Obed Edom Part 5 – The Man Who Made Room For God & Got Stupendously Blessed – 2 Sam 6:1-12

12 Now it was told King David, saying, “The Lord has blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.”

A proverb says, “Great Doors swing on Little Hinges”! Sometimes a little right but inconspicuous action can lead to a life altering, forever blessing in one’s life. That is why we have to be very careful and intentional in all our actions. Most big opportunities in business and commerce come on the back of doing a small inconsequential work very well. I have two stories to share before we look at Obed-Edom again.

Ramon, yes Ramon. A Moslem man. He has been my electrician for over the last 20 years. Ramon did everything with an unusual excellence. He came to me through my brother who recommended him to do the electrical wiring for our first house. I watched this man work, quietly, unobtrusively and diligently, that he stood out in a context of very poor artisans, who simply were out to rip you off and deliver shoddy work. Ramon was a revelation, and I took note of him. When the opportunity arose for another building project, I did not even have to contemplate. He was hired immediately. Now there is another huge project, and I cannot imagine anyone else doing it. All his work for us has stood the test of time. Whilst we have had problems with water, roofing, plastering and other little niggling matters in the last 12 years, Ramon’s work has remained untainted, and we have no complaints. If you want an excellent electrician, please send me a private message.

Another case is that of Rene ( Pronounced Renae) Coco. Rene was our missions driver in the Republic of Benin. We bought a car and gave it to him to maintain and use to carry me and other leaders around Benin when we were in town. Every time I came to town the car looked newer than when we last saw it. Rene is pathologically neat. He is an excellent man. He was also my translator, because he spoke all the local dialects in Benin, plus those from neighbouring Ghana, Nigeria and Togo!  He was a polyglot and very accurate in his translation. He could easily have been the evangelist in those days. It was a joy to work with Rene. When we were about to wrap up our missions work in Benin, I called Rene and told him the job was coming to an end. I asked what I could do for him. He simply thanked me for the opportunity to serve and said he was fine. I then proceeded to pray for him. I asked that God will remember him and reward him for the excellent way he served us. We left for the UK and Rene stayed in Cotonou. Three months later, Rene got a surprise call from his old boss. An ambassador to Benin, that Rene had worked for. This ambassador had left many years prior, but never forgot Rene, and had now been appointed to represent his country as the ambassador to the USA. He had options of selecting his staff and he immediately remembered Rene. He asked if Rene will come and work with him as his chauffeur in the US. Of course Rene agreed, he was able to take his wife and children with him. Renee and his family were able to complete their education, Rene earned a Master’s degree and only the Lord knows how much his life and lot has been transformed by his seemingly inconsequential diligence and excellence.

Obed-Edom was such a man. Though the bible did not say much about his character or the way he treated the Ark of the Covenant, it is obvious that he must have excelled, because the bible records that God blessed him and all his house hold. This blessing was so visible, that it was reported to king David.

How was he blessed by God?

In three months, it became the talk of town that the house of Obed-Edom is blessed. One can only imagine. Visible, tangible prosperity, unusual favour, protection, incredible joy and celebrations, children doing well, perhaps his family business suddenly broke through. One can only imagine, but it was something people took notice of. But there are three blessings I see here in the scriptures about Obed-Edom, because of the Ark.

  1. God Blessed His Sons – One of the ways God blessed Obed-Edom was in giving him many sons—eight to be exact. 1 Chronicles 26:4–8   Moreover the sons of Obed-Edom were Shemaiah the firstborn, Jehozabad the second, Joah the third, Sacar the fourth, Nethanel the fifth, Ammiel the sixth, Issachar the seventh, Peulthai the eighth; for God blessed him.Also to Shemaiah his son were sons born who governed their fathers’ houses, because they were men of great ability. The sons of Shemaiah were Othni, Rephael, Obed, and Elzabad, whose brothers Elihu and Semachiah were able men. His sons were men of great ability and able men. The bible does not embellish. So, if the bible says some men were men of great ability, then they were exceptional. This word is the word we use when we say a ‘Mighty Man of Valour’. They were mighty men of valour. They were men of חַיִל ḥaiyl; probably a force, whether of men, means or other resources; an army, wealth, virtue, valour, strength. They were definitely not insignificant. The bible says they were ‘able’ men. Again it is the same word, Haiyl, strength, might, efficiency, wealth, army strength ability, efficiency, wealth, force, army! Let’s just say these men were men of incredible stature!
  2. God Blessed His Grandsons – Apart from his eight sons, he had a total of 62 men in his family as at the time of recording this scripture. Sons and grandsons. The bible described these 62 men as ‘able men with strength for the work’! These men had another quality, they had KOACH meaning firm; vigor, literally (force, in a good or a bad sense) or figuratively (capacity, means, produce); also (from its hardiness)— ability, able, force, fruits, might, power(-ful), strength, substance, wealth. So, this blessing was not confined to one generation, it became multi-generational. That is just so like God. To bless your descendants for your faithfulness. Remember the Ark was only in Obed-Edom’s house for just three months, but the effect of the Ark lingered for possible eternity.
  3. God Blessed His Lineage Forever – I will not treat this in this post, but will look at it as a post all by itself, because it deserves such major attention. Just a little teaser. How does a Philistine from Gath (Goliath came from Gath), end up in Jerusalem and in the tabernacle as one of the appointed Levitical priests in Israel? This is a most intriguing question and I promise I will do my best to answer it.

