Dream word – ASK
“Then came the daughters of Zelophehad the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, from the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph; and these were the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.”
Progenitor proceedings, pious ingenuity and permissible percussion
There is nothing wrong about stretching the skin of truth over the drum of human understanding and then beating out the Gospel upon it. As long we don’t break that skin of truth and as long as we do not beat the drum for nothing else but His glory, then such pounding percussion, I suppose, is quite permissible.
We live and move in a library of immeasurable proportion and stories in their billions are piled high up to this most lofty of ceilings, especially the stories of redemption, which in their multitudes lay strewn all around our feet, waiting to be seen, picked up, read and enjoyed. I believe that and that is why I go a-seeking pictures of redemption in the stories of our day, even if the hellish side of Hollywood is producing them! God is still painting His pictures of redemption. It is still His blood red period. For the moment anyhow.
I say this because our text for tonight tells the story of five virgins appearing before Moses, seeking the inheritance usually reserved for sons. It is the great and somewhat controversial Methodist theologian Adam Clarke, who with some tongue in cheek, recounts as “pious ingenuity” the “Mystery of the Five Virgins”! I retell his account however, without my tongue in cheek and in the so doing, am blessed by yet another redemptive picture.
These five virgins act like the five wise virgins of Matthew 25:1-10 in that, whilst waiting for the bridegroom, they took oil to keep their lamps burning. Yes indeed, in this way the virgins of our text, are types of those who make a wise provision for their eternal state. In the same way, their actions should encourage all weak and destitute believers, who, though they are orphans in this world, shall not be deprived of their heavenly inheritance. Go and ask God for it now!
Their names are mysteriously instructive; for the now dead father, Zelophehad, means “the shadow of fear or dread”. The first daughter, Mahlah, means infirmity. The Second daughter Noah, means wandering, the third, Hoglah, means dancing for joy, the fourth, Milcah, means queen and the final virgin Tirzah means, well pleasing!
So the story of the five wise virgins might mean, “that because we are all born of the shadow of fear, (Zelophehad,) we are birthed in sin and dipped in death, and through this fear of death, all our life are subject to bondage, which in turn begets (Mahlah) infirmity, bent and warped, sick-grief of heart humanity, from recognising and walking uprightly in our very and most sad condition. This causes us to (Noah) wander about for help and comfort, which, by His grace, we then find in Christ, who in turn, changes our sorrow into joy (Hoglah,) bestowing His royalty (Milcah) upon us, making us kings and priests unto God and His Father, so we shall at last, be presented to Him, glorious and without blemish, being (Tirzah) well-pleasing and acceptable in His sight.”
Methinks this is more than a pious ingenuity! It is a remarkable redemptive story, laid within a much larger redemptive narrative.
Looking at this story from a wholly human perspective I would go further and say, like these five virgins, we need to be as bold as brass in taking the Kingdom of God by storm. Grace is there for the taking and yes sir indeedy, we need to go looking and go asking for it! Let’s get ingenious about this, I mean, let’s take the roof off someone’s home to get to Jesus, let’s put a ladder against His wall and, even if it’s late at night, let’s throw rocks up at His window. Yes! Let us ask for bread from His bakery even if it’s way past closing time and the fire has gone out. Then, when we have that bread of life, that real bread which comes down from heaven, let’s wake the rest of our sleeping neighbours up with a whole load of different kinds of drumming and shout, “Hey! Come dine with me on everlasting life”!
See the picture, then beat the drum. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Listen: “So Moses brought their case before the Lord. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘The daughters of Zelophehad speak what is right; you shall surely give them a possession of inheritance among their father's brothers, and cause the inheritance of their father to pass to them.’” - Numbers 27:5-8 NKJV
Pray: Lord, may I always been seen at Your throne, claiming that, which is in myself, not even mine to mention and that in the so doing, all the blood bought blessings of Your Son and my Saviour, Jesus Christ the Lord, may be poured upon this expectant, bold and waiting head of mine, in His great name I ask it, amen!
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