. The hand in reference to God and man denotes spiritual interaction. For example:
(Note: The provision of God is directly connected to the needs of His kingdom not our personal perceptions of our needs)
(Reference: Matt 6:24-33; 10:29-31; Luke 12:6-7)
The hand of God speaks of consecration to kingdom ministry, and the process of being set apart to do the work of Godís ministry. The body of Christ has its great spiritual dynamic, because every member in the body of Christ is a joint that provides supply to the corporate good edifying itself in love (Eph 4:16)
Take the time to consider all the facets of Godís hand being with us. Jabez understood that the hand of God brought divine interaction in his life. Do we also understand our duties and responsibilities to God when we pray for his hand to be in our lives. We enjoy Godís divine provision and wisdom, but our we will to accept his holy consecration? Godís hand is with us when we enter into intimate relationship with Him.
God Would Keep From Evil
"Ö and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! Ö"
Jabez included in his prayer the realization that he needed God to keep him from evil, and that the evil would not hurt or destroy him. We have a tendency to think that evil is only the horrid sinful actions that people do to hurt themselves or other people. But the Hebrew and Greek applications of the concept of evil have a greater arena of influence.
(Reference: ra` (rah/OT:7451); ra` a` (raw-ah'/OT:7489); beliya` al (bel-e-yah'-al/OT:1100); poneros (pon-ay-ros'/NT:4190); kakos (kak-os'/NT:2556))
Lets ponder for a moment these concepts of evil. When we speak of evil we often form in our minds the horrid darkness of unrepentant sin, but a survey of the Hebrew and Greek words used in the Bible provide for us a wider application. The Bible also refers to the labors, toils, distresses, and even our normal human annoyances as a facet of evil. We can also see that the thoughts and attitudes we allow in our lives that have no eternal value, that are worthless and vain, can also be seen as evil in the eyes of scripture.
Consider this thought with me. We pray for God to keep us from evil, and this is a good prayer to offer to our holy Father. Let us take this thought and apply the various applications of the word "evil".
Moral Evil (Old Man Nature)
One of the applications of "evil" in the Bible is the concept of moral evil, bad or harmful actions or attitudes. This type of evil is the horrid darkness of our corrupt fallen human sinful nature. This application of evil includes the conscious action to do harm to God and His creation.
When we pray for God to keep us from evil, we are asking to be delivered from our fallen sinful nature. How can this be?
Rom 6:6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. (NIV)
Our fallen human nature is crucified with Jesus on the blood soaked cross of Calvary. The Bible does not teach that our sinful nature is dead once we accept the gift of Calvary. It is wrong to assume that our sin nature is dead once we embrace Jesus Christ. The New Testament does teach that our fallen sin nature is crucified with Christ so that the body of sin might die the death of faith.
Rom 13:12-14 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. (13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. (14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. (KJV)
When we pray for God to keep us from evil; have we done all that can be done to appropriate the completed work of Calvary? Are we praying for God to keep us from evil, but at the same time are we making provision for our flesh to fulfil its lusts?
God can keep us from the horrid darkness of human evil only to the degree we are willing to cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Reference: 1 Thess 5:22 Eph 4:24-32 Col 3:10-17 Gal 5:16-17, 24 Col 3:51 Peter 2:11
Another application of evil is the pain, suffering, and affliction all human flesh endure. Why do we have adversity and affliction?
Another application of "Evil" in the Bible is the concept of that which is worthless, having no true spiritual value. Consider with me a possibility that much of our lives are filled with worthless activities, actions, and attitudes that have no true lasting spiritual value.
Eccl 12:8 Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity. (KJV)
Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, clearly perceived all human action devoid of divine guidance as total vanity (worthless/having no value).
Prov 22:8 He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail.
Solomon also taught that those who sow the seeds of iniquity will reap the crop of vain worthless actions.
Ps 119:37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. (NIV)
It is easy to think that evil is the horrid sin and malice of the kingdom of darkness, but is it more difficult to perceive that our vain, worthless actions are seen in the sight of scripture as being evil also.
King David understood how easy it is for human flesh to turn to worthless things, but he also understood that our lives can be preserved by abiding in Godís word.
The concept of evil can also be applied to things in our lives that are spoiled and broken. Jesus spoke of this concept when He taught on the broad way that leads to destruction.
Matt 7:13-14 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: (14) Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (KJV)
We assume that the only destruction being describe by Jesus is the eternal damnation of hell, but this word has another definition.
apoleia (ap-o'-li-a/684); from a presumed derivative of 622; ruin or loss (physical, spiritual or eternal): KJV-- damnable (-nation), destruction, die, perdition, X perish, pernicious ways, waste. 684 apoleia-
Destruction: (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)
1) destroying, utter destruction; used of vessels
2) a perishing, ruin, destruction
a) used of money
b) the destruction which consists of eternal misery in hell
Waste/Destruction (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)
A. Noun: apoleia (684), "destruction," is translated "waste" in (Mt 26:8; Mk 14:4).
B. Verbs: (1) diaskorpizo (1287), "to scatter abroad," is used metaphorically of "squandering property," (Luke 15:13; 16:1) (2) portheo (4199), "to ravage," is rendered "wasted" in (Gal. 1:13) (3) lumaino (3075), "to outrage, maltreat," is used in the middle voice in (Acts 8:3), of Saul's treatment of the church, RV, "laid waste"
No doubt this Greek word has the application of the eternal misery of hell, but the destruction of hell is only one small portion of this definition. The Greek word also speaks of that which is ruined or lost, or to be scattered abroad. In regards to financial matters this Greek word also has the application of money being squandered.
Consider with me the possibility that Christians can also follow the broad way that leads to destruction (ruin, loss, and squandered opportunities). Are these Christians going to hell? No! Absolutely not! The blood of Christ has redeemed their souls, but the life of religious world conformity has robbed them of the joys found in following Christ on the narrow path. We are admonished by Christ to seek first His kingdom (Mt 6:33), therefore we can conclude that the narrow path is the path of the kingdom of God and His Lordship.
The prayer of Jabez, the prayer that is speaking to the twenty-first century of the need for Godís blessing. Dr. Wilkinson brought to light the power and significance of Jabez. The purpose and motive of Jabez moved the heart of God, and He answered his prayer with blessing. When Jabez prayed his famous prayer he was seeking Godís favor and His holy presence in his life.
We discovered that Godís blessing is not an item or object to be sought after, but His blessing is a straight and narrow path we traverse. Should our desire be to enjoy the blessing of God, then we should consider a few thoughts.
Ps 24:4-5 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. (5 He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. (KJV)
Are we willing to seek first Godís kingdom, and allow Him to enlarge our kingdom responsibilities?
Are we willing to allow the hand of God to consecrate our lives to His kingdom work?
Are we willing to repent of vain and worthless actions and motives that bring into our lives distress, calamity, and broken dreams?
Think carefully when answering these questions, because our answers will determine the degree we are willing to walk the path of Godís blessing. Remember the writings of King David, who instructed us with the truth that the blessed of the Lord are those who walk with God with clean hands, a pure heart, and who has not resorted to vanity and deceit. It is interesting to compare the prayer of Jabez with Psalm 24 since both recognize the same motives and characteristics needed to walk in Godís bless.