To conclude today, I think we can safely say a few things. God’s blessing truly makes one rich and add no sorrows to it. The little inconvenience we sometimes endure to serve God, may be working for us a far weightier glory that we can ever imagine. The blessings of God are generational. What you do for God in one generation can keep yielding fruit of blessings in many generations to come. Like God promised that He would bless up to a thousand generations of those who love and serve Him.

With a logical mind, I want to say Obed-Edom was most likely inconvenienced for just three months and he ended up with a blessing that would last forever.

Contrast that to the house of Abinadab, over 20 years with the ark and no visible impact, or an even more interesting one. The man who refused Jesus’ parents room in his Inn. What a great miss? I like to think. What would have happened to that hotel? Would it probably not be the most sought-after hotel room in the world today. What revenues would have come into this family? Today we don’t even know who the man was or his family?

We really need to pray: Father God, please do not let me miss my day or hour of visitation. Help me to always remember that a little right act can lead to a generational blessing. Help me to be willing to be inconvenienced to serve you, so that I will not forfeit a blessing you had reserved for me. Lord thank you for discernment and discretion in my life. In Jesus name we have prayed. Amen.

Obed-Edom – Part 4 – Why Uzzah? Why?

7 Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God. 2 Samuel 6:7

Reading the comments on ‘poor Uzzah’ and the seeming severity of God’s apparent swift judgement on Uzzah, I decided to spend an extra day on exploring the story of Uzzah and see if we can learn something fresh from this rather tragic story. (This is a long read, so get a cup of tea!)

I want to start with a few statements. God is never unjust. God is never vindictive. God never does evil. God’s actions are always full of integrity. God always does right. Let’s settle this. Having established this, we can move forward without risking irreverence and blaming God.

Who was Uzzah? Uzzah (his name simply means strength). Knowing the Israelites always name their children like most Africans, based on prophetic revelation of something they perceive as a feature of the child, Uzzah must have had some type of strength or was a strong guy), we will leave that for now. He was one of three sons of Abinadab. (Ahio, Uzzah and Eleazer). Who was Abinadab? Abinadab was a Levite who lived in Kirjath-Jearim.

How did the ark end up in the house of Abinadab on top of the hill? Due to the apostasy of Israel, the Philistines captured the Ark for seven months, God plagued the Philistines and they wanted nothing to do with the Ark anymore. They returned the Ark to Israel on a cart driven by oxen. The Ark arrives in a place called Beth-Shemesh (House of the Sun). The oxen of their own accord brought the Ark to Beth Shemesh and the people of Beth Shemesh were so happy to see the Ark. The Levites came and took the Ark down and set it up and sacrificed before the ark. Then, the men of Beth-Shemesh looked into the Ark and God struck them, a total of 50,070 men died as a result of this irreverence. Please take note of that number. They then sent for the men of Kirjath-jearim and they brought it to the house of Abinadab, then they consecrated one of his sons, Eleazar to keep the ark.

Now this is where the story picks up. The ark was in the house of Abinadab for about 20 years.

He had a son named Eleazar (God is my helper), who was consecrated and set aside for the care of the ark? Why was he not involved with bringing the ark into Jerusalem? Why was it Ahio and Uzzah his brothers, who now took charge? Did they have a conflict? Did Eleazar warn them not to do it the way they chose to? What happened? We can’t say for sure.

One thing we know for certain is that God judged Uzzah for his error.

Uzzah had the ark in his father’s house for 20 years. Had he been irreverent towards the ark? Remember he was not consecrated to look after the ark. Was he too familiar with the ark that he had lost the awe the ark demands? They say familiarity breeds contempt! Did he muscle his way into this position, pushing his brother aside? Remember this was a very big event. All the important men of Israel were assembled. Did he advice king David to use the methods of the Philistines, cart and oxen to move the ark, because if he had followed the prescribed order, he would definitely not feature in the procession?

One can only wonder and ponder. What really happened is in the realms of mystery until God decides he wants us to know

. I am particularly intrigued by the simple fact that the Ark was in their house for 20 years and nothing was mentioned about the house being blessed. Contrast that to Obed-Edom who only had the ark for 3 months and his house was blessed.

Is this an indication that they were irreverent, though, Eleazar appeared to have done his work well, perhaps the other brothers were definitely not as dedicated and clearly, not consecrated. Why did they choose Eleazar to look after the Ark among the three brothers? These are questions that begin to give us a clue.

I want to make some personal assumptions here.

1. Uzzah must have been a forceful guy, strong man. The Ark was supposed to be carried by 4 priests on their shoulders. Uzzah was going to carry the ark alone. Hmm!  The Ark weighed quite a bit, enough to warrant four men carrying it.

2. He was most likely a man who used the flesh and fleshly means a lot. How did he take the place of his anointed and consecrated brother?

3. He must have been over familiar with the ark. (Like some say, he had began to treat the Almighty God like his buddy). God loving us and condescending to behold us, does not and can never give us the license to dishonour Him. Whatever you do, never dishonour God. It cost Moses the promised land. It caused the death or Aaron’s two sons, Nadab and Abihu. God must always be honoured and hallowed.

4. He touched the ark, which was strictly forbidden. At this stage, it is a culmination of many acts irreverence and willful, fleshly attempts to help God. Before the Ark came to their house, Uzzah must have known that the Philistines were seriously plagued and the over 50,000 men of Beth Shemesh were killed for looking into the Ark. Where did his fear of God go?

5. If God struck him for his error. God saw what we did not see. God sees beyond external actions; he sees the state of the heart. What was in Uzzah’s heart when he touched the ark?

