Tuesday, August 28, 2012

JABEZ: FAMILY REDEEMER

Cody F Miller 

A few years ago, a book was written called “The Prayer of Jabez” by Bruce Wilkinson. I bought that book but I never read it through, I gave it as gifts to friends.  The concept is based on 2 verses of a chapter in 1 Chronicles of the Old Testament of the Bible; 1 Chronicles 4:9-10
After reading a few chapters of that book I put it away. I felt that the writer was missing the mark concerning this scripture.  He seemed to capitalize on the prayer request of Jabez for blessings as an opportunity to “seek unclaimed” temporal blessings from God. The writer suggested that the reader should repeat the “prayer” every day until the blessings come true. This seems to go against the Lord’s admonition against repetitive prayers. Subsequently the writer has created a “business” out of “misinterpreting" those verses and possibly confusing people who are diligently seeking answers.

So I was inspired to read about Jabez . First Chronicles is a chronology and genealogy of the members of the House of Israel and the House of Judah beginning with Adam. It’s a laundry list and I really enjoyed reading through each name and determining who was male and who was female. It reminded me of Family History work.  1 Chronicles was the most complete list or count of the House of Israel and the House of Judah, formerly the House of David. There is an abbreviated version in Matthew chapter 1.
But this is what catches your attention, whoever was responsible for documenting these names, seems to have taken a moment to give a “shout out” to a man named Jabez. He gives him 2 verses and then moves on. It’s amazing that you really can write an abridged biography about someone in one hundred words or less.
So what do we know about Jabez?
1 Chronicles 4:99 Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez saying “Because I bore him in pain”.
So the name Jabez is an an acronym for the word sorrow. Wow what a nickname. Every time his mother looked at him, she would remember with great sorrow the circumstances of his birth. I wondered if she was a widow or a lesser wife or concubine. What came to my mind was the recently widowed Emma Smith. Shortly after her husband Joseph Smith was martyred, she gave birth to a baby boy, who lived. There is a picture of her holding her son David Hyrum Smith, and instead of joy, she is the expression of profound sorrow. 

Jabez is also called an honorable man, and I believe that despite his nickname, his mother loved him and raised him in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
What a great story this is so far. The history of the time of Jabez happened after the death of King David. His kingdom has been divided at the death of his son King Solomon. Solomon’s son Rehoboam assumes the throne. The people revolt against Rehoboam when he decrees that he would “increase the burdens (taxation) that they had felt under Solomon. At that point all of the tribes of Israel except Judah and Benjamin declare their independence from Judah and form their own kingdom. It is somewhere in this present history that we find Jabez.

Why is he more honorable that his brethren; meaning possibly immediate family and also predecessors? Let’s look at what he prayed about, and I believe that any honor Jabez had came about because of his love and obedience for the “God of Israel”.

1 Chronicles 4:9-10

And Jabez was more honorable 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 would  bless me indeed,
D&C 19:38 Pray always, and I will pour out my Spirit upon you, and great shall be your blessing, yea even more than  if you should obtain treasures of earth and corruptibility's to the extent thereof

Genesis 32:9 For Moses had said: Consecrate yourselves today to the Lord, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day.
·And enlarge my coast, (borders)

2 Nephi 1:5 But, said he, notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me and to my children forever, and also all of those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord.    
·And that thine hand might be with me,  

Abraham 1:8 Behold, I will lead thee by my hand, and I will take thee, to put upon thee my name, even the Priesthood of thy father, and my power shall be over thee.
·And that thou would keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!

Genesis 4:7(And) If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

D&C 82:10 I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise

Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever Amen  
·And God granted him that which he requested.

1 Chronicles 4:38 These mentioned by name were leaders in their families, and their father’s house increased greatly

I believe that Jabez is asking for his birthright or his inheritance.
The description of the birthright in Genesis is principally spiritual, with no explicit reference to economic preference. In Jewish law, however, birthright carries a strong financial element. The first-born son receives fully double the portion of inheritance that his younger brothers receive.
 According to the history of the house of Judah and Israel, they are entering a downward spiral, whereby the majority of their future kings will forsake the God of Israel and turn to idolatry, there by leading the people into iniquity. God's punishment is one of scattering and destruction of families and tribes;wars and endless captivity.  Obviously Jabez listened to the words of God's prophets at that time. He made a pivotal decision to obey and in turn save his family and hopefully future generations to come. According to verse 38 of Chronicles 1:4, he is a leader, or a prince in his family. He reminds me of Abraham.
Abraham 1:2 And finding there was a greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right where unto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed a great knowledge and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God. I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to others.
He sought the higher Priesthood, he sought that peace and rest that is promised by Heavenly Father. Jabez was similar to Abraham that he lived in a family or society that had apostatized and turned away from God. Maybe like Lot, living  in Sodom and Gomorrah, his soul was vexed.
So who was this Jabez? I wonder what his real name is? I feel like he is a type, of us. His example to us is that we have the ability to ask Heavenly Father "for greater light and knowledge". We can be the "savior's" of our families, and not just those of our kindred dead, but those members living and breathing with us. We can bask in the love of our Father,we can claim our birth right. What is that birthright?
John 3: 16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son,that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his son to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.
We are loved
We have been redeemed
We are blessed
Our borders have been enlarged with the promise of everlasting life with God the Eternal Father and His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Amen


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