. . . they shall mount up with wings as eagles . . . Isaiah 40:31

Scriptural Parallels

In the books of Samuel, there are certain scripture passages that are strikingly similar to other passages in the Bible, so similar, in fact, that they have been referred to as scriptural parallels.

The Death of Phineus’ Wife

One of them, for example, is found in 1 Samuel 4:19-22, in the story of the death of Phineus’ wife. It’s very similar to the death of Jacob’s wife, Rachel, which took place hundreds of years earlier.

1 Samuel 4:19 And his daughter in law, Phinehas' wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her. [She went into hard labor.]

1 Samuel 4:20 And about the time of her death [she died] the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it. [she was non-responsive.]

1 Samuel 4:21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.

1 Samuel 4:22 And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.

The Death of Rachel

If you recall, in the story of Rachel’s death, Jacob had lived for 20 years with Laban in Padan Aram, and had married Leah and Rachel, and they had children, and Jacob decided to move back to the land of Canaan.

And so, they went back and settled there. And one day Jacob’s daughter, Dinah, went walking, and a young man named Shechem met her and took some liberties with her that he shouldn’t have. He forced himself on her.

Shechem Deceived by Jacob’s Sons

And Shechem ended up falling in love with Dinah and wanted to marry her. So, Jacob’s sons, Dinah’s brothers, came and made a deceitful proposition with Shechem’s family. They said, if you and all the men of your family will be circumcised, then we’ll give Dinah to you to be your wife.

But, after the men agreed, Simeon and Levi, Jacob’s oldest sons, came back a few days later and killed all of the men of Shechem while they were physically incapacitated, because they were healing from their circumcision.

The Run for Safety

When Jacob found out about his sons slaughtering the men on Shechem, he immediately realized that he and his family needed to run for their lives.

Genesis 35:4 And they [all his family members] gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.

Notice. They put away their strange gods. They repented of their idolatry. We will see this also take place a little later in the book of First Samuel. They cleansed themselves before the LORD.

God’s Divine Protection

Genesis 35:5 And they journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob.

When hearts are right with God, there is a divine protection that comes upon lives. It says the terror of God was upon the cities. And in the time of Samuel, it says that God thundered out of heaven on their enemies. Again, we are pointing our scriptural parallels, scripture passages that are strikingly similar. [Verse 16]

Rachel Dies Giving Birth

Genesis 35:16 And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour. [just like Phineus’ wife had.]

Genesis 35:17 And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also. [The women said the same thing to Phineus' wife.]

Genesis 35:18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: [Son of My Sorrow] but his father called him Benjamin. [Son of the Right Hand or Son of my old age.]

Like Phineus’ wife, Rachel gave her child a negative name based on the circumstances she was experiencing. Phineus’ wife named her child Ichabod, or “No Glory.”

On the Way to Bethlehem

Genesis 35:19 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem.

Ephrath, or Ephratah, is the same place as Bethlehem, and is also the same place as Ramah, where Elkanah and Hannah and Samuel lived at a later time.

House of Ashes

Notice that Bethlehem is called Ephrath or Ephratah, meaning house of bread, or house of fruitfulness. It’s where David was born, it’s where Christ was born, it’s where Samuel was born. But it’s also the place where Rachel died. You see, the word Bethlehem also means “house of ashes.”

Herod’s Slaughter of the Innocent

It’s also the place where Herod, around the time of Jesus’ birth, ordered that all the children two years old and under be slaughtered.

Matthew 2:17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,

Matthew 2:18 In [Ramah] was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are [no more].

The Prophecy of Jeremiah

The Bible calls these murdered children Rachel’s children. Isn’t this a strange and mysterious story? But, if it wasn’t already strange enough, this horrific act of Herod was prophesied centuries earlier by Jeramiah.

And, even though it was a dark prophecy, and the time of Christ’s birth was a dark time in Israel’s history, yet it marked the beginning of a mighty work that the Lord was doing . . . the coming of Christ and His earthly ministry. Look at Jeremiah’s prophecy.

Jeremiah 31:15 Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah [or Bethlehem]. lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.

But look at the very next verse.

Jeremiah 31:16 Thus saith the LORD; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the LORD; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. Jeremiah 31:17 And there is hope in thine end, saith the LORD, that thy children shall come again to their own border.

A Prophecy of Hope

This prophecy of Jeremiah foretold of an event that would mark the beginning of something the Lord was going to do to restore good things to Israel, even as Rachel’s death marked the beginning of good events in Jacob’s life.

You recall that Joseph, Jacob’s missing son, would in a few years [from the time of his mother, Rachel’s death] become ruler of Egypt and in just a few more years save the entire family from destruction, even though it started with the mysterious disappearance of Joseph, Jacob’s beloved son, and the death of Jacob’s wife, Rachel, the wife whom he loved. You see, the good that followed came out of the ashes.

Restoration Out of the Ashes

Bethlehem, house of fruitfulness, also means house of ashes. Jacob’s blessing and his deliverance grew out of Bethlehem, out of the house of ashes. And sometimes, it seems, the best things in our lives grow out of the ashes of difficult situations and hard times. We see this principle over and over in the scriptures.

And the death of Phineus’ wife marked the overthrow of the corrupt priesthood of Samuel’s time, and shortly after that the returning of Israel to the LORD, and the overcoming of their enemies, the Philistines. These things grew out of the ashes during troubled times.

Seeds of Revival

It’s interesting to search the phrase “Revivals in America.” There have been four major revivals in American history, or what scholars refer to as great awakenings.

One was in 1735, another was 80 years later in 1805, another 80 years later in 1885, and another 80 years later in 1965, the one we often referred to as the Jesus Movement.

One quote from an article by Northwest University said that “they tend to last for about 20 years before the society starts to unravel again.”

Revival after the Civil War

The Revival in 1885 sprang out of the Civil War. The song, Battle Hymn of the Republic, was written in November, 1861, and soldiers of both sides sang it all through the war. The first line is, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

It seems that when people face the continual threat of imminent death, hearts begin to turn to eternal things. So, the great awakening of 1885 came 20 years after the Civil war. It sprang out of the ashes, you might say.

Revival after World War II

The same is true about the one in 1965. It came from World War II, when soldiers again faced the continual threat of imminent death. Many took strength through faith in God. And 1965 was the year that Lyndon Johnson first sent American troops into Vietnam.

It would seem that spiritual awakenings come after traumatic events in history. They seem to rise out of the ashes of devastating events.

And as we look at this, it’s interesting to recognize that we have recently gone through a worldwide outbreak of sickness, a pandemic, that threatened imminent death on a continual basis for over three years. According to the statistics, millions died worldwide. We saw our friends die, we saw our family members die. We ourselves lived under the threat of possible sickness and death.

Time for an Awakening

Would it be too much of a stretch to believe that many hearts may have turned to God during those several years? And we should note are almost 60 years past the last great awakening that started around 1965.

What’s the point here? Is it possible that in the light of these scriptural parallels we talked about and in light of the history of spiritual awakenings in America, that we might possibly be in the beginning of another great awakening in America and around the world?

Is the LORD following the pattern of His word and once again bringing spiritual revival to the world?

Psalm 100:5 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

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