I saw this entry by Pastor Francis Chan and thought I align with his perspective, so I have reproduced it here (I hope he does not mind).

“To us, many situations in Scripture involve a punishment that was too severe for the crime. But why do we feel this way?

We don’t understand what it means for something to be “sacred.” We live in a human-centered world among people who see themselves as the highest authority. We are quick to say things like “That isn’t fair!” because we believe we deserve certain rights as humans. Yet we give little thought to the rights God deserves as God. Even in the Church we can act as though God’s actions should revolve around us. The stories in Scripture are meant to show us that there exists something of greater value than our existence and rights. There are things that belong to God. Sacred things. His ark of the covenant, His command to Moses, His offerings in the temple, His Holy Spirit, His Holy Communion, His sacred Church. In all the above situations, people rushed into something sacred and paid the price. We shouldn’t be surprised; we should be humbled. We have all done things more irreverent than those mentioned above. Let’s thank God for His mercy and tread more carefully into sacred matters.”

Francis Chan, Letters to the Church (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2018).

What can we learn from this tragedy?

1.       We must always do our best to let the Holy Spirit lead and we should depend of God’s Spirit for God’s work. The arm of flesh will fail. It is not by might nor by power but by My Spirit says the Lord of Hosts.

2.       Let’s not get too familiar with God that we lose our fear of Him. I mean reverential fear of God. Because God loves us does not mean will not judge us. We have to remember that God has absolute integrity. We must remember the basis on which we stand in His presence. It is the blood of Jesus alone and may we never lose sight of that and begin to think that we have some type of privileges because we did somethings for God.

3.       We live in the dispensation of grace, but it is never a license to sin. Quite the opposite. Grace empowers you to live right and to shun sin. I said this to answer those who say, ‘that was God in the Old Testament’. God has not changed. He remains the same. Let us not abuse His grace. I love the grace of God. It is why I am who I am. I will always depend and draw on His grace, but may I never take the grace for granted.

4.       God striking only Uzzah and not the entire procession is an act of both His mercy and grace. By the mercies of God, we are not consumed. The Hebrew description of how God dealt with Uzzah implied Uzzah basically exploded. So, God restrained himself to one man, perhaps the one man who truly initiated the error. He covered the rest of the 29,999 men and gave them an opportunity to get it right. Thank God for His mercy!!!

5.       Today we can walk in liberty and freedom, because the blood of Jesus has been shed for us. The provision of the blood of Jesus precedes all our predicaments. All our sins. All our errors. This is mercy. But the blood also releases God’s abundant grace, so we are empowered to avoid costly errors. (We shall explore this deeper soon).

Finally, a view of the Cross is important here. Jesus was sinless. He took upon himself the sin of man. God released the full punishment upon Jesus for our sins, in order to fulfil His righteous judgement, yet in the same act, he protected us from His wrath, absorbed our punishment, whilst extending mercy and grace to us. That is why, to ignore the Cross of Jesus, and refuse its provisions, is to tell God he does not know what He is doing. That is why, the bible says in John 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

Let Us Pray: (Make it personal today) Lord help me to always honour You and revere You! Help me never to become too familiar with You that I lose the sense of Your Awesomeness. Help me to always remember to ask for the help of The Helper, The Holy Spirit, so I am not operating in the flesh. Let me always remember the provision of the cross and appropriate both the mercy and grace it provided for me. Thank You for the continuous speaking of the blood of Jesus for me. Amen

Obed-Edom – Part 3 – God is Holy! Holy! Holy!

2 Samuel 6:3 So they set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new [c]cart.

Today, we will look at another aspect from the story of Obed-Edom, but not focusing on him as the hero of our story today. But like I said from the previous entries on this man, there is a lot to learn.

Good ideas. How many good ideas have ended up in disaster?

This was one of those moments in history when a good idea was just not good enough. This all started out very well. David had decided the Ark of the Covenant needed to be close to him in Jerusalem. He was convinced it was the best thing for him and the nation. Nothing wrong with desiring deeply the presence of God and wanting closer proximity to God.

So, David assembled 30,000 choice men of Israel, great number of musicians, with a diverse array of instruments of fir wood,  harps, stringed instruments, tambourines, sistrums, and cymbals. Knowing David’s love for music and worship, this must have been a great day. They proceeded to bringing the Ark out of the house of Abinadab, with his two sons Ahio and Uzzah in charge. They put the Ark on a new cart and got oxen to pull the cart with the Ark on it.

It all looked very well planned and excellently executed. Then, disaster struck. They came to Nachon’s  threshing floor, the oxen stumbled, it appears the Ark was going to fall off the cart, and Uzzah reached out his hands to steady the ark. Then the bible records that God struck Uzzah for his error and he died there by the Ark of God. Very sad indeed.

I have often read this story and felt this was severe. You feel sorry for Uzzah, because he was only trying to help. His intentions were noble or so it seems, until you read the scriptures carefully again. The bible says Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his [e]error; and he died there by the ark of God.”

God struck him for his error! Error?  What was the error?

The entire procession was wrong. The error started way before the oxen stumbled and Uzzah took hold of the ark. It started with not consulting the Lord on how the ark should be moved, not following God’s prescribed order and process, not allowing the designated people to carry the ark. God had stated in  many verses of the bible, Exodus 25:14, Numbers 4:15, 7:9, how the Ark must be moved. Not on a cart, not a cart driven by oxen (that came from the Philistines), but on the shoulders of specially dedicated men, Levites, who were to use golden poles to carry the Ark on their shoulders. No one, absolutely no one was allowed to touch the ark. Not even the Levites. This was the error that culminated in the death of Uzzah.

