Deep in the heart of Elisha’s helper, Gehazi, were smoldering embers of greed. Silently, secretively, they remained hidden. No one could tell by looking. Words never passed from Gehazi’s mouth, admitting such sin, but it was there nevertheless. Through a series of events those embers burst into full flame. As we recount the story, we want to take sufficient time to examine our own hearts and determine if we suffer from a similar malady.
Struggling through reading the lesser-known Old Testament passages and long prophetic oracles may seem to have little relevance to everyday 21st-century life. But there are important things we can learn from the Old Testament. First, the New Testament is based on the Old Testament. Second, the Old Testament reveals the character of God. Third, the Old Testament has transformational power. Its message transcends time, geography, and culture. It speaks to everyone, everywhere, in every situation.
Though not strong in faith, Naaman was nevertheless greatly respected as a leader of troops and as a military warrior. One day all that was put on hold. None of his trophies seemed important any longer. He was unclean…he had become a leper. This is a story about a man, once proud and self-sufficient, finally humbling himself before the only One who could cleanse his leprosy…and did.
Jabez emerges in the midst of epitaphs on tombstones as the Spirit of God is pleased to hover over his life a bit longer than any other mentioned in this context. Because God singles out Jabez, we are wise to pause and learn the truth of the story. By doing so, many who feel their lives are marked by obscurity and insignificance can gain fresh courage to excel.
Although a rather obscure character, Rehoboam, who lived in the days of the kings, illustrates the principle what appears on the surface doesn’t always match what lies beneath. We can learn many lessons about integrity from his life!
Family feuds, wayward kids, parent-child clashes, husband-wife disagreements, and other in-house pressures have a way of breaking our spirits and stealing our joy. And no one is immune who compromises with God’s standard—not even a king such as David. In this study we witness the monarch’s misery as the sword of consequences falls on him and his family.
The story we discover recorded in 1 Samuel 25 is amazing—change a few particulars, the geography, and the date, and we find ourselves reenacting a series of events as modern as today’s news. It is the story of an unfair boss, a strained marriage, and a great-hearted woman whose act of unselfish bravery saved her husband’s neck! Its fairy tale ending makes the story one of the most memorable in all the Old Testament.
When Saul became king, he was “little in his own eyes” (see 1 Sam. 15:17), but some time later all that changed drastically. The erosion of his character left him proud, impatient, and downright rebellious…a man who refused to bow even to the Lord his God. A serious failure and well worth our attention.
The boy Samuel heard God’s voice in the middle of the night. Have you ever wondered why God spoke to him? Or what God said that night? The scene may be familiar, but what it represents is not. It is a message as relevant today as it was when the Lord first spoke it.
Two things make Achan’s story especially sad. First, it occurred so suddenly on the heels of an incredible victory—the miraculous invasion of Jericho. And second, it resulted in a devastating toll on so many others. One man—a single, isolated individual—deliberately chose to disobey, yet numerous innocent victims fell in the wake of his sin, bringing calamity to a nation.
Though a twin, he was quite the opposite of his younger brother and ultimately became the heartache of the family. Ripped off by his brother and rejected by his family, he couldn’t win, no matter how hard he tried. As we shall soon discover, the Bible pulls no punches. And you may find several places in this story where you can identify with Esau, “the son who couldn’t win.”