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The Unlikely Helpers of the Bible

  Have you ever noticed that in the Bible there are unlikely people that just pop into the narrative, do something important, and sometimes are never heard of again.  But more often, they become key in some way or another, but in a quiet sort of a way.  Here are some examples:

  Lot and his family had decided to live in Sodom.  Kings in that area were vessals to mightier kings to the north and northeast.  For twelve years they had payed tribute to Chedorlaomer, King of Aram, but in the 13th year they rebelled and paid no tribute.  In the 14th year, Chedorlaomer and other kings that he allied with ( Amraphael (some say this was Nimrod), Arioch, Tidal) came south and warred against the rebelling kings, and beat them badly, taking much plunder.  They also took away many of the local people from Sodom as slaves.  

When Abraham found out that Lot and his family (Lot was Abraham's nephew) had been kidnapped, Abraham showed himself a man of action. With 318 of his own men, Abraham took off after the kings that had made war in Lot's area and won, and who were now returning home Northward with the booty.

  ****318 is an interesting number in this case.  In the ancient Greek, some of the letters also served as numerals.  The letter that stood for '10' and the letter that stood for '8' were also the first two letters in the name Jesus as the Greeks spelled it.  And the Tau, the letter which stood for the number '300' was also shaped like our letter 'T', so it looked like a cross.  So, in the number 318, you have the two first letters in Jesus's name, and a letter which looks like a cross, such as our Lord would one day be crucified upon.  So, this is about 2000 years before Jesus, but there is a great salvation that takes place, and there are symbols linked to Jesus.*****

  In hot pursuit, Abram overtook these triumphant Northern kings, caught them by surprise at night, defeated them and pursued them to north of Damascus.  He seized posession not only of Lot, but of all the women and booty and plunder that these raiding kings had taken.  Abram regained it all, against high odds.  The Lord was with him!

  When he returned with all of the regained people, animals, and loot to Sodom, where Lot lived, out came an unlikely helper, Melchizedek, a priest of the most high God, to meet and bless Abraham.  Melchizedek dwelt in Jerusalem, which was a Caananite city.  Was he a Caananite, from the cursed progeny of Canaan?  It seems unlikely, but the Bible doesn't say yes or no. Certain ancient extra-Biblical writings say Melchizedek was a Semite, assigned to go to Mount Zion and live as the chosen and appointed Priest of the Most High God.  Those sourches say that when the local Caananite kings found out who lived among them - this Melchizedek - and what his high and holy position was, they felt honored that he lived among them.  They reckoned him to be the most important man then living.  So, according to these sources, these Caananite kings (about a dozen of them) joined forces to build a city - Jerusalem - for Melchizedek to dwell in.  But those sources may be wrong also. Who ever he was, he was a Priest of the Most High God, and he shared certain attributes of Jesus, who was to come.  It is said that Jesus will be a High Priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek:

   Genesis 14:19 Melchizedek spoke thusly to Abram.   "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, the creator of heaven and earth.  And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your foes into your hands."

  Abraham gave 1/10th of all the posessions he held as a tithe to this Priest Melchizedek at this time.

  So there is an unlikely helper, there are symbols of the coming Jesus both in Melchizedek, and in the number 318.  Let's look at another case.

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  Joshua was entrusted to lead the Israelites into the promised land - land occupied by the Cannanites - and to wrest it from the hands of the sinful Canaanites.  Joshua, in Joshua chapter 2, sends some spies into the great walled city of Jericho to see how tough it was going to be to fight these people.

  The spies took up residence with a woman named Rahab.  Some refer to her as a harlot, but others say she may have been simply an inn keeper.  But the king of Jericho was told that spies from Israel had entered his city, and so a search was begun within the walls of Jericho.  But this Rahab became their unlikely helper, and hid them under bundles of flax that were laid out on her roof and drying.  She told the searchers that the spies had been there at her house, but had left. 

  Rahab went up to the hiding spies on the roof and spoke to them.  She admitted that the people of her town, Jericho, had heard of the deeds of the Israelites' God, and that her people were in a state of dread.  They had never heard of such a powerful God, and were fearful to face His people in battle. 

