Day 7

by Rev Joel Yong

Genesis 38:7 ESV
But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord put him to death.

The same happened to Onan- for he too was evil.
Genesis 38:10 ESV
And what he did was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death also.

Judah’s response was strange.

Genesis 38:11 ESV
Then Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, Remain a widow in your father’s house, till Shelah my son grows up—for he feared that he would die, like his brothers. So Tamar went and remained in her father’s house.

a) he did not know the reason why his sons were dying and thought it might be all linked to some hereditary illness
b) he was superstitious and thought Tamar was cursed and thus caused her husbands to die.
c) he knew his sons died because they were evil but felt helpless to influence his youngest son to live according to God’s ways.

I think it might have been (b) which was why Tamar was physically removed from Judah’s house.

The poor lady. Her husband died and her brother in law made use of her and her father in law was not understanding nor sympathetic.

Indeed it was tough for widows and orphans in biblical times and it still is now. They have no natural defenders to protect them.

How comforting it is then to know we follow a God who cares for such as these!

James 1:27
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.


Hindered by Satan

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: 1 Thessalonians 2:9-3:13; Psalm 80:1-19

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
1 Thessalonians 2:17-18: “But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you- I, Paul, again and again- but Satan hindered us.”

When Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 2:18 that “Satan hindered” him from meeting up personally with the Christians in Thessalonica; what did he mean? Why was Satan allowed to interfere with the holy desire of a child of the living God?

Based on the Epistle, we are not entirely sure what Paul was referring to with regards to Satan’s hindrances; or how these hindrances occur. These hindrances could be related to episodes in Acts 17, where Paul, Silas and Timothy were persecuted by the Jews for preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles in Thessalonica and then in Berea.

These hindrances could also refer to other persecutions that Paul encountered through his missionary journeys. Whichever the case, it is clear that Satan was allowed by the Almighty to mess with the plans of his saints. Nevertheless, Paul’s response to such hindrances was not one of despair or anger towards God. Instead, he made an assessment of the situation and sent one of his most abled team player (Timothy) to discover what was going on in the faith of the Christians in Thessalonica. The result was that Paul himself was highly encouraged by Timothy’s reports of their growing faith and love for one another. In the midst of great persecutions, this was something which Paul and team would be most comforted to hear (ref: 1 Thessalonians 3: 6-7).

So despite Satan’s hindrances, God is still winning victories along the path of His will.

How can we respond when we suffer under the hindrances of Satan? Will we lose faith; thinking that such hindrances shouldn’t happen in the first place? Or will we persevere to please God? These are no easy questions to answer; especially for persons who suffer great distress in the hands of the evil one. Besides the Apostle Paul, Job is a case in point. To me, the most admirable thing about Job is the faith he carried with him even in the most dire of circumstances. A faith which allowed him to be immersed in a deep and humbling conversation with the Almighty in the midst of his pains, disappointments and troubles. I suspect Job cherished such an intimate conversation with the Lord more than what he was restored in his fortunes, family and status.

A lot to learn about the mysterious ways of God. A lot to learn from the saints of past. No less, we can be encouraged this day as 1 Thessalonians offered the great certainty that even as God’s ways are not our ways; those who are steadfast in Him will not be disappointed (ref: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). Let us therefore continue to persevere, rejoice and encourage one another!

God of mysterious ways, we do not want to pretend that walking in You is something easy. Neither do we want to sink into such despair that we detach ourselves from You. Help us, in the midst of hindrances and turbulences, may Your will be done and that we be found faithful to carry on that intimate relationship with You. Amen.