Events of Days
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

We are going to read from verse 9 of I Chronicles, chapter 4:

I Chronicles 4

9And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.
10And 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.

I have felt impressed to bring you a brief meditation on these verses of Scripture which we have read in your hearing. I Chronicles, chapter 4, verse 10, constitutes my verse for the year 1963.

Those of you who know me very well know that for a long time I have asked the Lord to give me a verse for the new year, a verse that I could claim, a verse upon which I could rest, a verse which I believed that God was going to use.

Now, I want you to understand that when I ask God for that verse, I don't just leaf through the Bible and say, “Well, let's see what verse can I look at this year?'' I literally ask the Lord to direct the verse that He wants me to have for the year. It is as though God reaches down in the great treasure of His Word and lifts out one verse and places it in my hand and says, “This is your verse.'' Now, of course, I don't mean that no one else can have it, but I mean that I know God is going to work in my life on the basis of that verse. I believe it.

God has given me many wonderful verses through the years. The last few years God has given me some wonderful verses indeed; and so that you might understand what I am talking about, I would like to remind you of two or three of the verses that He has brought to my attention in times past.

Past Year Verses

For example, in Psalm 37, I have marked by verse 23, “1959.'' No matter how many times I read the Word and come to this verse, it is as though I were sitting in a theatre looking at a screen seeing scenes pass before my eyes in which God has proved Himself true. This is the verse, Psalm 37, verse 23:

Psalm 37

23The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.
24Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

Those are more than words to me. Those are experiences, for God proved Himself true in 1959 in a way that would take more time than I have to tell you.

Turn with me to Isaiah, chapter 45, verse 11, and by this verse I have marked, “1960.'' This was truly marvelous as I saw God work.

Isaiah 45

11Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.

Those of you who heard me speak about this verse may remember that I told you that it frightened me, and I mean that literally; it frightened me to think that an ordinary mortal would dare to command God. It was a real struggle to claim this verse, but I did, and 1960 was a year in which God used this verse repeatedly in my experience.

Turn back a page in Isaiah to chapter 43, and notice verse 2. By it I have written, “1962,'' for that is the verse that God gave me for that year. I can hardly ever read this verse without having to suppress my emotions and seek for control of my voice if I read it aloud because God knew what 1962 would bring and I needed this verse. Before I left the house this morning, as I told my wife goodbye because she was coming later, she said, “Do you realize that last year on this Sunday you were going to church alone?'' And I thought, yes, and I thought it would be alone forever.

Isaiah 43

2When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
3For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour…

We passed through the waters and through the fire, but God kept His Word. They didn't overflow us and the fire didn't kindle upon us. God is great.

The Man Jabez

Will you go back to I Chronicles, chapter 4, as I give you the verse again which I invite you to claim with me if you will:

I Chronicles 4

10And 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.

In order that you might be able to have some mental pegs on which you can hang some of the truths that I would like to leave with you, I would suggest to you that in these two verses I recognize a divine designation, a deep desire, and a definite declaration.

We don't read the first book of Chronicles very often. Most people don't. To many people the first book of Chronicles is nothing more than repetition of what you find in Samuel and in Kings. It is repetition, but it is not vain repetition. To many people the first book of Chronicles is nothing more than a list of names, and it would seem so because from the first verse of the first chapter to verse 44 of chapter 9 there is nothing but the genealogy of men from Adam to David. As you read, you'll read along the same lines almost the same words verse after verse, and yet they are more than names.

The book of Chronicles, translated from the original Hebrew, literally means “events of days,'' and what that means is that Ezra, who is the author of the book of Chronicles, sat down and wrote the things that happened during those days.

A Divine Designation

The striking thing is that things went along ordinarily as they had always gone along until suddenly out of the blue something unusual happened. A man passed across the stage of the world whom God designated as more honorable than all of his brethren. His name was Jabez. We don't know anything about him more than what is suggested by his name and by what God said about him.

If you will look at verse 9 of I Chronicles, chapter 4, you will find that the reason he got his name was what was related to his birth. You read in the last part of verse 9, “his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.'' The name Jabez is one of the many Hebrew words for sorrow , and when he was born, his mother gave him that name because she said, “I bare him in sorrow.''

Now, the sorrow may have been related to his birth, as in the case of Rachel and Benjamin. You will remember from chapter 35 of the book of Genesis that when Benjamin was born to Rachel, Rachel died in childbirth; but before she died she gave her infant a name. It was Benoni ; Ben meaning son , and oni meaning sorrowson of my sorrow . His father did not like that name so he changed it to Benjamin , which is son of my right hand .

You know, it is a strange thing. Man can't do what God can do. Man tries to change things and fails as did Jacob in the case of Benjamin.

