Compassion is important to following God’s schedule: based on David’s early interactions with Saul and on Christ teaching in two parables—God uses call to compassion to direct a person to blessing he has ordained. He calls the person regarding a need and expects them to recognize the need, care about the needy, commit to providing, and persevere in seeking to alleviate the need. Earn blessing by completing the call or incur punishment by declining. Illustrations from David show he completed three calls to compassion early during his period as king in waiting and each completion led him to accomplish a goal and key step toward becoming king of Israel.
The bible study series on Following God’s Schedule examines David’s interactions during the period between his anointing to be king and his confirmation by the people of Israel. The study focuses on understanding his following God’s schedule toward kingship notwithstanding the schedule was not revealed to him a priori. His path to kingship after the anointing included a transition from King Saul, kingship training for David, and preparing the people of Israel to accept David as king. God had a plan and schedule for each of these, required David to follow the schedule, but did not reveal the plan or schedule to him.
The study is applicable to everyday life because David’s situation is quite similar to common human experience. As we discuss in Prayer of Joseph from the Dungeon, God at times grants a prayer with a promise to be fulfilled to fit his overall plan for the recipient, sets a schedule for fulfilling the promise, requires the recipient to follow the schedule, but may not reveal the schedule or plan. The recipient needs to follow the schedule to receive fulfillment of the promise just like David needed to follow God’s schedule to become king.
God provided his schedule to David piecemeal, as a series of preparatory and precursory events: preparatory events are those that prepared him for future occurrences, whereas a precursory event is one that is necessary to trigger a future occurrence. David’s choices regarding the events determined whether he followed or departed from God’s schedule. The study series focuses on understanding his choices in various events in the context of Christ teaching. We discuss David’s choices as they illustrate God’s purpose for human interactions and relationships, which Christ emphasizes in his teachings presented live several generations after David.
This session of the series focuses on compassion, based on David’s early interactions with Saul and others and on Christ teaching through two parables: the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats and the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Through the teachings, Christ explains that God uses a call to compassion to direct a recipient to a blessing, such as an achievement step toward fulfillment of a promise. The recipient earns the blessing by completing the call to compassion or incurs punishment by declining. Illustrations from David show he completed three calls to compassion early in his interactions with Saul and each completion led him to accomplish a goal and key step toward becoming king of Israel.
Christ’s invitation to earn blessing through human service is open to all irrespective of any past misdeed. We learn from David-Bathsheba relationship that earned blessing and incurred punishment are parallel promises from God. They can coexist, do not offset each other, and are fulfilled at his choosing. David incurred severe punishment from seducing Bathsheba into adultery, murdering her husband to cover up the affair, and overall for covetousness. The punishment was fulfilled but did not interfere with David’s earned blessing: an inheritance from God’s promise to Abraham to father the ancestral lineage of the Messiah and a direct promise to David that his offspring will succeed him as king of Israel. Both promises were fulfilled through Solomon, a son to David-Bathsheba marriage.
David’s interactions with Bathsheba resulted in both severe punishment and fulfillment of previously earned blessing for David. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Seduction Covetousness Displeases God, David’s sin in the affair with Bathsheba consists of seduction, adultery, murder, and covetousness. He incurred severe punishment from the sin as Prophet Nathan announced to him: the child of the affair will die, a person close to David will sleep with his wives in broad daylight, and calamity will befall him from his household. All the promises were fulfilled.
However, as events representing fulfillment of the punishment unfolded in his life; other events that represent fulfillment of David’s earned blessing occurred in parallel and unaffected by the punishment. First, he inherited blessing from God’s promise to Abraham that was passed to David through several generations via his grandfather Obed and father Jesse. Second, God promised David directly that his offspring will succeed him as king of Israel: “When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom” [2 Samuel 7:12]. God fulfilled both promises through Solomon, a son of David and Bathsheba conceived after their marriage.
The blessings did not buy him out of the punishment, nor did the punishment diminish his blessing in any way.
Shunammite Couple Example
On Respect, Honor, and Trust
Mutual respect and trust among Shunammite couple placed them in position to receive God’s blessing. The woman met Elisha, recognized his needs, and persuaded her husband to do what they could to alleviate the needs. The woman respected and honored her husband as family leader and the man respected and honored his wife as spiritual gateway for the family. They provided food and shelter to Elisha, thus, establishing a long-term relationship with him that brought them abundant blessing. Through the events, the woman showed she respected and honored her husband as family leader. Also, the man showed he respected and honored his wife as spiritual gateway for the family.
We begin a study series on Husband Wife Interactions, whereby we seek understanding of God’s purpose for husband-wife relationships. The study will be based on couples described in the bible. We will examine events from their life to understand how their responses may have contributed to subsequent events. Can we surmise the later events represent a blessing triggered by their responses in earlier events? Or maybe an adversity that could be construed as an unpleasant prelude to subsequent blessing or apparent punishment for earlier misbehavior. Whatever the case, we expect to gain insight into husband-wife interactions: to understand aspects of a couple’s behavior more likely to bring them closer to fulfilling God’s purpose for them, their children, and the broader human community.