Hear what David said later on, once he realized his error.

1 Chronicles 15:2 –  Then David said, “No one may carry the ark of God but the Levites, for the Lord has chosen them to carry the ark of God and to minister before Him forever.” 

11 And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites: for Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab. 12 He said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites; [b]sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. 13 For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him [c]about the proper order.”

14 So the priests and the Levites [d]sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel. 15 And the children of the Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord.

What can we learn from this story?

Good intentions may not necessarily be God’s intention. Good ideas may not be God’s ideas. God is Holy. God is Holy! Holy! Holy! He is the Sovereign of the Universe. He is the only Potentate! If earthly kings have protocols, should not the Monarch of the Universe, The Creator of Heaven and Earth have protocols?

Proverbs 14:12 says “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

This leads me to a point of reflection. As a Christian, we are called to follow the Lord and walk by His word. There seems to be a lot of ideas and practices that believers follow and carry out today that are not based on God’s word, but are simply traditions of men or at best good ideas. We need to be very careful; we are not doing what we feel God wants, not what He prescribed. We must do what God wants, not what we think He wants. A good idea may not be a God Idea. Be careful of good ideas that God did not request. – 1 Sam 15:22 – Obedience is better than sacrifice.

Jesus said in John 14:6 – I  am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.

Acts 4:10-12 “…let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

God has His prescription for humanity and all good ideas are dead in the water. Only what He prescribed will adequately deal with the dilemma of humanity. Jesus is not one of the ways, He is the Only way!

Let’s Pray: Father God please forgive us for our assumptions that we know what you want. Forgive us for pushing men’s ideas as Your ideas. Please help us to seek Your counsel and ask for Your pathways. Grant us the grace to retrace our steps where we may have gone wrong. Above all today, help us to recognize afresh, that You are Holy! Holy! Holy! In Jesus name we have prayed. Amen

Obed Edom – The Right Man in the Right Place with the Right Attitude – Part 2

So David would not move the ark of the Lord with him into the City of David; but David took it aside into the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite.  2 Sam 6:10

There are moments in God, that He draws you closer and reveals life altering truths to you. These moments need to be treasured and not glossed over. I was listening to my wife speak on a certain day and she mentioned Obed Edom and the Ark in an illustration and right there and then, the Lord arrested my wandering mind and heart. He basically told me the story of Obed Edom is pivotal for these days and I was to study him. So, I am sharing what I have gleaned from the life of this unusual character in the bible.

The Ark of the covenant had been in the house of Abinadab for about 20 years. Nothing was reported about God’s interaction with Abinadab and his family, yet the ark was in Obed Edom’s house for three months and God blessed him and all that was his.

I have a few thoughts to share with us in this second part.

How did the ark coming to Obed Edom disrupt his life? What adjustments would he have made? Did he have time to prepare?

  1. Where did they place the Ark in his house? Was the Ark now in His living Room? Meaning it became the center of all their attention. Or did he give up his bedroom for the Ark to have a resting place.
  2. How did he reorganize his house and family to look after the ark? In what ways was the family life and routines disrupted to host the Ark for the three month? Did they develop a new family rota, involving Obed-Edom and his sons, taking turns to watch over the ark?
  3. How did they deal with the stigma of hosting the Ark? Remember everybody was afraid of the Ark and feared it. So, most of their friends and family would probably have skillfully avoided going to visit the house of Obed-Edom.
  4. Knowing the sanctity of the Ark and the power it carried, how did they deal with holiness issues in the household, knowing God could break out against sin anytime? Did they have to sacrifice animals and apply the blood every day to cover for errors? What did that cost the family?

Just a few questions to ponder. But allow me just a short observation.

God is never a convenient alternative. God is always the only viable option and allowing God into your life will mean radical changes. We are in danger of believing that God must work in our own ways and His dealings will suit our lifestyles. That is an error. God will disrupt your cozy life, albeit for the better. God will take center stage. God is not as interested in your comfort as he is in your character development. God on our own terms is idolatory and not worship. God on His own terms is the foundation of true worship. God is number one and no one or nothing can or should take His place.

Jesus coming to redeem us was not a convenient exercise. The cross was not comfortable. Far from it. His humiliation, condescension, crucifixion were all deeply painful and challenging. But He willingly endured for our sakes. Thank you, Lord!

Obed Edom was willing to alter His life, be inconvenienced and make sacrifices for accepting to host the Ark. Do you now he had no idea how long the ark will be with his family?

So, we also must be clear that when God calls us or we have to host the glory of God, it will never be convenient, comfortable or on our own terms. We must be ready to make room for Him and remain joyful for the opportunity to serve the owner of everything including our own lives.

Any wonder why God blessed him and all that was his.

Tomorrow, we will go a bit deeper and consider this matter from another angle. Have you ever considered the Inn Keeper that refused the parents of Jesus a birth place in his hotel? Was he wise or foolish?

Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, help us never to allow the error of convenience rob us of the immense benefits of serving you. Help us to learn from this man Obed Edom and help us to be willing to make any sacrifice to accommodate You. Lord Here Am I. Hineni Adonai. Thank you for grace! Amen.