  Rahab asked for a favor.  She asked that, since she had hid and sheltered the spies, that, when Israel attacked Jericho, she could close the door to her house, and everyone inside would be safe and would not be killed.  The spies agreed.  They said that if she would tie a red piece of rope to hang outside of her window (which was part of the city's outer wall) that whom ever stayed inside of that room would be safe.  So long as they tied the red rope so it was visible, and no one came out of that room while the Israelites killed the people of Jericho, then Rahab and her immediate family that were inside of that room would be safe.

  Later, Rahab lowered the spies out of her window and down to the ground.  When they made their way back to Joshua to report all that they had learned, they told Joshua about Rahab, and Joshua agreed to honor the deal that they had made with Rahab.

  When the attack was made on Jericho, the walls fell down by the power of God at the blowing of a trumpet, and everyone rushed in and killed the people of Jericho, as God had commanded them to do - the Canaanites were unbearably wicked in God's eyes. 

  But Rahab and her family were off limits.  They stayed inside of the room, as commanded, and none who sheltered in that room were killed. 

  Rahab and her family there after lived among the Israelites.  And in fact, Rahab married an Israelite.  She even became a female ancestor of King David.  She became, in that way, part of the royal blood line of Christ.  She was saved by a hole (her window) with a red rope hanging out.  A city wall, like a person's side in a way, had a hole in it (Rahab's window) which was a little like the hole that a Roman spear would one day pierce into the side of Christ. Out of Christ's side would come atoning blood and life giving water.  Whoever claimed it would be saved when all others would be destroyed.  Though deserving of death, they would be saved by the virtue and righteousness of Christ. 

  Same with Rahab.  The red (rope) coming out of the hole in the side would be a clue to the avengers to pass by her house, a sign to God's avengers, the Israelites, to let those who took shelter there live and not be killed.  And so, there is an unexpected helper (Rahab) and she is spared by the blood-like rope, by the red that hung from the hole in the side of the city.  So, that which comes out - hangs out - of the side of the city being destroyed saves those who take refuge behind it.  And this is figurative of Christ. And again, Rahab is grafted into the family of Christ, though she was a Caananite!  Her neighbors?  They were Canaanites like Rahab, but all were destroyed.  They were not taking refuge behind the red rope.  

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  King Solomon succeeded King David his father, and built the first temple to God in Jerusalem.  The Ark of the Covenant was placed inside it when it was finished, in the area called the 'Holy of Holies'.  The Levite priests administered the worship to God Almighty there, as God had instructed them to, and the glory of God actually dwelt there in that temple, by God's choice.  The people all were gathered together at the temples coronation, and saw God's glory descend and enter the temple.   

  One night, God spoke to Solomon.  He told Solomon that he could ask for something, and God would grant it to him.  Solomon was a thoughtful man, and asked for wisdom with which to rule God's people, and this pleased God greatly, so he added to it other things as well.

  As a consequence,  Solomon was wise in ruling people, wise in commerce, wise in building impressive structures, he wrote psalms and proverbs, he built great buildings, and he pursued knowledge about nature and science and many other things.  His kingdom, Israel, and in particular Jerusalem its chief city, became famous over a great deal of the world and rulers came from far away to see if it was as wonderful as the rumors said.  They apparently were not disappointed.  One visitor was the famous Queen of Sheba. (A queen of the descendents of Cush, who was a son of Ham)  From 1 Kings chapter 10: 

1 And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions.

2 And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.

3 And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not.

4 And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built,

5 And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her.

6 And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom.

7 Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.

8 Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.

9 Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.

10 And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon.

 End Quote.

  That is what the Bible says of the visit.  But Ethiopians today (part of old Cush and Sheba) know this story too.  But they have more alleged facts about it all.

 In their culture, they believe that the Queen came back pregnant with Solomon's child.  And that child eventually came to know who his actual father was, so he went to Israel and presented himself to Solomon when he had become a young man.  Solomon, the Ethiopians say, accepted this son, and favored him. 

