For the original audience of the book of Chronicles, who had been through the experience of the divine curse in the shape of expulsion from their homeland and who had now returned there, this was good news indeed. Though they may have been born into a people who were under God’s judgment, that curse could be transformed into a blessing by God’s hand, which is stretched out in response to His people’s prayer. This is the point of 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Jabez provides yet another prooftext of the power of prayer, a key theme in Chronicles.
But we haven’t finished with Jabez until we see the contrast that his experience poses to that of another descendant of Judah many centuries later. This man’s name means “salvation,” and He also prayed to His Father to deliver Him from the cup of pain and woe that was set in front of Him. Curse was not the destination that this descendant of Judah had been born into. He was the King of kings and Lord of lords, the One who certainly deserved to be honored above all His brothers.
But the Father in His grace declined to let the cup of pain and woe pass from Jesus. Christ had no evil for which He should experience pain, yet He was cut off for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. He had no offspring, no earthly inheritance, no children, no house, no possessions. But He is indeed now more honored than all His brethren. He has a glorious eternal inheritance: brothers and sisters whom He is not ashamed to call His people. His boundaries have been enlarged to bring in men and women into His kingdom from the north, south, east, and west. Of His glory there shall be no end.
So we should certainly pray like Jabez did, trusting God to transform our native curse into a blessing. But we are to pray remembering God’s promise to conform us to the life of Jesus, whose way to blessing runs through the path of suffering first, glory later. We can pray in His name knowing that He is even now praying for us in heaven. The Father will certainly not decline His request: Jesus will receive all the nations of the earth as His inheritance (Ps. 2:8).
Editor’s Note: This post was first published on January 8, 2018.