“Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, ‘I gave birth to him in pain.’ Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.” (1 Chronicles 4:9-10).
The books of Chronicles are highlights of history; the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles cover thousands of years – leading up to David’s reign, around 1000 BC – and present a genealogical record that spans from Adam to David. It is not a comprehensive roster; during the centuries of multiplication, only 911 names make the list… and, from those hundreds of individuals, few have any biographical commentary. Of those, Jabez makes the cut.
We’ve been slicing the 63 words that capture the essence of his life (in the English of the New International Version) to see what made his contribution to God’s history most memorable. We’ve considered the deficit that framed his beginnings – “I gave birth to him in pain” – and the bold faith that caused him to appeal to God for a life that would reach the extraordinary potential that is embedded in every person, through the creative genius of the infinitely imaginable God.
Jabez wanted to land on the battlefield of life with an offensive strategy that would accomplish the things that would matter most. “Bless me; enlarge; let your hand be with me…” are appeals for achievement that would mean that his life had mattered in the metrics that were most important to God.
But Jabez wasn’t operating with rose-colored glasses; he knew that any time advancement is made, in a life that seeks to glorify God, the effort captures the attention of God’s historic opposition.
That defiance is led by God’s mortal enemy. He has many aliases – Lucifer, Satan, the Devil, the God of this World, Beelzebub, the Deceiver, the Accuser of the Brethren, the Father of Lies, the Serpent – but they all refer to the one who renounced his high standing in the angelic formation to mount a rebellion against his Creator.
Unable to succeed in displacing the Almighty, he was exiled to Earth where he fomented dissonance in the Garden. He has worked for millennia to thwart God’s plan to restore fallen man to Eternal fellowship through the rescue operation led by the Lord Jesus Christ. Anyone committed to actively participate with God in that strategic initiative has been targeted for attack by the forces of Evil. The Battle between Heaven and Hell is real; those who choose to engage through finding and pursuing their divine Calling are not just bystanders, but soldiers on the front-lines of spiritual warfare.
In the modern era, ground forces benefit from calling in air cover to assist them in attacking well-defended positions that are strategic targets. Jabez knew that he needed the ultimate assistance as he stormed the entrenched positions held by God’s nemesis. “Keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain” was not the request of a wuss; he knew that the angels of Heaven were available to align with efforts that would be strongly opposed by the other side.
A thousand years after Jabez, the Commander in Chief encouraged his troops to pray with clarity for the things they would need on the front: “… And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One” (Matthew 6:13). That is not a request from weakness; it’s a show of strength. To call-in superior forces as needed is to ensure that the defensive assist will assure offensive victory.
Most Christians aren’t in the battle; they relish the Prince of Peace without relating to the Lion of Judah. An era beyond war is coming… but the combat to get there is underway, and necessary.
Are you in hiding, or on the front lines? Are you praying for better rations, or for air cover?