  The Ethiopian son came to believe fully in the God of the Israelites.  He ached to show the Ark of the Covenant to the Ethiopians, but he was told that it could not be moved because it was sacred and God dwelled in it.  To make a long story short, the Ethiopians believe that this son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba had a copy of the Ark made, and with God's permission (Solomon had married many foreign women and had become worshipful of false gods that his many foreign wives believed in) this Ethiopian son secretly switched the real Ark for the false one, and took the real one to Ethiopia, where the Ethiopians believe it resides even today, in Axum, Ethiopia.  It is in a sort of a secret temple, gaurded by one man, who received the job from the previous gaurdian, and who will in turn give the job to a younger man one day.  That single person chain of gaurdianship is supposed to have gone on for 30 centuries, according to the Ethiopians.  I believe that only God could maintain such an uninterrupted chain of successful gaurdianship, if the ark is indeed in that temple.     

  The Bible does not mention this pregnancy, nor anything about the illegitimate Ethiopian son or the switching of the Ark.   The story may be totally untrue.  But, in Ethiopia, even today, they believe this widely. 

  It is an intriguing story.

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  In Jeremiah chapter 38, Jeremiah has been propheseying the words God has told him to inside of the beseiged city of Jerusalem.  Jeremiah is telling them that Babylon will end up taking the city, and that it is God's will that this happen, to punish an evil and idolatrous land of Judah.  Jeremiah is telling everyone thast God wishes them to just surrender to the Babylonians.  He is telling them that it will go better for them, God says, if they surrender willingly than if they are taken by force.

  This sounds very treasonous to the leaders of beseiged Israel.  King Zedekiah knows in his heart that Jeremiah is a true prophet of God, but he hates the words God is saying through Jeremiah.  The kings nobles are becoming hard for the king to control anyway, and they say to the king that Jeremiah must be silenced.  The confused king tells them  "He is in your power."  So these nobles seized Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Prince Malchiah.  It had no water, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down deep into this mud.

  But a strange helper appears!   Ebed Melech - who was a Cushite, yet for some reason also a courtier in the palace of Zedekiah - Ebed hears of what has been done to Jeremiah, and knows it is wrong.  When he spies a chance to speak to the king, he says " My Lord, these men have been at fault in all that they have done to the prophet Jeremiah, casting him into the cistern.  He will die of famine on the spot, for there is no more food in the city. "

  So the king ordered Ebed Melech the Cushite to take three men and draw the prophet Jeremiah out of the well before he should die. 

  Ebed Melech gathered rags to place under the arm pits of Jeremiah, so that when they drew him up with the ropes it would not hurt too badly.  These 4 men drew Jeremiah up out of the mirey well, and from then on until the city was taken, Jeremiah remained in the quarters of the guard, being fed a little each day. 

  When they raised Jeremiah out of the cistern, he would have had his arms outstretched like a crucified Jesus, though Jesus would not come along for more than 600 years (his ministry, anyway).  They 'raised him up'.  He had been punished for saying what the leadership did not want to hear, as Jesus one day would be as well.  A Cushite was there, aiding Jeremiah, at his raising up.  A man named Simon of Cyrene would be there aiding Jesus in His time of hardship.  That man would be a son of Ham as well, as is any Cushite.  The rags of clothing Jesus wore were divided into 4 parts, to be split between 4 men.  Four men helped raise Jeremiah. 

  God told Ebed Melech, later, in Jeremiah 39:15, that Ebed Melech need not fear.  For his good deed of helping Jeremiah, he would not be harmed when the Babylonians took the city.  Ebed Melech was comforted, and included in God's protection. 

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  As a whipped, tortured and beaten Jesus tried to carry the heavy beam of his cross out to where he would be crucified, his body just gave out.  It became obvious even to the hardened Roman soldiers that Jesus just wasn't going to make it on His own.  The fasting, the night of torture, it had just taken too much out of him.  So the Roman soldiers 'commandeered' some assistance from a passing stranger.

  Luke 23:26   "As they led him away, they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus."

  There were many of Jesus's disciples, even his Apostles, in the vicinity of Jerusalem on the day that Jesus was crucified.  But none of them stepped forward to help their Lord.  All who saw him at all merely watched His struggles.  But this man, Simon, from the Africa and the city of Cyrene in what is today Eastern Libya near the Mediterranean coast, he alone of all human creatures eased the Lord's hard burden for a few minutes that day, though he was in truth compelled to. 