Interactions between husband and wife affect how they relate to other people, both outside and within their home, especially, their children. What children learn at home influences how they relate to themselves, other people, and their environment. God created husband and wife at the core of the family unit and gave them the responsibility to direct their children to “keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just” so the children may become vehicles for conveyance of God’s promises [Genesis 18:19]. Interactions between husband and wife are important to their fulfilling the family training responsibility of bringing up children to “keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just.”
Our first study in the series focuses on interactions between the Shunammite woman and her husband. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Shunammite Woman Overcomes Adversity, the Shunammite couple developed a lasting close relationship with man of God Elisha and were blessed through their life because of the encounter: the woman gave birth to a son at a time they reasonably would not have expected a child because of the husband’s advanced age, the son was restored to life after sudden and premature death, the family escaped severe famine that ravaged their land for several years, and regained property they lost during sojourn abroad to escape the famine. Our previous study of the Shunammite womand focused on interactions between her and Elisha but also pointed to interactions between her and her husband as the events developed.
The current study focuses on the husband-wife interactions to understand their responses to the events. We find that their interactions were based on mutual recognition and respect for each other’s leadership of specific aspects of family life. The wife recognized and respected her husband’s leadership in over-all family affairs, whereas the husband recognized his wife as the family’s spiritual gateway and not only yielded to but relied on her spiritual leadership. We discuss their interactions through specific events in their life to show they trusted, relied on, and supported each other’s judgment in providing leadership according to the divided responsibilities.
Appreciation motivates a “hunger and thirst” for righteousness that extends the benefits of human service through more people and time. We join this year’s celebration of thanksgiving and use the opportunity to discuss Christ’s teaching on appreciation as a motivator of positive human interaction.
Thanksgiving is celebrated in different parts of the world at various times. In several places, the celebration is associated with harvest and appreciation for the “fruits of the land.” Also in several places, thanksgiving is celebrated near the end of the calendar year in appreciation of all that was good during the year. For example, in several countries of North America, thanksgiving is celebrated late in the calendar year, usually a few weeks before Christmas; thus beginning a season of giving, receiving, and appreciation that lasts through the remainder of the year. People and institutions exchange gifts and greetings to appreciate each other for being who or what they are and for events of the year that brought their paths to cross.
We join in this year’s celebrations: to express our appreciation to all that interacted with our program one way or the other during the year. We thank God for you and appreciate this opportunity to learn his word and share our understanding through Banking Blessings Ministry. We celebrate this year’s interactions and use the opportunity of the celebration to discuss the value of appreciation in motivating positive human interaction.
CHRIST’S TEACHING ON APPRECIATION We examine Christ’s teaching on appreciation based on his interactions with two people he healed from persistent illness. The interactions suggest he wanted to emphasize appreciation as important to the healing, as if the healing was incomplete without it. The interactions occurred in regard to a woman he healed of long-term bleeding and a man that was the only one of ten that returned to thank him for healing them of leprosy. In both cases, he appeared to be telling them and us that their appreciation enabled them to receive full benefits of the healing. However, we know based on the biblical accounts that the physical healing was complete in each case before the recipient stepped forward to show appreciation. Therefore, his interactions with them lead us to understand that each recipient needed more than the physical healing to receive full benefit of his/her interaction with Jesus in the healing incident.
HUNGER FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS His interactions with the two lead us to understand that every human service offers two potential benefits to the recipient:
Surface-value or short-term benefit that arises from the service addressing an immediate need, such as physical healing.
Long-term benefit that arises because the recipient’s appreciation motivates him/her to be good, not only to the provider but also to other people.
If the recipient is good to another person as a result, the other also is motivated to be good to yet others. Thus, an act of goodness whereby a person provides a service to alleviate another person’s need could benefit several more people because the recipient’s appreciation motivates him/her to be good to others that are, in turn, motivated to be good to yet others. Thus, the long-term benefit of human service lies in the potential to motivate an expanding community of people to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” [Matthew 5:6] and earn blessing as Jesus described in the Sermon on the Mount. This long-term benefit is more important than the short-term benefit. Christ emphasized its value through personal interactions with the two healing recipients.
The Shunammite woman’s compassion for a stranger led her to man of God Elisha, who prayed for her so she was blessed with a son. Later, when the son died unexpectedly, her unwavering faith and persistent prayer by Elisha restored the son to life. Subsequently, she lost her home and land while living abroad to escape a seven-year famine. However, all her losses and more were restored because she was a living testimony of Elisha’s work. On two occasions she lost something she treasured but her loss was restored in full each time because of unwavering faith and persistent prayer.
We continue our study series on Responding to Adversity with a discussion of interactions between the Shunammite woman and Prophet Elisha, among other (third-party) participants. The interactions began with the woman’s compassion toward a stranger that turned out to be Prophet Elisha and continued with the woman receiving an unexpected but welcome blessing through the birth of a son.
However, the blessing appeared to turn into adversity when the son died after a brief illness. She responded with unwavering faith that she expressed in part by seeking out Elisha at Mount Carmel and insisting that he return to his “sanctuary” at her home in Shunem to ensure her son was restored to life. Elisha obliged, returned to the sanctuary, and prayed persistently until the child came back to life.
