By Dr. Gene Scott ©1973
AN ETYMOLOGICAL PROLOGUE
“. . . the LORD appeared to
Abram, and said unto him,
I am the Almighty God*. . .”
*”The etymological signification of Almighty God (El Shaddai) is both interesting and touching. God (El) signifies the “Strong One”. . . The qualifying word Shaddai is formed from the Hebrew word “shad,” the breast; e.g. Gen. 49:25; Job 3:12; Psa. 22:9; Isa 28:9; Ezk. 16:7. Shaddai therefore means primarily “the breasted.” God is “Shaddai,” because He is the Nourisher, the Strength-giver, and so, in a secondary sense, the Satisfier, who pours Himself into believing lives. As a fretful, unsatisfied babe is not only strengthened and nourished from the mother’s breast, but also is quieted, rested, satisfied, so El Shaddai is that name of God which sets Him forth as the Strength-giver Satisfier of His people.”
The Love of a Mother to the Helpless
The first Biblical Mother we look at is Jochebed (Exodus 6:20). She is the mother of Moses. Her name means “the glory of Jehovah.” You will find her story in the Old Testament book of Exodus. She is the first person in history to have a name linked with “Jehovah.” God revealed Himself to her son as Jehovah in fullness, and it is this name Jehovah which means a Savior God - One Who reveals Himself as the Savior.
Jochebed is a compound word linked with that word Jehovah. She was a daughter of Levi, and thus was of priestly line. She bore three children: Moses, Aaron and Miriam.
The setting for the scene on which we focus is in Exodus, the last part of the first Chapter and Verses 1 - 11 in the second Chapter. Miriam, her oldest, a daughter, was about ten; and Aaron was about three; Jochebed was large with child.
Hearing that the Deliverer for the Israelites (who are in bondage in Egypt) was promised by God, the Pharoah determined to remove any possibility that a deliverer could actually survive. He gave a decree that all newly-born boys would be thrown to the crocodiles in the river Nile. The word spread through Memphis, the seat of power in that day: every manchild would be thrown into the river.
Jochebed was expecting a child. Now take your mind, and hurl it back there to Memphis. Be that Mother! She is in a slave city, watched every day by the masters. In a mud hut, expecting a child, and with the knowledge that if it is a boy, it will be snatched from her arm and thrown into the Nile. There seems no possibility that a boy could survive, so live along with her anxiety: will it be a boy or will it be a girl?
It is a boy! For three months she hid him, and quivered with fear as that child would cry. She sneaked to the river and pulled reeds. She wove them into a basket and cemented the basket with slime and pitch.
Stay close beside her as she goes - after three months of hiding the baby boy - through the streets, trying to get to the river without being seen, worrying if that baby should cry. And if he did, and she were caught, that would be the end. Then she, with the baby in the basket, arrives at the river and hides him in the bulrushes.
Jochebed then has Miriam wait to watch with the hope that the daughter of Pharoah (who, she knew, came to that particular place to bathe) would see the baby. Three times in the Bible it says that Jochebed looked upon Moses, and saw that he was a goodly child. With a Mother’s hope, she felt that if the daughter of Pharoah could see Moses, she would find him irresistible, and would not allow him to be slain. You know the final results . . .
Pharoah’s daughter found the baby. Miriam dashed up and asked if the Princess would like to have a Hebrew mother to nurse the child. The daughter of Pharoah recognizes that it is a Hebrew baby - and Jochebed becomes the woman selected by the daughter to attend Moses in his babyhood. Then he becomes a prince in Egypt, later to deliver the people.
The is one outstanding thing I want you to see about Jockeyed - A PRESERVING, ATTENTIVE, IMPROVISING, NEVER-GIVE-UP, CARE FOR THE HELPLESS. Jochebed never would accept the inevitable. She would not give in to the idea that it was impossible; with a never-dying, attentive care, she does not stop searching, searching and searching for a means to preserve this helpless child.
I have felt helpless so many times in my life; I’d hate to tell you how many times. I have also faced the impossible. You, too, today may feel helpless and face the impossible. Now, tune in on this Mother’s love. Put yourself inside that salve Mother whose brain must have turned from morning to night, even lying awake at night, trying to figure out, “HOW CAN I PRESERVE HIM?” she never lets up. She will keep on, risking everything, until she finds a way.