Obed Edom – The Right Man in the Right Place – Part 1

And the Lord blessed Obed-Edom and all his household. 2 Sam 6:1-11

The bible says, “I returned and saw under the sun that— The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favour to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all.” Ecclesiastes 9:11

We often hear of a person being in the wrong place at the wrong time and some people are at the right place at the right time. I always pray that God will order my step, so I can be at the right place at the right time. I pray this for you too today.

Such probably is the curious case of this man called Obed Edom. He was among the choice men of Israel. Thirty Thousand of them specially assembled by King David for a very special event! Thirty thousand men to help bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. All was set and the Ark was moved from the house of Abinadab.

Abinadab had been custodian of this most precious divine piece of furniture for about 20 years. His two sons, Ahio and Uzzah, placed the ark on a cart drawn by oxen. All was going well, until they got to Nachon’s threshing floor. Then drama, tragedy, the unthinkable happened. The oxen stumbled, the ark shook precariously and Uzzah, reached out his hands to steady the ark….then he died right there on the spot, because God struck him for his error. Was this a case of the wrong man in the wrong place?

David was angry and afraid. Disaster on what was supposed to be the most glorious, joyous day! He rejected the ark and asked for it to be taken away. Enter, Obed Edom. Remember there were 30,000 prominent men present. They all refused the ark. They all ran away. They all declined. But, Obed Edom ended up with the dreaded ark.

How did he end up with the ark?

How did he end up with the ark? Did David order him to take the ark into his house? Did he offer to take the ark? Either way, there are lessons to be learnt here. 1. We must obey our leaders, when we are instructed, and we must not refuse orders or make excuses. 2. With God, volunteering is highly priced. My troops shall volunteer freely in the day of my power – Psalm 110 comes to mind. Also, Jesus said, ‘many are called but few are chosen’. The chosen are those that offer to do the master’s bidding.

Obed Edom as his name indicates. Was a willing servant. Obed means servant and Edom, probably meant something about his colour or complexion. Edom means earthy, red. So, Obed Edom may have been a dark-skinned man. He was also referred to as the Gittite. Meaning he came from Gath. Gath was Philistine territory. So, he was also probably a philistine. How did a Philistine end up among the 30,000 choice men of Israel? It could be that when David was running away from Saul as a fugitive, when he took refuge in Philistine territory, he has a mixed bunch of warring men. Obed Edom may have been part of David’s army at that time and followed him all the way to Zion. (David had a special guard of troops called Cherethites (Pelethites). They were Philistines and they were part of David’s inner caucus.

This ‘foreigner’ ended up as the custodian of God’s ark and kept it for three months, and it was reported that God had blessed Obed Edom and all that he had. The right man in the right place, with the right attitude! The ark was in the house of Abinadab for about 20 years, yet there was no report of God blessing his house! Yet, Obed-Edom had the ark for just 3 months and God blessed him and his entire house hold.

In our next part we will explore why Obed Edom was so blessed. We will also draw out some key lessons from this interesting story.

God has a few questions for you today from the life of Obed Edom.

Are you willing to take a risk for me? Are you prepared to open up your life for me? Can I disrupt your personal plans, so I can fulfil my plans through you? Will you obey my call? Will you volunteer for the role? Can I trust you with my Ark?

Let us Pray: Father God, thank you for your word. Thank you for the message about Obed Edom. First Lord, I choose to be your servant. I also volunteer for whatever role you have for me this year. I saw Hineni Adonai. Here I am Lord, send me! Thank you for the grace to be at the right place at the right time with the right attitude. Thank you, Jesus, for being my best example. I submit all my life to you. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

Bounce Back Up-3 – Preface

As an observer of times and life, it has become apparent to me that men are not prepared to survive failures. Don’t misunderstand me; men are endowed with great strength and resilience and can recover from just about anything, but not many are prepared for this almost inevitability. Our very extensive education system is programmed on the assumption that everyone will progress through it without failure. Our careers are programmed on the same assumption. Our business schools spend so many hours examining case studies and reviewing businesses, teaching principles for success, but I doubt there is a course designed to equip these budding business leaders with tools to cope with the stress of failure. Yet less than five percent of start-up businesses make it past the first five years. People get married with the assumption that they will live happily ever after; then there is a financial stress, infidelity, barrenness, and whatever else the world throws at them; some survive, some fail, but most find it hard to come back. History is replete with failures. Abandoned dreams. Abandoned lives. Abandoned people and people who abandon themselves. Yet, there is one truth worthy of consideration: if you don’t give up, you will eventually succeed.

“For a righteous man may fall seven times

And rise again” – Proverbs 24:16

This is not a book on negativity, but it offers a dose of reality that may prevent you from being a casualty of the eventuality of failure. As you would glean later on, you are not a failure until you fail to keep trying.

As I have observed people fall to pieces after a disaster, and being a person of compassion, I always feel that these people are victims of an inadequate and unrealistic developmental system, which totally ignores the reality of life and makes people live in a triumphalist utopia that does not exist in reality. Bad things happen. Sad things happen. They happen to the best of people. People fail. Systems collapse. It is just a consequence of the fallen state of humanity and we should be better equipped to deal with it and survive them.

This is why I decided to write this book, to equip people to recover and help those who are going through failure to get through and come back up.

Now a lesson from Ziklag. Biblical names are always meaningful. There is no name, number or object in the bible that does not have significant deeper meaning than what is the obvious. The Western mind thinks of names as something to call or identify things by. Bible names are a lot deeper. They carry in them both a physical and a spiritual meaning. They also have embedded in them the prophetic destiny or significance of the named person, thing or place. Just one example will suffice.

