November 2012


Some time ago, my church had a bible reading campaign, and they were reading the chapter of 1 Kings 18 , it was talking about the time when Elijah returned and was about to meet King Ahab

Over there in 1 King18:3 introduced a man known as Obadiah, he is the steward in the house of King Ahab, and a man who feared God. According to Rabbinic traditions, they believed that Obadiah the servant of Ahab is the same Prophet Obadiah who wrote the book of Obadiah. They even claimed that he is descended from Eliphaz , the friend of Job

At the same time, there are some Christian traditions who believed that Obadiah is the 3rd centurion sent to Elijah in 2 Kings 1:13-14. Although I think it is unlikely because by then Elijah would have known him by then, as they have met in 1 Kings 18.

Personally I do not think that Obadiah the servant of Ahab is the same as Prophet Obadiah. The reason was that there was not enough information found in the book of Obadiah to determine the time frame of the book. But the book is probably dated after the destruction of Jerusalem and before the kingdom of Edom was destroyed.

However, there remains a possibility that they may be the same person.

The interesting things about Obadiah is written in 1 Kings 18. But in order to understand the relevance of his story to our world. Let us compare the world of Obadiah and ours

The Similarity Of The Kingdom Of Israel To Our World

The Kingdom of Israel is made up of 10 tribes of Israel, whom broke away from the house of David during the reign of Rehoboam. They were led by Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Although when God gave the kingdom to Jeroboam, he wanted him to lead them like the way David led the kingdom of Israel (1 King 11:31-39)

When the 10 tribes finally came under his rule, Jeroboam started to rebel against God, from then on the land of Israel is one that sins against God much , they first worshipped the golden calf, then later on during the time of King Ahab, Baal and Asherah worship became prevalent in the land of Israel .

As the result of this , the kingdom of Israel is plunged into a world where there are much of religious confusion, the people are often caught between worshiping the Lord and following the Canaanites.

It is comforting that in the midst of that culture, there are still remnants of people who fears the Lord, however, we can see that they are usually in their corners. 

The same situation can be said about the world today, we live in a world with many religions, they are like the modern Baal and Asherah, and there are also much confusion in the Christian world, where Christians are caught between the world and their faith.

A Person Who Fears God

The fact that Obadiah choose to fear God while living in a world that doesn’t regard God at all.

The Kingdom of Israel is one that is torn between the idea of worshipping Yahweh and Idols. Being unfaithful to Yahweh also means that the people no longer fear the Lord as much as they are suppose to be.

But in the midst of that is a man who refuse to let the surrounding affect his faith. He had to choose to keep his fear of God, despite the fact that the people whom he works for lack it.

Sometimes, when a person is poor and without power, he is able to fear God. But when someone acquires riches and power , one would find that maintaining the fear of God would be difficult.

Over here, Obadiah is the chief stewards of the house of Ahab, this is a high ranking post in the kingdom, and it is a job that commands great responsibility and political power. Sometimes, when a person is placed onto such positions, one could easily lose his fear of God.

But Obadiah maintained his fear for God despite all these. this is a quality that is worthy of our emulation.

 The Brave Heroic Acts Of Obadiah

Obadiah is introduced in 1 Kings 18:3-4 , he was a God fearing man as well as a brave man. At that time, queen Jezebel was hunting down the prophets of God in the land of Israel.

This is when Obadiah’s bravery was seen in Verse 4. He is seen keeping 100 of the Lords prophets hidden, he hid them in groups of 50 in 2 caves. He provided bread and waters for the prophet.

The act of Obadiah is not as simple as what the verse suggest, as we read this verse, let us recall

1. The nation of Israel was having 3 years of Famine at that time.

Obadiah’s action require long term courage, and lots of patience and determinations.

It is easy for anyone to find courage to be a temporary hero. But the brave act of Obadiah is something that needs to be done at  a regular basis.  Its difficulty is increased when he needs to find enough food for 100 people in the midst of the famine. 

Even if he were to choose to feed one cave at a time, he needs to prepare logistics to transport a huge amount of food without being discovered.  Therefore from here we can see the bravery of Obadiah.

2. Obadiah actions could have been easily discovered

It is possible that the prophets, may be have tried to contact their loves ones , resulting to the acts of Obadiah be discovered.   In fact, Obadiah felt that his actions might have been reported to Elijah (1 Kings 18:13) .

If the news were to be given to king Ahab or his wife Jezebel , Obadiah could have easily been executed for treason.

Therefore, Obadiah needs to be brave in order  do his work. and his courage is something admirable.

Conclusion So Far

So far, we have studied the good points of Obadiah, they are both points that are worthy of our emulation.

Just as no man is perfect, there are also part of Obadiah lives that is far from perfect. We would be looking at them at the next blog post.

This is another of the school days song the teachers will often teach the children to sing. I remember during my primary school days the music teachers love using this song.

Recently my friend was quoting the song on her Facebook entry, so I decided to do a bit of research into the song.

The word “Que Sera Sera”  was actually not standard Spanish. According to this website  the first word first appeared “The Barefoot Contessa” . The Character Rossano Brazzi’s family motto is “Che Sera, Sera” which was written in Italian.  The song writers replaced the Italian “Che” to  The Spanish “Que” as there are more people speaking Spanish in the USA .

Those who serve in the Singapore Army will know that we have a Army version of this song. hahaha

Title: Que Sera Sera
Songwriters: LIVINGSTON, JAY / EVANS, RAY
Singer : Doris Day

When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother what will I be
Will I be pretty
Will I be rich
Here’s what she said to me

Que sera sera
Whatever will be will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que sera sera
What will be, will be.

When I grew up and fell in love
I asked my sweetheart what lies ahead
Will there be rainbows day after day
Here’s what my sweetheart said

Que sera sera
Whatever will be will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que sera sera
What will be, will be.