See how a slave Mother improvises a basket and spots just the right place to put her helpless child. Notice that she placed Moses afloat on the very river that was to be the place of death. Let that tune in: God can use the thing we think will kill us, to deliver us. The careful hands of God may place you where you think you ought not to be. But, there on the river, Moses was in the place where the princess would save him.
God says, “As one whom his Mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.” Are you hopeless, helpless, facing what seems to be odds that cannot be changed, cannot be corrected, never will allow a doorway for you to go through? If an earthly Mother, never giving up until she finds a way, can express love to the helpless like that, look up to God toady. How much more will HE care for and deliver you.
The Love of a Mother to the Rejected
For the second Mother, go in your Bible to the Gospel of John, chapter 19, verse 25. As Jochebed symbolizes love to the helpless, this woman is going to symbolize love to the rejected.
Jesus, rejected by all the people was being crucified in Jerusalem, but John 19:25 says, “There stood by his cross his Mother.” That’s Mary. Hers is the most popular name in the United States. Some researcher looking for things to study has found that there are twenty-two variations including both female and masculine forms of the name “Mary.” In 1957 he found that there were 3,720,000 people in this country with the name Mary or one of its derivatives. Very few of these know that the biblical meaning of the word is “bitter.” yet, “blessed among women” has this woman become. Everywhere I’ve gone in the world, I find that Mary is known and respected.
I drove around Tahiti one day, way to the north on the main island, and back among the trees was a little church. I went inside. There were pictures of Mary all over the wall. On an Easter Sunday, on the other side of the world, I watched a procession come up a hill in La Paz, Bolivia, carrying an image of Mary with darts (swords in her heart) which brings to mind what Simeon said and which we will read in a moment.
Last summer I stood at Ephesus in the house which tradition identifies as the last place where Mary lived. Both Moslems and Christians revere her there - the Christians as the Mother of Jesus and the Moslems as “a woman without stain.” All around the world, the woman that is an ideal is not some Amazon-type, virile and strong; it is neither Venus nor Aphrodite, voluptuous and sensuous; it is not Juno, the goddess of the Roman Parthenon whose imperial and imperious will is personified. It is Mary!
When you get tired of being a Mother and look for someone else to give you inspiration, look at Mary.
Simeon, when he blessed Jesus, her boy, said something to her parenthetically. In the second chapter of Luke he said, “Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also.” In John 19:25 we see that piercing hurt, “Now there stood by his cross his Mother.” Strong men had fled. She had watched him beaten, dragged through the streets. She had stood there and watched as the nails were driven into His hands, and as the cross came down with a thud, and as He hung there. I am sure that Mothers can feel what she felt. She wasn’t fainting; she wasn’t faltering; she stood! She stood by His cross.
The significance of that will be even clearer when you recognize that she didn’t understand Jesus. To her, from the natural view, she had repeatedly been rejected by her son in some of her own natural claims.
As a boy she took Him to the temple when He was twelve years old. Hurrying out of the city and heading north, she discovered that Jesus was not with them. I am sure that Mothers can imagine the tone in her voice when she finally found that twelve year old boy.
She said, “Your father and I have been looking for you.” Jesus answered, “Don’t you know that I must be about My Father’s business.” Like a snap of the finger - just like that - as a twelve year old boy, He cut across her claim and named a higher claim, that of His Heavenly Father.
Last August, I sat on a hill of Mount Tabor, on a night of full moon, and looked down on Nazareth spread below me on the west side of the hill. To the south of Nazareth there is a very sharp ridge that runs out to a sharp incline that drops off at the south of the hill. Jesus was born in Nazareth, a miserable, dirty little city. Thirty years He lived in that home. Sometime during those thirty years, his father died, and Jesus supported that family as a menial carpenter. But after thirty years, He left to go about His heavenly Father’s business for good.