Jerusalem is a combination of two words ‘Jeru’ and ‘Salem’ or Shalom. Jeru is Teaching and Salem is Peace. The first meaning is that this is the city that teaches peace or where peace will be taught. Interesting isn’t it? Today, Jerusalem is the city most contested in the entire world. The Jews claim it, the Moslems want it, the Christians love it and God owns it. However it is the city where God has established peace and shown the way of peace. It is the city that has produced the Prince of Peace and where the middle wall of separation has been removed. If you open your eyes properly in Jerusalem, you will find peace, because this is the city of the Prince of peace. It is also quite uncanny that despite all the turmoil of the Middle East, I have never experienced peace in another city comparable to the peace in Jerusalem, especially on the night of Yom Kippur. The peace is palpable. It is truly the city of peace. But that is just what is obvious. Let’s go slightly deeper. Jeru is a derivative of the word Yara which is the Hebrew word for teach. It means to flow like water, to throw, to point with a finger, to shoot an arrow or even to draw a line. If you expand this idea of yara to the concept of Salem or Shalom, you will begin to discover that God has destined this city to be the place where peace will be taught. Where people will find the directions for peace. Where peace will be consummated and ultimately where every human being will find peace with God and where peace will flow from. That is why the Messiah had to die in Jerusalem to reconcile man to God. Lastly, it is the line of peace or the place where the peace line is drawn. No one can ever truly find real peace or prosperity outside the King of Salem. Without Messiah there is no Shalom. Without Yeshua HaMashiach, there is no Shalom. You are either with Jesus the Messiah or you are against Him.

How about the name David? David simply means the beloved. God loved David and David loved God. Simple. But God loved David with a covenantal love. That is in an unbroken manner. He would never stop or withdraw his love from David. But on a deeper level God has chosen to reveal and manifest His greatest act of love through the seed of David. The Messiah again! So David carried in His name the love of God for every one of us, and the promise that God will love us forever and ultimately, He would express His love to us through the Son of David. Need I say more?

So back to Ziklag. What does Ziklag mean? Before we examine the name, let’s look at the location of Ziklag. It will reveal some truths we can reflect on. Ziklag is in the territory allotted to Judah, but was in the hands of the King of the Philistines called Achish. He gave David this place to live in when he fled from Saul who was trying to kill him. It is on the southern border of Judah and located in the Negev desert. It is a very dry place and quite close to the Dead Sea. This is no coincidence. David was in a territory that belonged to his tribe, but was living there as a fugitive. There are times in our lives when we find ourselves running and hiding in nations allotted to us by God as our land. We are not safe in the place God has destined us to be safe in. Secondly it was on the edge of the land of Judah and the Philistines actually controlled it. We all have allotted territories that we are yet to conquer. We have dreams and plans that God has given us and we are yet to possess them. David was already anointed and destined to be King, but he lived outside that promise, because someone else held the throne and crown. He was living on the edge of greatness as it were. Thirdly it was close to the Dead Sea — a symbol of death and desolation. David almost died in Ziklag. He almost lost it all, yet when he was going through the worst time in his life, the best was just about to break forth. He came close to losing all and ended up gaining all. Is this a coincidence? I think not.

Now the name Ziklag. It simply means “winding”. In other words, complicated, confusing, bewildering or treacherous. So David in Ziklag was a symbol of his winding path to glory. Proverbs 15:24 says “The way of life winds upward for the wise, That he may turn away from hell below” He had complicated relationship with the King of the Philistines, yet he was the anointed King of Israel in waiting. David’s treacherous experience with the Amalekites and lastly his bewilderment and the loss of his wives and children.

But there is an even more poignant meaning to the name Ziklag. It means also “covered in grief”, and it is this meaning that most aptly defines the ethos of this book. David and his men came to Ziklag to find grief. They were struck with deep grief, yet through this they learnt how to come out of grief and become men of glory again. They literarily turned the ashes of Ziklag into flames of glory. They rose and went from Ziklag all the way to Zion; and David from this one experience marched forward to become the greatest King of Israel. Are you struck with grief? Have you suffered a loss? Did you just fail at something? Is there a setback in your life? Like David, we can understand that Ziklag is not going to be your burial place. The story does not stop here. There is hope in your future and if David’s life is anything to learn from, then the best is not just yet to come, it is just round the corner. David was attacked in Ziklag, but God elected that Ziklag was David’s launching pad to greatness. Life’s worst moments carry embedded in them the greatest breakthroughs one can ever imagine. Just like God has designed every dark cloud to have a silver lining and every heavy rain to have a rainbow, whatever the dark cloud, believe me there is hope. Are you at Ziklag?

Bounce Back Up -2 – Don’t Forget to breathe

Don’t forget to breathe

In this new age of positive thinking, personal empowerment and “Yes You Can” gospel mantras, Pastor Charles Abraham presents a message that is at once eternal in its source and timeless in its application. Beware, because this book so un-dramatically titled “BOUNCE BACK UP” offers from its get-go a decidedly unsexy premise — that failure is a fact of life and that all of us will encounter failure at something, sometime. An uncomfortable truth but a truth nonetheless. It’s borne out by scripture in a manifest expression in the life and times of almost all the major characters of the Bible. Adam failed. Moses failed. Samson failed. Peter failed. Paul failed. The only figure that never failed in his goal or mission was Jesus Christ.  It seems a no-brainer to accept that perhaps failure is an inevitable, or necessary consequence of man’s imperfect humanity. While man in the essence of his creation was made in the image of God signifying his possibilities and the unlimited power of the spirit of God in him, a yawning gap presents itself between man’s possibilities, his dreams and purpose, and man’s humanity which is the quicksand combination of his fears, discouragements and disconnections from the path of righteousness outlined by his maker. That gap between his purpose and possibilities, and his humanity and discouragement, is a conundrum that has confronted the greatest men of history and the best achievers of our time. Each and everyone of us has to build a mental AND spiritual bridge over that gap to connect ourselves and our ambitions and establish a reality and a testimony of the triumph of action over inertia, of faith over fear, of performance over mere precepts, of attainment over failure. 

