Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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A friend of mine passed along to me the following commentary on some righteous biblical characters:
“Jacob was a cheater, Peter had a temper, David had an affair, Noah got drunk, Jonah ran from God, Paul was a murderer, Gideon was insecure, Miriam was a gossiper, Martha was a worrier, Thomas was a doubter, Sara was impatient, Elijah was moody, Moses stuttered, Zacchaeus was short, Abraham was old, and Lazarus was dead! Now, what's YOUR excuse? Can God use you or not? God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called!”
But this is rest of the story, and without it, the story is not truly told:
Jacob was cured of trusting in craftiness by spending twenty years with Laban. Peter was awakened to his pride and cured of it by the crowing of a rooster. David was forgiven but suffered for his adultery and murder with a dead baby and a lifetime of bloodshed in his own family. Noah may not have known what fermented grapes would do to his body in the new conditions existing on earth after the Flood, according to creation scientists, but he learned, and he did not become a drunkard. Jonah was swallowed by a whale and repented as he sloshed around in the stinging acid of the whale's belly. Paul reaped his murderous conduct by being cruelly persecuted, beaten with rods, whipped, and stoned (at least once stoned to death, and then raised up). Gideon was cured by being sent to fight tens of thousands of Amalekites and Midianites with only 300 men so that he would learn that being on the Lord’s side is good enough. Miriam was struck with leprosy from head to toe for her slander of Moses, and repented. Martha was given insight into the love of God when Jesus told her that it was OK not to cook when he was teaching. Thomas was cured by being given the privilege of placing a finger into the crucifixion marks on the Lord’s resurrected body. Sarah’s impatience resulted in the earth being plagued today with terrorism by her son's descendants, but she had the faith to give birth, at 90 years of age, to a son through whom would come the Prince of peace. Elijah wasn’t moody; he was exasperated with his fellow Israelites. He traveled by foot to Mount Sinai to meet with God and turn in his resignation as Israel's prophetic voice, and God took him away from the earth in a fiery chariot shortly thereafter. Moses stuttered when he became afraid, but God gave him Aaron to speak for him, just in case Moses started stuttering when he met Pharaoh. (By the way, if you will notice, whenever Moses got angry, he did not wait for Aaron to speak for him.) Zacchaeus was short. Nothing we can do about that. But Jesus did come to his house so that Zacchaeus would not have to climb up any more trees to see him. And Abraham’s age was what it was. But it would have been worse never to have gotten old! Besides, he fathered a baby boy with Sarah when he was a hundred years old, and then Abraham lived to be 175; so, it wasn’t that bad (wish I could expect to have 75 years with my kids). And yes, Lazarus was dead, very dead, and if Jesus had not specified “Lazarus” when he stood before the tombs and cried. “Come forth!” every dead person in the that burial place would have walked out.
There is no excuse for any of us to continue in sin, when such wonderful examples of God’s mercy and deliverance have been given to us!