Sorrow Related to the Age

Maybe this name Jabez was referring to nothing more than the fact that there was some sorrow related to his birth, perhaps the death of his mother; but I am inclined to think, as I think we shall see as we go a bit further along and as is indicated by the family of which he was a member, that it was related not so much to the birth, but to the kind of age in which he was born. His mother had in mind, I think, that she brought the child into the world in the most trying times imaginable. If you will look at verse 8 of chapter 4, you will find that Jabez was a member of the family of Aharhel. Aharhel was a man who was occupied in building entrenchments to protect himself from an enemy with which he could not cope.

I am inclined to think when Jabez's mother realized that her son was coming into a world like that, she was saying, “There will be nothing but sorrow in his life; there will be nothing but heartaches; there will be nothing but disappointments, and I'll call him ‘Jabez' for that reason.''

Now, there is one other little inkling as to the kind of man Jabez was, and that is found in chapter 2 of I Chronicles, verse 55. We are told that Jabez built this city which bore his name, and we are told that the scribes, the Bible scholars, the Bible teachers, gathered together and lived in that city. That was known as the “city of Bible scholars,'' so we are inclined to think that Jabez was a student in the Word of God.

More Honorable Than His Brethren

There is one other thing that we notice about this man, and that is that God designated him as more honorable than all of his brethren. You read here this list of genealogies one name after the other, just ordinary names of ordinary people, and suddenly here is a man who is more honorable than all of his brethren.

Wait just a minute. It doesn't mean that he received the honor of the world, because the word that is translated honourable here comes from the Hebrew word which means to be weighed down with blessings . Do you know that you can be weighed down with blessings and still not be thought much of as far as the world is concerned? You may not ever hold any honorable position as far as the world is concerned and still be weighed down with the blessing of God. That is what is said of Jabez.

Jabez' Deep Desire

Jabez, this man who was born to sorrow, this man who was born in an unlikely time, was weighed down with the blessing of God more than all of his brethren. Why? We want to know why, and I believe the reason is found in this verse that God has laid upon my heart for this year. The verse begins with the expression of a deep desire expressed in a threefold way when he said, “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!''

The first thing I would like for you to notice in his expression of deep desire is that he addressed it to the God of Israel. He called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that thou wouldest bless me.'' There are many names of God in the Word of God, hundreds of them, and all of them are significant. The Spirit of God never uses them unwisely; he always uses the right name in the right place. Do you know why He was called the God of Israel in this instance? Do you know why Jabez called upon the God of Israel?

Way back yonder in the book of Genesis, chapter 34, the story is told that Jacob one day met God on a lonely hillside. God wrestled with Jacob. Now, most people read that passage of Scripture carelessly, and in reading it carelessly, they say that Jacob wrestled with God, but he didn't. You read it again. God wrestled with Jacob; and finally when Jacob was touched by God in his loin, the place of his strength, so that he became a cripple for the rest of his life, Jacob relaxed in the hands of God and said, “Now, God, I won't let you go until You bless me.'' And God changed his name to Israel then.

Israel means prince ; Jacob meant deceiver , and that was what he was. His whole life had been a life of deceit. But finally when he yielded completely to the Lord, then God made a prince out of him. And ever after God referred to Himself as the God of Israel, the God of the Prince, and the God of the man who relaxes and lets God bless him.

Jabez Yielded Everything to God

Jabez said, “Oh God of Israel,'' and made his request, “Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed.'' Now this phrase, “Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed,'' is a rather unique phrase as far as the original language is concerned. That helps us to understand that it was indeed an expression of deep desire. For example, the word bless comes from a Hebrew word which literally means “to kneel expectantly before the Lord.'' It was as though Jabez went and knelt before the Lord with his arms outstretched and said, “Oh, Lord, here I am waiting for Your blessing. Oh, that thou wouldest bless me indeed.'' The fact that he knelt before the Lord indicated that he was yielding everything to Him.

Then the construction of this phrase is such that in the margin of a number of Bibles it isn't even translated this way, “Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed.'' It is translated, “If thou would bless me _____,'' a blank which means, “Lord, here I am if You will bless me. If You will bless me indeed, You will have my life as a blank check. You can do with it anything You want to do.''

Jacob prayed that kind of prayer. You read it in chapter 28 of the book of Genesis when he said, “If thou wilt bless me, then thou wilt be my God and I will be thine.'' And so it is a deep desire, an expression of deep devotion.

Desire for Prosperity

He particularizes now and he enumerates the blessing for which he asks in three phrases, speaking of prosperity, speaking of the presence of God, and speaking of the protection of God. Notice again I Chronicles, chapter 4, verse 10:

I Chronicles 4

10…Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast,…

There he is talking about a great desire for the prosperity of God in his life, for the word coast means boundaries . What he is saying is, “Oh, God, that thou wouldest push back the boundaries; put them far out; enlarge my coast that Thou wouldest do greater things than thou hast ever done before.''