That bridge stands in memory and in time as a monument to the grit and inner fortitude of history’s greatest achievers. It is held high by the iron rods of faith. The wooden planks of determination and doggedness. The concrete mix of courage and purpose. But above all it is made possible by some wisdom keys of spiritual understanding that separates the hopeful from the hopeless. It is beyond the positive spin of modern day life coaches who tend to affirm an unrealistic concept of the ‘always-winning-never-failing’ human journey that have no reality or parallel in biblical characters or figures of modern history. Those wisdom keys build from within each and everyone of us a spiritual understanding of the design of man, the possibilities of man, the fall of man and the redemptive intervention of Jesus Christ to make the rise of man possible again. Go figure then that the only figure that never failed in the history of the world was Jesus. That, in summary, is the subtext of this wonderful narrative of BOUNCE BACK UP. 

Pastor Charles Abraham in an affecting and inimitable ‘voice’ offers a message that is positive in tone, enthusiastic in affirmations, persuasive in narrative structure and reader-friendly and memorable in language. This book, however, succeeds most importantly by its definitive scriptural highlight of the key pillars of its premise using the story of David’s experience at Ziklag as a template of a step-by-step process of turning failure around from a fall to a ‘bounce’ up to a higher dimension. It is simply the most important message for anyone hurting or reeling from the pain and disappointment of unattained goals and unfulfilled dreams. BOUNCE BACK UP makes clear that failure can happen but it does not define you. It is an event not an identity. Where you are and what has happened to you is not your story. It is merely a chapter in your story and as we say in the business of filmmaking, it is only a twist in the dramatic arch of your story. It is suspenseful and will sometimes accelerate the beat of your heart because it unbalances your world and scrambles your carefully laid-out plans and expectations but it is what it is, a blip or bump in the road.

BOUNCE BACK UP is an exploration of the inner space and psychological cross-road of David at Ziklag to mirror the challenges we all face at that defining cross-road of our life when we face a choice whether to give in or go on. BOUNCE BACK UP says, just as David did, our wise choice is to LOOK UP! It is simply the heart of God speaking to man in his most vulnerable human moment that the strength to achieve and to create and to transport from one dimension to another flows vertically from a God who is the only one equipped to add the ‘super’ to our natural so that we can operate in the supernatural. 

The message is made real as well because BOUNCE BACK UP offers several real-life case-studies and statistics in a gripping systemic blend to keep you riveted from page one to its end in an easy accessible flow. It is as if you have sat through a counselling session that speaks God’s mind directly to what you are going through with a specific mandate to help you recover; to affirm the hand of God in your affairs and to reassure you that heaven is accessible to walk AND work you through the unavoidable pain and blood and gore of birthing you from one dimension into another with a higher, greater remit than your humanity can ever achieve in its own strength. 

Failure happens. Disappointment is a fact of life. Accept its reality. Refocus your priorities. Look upwards for strength. And don’t forget to breathe! 

So whoever you are, and wherever you may be in your journey BOUNCE BACK UP is simply the most important book you will read today because, if you are reading this, your journey to healing, recovery, rebirth and uncommon enlargement has already begun! 

God bless you.

Femi Odugbemi

Bounce Back Up – Intro


This book has been long coming and for many years various people have encouraged me to write down my thoughts, especially my teachings from the bible. Finally after much goading, it is here. I therefore want to thank the following people, who along the way God used to support and encourage me.

My profound appreciation goes to my family at Kensington Temple and IBIOL International Bible Institute of London, how can I ever be anything without what you have all sown into my life? Pastor Colin Dye, Senior Minister at KT, God has used you tremendously to shape and develop my calling and ministry. I am forever grateful for you and for my years at KT. I learnt so much about leadership being on those numerous short-term missions. Special acknowledgements to Pastors Phil Whitehead and Alistair Taylor, the two missions directors before me. And yes, all the members of the mission teams to all those nations, you know yourselves; you are an indelible part of my story. I deeply miss you all.

Femi Odugbemi who was the ‘holy goader’ for many years, especially in the last few years. His constant nagging and positive affirmation and not so subtle push has made this possible. Femi also helped read the first draft and his advice on how to ‘layer’ the book is invaluable. I am indebted to you my brother.

Jahman Anikulapo, my indefatigable editor and friend. Your space will never be edited out of history. Thanks so much.

I am grateful to Billy Lawson, who spoke to me once at the ad agency, LTC-JWT Lagos, inquiring what I will do with my retirement from the ad-agency. His encouragement for me to write and his affirmation that he believes I would do well as a writer, gave me the much-needed shot in the arm. Thanks Billy. In the same vein, I thank all my colleagues at LTC-JWT Lagos. You guys are creative and dynamic. I learnt a lot from you all. Thanks for pushing the frontiers every time. Kolade, thanks for the cover design. I know the best is yet to come concerning you. Love you son.

