Sep 24, 2008, 9:02 AM
Not all of us will receive national honours for dedicated service to the nation or to humanity at large. Honours are reserved for a selected few. However, take heart if you never get decorated. Seek instead the decoration which comes from God, the maker of heaven and earth. The honours he bestows on his people are everlasting; earthly decorations are time-bound in value. God honours those who walk with him and are obedient to his word.
When we scroll the pages of the Bible we discover some great men and women of God who have fulfilled the criteria for meritorious celestial honours; people who have given their lives in selfless service in carrying out God’s assignments. We shall focus on a few of these characters with whom God was greatly pleased.
The man who walked with God
Not much is known about Enoch; only four verses in the book of Genesis are ascribed to him. We note; “Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” He lived 365 years, not days mark you. His walk with God can only mean that they worked hand in glove. God was so pleased with Enoch that he did not die, God took him away. He just whisked him off. He did not taste death.
Featured in the Bible’s hall of faith, we read: “By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.” (Hebrews 11:5)
Bible accounts underline life spans of people in the range of 700 years and above; but for all of these people it is cited: “Altogether Jared lived 962 years and then he died.” “Altogether Methusaleh lived 969 years, and then he died.” “Altogether Lamech lived 777 years and then he died.” Not so with Enoch. He was taken away by God.
The God whom I serve
This brings to mind the manner in which prophet Elijah left this world. He was taken up in a whirlwind. He simply disappeared into thin air. He too did not taste death. Prophet Elijah stands out as the Prophet whom God answered by fire; he prayed and God sent down fire to consume the sacrifice he was offering to prove that God Jehovah was the real God, not Baal.
In his walk with God, whatever he declared came to pass. He was a vessel of honour to the extent that he declared a drought and famine and God endorsed it. “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” Three and a half years later, he prayed to God and the rains came putting an end to the famine. He made use of his close-knit relationship with God to perform a series of wonderful miracles. God backed him all the way.
When it was time for his ascension “… suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them (from his servant disciple Elisha), and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.” (2 Kings 2:11)He ascended to heaven ‘alive.’ He so pleased God that God honoured him with the ability to raise the dead. He had such a passion for God throughout his ministry that you and I cannot fathom.
Honoured by a divine covenant
God honoured Noah when he was privileged to build the ark that would save humanity from total extinction. “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.” (Genesis 6:9) It had never rained before Noah’s time and God used him and members of his family to build a gigantic boat (an ark) which later harboured certain species of animals and living creatures along with members of his family. Only those who were secure in the boat survived.
It might not have made sense to Noah over the 100 years he and his family applied themselves in carrying out God’s instructions to build as per specification. In fact, Noah became a laughing-stock and was even labelled a madman. Nevertheless, he pursued his walk with God, obeying his instructions until the day the rain fell.
At the end of it all, God honoured Noah by establishing a covenant with him. “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you – the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you – every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” (Genesis 9:9-11) It is said of him in the hall of faith; “By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” (Hebrews 11:7)
My servant Job
Few characters in the Bible have been given special mention by God like in the case of Job.In the opening pages of the book, we read: “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” (Job 1:1) God showcased Job to nobody else but Satan – and this during Job’s lifetime, to the exclusion of others. “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8)
Imagine for a second God boasting of the integrity of his servant Job. Satan tested and tried him by afflicting him but, “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” (Job 1:22) He trusted God and was confident of the outcome of his tribulations. “He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 24:10)
What has God said of you and me in our lifetime to show how pleased he is with us? In the New Testament, our Lord Jesus urges each and everyone to strive to have our names featured in the Lamb’s Book of Life - where all those who have walked with God and have done his bidding will have their names registered.(To be continued)