Summary: We can use Jabez’s prayer like a compass...N-never ending favor; S-significant influence; E-enabling touch; W-wary of the enemy.
A Prayer For God’s Direction
Preached by Pastor Tony Miano
Pico Canyon Community Church
March 11, 2001
Introduction: As some of you know, Mahria and I had the opportunity to go to a pastor/spouse retreat at the end of January. We spent a few days in Pismo Beach with other pastors and pastor’s wives from different areas of southern California. It was a great time of fellowship and good, old-fashioned “R & R.”
At one point, Mike Livingston, the Superintendent for the Western District of the Missionary Church denomination, shared a passage of Scripture that was unfamiliar to me. I had no idea at the time how significant the impact of this passage of Scripture would be on me personally, and as you will discover today, how significant its impact will be on Pico Canyon Community Church.
Although I don’t want to build up too much hype about what I am going to share, I believe today’s message may be one of the most important I preach regarding the future of our church. I’m going to let you stew on that for a little while.
The passage of Scripture Mike Livingston shared with us at the retreat was 1 Chronicles 4:9-10. Now 1 Chronicles is probably not a book in which you are going to spend a lot of devotional time. It’s sometimes known in church circles as “one of those ‘begat’ books.” You know the kind—long lists of genealogies, filled with names you can’t pronounce.
But in the fourth chapter of 1 Chronicles, nestled in the midst of Judah’s family tree, we find a man by the name of Jabez.
Who is Jabez?
We know next to nothing of this man, Jabez, beyond what we are told in these two short verses in a book of the Bible not often read by the average layperson in the church. In verse nine we read, “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother named him Jabez saying, ‘Because I bore him with pain.’”
We know that Jabez’s father’s name was Koz. We know he had two brothers by the name of Anub and Zobebah. We find this information in verse eight. We don’t know his mother’s name. We don’t know how large his family was. We don’t know what Jabez did for a living or if he ever had a family of his own. We probably wouldn’t find Jabez ever listed in “Who’s Who Among American Citizens” if he lived in our country.
As verse nine indicates, the name “Jabez” literally means, “I bore him in pain.” Yet Jabez was considered more honorable than his brothers. The word “honorable” in Hebrew is kabod. This Hebrew word has both a positive and negative meaning. In a negative sense, the word means, “to be heavy.” But the word has several different positive meanings, such as, “to abound more; great; magnitude, or glory.”
The word is used with a positive meaning in our passage. Jabez’s life was more abundant, of greater influence, and even glorious in comparison with the lives of his brothers. This seems to be a paradox when we consider that Jabez’s name was supposed to destine him to a life of misery.
What made Jabez more honorable than his brothers? How is it that someone who is named after the pain attributed to childbirth can be someone honorable enough to be mentioned in Scripture with such high esteem? It’s important to note that choosing a name for a child was of great importance in ancient Hebrew culture. In Jabez’s case, his name was intended to serve as a testimony of what his mother remembered most about giving birth to him, and what she expected his life to amount to.
Considering what the name “Jabez” meant, it’s significant that the writer of Chronicles would mention his name in the lineage of Judah, the earthly family tree for Jesus, and serves as proof that Jabez’s life was unique and special. This is why.
In verse one of chapter four, the writer of Chronicles starts by identifying “Perez, Hezron, Carmi, Hur, and Shobal.” But Judah had two sons who were born before Perez who are not mentioned in chapter four.
We can find the first two sons of Judah in Genesis 38. Their names were Er and Onan. In verse seven we learn about Er’s fate. “But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord took his life.” Onan, Judah’s second son faired no better. We learn what happened to him in verse ten. “But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord; so He took his life also.”
So why is Jabez not only mentioned, but given the most attention in the entire chapter? Well, look at what he did to avoid the misery of life that his name predicted would follow him. He prayed. Look at what he did in order to experience the abundant life promised to those children of God who seek to live within the beautiful confines of His will. He prayed.