Several years later, the woman lost her home and land when she and her household relocated to a foreign land to escape a seven-year famine. However, when the king realized she was a living testimony of Elisha’s work (the woman whose son was restored from death), he ordered full restoration of everything she lost while she was away. Therefore, on two different occasions, the Shunammite woman lost something she treasured but the loss was restored in full because of her unwavering faith, human effort, and persistent prayer.
LIVING TO RECEIVE GOD’S INTERVENTION We learn through the life of Ruth that living in the image of God prepares a person to receive God’s intervention. She inherited an opportunity to receive a grand blessing because of being a descendant of Lot. However, the opportunity alone would not have been enough. She positioned herself to receive fulfillment of the promise by living in the image of God; which manifested through her compassion, humility, sensitivity to needs around her, and persistent diligence in doing what she could to provide for the needs. Ruth married Abraham’s descendant Boaz; they had a son Obed, grandfather of David; and, thus established a family to link the lineage of Abraham and the lineage of Lot to David, a great grandfather in the lineage of the Messiah. Therefore, we learn through her life that living in the image of God prepares a person to receive God’s intervention, even fulfillment of inherited blessing.
We conclude the study series on Ruth by looking back at her life as an illustration that living in the image of God prepares a person to receive God’s intervention. Ruth inherited an opportunity to become a channel for fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, because her ancestral father Lot was co-beneficiary of the promise by following and assisting Abraham on a mission to establish homeland and ancestry for the Messiah. However, the opportunity alone would not have been enough to ensure fulfillment of the promise through Ruth. Her life includes several events in which she took specific action that brought her closer to fulfillment of the promise but could have diverted her away from it if she had behaved differently. Understanding the Godliness of her choice in each case helps us learn that living in the image of God prepares and positions a person to receive God’s intervention.
As we discussed in a previous bible study under Keeping Watch, living in the image of God implies representing God in every human interaction such that your actions and words radiate Godliness and provide opportunities for other people to feel God. Living in the image of God implies a person fulfills responsibilities as God’s provider assistant, willingly and diligently providing service to benefit others when God places a need in his/her path, or accepting service provided by others with heart-felt appreciation and happiness.
The life of Ruth provides specific examples of living in the image of God. First, she chose to live as a widow in order to comfort and assist her mother-in-law to cope with severe adversity. The choice brought her to Bethlehem from her home country of Moab. Second, her humility and sensitivity to the needs of her family led her to seek opportunity to glean for leftover grains. The search brought her to Boaz’s farm. Third, Boaz granted her preferential gleaning access in his field because of her humility, politeness, diligence and persistent effort; and his prior knowledge of her positive interactions with Naomi. In each of these events, she did something positive that advanced her toward ultimately meeting and marrying Boaz, with whom she established an ancestral link in the lineage of the Messiah.
FAITHFUL FOLLOWER AND COMPASSIONATE HOST Lot assisted Abraham on a mission to establish homeland for Christ’s ancestry and earned a stake in God’s promise that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Several generation’s later, his descendant Ruth married Abraham’s descendant Boaz and both became grandparents in the lineage of Christ. Lot performed an act of righteousness by providing food, shelter, and protection in Sodom to angels that he thought were ordinary strangers. His compassion to the “strangers” positioned him to benefit from Abraham’s intercession, whereby God promised to not sweep the righteous away with other inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. God saved Lot on account of Abraham as he destroyed the twin city.
We continue our study series on Ruth by looking back in her ancestry to understand interactions between Lot and Abraham in relation to God calling Abraham (then Abram) to a special mission and Lot’s interactions with his community prior to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. We are interested in Lot because he was father of the Moabites and therefore progenitor of Ruth’s lineage.
FAITHFUL FOLLOWER Lot assisted Abraham on his mission to Canaan and worked with him until their peaceful separation: “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you” [Genesis 12:1]. As we discuss in a previous bible study (Leading or Following: Right Heart for Strategic Alliance), Christ taught several generations later that God rewards faithful followers: people that assist in his mission and contribute to its fulfillment. Therefore, by following and working with Abraham on a mission to establish a home for Christ’s ancestry, Lot placed himself in position to partake in God’s promise to Abraham that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” [Genesis 12:3].
INTERCESSION God revealed himself in human form to Abraham, told him about his judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah, and promised to offer the people one more opportunity to repent: “I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know” [Genesis 18:21]. Abraham interceded on behalf of the people and God promised to save the city if enough people showed themselves righteous. Lot was saved on account of Abraham’s intercession because he showed compassion to angels that he thought were ordinary strangers. However, other inhabitants of Sodom did not take advantage as they confirmed themselves wicked by seeking to attack and molest the “strangers.”
COMPASSION Lot’s compassion to the two strangers endeared him to God and contributed to he and his daughters being saved as God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. God offered a final opportunity for repentance to the people through two angels that visited them in human form. Lot saw the two strangers in the evening, offered them shelter and food, and stood his ground to protect them as Sodomites descended on his house from every direction to attack and molest the strangers: “But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof” [Genesis 19:8]. God saved Lot and his family when he destroyed the city with all inhabitants.