Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďON BEING AN APPEALING CHRISTIANĒ Part 6


For the last several weeks, I have focused on the appeal process as it occurs between men and women, primarily husbands and wives. Recognize, however, that the relationship of husband to wife is only one of the four basic relationships that can very effectively be served by a scriptural appeal. Esther was not only the kingís wife, she was also his subject. Bathsheba was as much Davidís subject as she was his wife. Therefore, do not limit your thinking to appeals being useful only in marriage, or appeals being effective only when utilized by women. Effective use of an appeal is not a feminine characteristic. It is a characteristic of someone who is wise, someone who is discerning, and someone who is spiritual.

These things said, I continue to focus on womenís appeals to men, especially husbands, because our culture sees such things so infrequently these days. Is it not also common to hear a woman protest her silence when an appeal could have been made, when an appeal should have been made, by feebly saying, ďI didnít know what to say.Ē What a cowardly cop-out such lame excuses are. To be sure, spiritual Christianity is not for the faint of heart, which explains why so few who have heard the gospel respond by embracing Christ. Truth be told, most are simply too cowardly to seriously contemplate the Christian life. However, God gives great grace no matter how difficult the situation. Therefore, if an appeal is necessary, if an appeal is called for, if an appeal can serve the purposes of both the person who is appealing and the person who is being appealed to, then by all means get to work on that appeal.

The Lord only knows how poorly served husbands, pastors, parents, rulers, bosses, and others have been by not being appealed to when they could have been, and when they should have been. For the next few minutes, I want you to consider that the person in a position to make an appeal can be a real help to the person being appealed to. What happens when an appeal should be made, could be made, but there is no voice to break the silence?

 

What about wives who should have appealed to their husbands? Ever think about that?

 

The Bible describes a wifeís ministry to her husband as being a help to him. In Genesis 2.18, God declared, ďIt is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.Ē That first job description for wives has never been rescinded. Quite the contrary, the basic job description of a wife has been greatly elaborated in scripture as Godís revelation to mankind has unfolded.

Sometimes a woman can be a great help to her husband when she makes a proper appeal. As well, perhaps some of the things men have done in their lives and particular in their marriages are things they might not have done had their wives made a proper appeal. Not that every husband is not responsible for his own actions, but that there can be a measure of responsibility for a wifeís inaction. Three examples of wives in the Bible who might have appealed to their husbands, but who did not.

 

First, the example of Lotís wife.

 

In Genesis 19.1-26, we will deal with only the first half of the tragic closing chapter in the life of Lot:

 

1      And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;

2      And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servantís house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.

3      And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.

4      But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:

5      And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.

6      And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him,

7      And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.

8      Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.

9      And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.

10     But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door.

11     And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.

12     And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place:

13     For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.

14     And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.

15     And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.

16     And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.

17     And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.

18     And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord:

19     Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:

20     Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.

21     And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken.

22     Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

23     The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.

24     Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;

25     And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.

26     But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

 

Notice anything unusual by its absence in this chapter? As a matter of fact, an examination of Lotís whole life would reveal this noticeable absence. What is it? Throughout Lotís lifetime, there is no record of his wife until the moment she dies. We do not even know when Lot was married. Was his wife from Ur of the Chaldees, as he was? Did he meet her in Egypt? In Sodom? We simply do not know. However, this we do know: When she, her husband, and two daughters were forcefully removed from Sodom, she disobeyed the command to not look back, verse 17, and looked back to her own destruction. What a sad legacy she left. Probably because of her love of the worldliness of Sodom, we hear of no appeal to her husband to stay out of Sodom, no appeal to leave Sodom, and no appeal to protect her daughterís virtue when her husband offered them to the Sodomites of the city to protect his angelic visitors from them.

What might have been different had she appealed to her husband, having met the requirements to properly appeal, to do right? Might Lot have never entered Sodom? Might Lot have never offered his daughters to those wicked men? Might Lot not have become drunk with wine and sired children by incest with his daughters, as see later in this tragic chapter? We will never know what might have been had she appealed, because she did not appeal. I choose to imagine her to be a very nice wife, congenial and pleasant to be around. If she had been asked why she never spoke up, never requested anything of her husband, she no doubt would have said, ďI donít know what to say.Ē However, you and I both know that if you really care, you will find a way to say something and you will figure out something to say. Who would prevent a wife from planning an appeal? Who would interfere with a wife seeking advice from wise counselors to craft an appeal? Who would fault a woman writing down what she should say, praying over her notes, and revising what she has written until the final product is a superbly crafted appeal that she reads to her husband?

 

Second, there is the example of Isaacís wife, Rebekah.