He came back to that home town to preach, and as is always the case, “a prophet is not without honor, save in his own country.” All of those who listened to Him as He made the claims He made about Himself said, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s boy?” The men of the city drove Him out on the ridge of the city and would have cast Him down off the steep escarpment. His mother, concerned about Him, and knowing that the city was rising up because of the claims that Jesus was making about Himself, came with His brethren to lay hands on Him. Friends came and said to Jesus, “Your Mother and your brethren seek you.” Again, as that time in the temple, He cut across the earthly claim and said, “Who is my Mother?” That must have shocked and cut her deeply.
Now, after several years, she had watched Him ministry bring Him to rejection. Go inside the heart of that mother, and look as an earthly mother at a son who is rejected and despised and abused by everyone, even denied by one of His own closest followers. Dying in shame, in the most despicable kind of death in that day, “there stood by cross of Jesus His mother.”
I don’t know whether anyone reading this feels rejected. I don’t know whether anyone feels misunderstood. In any case, watch this mother who didn’t understand her own son - and who had been rejected (from her view) on repeated occasions by her own son, and who (despite the prophecies she had received when he was a child) didn’t fully understand His mission, or what was happening to Him. She still stood by Him! Seeing her Son despised and rejected of men, this mother stood by, enduring, steadfast, and giving unremitting love to the rejected.
God said, “As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.” I don’t want to appear super-emotional, but look: God understands where May didn’t. How much more do you think Mary, this mother of Jesus would have stood there, had she fully understood? Yet, lacking understanding, love kept her there. She still stood by.
God understands your problem (Pslams 139). God knows your down sittings. God knows your uprisings. God understands your thoughts afar off. If an earthly mother, not understanding, would stand by the rejected, how much more will God our “Heavenly Mother” stand by you in your hour of need!
The Love of a Mother To the Unlovely
Let us go to 2nd Samuel, chapter 21 for the picture of the third Mother (verses 8-14).Her name is Rizpah. She was just a girlfriend of Saul’s, not his wife. Saul, was the first king of Israel. She was his concubine. She bore him two sons. Saul was great in his beginnings, but then he degenerated to an imperious reign and forgot many things that God had said. He had to end his life by saying, “I have played the fool.” He would presumptuously get ahead of God. He wouldn’t do things God’s way. And he failed to remember a vow that had been sealed, in God’s Name by Joshua. Joshua had said to the Gibeonites that the people of Israel would never kill them with the sword. He sealed it with a vow in God’s Name. Saul forgot that, and set out to exterminate them, killing them with the sword. The time then came when Saul committed suicide on Mount Gilboa. He fell on his own sword along with Jonathan, and their bodies were taken and nailed to a wall at Beth-shan.
The Gibeonites came, at the urging of David and during a time of great famine in the land. Because of the failure of Saul to honor the vow of Joshua and because of what he had done to these Gibeonites, David asked what he would have to do to make atonement for Saul’s action. In the brutal frame of reference for those days, they said that they wanted the seven sons of Saul, the two that were born of Rizpah, and five others. The would hang them on the hill of Gibeah.
David met their request. He gave them the sons of and these seven sons were hanged on the hill of Gibeah. At the time they were hanged, the Bible says it was the month of the barley harvest, which in that land was the month of April. Seven sons were hanged on this hill in April.
Rizpah went out to the hill. She spread sackcloth on the rocks. We don’t know whether this was a sign of mourning or whether it was sackcloth on which she would sit, or whether she actually made a small tent for herself. But from the barely harvest time, which was April, until the coming of the rains in October, the Bible says she stayed on that hill.
She fought off the birds by day and the animals by night. April, May, June, July, August, September, October - seven months. See that mother alone on a hill fighting the birds by day, fighting the beasts by night - seven long months.
In the seventh month, when the rains came, word came to David of what this mother was doing. Otherwise she may have stayed there until she died. When David heard of Rizpah’s action, he stopped it. He took the bones of the seven sons down, had the bones of Saul and Jonathan brought and placed them all together in an honorable burial. But for seven months, this mother in her love, stayed there fighting the birds and the animals - alone.
At the risk of being a bit gruesome, I want you again to throw your mind back, and sit there on that hill with Rizpah. Those seven sons ceased to be lovely. The object of her love became a thing of horror. Decay set in, blackened by the sun, stanching in decomposition. Those seven sons became a sight to bring horror, but it didn’t dim her love.