Now, permit me an aside in the meditation of this verse today to tell you, and I say this humbly before the Lord, how God has brought this verse to my mind and has impressed it upon my heart for the purpose of claiming it for the year 1963; and everything I say, I say by faith.

The Devil whispers in my ear even as I say it, “You may have to eat your words,'' but I followed a long time ago a practice of refusing to reap in unbelief what I sow in faith.

I believe that God is going to use the first phrase of this verse literally in my life, and I invite you to join with me if you will. I believe that He is going to enlarge our boundaries. I believe that that which I have been praying about in relation to a television ministry for two years is going to come to pass this year. I believe that He is going to enlarge our boundaries to that extent.

I believe that He is going to enlarge our boundaries as far as the radio ministry is concerned. I say by faith today that in 1963 we are going to have another daily program. I believe that God has laid this upon my heart, and I believe Him for it.

I believe that God is going to enlarge our boundaries. I'm being very literal now. I believe that God is going to enlarge our boundaries by enlarging our missionary program, and I expect before 1963 is over we will have another missionary on the field. I believe that.

I believe that God is going to enlarge our boundaries in relation to work here at the Center. I do not know how He is going to do it. We all recognize that we are crowded for space and that in many instances we are uncomfortable in our seating. I believe that God is going to enlarge our boundaries literally here at the Center during 1963.

Now, I'm saying this today, not boastingly; I am making a declaration of faith as I tell you how God brings a verse to my mind and causes me to abide by it during the year. And so I say with Jabez, “Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast,'' and I believe that God is going to enlarge my coast for 1963. I give you an invitation to share in the blessing, if you will, by claiming this verse of Scripture. Be that as it may, I believe that God is going to enlarge my coast.

Desiring the Presence of God

Notice the second thing for which Jabez prayed, which is tremendously important. I would not begin to compare one of these requests with the other as to their order of importance. But you will notice:

I Chronicles 4

10And 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…

“That thine hand might be with me.'' Do you know what he was praying about? He was praying, “Oh Lord, I want always to feel Your hand in mine. I want always to be conscious of Your presence.'' Sometimes there are a lot of problems related to enlarging the coast. Sometimes there is a lot of burden related to enlarging the coast. But we have the assurance today that the same God Who is able to enlarge the coast is able to keep His hand with you. I wish we had time to examine all of the verses of Scripture that God graciously brought to my mind related to the matter of God's hand being in our hand. His hand is consistently with us.

Desire for Protection

So I encourage you to look at the third request, “that thou wouldest keep my from evil, that it may not grieve me.'' Look at the word grieve in that statement. If you were reading this in the original Hebrew, you would find immediately that it is a play upon words. This is the reason I told you that I did not believe that the mother of Jabez gave him the name that she gave him because sorrow was related only to his birth. I think it was a prophecy of his life because Jabez is actually saying here, if we were to be very, very literal, “Oh God, my name is sorrow, my name is grief; but Oh God, keep me from evil that I may not know the sorrow, that I may not know the sorrow of which my mother prophesied.'' That was his request.

You say, “You mean it is all right to pray that you won't have a hard time? Is it all right to pray that things won't go bad? Is it all right to be selfish and pray, ‘Lord, don't let anything bad happen to me'?'' Well, it is all right.

Jabez prayed that way, and the Lord Jesus Christ told us to pray that way, too. Remember what He said in what is commonly referred to as the Lord's Prayer ? He said that when you pray, one of the things you can pray is, “Oh Lord, deliver me from evil.'' And that is the very thing that Jabez was praying; he was praying, “Lord, I want Your blessing. I don't want evil things to come into my life so that I will know grief and sorrow. Oh God, keep me from evil so that the evil may not grieve me, and that my name may not be fulfilled.''

Declaration of Answered Prayer

The last thing that I want to say to you is that there is in this verse of Scripture not only a divine designation and a deep desire, but a definite declaration that gives courage to our hearts today.

Notice it in the last part of verse 10: “And God granted him that which he requested.'' I'm so glad that the Spirit of God added that simple statement: God granted him that which he requested. God does hear; God does answer prayer. Jabez said, “Oh God, that thou wouldest bless me indeed, that thou wouldest enlarge my coast, that thou would, Oh God, always be with me, that thou would keep me from evil that it may not grieve me.'' God gave him what he asked for.

We said when we began that Jabez was more honorable than all of his brethren, that he was weighed down with blessing more than anyone else. We said the reason for it was that he prayed this prayer. We told you at the beginning of our discussion that when he began the prayer with the words, “Oh that thou wouldest bless me,'' it involved a new yieldedness in his life. It involved a complete surrender. It was as though Jabez knelt before the Lord and said, “Oh God, here I am; here I am waiting for Thy blessing. And if Thou wilt bless me, I turn my life over to You to use as You see fit.'' This is complete surrender.


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