 

We first meet Rebekah in Genesis chapter 24, when Abraham sent his unnamed servant to Mesopotamia to fetch a wife for his son, Isaac, after the death of his beloved Sarah. Based solely on the testimony of Abrahamís servant, Rebekah agreed to leave her family to become Isaacís wife, ďand she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his motherís death.Ē[1] Thus, we have here a courageous young woman who is obviously capable of making up her own mind to risk all that she might gain all. Isaac and Rebekah had twin sons, Esau and Jacob. Our first hint of trouble comes from Genesis 25.28, where we are told, ďAnd Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.Ē We are not surprised, then, that the two sons develop an intense rivalry and that Isaacís preference is for the son who is a rugged outdoorsman, the older twin Esau, with Rebekah favoring the quieter twin, Jacob, the plain son who dwelt in tents. As the sons matured, it becomes clear that Esau is a profane man, Hebrews 12.16. Not only did he sell his birthright to his twin brother Jacob for a mess of pottage (a bowl of beans), but when he was forty years old ďhe took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite: Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah.Ē[2] In other words, he married two lovelies, but they were women who were not fitting for the son of a patriarch because their god was not the true God. If you have read Genesis 27 and 28, you are familiar with the drama that plays out when Isaac sends his favorite son, Esau, to go hunting for him, giving Rebekah an opportunity to persuade Jacob to pass himself off to his blind and feeble father as his brother. Of course, Jacob succeeded, for a time, and received his fatherís blessing. However, when Esau returned from the hunt the deceit was discovered, forcing Jacob to flee for his life. He never saw his mother again. She died while he was in exile. In exile, Jacob was himself deceived and married Leah instead of Rachel, then marrying Rachel later. He reaped what he had sowed.

What might have happened had their mother, Rebekah, simply sided with her husband and constructed a well thought out appeal, reminding her husband Isaac of Godís declared will for their sons? Genesis 25.23 would have formed the proper basis for a very strong appeal to Isaacís tendency to submit to the will of God: ďAnd the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.Ē Sadly, rather than appeal to her husband, Rebekah resorted to intrigue (which had probably characterized her relationship with her husband concerning her sons throughout their lives) that resulted in great heartache for all concerned.

 

Then, there is Abigail, the wife of Nabal.

 

I mentioned Abigail in my concluding remarks last week, commenting about her appeal to David during his days as an outlaw who was on the run from King Saul. Noticeably absent from scripture is any mention of any attempt by Abigail to appeal to her husband Nabal. It is very difficult for a woman to be married to a fool. Sadly, the fact of the matter is that many women are married to fools. Lots of appeals in this situation we now turn to. Think about what foolish Nabal might have been like if only his wife had appealed to him.

At this stage in his life, David is a hero in Israel but a fugitive from King Saul. On the run for his life with his band of men after having killed Goliath and having prevailed in many battles against the Philistines, which provoked King Saul to a murderous jealousy, notice the appeal of Davidís men, on behalf of David to a man named Nabal, in First Samuel 25.1-9:

 

1      And Samuel died; and all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah. And David arose, and went down to the wilderness of Paran.

2      And there was a man in Maon, whose possessions were in Carmel; and the man was very great, and he had three thousand sheep, and a thousand goats: and he was shearing his sheep in Carmel.

3      Now the name of the man was Nabal; and the name of his wife Abigail: and she was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance: but the man was churlish and evil in his doings; and he was of the house of Caleb.

4      And David heard in the wilderness that Nabal did shear his sheep.

5      And David sent out ten young men, and David said unto the young men, Get you up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name:

6      And thus shall ye say to him that liveth in prosperity, Peace be both to thee, and peace be to thine house, and peace be unto all that thou hast.

7      And now I have heard that thou hast shearers: now thy shepherds which were with us, we hurt them not, neither was there ought missing unto them, all the while they were in Carmel.

8      Ask thy young men, and they will shew thee. Wherefore let the young men find favour in thine eyes: for we come in a good day: give, I pray thee, whatsoever cometh to thine hand unto thy servants, and to thy son David.

9      And when Davidís young men came, they spake to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David, and ceased.

 

What do we see about this appeal? David wants Nabal to reward him for not doing wrong, for not stealing from him. This may seem to be an illegitimate appeal, unless you consider oriental custom and the fact that David has already been anointed by the prophet Samuel to be the successor to King Saul. This fact was known by one and all. Further, he is obviously a very powerful and famous man with a standing band of fighting men who are fiercely loyal to him. Therefore, it is reasonable for him to expect a favor or two from a wealthy man who stands to benefit from Davidís good favor. However, we are told that Nabal is churlish, meaning that he is hard and inflexible. Therefore, it is no surprise to see that his response is rude and uncivil, First Samuel 25.10-13:

 

10     And Nabal answered Davidís servants, and said, Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master.

11     Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men, whom I know not whence they be?

12     So Davidís young men turned their way, and went again, and came and told him all those sayings.

13     And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword. And they girded on every man his sword; and David also girded on his sword: and there went up after David about four hundred men; and two hundred abode by the stuff.

 

Now we have a second appeal. In First Samuel 25.14-17, we read that one of Nabalís men appealed to Nabalís wife Abigail. This man should never have appealed to Abigail instead of her husband, the man he actually worked for. As we read, notice that Abigail showed great disloyalty for her husband by allowing that worker to even approach her with his appeal, much less allowing him to get away with talking about her husband to her in that way.

 

14     But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabalís wife, saying, Behold, David sent messengers out of the wilderness to salute our master; and he railed on them.

