I pray you that each one of you are well. I have tried to contact all our members and check on their status. So far, I have not heard of any illness. As always, if any of you require assistance, please let me know.
Tonight’s lesson is about confinement. Some of us may be feeling a bit closed in at the moment. So, I thought we could gain some spiritual composure by considering a few passages that describe various Bible characters who were confined for various reasons.
So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on till she was brought back.
Miriam’s confinement was her own fault. She presumptuously challenged Moses’ authority and God struck her with leprosy. She was quickly healed when Moses called for mercy, a good example of a pre-model for Christ. But Miriam still had to observe seven days of separation because of the uncleanness of her disease. What do you suppose she thought about during this week of isolation? I imagine this “time out” gave her a chance to rethink a few things.
I do not suggest by this example that God is punishing anyone with our current situation, but it is surely a good time to reflect on our own mortality and consider whether we have been presumptuous or arrogant with respect to our status before God and our fellow man. After her week of isolation, Miriam was welcomed back into the community. By God’s grace we will pray for a swift end to our confinement as well.
II Chronicles 26:21
King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in a separate house --leprous, and banned from the temple of the LORD. Jotham his son had charge of the palace and governed the people of the land.
Uzziah was also presumptuous, and he too was struck with leprosy, but his confinement lasted for the rest of his life. We should be thankful that we are not currently looking at such a terrible ordeal. In time we may return to the “house of God.” It is a privilege that we should never take for granted.
Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, “I am confined; I cannot go into the house of the LORD.” “So you go and read from the scroll which you have written at my dictation the words of the LORD to the people in the LORD’S house on a fast day. And also you shall read them to all the people of Judah who come from their cities.”
Jeremiah’s confinement was a sort of “house arrest.” Though I doubt it was anything near as comfortable as our circumstances. He was confined because he had the audacity to speak the truth of God to wicked leaders. But you notice that he was not idle in his confinement. He dictated his book of prophecy to Baruch, and had the scribe read his message in public. He could not speak to the people directly, so he did what he could through the medium available to him. Perhaps we should think about how we too might spread the word of God from our confinement just as Jeremiah did. If we have means of communication. We should use them.
When I entered the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined at home, he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you, and they are coming to kill you at night.”
Shemaiah was also a man in confinement, probably for health reasons. In this passage he sounds like he’s trying to be helpful, but if you read the context you learn that he is actually plotting against Nehemiah and using his confinement as an excuse to embarrass God’s leader. Let us please not use our confinement to stir up trouble, dissension, or strife.
You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape;
This plaintive Psalm expresses grief and makes an appeal to God in a time of isolation and distress. Our troubles are bad enough when we have close contact with friends who can support us, but when we feel isolated and alone the walls can seem to close in. Let us reach beyond the walls in prayer and song to our God and know that the whole universe around us is alive with His presence.
There are many other passages that talk about servants of God who spent time cut off from the world in caves, prisons, and lonely desert haunts. You can probably come up with a pretty long list of examples if you think about it. Compared to these saints, our current time of confinement is quite pleasant. Let us use our time to good effect, and be thankful for our blessings. And remember, in the service of Jesus Christ we are never truly alone.