The sound of "brotherhood" is music to our ears. There is much talk about all men being brothers. Then I remember reading about Cain and Able (Gen.4: 8) or what the prophet Amos said that the ordinance of brotherhood has long been violated when a brother pursued his brother with the sword (Am.1: 9-12). It is the sword, rather than agreements, that have sustained brotherhoods. Even peaceful brotherhoods are suspicious of each other. In its narrowest definition, it is an exclusionist concept. Members have to subscribe to certain rules. My parents attended a Church that did not regard other Christians as brothers or sisters. On one visit, their minister would not or could not extend his hand to me. We all belong to some circle that does not allow us to break that brotherly trust. We know, from the past, that even the best of such brotherhoods were flawed. Particularly, religious brotherhoods are not at liberty to disclose their objectives.
I am intrigued by the history of Christianity (L.P. Qualben). It has not traveled a steady and straight road. It has been more like a roller coaster. It was most helpful during crisis. I was nine when Germany invaded Poland and betrayals, persecutions and miraculous rescues began. Churches were closed and we were driven from our homes. Our people began to pray as never before. After Poland was liberated, the Poles returned to their churches in drones. The German people did not flock to their places of worship. They felt that God had let them down. However, they could not stop the refugees from renewing their Christian faith and spark a new awakening in Christianity. I did belong to such a group.
A hypochondriac complained constantly that he was sick enough to die. No one believed him. He purchased a cemetery plot, erected a headstone with the inscription, "Now You Believe Me." The prophet Ezekiel wrote an epitaph against the King of Tyre, one of the enemies of Israel. The King and his people had become morally delinquent and were erased from history (Ez.28: 1-19). How is it that the brightest minds in our day cannot see the hand writing on the wall that spells the end of our way of life? It is not some foreign influence or threat, but a corroding morality. We keep on refusing to accept, the fact that bad morals have been behind the decline of the freedom we have and the prosperity we have enjoyed. It is not war that has destroyed humans and nations, but moral decay. It is a cancer that is killing the family and the fabric of the nation. It is affecting our politics and our religion. It is not the end of the world, but the end of what we hold dear.
Ramah has historical and moral significance for us today. What happened in Ramah has happened on a much larger scale in the U.S.A. During the invasion of Babylon, The King of Judah held Jeremiah in prison. He was taken to Ramah, freed and then killed by those who escaped to Egypt. Before he died, he had this vision: "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more" (Jer.31: 15). The same voice was heard in Bethlehem when Herod killed all the male children under the age of two (Mt.2: 18). For some time now, the same voice has been heard in our land, while women were allowed to abort their children who could be paying for their retirement.
Jesus encouraged His disciples, "that they should always pray and not give up" (Lk.18: 1). One of the things they were to pray for was, "your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Mt.6: 10). Being human, He, too, had second thoughts what God's will really was. Three times, He fell on His knees and begged the Father in heaven to find an alternative. God gave Jesus no answer. He could not alter the will of God. He then accepted God's will, "not what I will, but what you will" (Mk.14: 36). Just think, what would have happened, to a lost humanity, if God's will had yielded to the human cry and anxiety of facing death?
Jesus informed the followers of Moses, "If you believed Moses, you would believe in me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?" (Jn.5: 46-47). Moses and the Exodus of Israel from Egypt took place circa 1290 to 1224 B.C. He was not allowed to enter the land of promise, but he gave his people a hint to what would happen to them when they exchange God the Lord with substitutes. Everything Moses has predicted has come to pass.
This is an account of what happens to people that think they can get along without God. Even a man of God, can be fooled by godless people. When God gives an order, it will be fulfilled in one way or another. Jeroboam was under the illusion that he could do as he pleased without the God of his fathers. The tragic end of his household was an example of what would happen to the nation of Israel in the future. It is one of those lessons when we presume that what we do now shall have no impact on our children and nation. It was not a cheerful story, but neither was the end. If it had not been for the King's stubbornness, the entire history of a nation could have been a blessing instead of a failure.
Western culture has been far too easy on religion. Because of it, Christianity has lost its impact on our way of life. Nothing of great significance is emanating from a once vibrant faith. At times, Christians even feel a little guilty. Then, they/we repent a little without giving up much of anything. We experience a short - lived remorse and go on our merry way. We call that a revival of some sort. When things improve materially, we credit God for His generosity. But when prosperity limps, then we blame it on the ungodly and on an angry God. That gives us a reason to remind people of God's judgment. Where it once was a blessing, Christianity has become a handy tool to capitalize on human misery.
She was a nameless lady that saw the impossible become possible (II Ki. 4). During her time (890 BC), Elisha was one of the roaming prophets of the God of Israel. King Ahab and Queen Jezebel had outlawed the prophets and their religion. Baal, a fertility god, had become the religion of Israel. From time to time, Elisha would show up in Shunem. It was a small town hidden away at the outskirts of the Tribe of Issachar where no one would look for Elisha. The people were friendly toward all prophets, especially when they brought some hope to a people that had lost it. The Shunammite lady and her husband belonged to the people that had not made any commitments to Baal. The couple was wealthy, but also brave and compassionate. The lady, especially, took it upon herself to invite Elisha to eat with them when he was in the vicinity. It did not take long and the prophet appeared regularly for his meals at the couple's place. No one seemed to mind, not even the Baalists, that Elisha was a regular guest at one of their people's homes.