  It was a game changer for Simon.  Though we don't know that much about him, we know from the Bible that he became a Christian.  He even became a major church leader in the Christian church of Antioch, as did several of his sons.  Antioch is the first place where the followers of Jesus began to be referred to as 'Christians', the Bible says.  He is recorded outside of the Bible to have had an affectionate nick-name approximate to 'Blacky' or 'Darky'.  This could mean, and probably does, that he was a black man, most likely a son of Ham.  The fact that he was in Jerusalem that day might have meant that he was already a Jew, but that is speculation too.

  From out of nowhere, Simon is taken charge of by Romans as he enters Jerusalem.  He is made to carry the cross of some criminal that he does not even know.  Something happens to him...who knows what.  He probably made eye contact with the Lord.  He may have spoken to him.  Something profoundly changed ....forever....in the man named Simon, and he was won to the Lord that day.  And for some reason that only God knows, Simon was given the greatest privelage of perhaps any human in all of time.  He shared in the Lord's suffering.  He shared in the humiliation and pain of the Son of the Living God, helping even to bear his burden.... the cross....on Earth's darkest day. 

  And then he went on to become among the first to be ever called by the name of those who follow the Lord.....to be called Christian.  How rare, odd, and unexpected of a distinction.  How, I wonder, was Simon chosen?  Perhaps one day we will know. 

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  After Jesus was crucified and died, days went by, Pentecost came, and they were all gathered to gether in one place.  (Acts chap 2)  And then the Holy Spirit came upon the waiting and grieving flock of Jesus's followers.  Flames of fire came down upon them, and they received gifts of the spirit, especially evident at first was the gift of tongues.  Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, Cappodocians, the languages of Pontus and Asia, Phrygians and Pamphylians, Egyptians and the District of Libya near Cyrene (this would probably have been the language of Simon of Cyrene, right?) Roamns, Cretans, and Arabs....... all these visitors to Jerusalem heard their own languages spoken....by Galilleans, they believed!!

  And before too long, God sends Philip on a special meeting to join up with just one unlikely visitor, and to personally acquaint that man with the recent goings on in the Kingdom of God.  It seems that the reason must have been that God wanted the people of this man's nation updated - this nation was singled out above all others, it would seem, to receive a specific visit from an Apostle to be told about the life and teachings and crucifixion of Jesus.  One nation is not only personally given the new teaching, but is also given a chance t view the remarkable sight of a man disappearing into thin air.  Philip, after he teaches this specially chosen guest, is 'snatched away' by the spirit.  It is a remarkable incident which I think has no parralel.  Talk about 'favored nation status'.  Ethiopia has it. 

Acts 8: 26-40

  Then the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, "Get up and head south on the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, the desert route."  So he got up and set out.  Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, that is, the queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury, who had come to Jerusalem to worship, and was returning home.  Seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah.  The Spirit said to Philip"Go and join up with that chariot."  Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said,"Do you understand what you are reading?" He said, "How can I unless someone instructs me?"  So he invited Philip to get in and sit with him.  This was the scripture passsage he was reading:

  "Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opened not his mouth.  In his humiliation justice was denied him.  Who will tell of his posterity?  For his life is taken from the earth."

  Then the eunuch said to Philip, "I beg you, about whom is the prophet saying this?  About himself, or about someone else?"  Then Philip opened his mouth and beginning with this scripture passage, he proclaimed Jesus to him.  As they travelled along the road, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "Look, there is water.  What is to prevent my being baptized?"

  "Then he ordered the chariot to stop, and Philip and the eunuch both went down to the water, and he baptized him.  When they came out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, but continued on his way rejoicing.  Philip came to Azotus (once called Ashdod - deeds of god author) and went about proclaiming the good news to all the towns until he reached Caesarea. "   End Quote

  Ethiopia.....favored in the most particular way.  God made certain that Ethiopia heard the news of Jesus's ministry early, and with great signs accompanying its telling.  Ethiopia has some special place in God's kingdom, I think.   The Eunuch had been favored with a very special purposefully assigned visitor, and afterward, the eunuch witnessed the man disappearing.  He had a story to tell, and we can be sure that he went to Ethiopia and told it. 

         

     

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