15     But the men were very good unto us, and we were not hurt, neither missed we any thing, as long as we were conversant with them, when we were in the fields:

16     They were a wall unto us both by night and day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep.

17     Now therefore know and consider what thou wilt do; for evil is determined against our master, and against all his household: for he is such a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to him.

 

How many times do difficult situations become far worse by refusing to follow the Biblical chain of command? What right did this woman have to listen to this servant say such things about her husband? Never mind that what the man said about her husband was true. Nabal was still her husband. Such disloyalty is wrong, no matter what kind of husband she had. It is every manís responsibility to make sure he is not this kind of man, so his wife will not be tempted to be disloyal because he is so foolishly inflexible and unyielding.

So, here is Abigail. A terrible situation has been created by her foolish husband. So, what does she do? Does she employ a Biblical appeal? Oh, she appeals, all right. However, she appeals to the wrong person. So, in reality, she improperly responds to the servantís improper appeal by herself making an improper appeal. I read from First Samuel 25.18-31:

 

18     Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched corn, and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on asses.

19     And she said unto her servants, Go on before me; behold, I come after you. But she told not her husband Nabal.

20     And it was so, as she rode on the ass, that she came down by the covert of the hill, and, behold, David and his men came down against her; and she met them.

21     Now David had said, Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow hath in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that pertained unto him: and he hath requited me evil for good.

22     So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.

23     And when Abigail saw David, she hasted, and lighted off the ass, and fell before David on her face, and bowed herself to the ground,

24     And fell at his feet, and said, Upon me, my lord, upon me let this iniquity be: and let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak in thine audience, and hear the words of thine handmaid.

25     Let not my lord, I pray thee, regard this man of Belial, even Nabal: for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him: but I thine handmaid saw not the young men of my lord, whom thou didst send.

26     Now therefore, my lord, as the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, seeing the LORD hath withholden thee from coming to shed blood, and from avenging thyself with thine own hand, now let thine enemies, and they that seek evil to my lord, be as Nabal.

27     And now this blessing which thine handmaid hath brought unto my lord, let it even be given unto the young men that follow my lord.

28     I pray thee, forgive the trespass of thine handmaid: for the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house; because my lord fighteth the battles of the LORD, and evil hath not been found in thee all thy days.

29     Yet a man is risen to pursue thee, and to seek thy soul: but the soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with the LORD thy God; and the souls of thine enemies, them shall he sling out, as out of the middle of a sling.

30     And it shall come to pass, when the LORD shall have done to my lord according to all the good that he hath spoken concerning thee, and shall have appointed thee ruler over Israel;

31     That this shall be no grief unto thee, nor offence of heart unto my lord, either that thou hast shed blood causeless, or that my lord hath avenged himself: but when the LORD shall have dealt well with my lord, then remember thine handmaid.

 

Is it any surprise that David delights in her appeal? Boy, does she stroke his ego and flatter this man. However, she had absolutely no right to make the appeal she made without her husbandís knowledge. To be sure, she is working hard to prevent David from exacting revenge on her husband and his household. That said, however, how does she strengthen her husbandís position as the leader of his home by calling him a fool and covering for him like he is a child?

Folks, I contend that one of the reasons a man like Nabal was the fool he was is because people never responded properly to his foolishness. Always covering for him. Always undercutting his position and undermining his authority in his own home. No one ever demands that he be treated with the respect due his position. In the end, of course, Nabal suddenly died. However, how could he have ended up any worse by having a wife demand that his servants treat him with the respect due her husband, and if she herself had appeal to him and not David? ďBut he wonít ever listen, pastor.Ē Would it have ended up any worse than it did? No. However, her own hands would have been cleaner for not having sinned against her husband and been disloyal to him in the way she was.

What would have happened if Abigail had only appealed to Nabal instead of David? We will never know what the consequences would have been had she done right. This is yet another sad example of the appeal not being made.

 

Men, if you have few recollections of your wives or children appealing to you, it may be that you are churlish, like Nabal. To put it another way, it may be that you are perceived as being unreasonable and difficult to talk to about such things. Just a few days ago I was speaking to a couple who confessed to me that they thought I was completely unapproachable concerning areas of disagreement. I can only hope that my heartfelt request for forgiveness will set the matter straight once and for all. You ought to try confession and asking for forgiveness. It is not only good for the soul, but it serves to communicate to the person you show humility and repentance to that you can be approached, that you can be appealed to. Perhaps you can elicit appeals from your wife and children once your humility is evident to them.

However, what if your husband is churlish? What if he is thuggish? Should you not make an appeal to him anyway? After all, if you are one who fears God, why not go ahead and do right as a wife? Are not the potential advantages of doing right and trusting God to work in someoneís life far greater than what happens if you continue on your present course of doing nothing? At some point, if you continue to insist to yourself that you are a Christian, you have to put aside your fear of man and do what is right, come what may. After all, First John 4.18 shows us that, ďThere is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.Ē

Let me encourage you, in light of the fact that we will always have cause to reconcile with each other, and in light of the fact that each of us will always be observed to make unwise decisions, to work on developing your skills in formulating and presenting a Biblical appeal. It will go a long way in your development as a mature Christian.



[1] Genesis 24.67

[2] Genesis 26.34-35



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