Rev. Greg Marlam of Ashford Baptist Church, I still remember our talk at your home many years ago. You were so convinced I had to write. I thank God for your year-long teachings on David. I definitely gleaned a lot from those talks. Thank you for being so faithful.

Just the thought of the blessing of being the Pastor of GAP ministries/Church fills my heart with so much joy and gratitude. You guys are simply the best. The leadership team who have stood through thick and thin and the members who have faithfully followed the Lord and His commission. Many of you are in your “Bounce Back” season and I know the best is yet to come. I love you all so dearly.

My daughter Erin, for her relentless pursuit and pressure on her daddy. Always saying ‘dad you really need to write’. Thanks my princess and thanks for editing this book for me.

Don’t Park

Joshua 14:12

Growing up we had a popular saying about those who are tired and just can’t go on, that they have ‘parked’, like you park a car after a long journey. I hear so many people saying they are tired and all they want to do is retire and just coast through the rest of life. I hear people saying they have fought and laboured for so long and are now disillusioned and tired. I can’t pretend that I don’t understand this position, but I do not look at men to find my cue in life, but I look to the one who gave me life and who ordained life and Who alone has a right to retire me or you to retire. Some people want to retire at 40, 50, 60, 70, but I really cannot see any biblical evidence for such retirement ages.

Today, I want to focus on a man called Caleb. We can find his story in the bible. He was 45 years old when Moses chose him along with 11 other men to go and spy out the land of Canaan and bring back a report on this reconnaissance mission. The issue got complicated when the 12 spies returned. Caleb from the tribe of Judah and his friend, Joshua, from the tribe of Ephraim, gave a very good report of the land and believed they could go and possess it. But, the 10 other spies, leaders of their family groups, gave a bad report. They saw that the land was good and the produce of the land was as God had said, flowing with milk and honey, but they discountenanced these and focused instead on the inhabitants of the land. They focused on the giants, the sons of Anakin they saw and got terrified. The basically discouraged everyone and said they were like grasshoppers in their eyes and so they were in the sight of the giants. Look at the scriptures:

Numbers 13:31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” 32 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. 33 There we saw the [h]giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like[i] grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

Caleb the Dog

This led to God forbidding Israel to go forward and possess the land, and God waited another 40 years, till all the generation that came out of Egypt with the wrong mindset died off, except for Caleb and his friend. Just for emphasis, Caleb mean a dog. In Hebrew context naming a person after an animal is not derogatory, rather it is a complement and speaks of their prophetic destiny. A dog is loyal and a dog is stubborn or dogged and will not let go of a prey in its mouth once her gets it between his teeth. Caleb was loyal to the Lord and was dogged in trusting and believing in the Lord for His promises.

Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him: “You know the word which the Lord said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the [a]heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the Lord my God. So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’ 10 And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel [b]wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. 11 As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. 12 Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.”

Give me this mountain

13 And Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as an inheritance. 14 Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel. 15 And the name of Hebron formerly was Kirjath Arba (Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim).

So, at age 85, Caleb, spoke to Joshua and said “Give Me This Mountain”.

Then the land had rest from war.

Caleb declared “12 Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day;

He went forward and took the land at the age of 85, drove out the giants and took possession.

Don’t Park Here!

Today, I want to counsel you that your age is only a number. You are a spirit being and your spirit in not old. You can basically do all that God has ordained for your life, even if you are in what they call the twilight years of your life. Ronald Regan became president of America in his 70s, Colonel Sanders started Kentucky fried chicken in his 60s, and how about Noah, he got a commission form the Lord at age 500 and spent another 100 years building the ark. He went on to live for over 900 years. What’s your excuse?

Don’t Park. Keep moving and get new set of wheels. The best is just ahead, not behind you.


The Leadership Conundrum

First Thoughts.

I have just written a book titled 18 Laws of Leadership. It is a synthesis of my life gleanings and what I have seen as fundamentals based on the word of God.

I fully believe leadership is an art and a science and it can be taught and learnt!

Learning the art of leadership by adopting time tested, divinely crafted principles for enduring and impact leadership.

History seems to have an unusual, if not uncanny tilt towards individuals who rise and make a distinction in their time and season. All history is somewhat linked to His story. As my brother and friend, Femi Odugbemi, stated so eloquently, “It is important to make the case for how the arc of human history has bent always to the strength of an individual’s leadership qualities or lack of it.” Adam failed to lead, and humanity lost the garden of Eden. Jesus rose to the call of leadership and humanity was restored to God and His Kingdom. Maxwell popularly stated everything rises and falls on leadership. It can be argued that leaders are born and not made, but evidence suggests the opposite. There is a leader in every one of us and leadership or the act of leading can be acquired and learnt. It is not so much a gift as a craft. It appears that the elements that make great leaders are quite consistent, and most are not charisma driven, but character laden. So, leadership is character on public and private display.

If you were to track the history of the world and the ages, you will find that the dots are all connected to individuals who rose up to make a distinction in their time – whether it was in the sciences, the arts, culture, sports, statesmanship, business, technology, sociology or even politics. History’s epochs are punctuated by human beings that did something noteworthy.

Perhaps the greatest evidence to this is the way we trace time. The Gregorian calendar is captured in BC and AD. BC simply means before Christ and AD simply means after His death and resurrection. Time and history have thus been traced and determined ultimately by the greatest leader there ever was and will ever be – Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

The world is waiting for you! Creation yearns for you! Someone needs you!

Rise up and lead.

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