One commentator has said regarding this chapter, “they were accounted as a curse and unworthy of the burial of dogs.” But Rizpah would not cast them out of her heart. The more they were shunned by others, the more she clung to them. The deeper the disgrace, the deeper her compassion.
One thread is being woven through this message - God’s love - God’s love as revealed in the love of a Mother. For God says, “As a mother comforteth you, so will I comfort you.” Love to the helpless in Jochebed, never gives up, improvising a way to deliver. Love to the rejected in Mary, stands there when all have turned against her Son. Love now to the unlovely and despicable can be seen in Rizpah.
It is tragically true that most of us think too highly of ourselves in the things we ought not and too little of ourselves where we ought. We are forever wearing a mask. We are so afraid if someone sees us as we are, they won’t love us. God sees us as we really are, and still “commendeth His love toward us” (Romans 5:8).
I see in Rizpah an earthly mother, day after day, week after week, month after month, alone on the hill, with birds, animals, rocks, sun and darkness, and seven objects of love that only she could see as objects of love.
What do you think of yourself today? Do you think that you are unlovable? Look at Rizpah. Then look up from Rizpah to God. He said, “As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.”
I need some comfort today. I think you need some comfort today. And on this Mother’s Day, I’m grateful for what Motherhood means. But I’m even more grateful for the fact that in a Mother’s Love we have a glimpse of the love of God reproduced in a temple of clay. “As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you,” is a promise of God. Today, if you feel helpless: look through Jochebed to God. If you feel rejected and misunderstood: Look through Mary to God. If you feel despised and unlovable: look through those seven sons on a hill to Rizpah, and through Rizpah to God.
Reprinted with permission from Pastor Melissa Scott
We wanted to get a picture of Shirley’s new house, but the workers are painting and everything is covered with tarps and plastic. So it will have to wait until next month. These pictures were taken out back of Brian and Gail’s house, one looking toward the house, the other one looking away. Gail has a gift for planting and arranging flowers and she has worked hard on her yard. I wish we could show it all to you but there is no way to do that with one picture. But these show enough of the beauty which God has blessed us with.
Prayer Requests for May, 2012
For Dennis Martin (Lexington, Oklahoma) who is having blood pressure and heart problems again.
For Francisco Ramirez (Tucson, AZ) who is starting a new way of life, and for his family in Mexico, for their health and safety.
For Jon Morgan (Menard, Illinois), for mercy on his clemency petition, and for peace and patience.
For William Holland (Joliet, Illinois).
For Willie Davis (Chicago, Illinois) who just got out and is starting his life over again.
For Anthony Grayson (Shawangunk, New York), that his health gets better.
For Michael Small’s (Menard, Illinois) Mother, for health and speedy recovery.
For Joe Bruno’s (Florence, Arizona) Dad, for health.
For Dolly Meneses (Illinois) who just had surgery.
For Clay Huff (Angola, Louisiana), for health.
For Dale Chambers (Cushing, Oklahoma) to be reconnected with his family.
For Johnny Carruthers (Florence, Arizona) who suffers from “Planter Fascitis” (inflammation to the tendons on the bottom of his feet).
For John Crutcher (in Oklahoma) who is still in need of a liver transplant.
For Jimmy Huff (Colorado City, Texas), for health.
For Mike Long (Larned, Kansas), for health.
For Willie Scott (Grady, Arkansas), for health, and for spiritual growth and faith.
For Willie Clark (Iowa Park, Texas), who still wants to be transferred closer to Houston. Also there is a lot of sickness at Iowa Park and the prison charges $100 a year “co-pay” for medical.
For Sister Ann & all the Carmelite Nuns in Little Rock.
For Frank Williams, Jr. (Death Row, Grady, Arkansas). His hearing is set for May 4th.
For Freddie Lee Lott (Dixon, Illinois), to keep his healing and stay cancer free.
For Willie Harper (Joliet, Illinois), for health, and that his cancer stays in remission.
For Robert Heffernan (Grady, Arkansas), that DNA evidence will prove his innocence.
For Pastor Scott & her ministry (The University Network) in Los Angeles.
For all of us at Wingspread.
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