Now I have children of my own
They ask their mother, what will I be
Will I be handsome, will I be rich
I tell them tenderly.
 
Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be.

Que Sera, Sera

So far I have shared the following

1. My preliminary response to the sermon by the Pastor
2. My thoughts on the Magi Gifts To Jesus

Now lets take a look at the second point used by the pastor

Pt 2 : Jesus had many rich (multi-millionaires) followers which keep donating to his ministry.

He also claimed that Jesus ministry was a “sophisticated travelling organization” where he travel to every city and every village.

An ministry like this requires substantial funding to operate. He quoted as example, how much it needs to run a healing ministry and how evangelistic campaign cost a huge amount of money.

He claimed that Jesus managed to finance his “sophisticated ministry” through donations from wealthy partners. And he quoted Lk 8:1-3 to support his view

“ Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons,  and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.” Luke the Physician (Lk 8:1-3)

He said that Chuza is like a minister of home affairs, chief of staff in the palace of Herod, and he claimed that they constantly contributed to the ministry.

Demystifying the work of a “Steward”

According to the Pastor, Chuza (the husband of Joanna) was the minister. Fact is that the word steward in Lk 8:3 was επιτροπου (epitropos) which means  a commissioner, that is, domestic manager, guardian: – steward, tutor.

The same word is also used Matt 20:8 in the Parable of Workers In the Vineyard. Paul uses the word as well in Gal 4:2

A steward is a servant to the master, he may have charge over his masters treasury (IE in  Matt 20:8, the steward is doing a job of a payroll clerk, giving out wages to the workers)

A Steward is far from a minister , he could be a freeman working under the employment of the master, or he could possibly be a slave in the master house (think of Joseph being a steward in the house of Potiphar)

Being a steward does not make one a millionaire (unless of course he is like the unjust steward Lk 16:1-13)

Demystifying The “Sophisticated Travelling Ministry”

This “Sophisticated Travelling Ministry” might have been applicable in modern churches. In the recent years many ministry make use of sophisticated equipment and state of the art sound systems, they  would often rent comfortable auditorium to used as venues for churches to reach out.

The work of Jesus is somewhat less complicated as I have shared in the first blog entry.

I think a more realistic depiction of this “sophisticated travelling ministry”  can be seen when Jesus systematically send out his 70 disciples to work. These are the specific instructions given by Jesus to his 70 disciples.

“ Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves.   Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road.

But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’  And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house. 

Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. 
And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 

But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.’But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city.” – Jesus (Lk 10:3-12)

You will notice the pastor quoting the same verse in one of my later blog post. and he had a “interesting understanding” regarding this.

Personally you will notice that the disciples then do not bring extra cash , in fact they are running the ministry with almost “zero capital”. They run their ministry using resources offered to them by the people in the city.

In event that no one receives the disciples, they are allowed to move to the next city and to leave it alone.

It is useful for us to note that after the establishment of the church in Acts, the disciples do perform their ministry prepared. But I would dare say that their method of service would be as frugal and simple just like how Jesus would have taught them.

Venue For Church Ministries

While it is a fact that the modern churches needs exorbitant amount of cash flow to finance their ministry, these cost are mainly due to exotic and state of the art equipment used in their hymn singing to the Lord. The ministry of Jesus is much more “cost effective” compared to those and perhaps the church should consider emulating Jesus’s ministry instead.

The gospel work during the time of Jesus thrives when there are people who loves the truth and are willing to provide lodging and accommodation to the travelling preachers. The preachers will make use of their homes as location to preach and to heal people. 

This practice of offering up personal home for church use was evident in the time of the apostles, in the bible we an see many examples of believers offering up their houses for church gatherings. For example

  1. The house of John Mark was used for the first church (Acts 1:12-14)
  2. Aquila And Priscilla allowed their house to be used for the church in Rome (Rom 16:3-5,  1 Cor 16:19)
  3. There are house churches in Colossae (Col 4:14-15)
    1. Some sources suggested that the church of Colossae met in the house of Philemon(Phm 1:2)

So  I guess I would leave the reader to draw their own conclusion into whether to accept the idea of “A sophisticated travelling ministry” as presented by the prosperity teachers, or to accept a ministry of Jesus that is more frugal that thrives on people who  love the truth and are willing to offer up their homes for church use.

Other Thoughts While Researching Into The Ministry Of Apostles

As I read into the bible about how God establish churches. It seems to me that although God has the power to force and brainwash people into worshipping him. But Jesus do not want blind followers.

God would through the holy spirit move and convict the world of sin (Jn 16:7-11) and he would move individuals to provide resources to establish his church.

This could only be done if believers were to be willing to go forward and preach the gospel. (Rom 10:12-15)

Therefore, let us realize that the commission of Jesus and to go into the world to preach the gospel. (Mk 16:15-16)

We know that in the last days, there will be a lack of the word of God.Even if the word is being preached, people will refuse to listen. Let us not be alarm or dismayed for it was already prophesied by Paul

“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;  and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” –Paul (2 Tim 4:1-4)

Paul concluded his exhortation to Timothy saying

“But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” Paul (2 Tim 4:5)

Let us be steadfast in preaching the word of God, let us continue to speak it, and allow spirit of God to convict the world of sin. Let us not focus on just merely result of the number of people whom believe.

Once the disciples of the Lord asked  “Lord, are there few who are saved?"

His answer was

"Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.  When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’

then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’  But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’

There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out.

They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God.  And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last."  – Jesus (Lk 13:24-30)

Let us strive to enter heaven and let us learn to follow the command of the Lord. Let us work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Php 2:12-13), especially in a world where people prefer “sophisticated travel ministry” over the word of God.