Lessons From A Nameless Teacher

Lessons From A Nameless Teacher

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

In Genesis 24, we meet a man who only identifies as “Abraham’s servant” (v. 34). This unnamed servant is most likely Eliezer, Abraham’s household servant, whom he expected to be his heir (Genesis 15.2). Jewish tradition is in favor of this. However, because the chapter fails to identify him, we will also refrain from doing so. Hence, this unnamed servant teaches us three things as he obeys his master’s will to obtain a wife for his son from among his relatives in modern-day Iraq.

The unnamed servant teaches us humility. The fact that the unnamed servant only refers to himself as a servant of his master says a lot. He considers his identity to be secondary to his position in his master’s household. Our Great Example was similarly humble, much like this servant. We can see that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was the most humble person of all when he took on human form and died for the salvation of mankind (Philippians 2:5–10).

Humility is an essential virtue. Humility, according to the Bible, is necessary for Christians to cultivate. For example, the book of James says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6 NASB 1995) Thus, Christians are to approach God with modesty, acknowledging their shortcomings.

But we should not confuse humility with self-deprecation. God’s word doesn’t tell us to belittle ourselves or our accomplishments. Instead, humility involves acknowledging that all good things come from God, upon Whom we depend for our success (James 1.17). Humility also requires service. The Bible calls us to be the servants of others, just as Jesus modeled servant leadership (John 13.14-16). Humility consists in putting the needs of others ahead of our desires and ambitions.

And God doesn’t overlook this service. Instead, humility is a key to spiritual growth, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. In the book of Matthew, Jesus says, “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23.12 NASB1995). James reminds us: “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (James 4.10 NASB1995)

Therefore, when Christians talk about humility, they stress the importance of knowing our limits and weaknesses, helping others, and coming to God with a humble heart.

The unnamed servant teaches us to trust in God’s Providence. The nameless servant believed that God’s providence would help him succeed in his task. So likewise, God’s word instructs us to trust in God’s providence throughout the Bible, which means we accept that God is in charge of everything and has a plan for our lives. “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29.11 NASB1995). I would be amiss if I did not point out that this is not a personal promise to us, as it was spoken to the Israelites on the verge of Babylonian captivity. However, we can accept that it means that God has plans for His people.

Thus, God urges us to trust that His purpose for our lives is beneficial, even if it may not seem logical or beneficial. This trust is part of submitting ourselves to God’s will. Surrendering to God’s will is part of trusting in providence. Christians are urged to pray for God’s direction and guidance and believe that God’s plan for their lives is what is best for them. “I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps,” Jeremiah says again (Jeremiah 10.23 NASB 1995).

The Bible teaches us to trust in God’s provision, which implies that we believe that God will provide for our necessities (Matthew 6.33). Even in challenging circumstances, we know God will provide for our needs. So, the Christian doctrine of trust in providence stresses the importance of believing in God’s plan for each person’s life, submitting to His will, and trusting in His provision.

The unnamed servant teaches us to be shrewd. The servant who put Rebecca through the “camel test” was astute. Have you ever thought how this man must have appeared to the young Rebecca? The unnamed servant was a physically fit man. In addition, he needs other strong men to travel with him and a caravan of ten camels. Why, then, would he need a woman to bring him water and tend to his livestock?

What could this servant learn from administering the “camel test”? Rebecca’s response suggested much about her character. For example, what concern would she have for her family if she returned the water she had given a stranger to drink? Did she have the servant’s heart to recognize and want to meet a need when it was within her power? Did she consider others first? Finally, Rebecca had to demonstrate her worth to Isaac and, eventually, to Abraham, his master.

Jesus told his disciples to “be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10.16 NASB 1995). In other words, Jesus tells us to be wise and intelligent when we talk to other people but also to be kind and safe. The term “wise as serpents” might be understood to suggest that the disciples should be as intelligent and crafty as snakes in their relationships with others. But it’s important to remember that Jesus didn’t want his followers to lie or trick people. Instead, he wanted them to be honest and wise in their relationships with others. Likewise, “harmless as doves” alludes to the doves’ gentleness and lack of aggression. Even in challenging or hostile circumstances, Jesus pushes his followers to remain calm and non-threatening in their relationships with others.

Jesus asked his followers to be intelligent and astute in their interactions while being mild and non-threatening. We should apply this advice and use it when applicable.

The unnamed servant in Genesis 24 teaches essential lessons about humility, faith in providence, and shrewdness. His humble demeanor reminds us of the importance of admitting our flaws and prioritizing the needs of others. Trusting in God’s providence entails believing that God has a plan for our lives and that everything will work out for the best. Finally, being shrewd implies being wise and intelligent in our interactions with others while maintaining our integrity. As Christians, we can learn from the example of the unnamed servant and strive to live a life that honors God. The unnamed servant in Genesis 24 teaches essential lessons about humility, faith in providence, and shrewdness. His humble demeanor reminds us of the importance of admitting our flaws and prioritizing the needs of others. Trusting in God’s providence entails believing that God has a plan for our lives and that everything will work out for the best. Finally, being shrewd implies being wise and intelligent in our interactions with others while maintaining our integrity. As Christians, we can learn from the example of the unnamed servant and strive to live a life that honors God.

Brent Pollard
Types of Faith

Types of Faith

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Salvation is by faith, but not by faith alone (James 2.14–24). Faith without obedience is not a saving faith. Every example of saving faith emphasizes obedience (see Hebrews 11). The demons are the only group identified as possessing a type of faith without works (James 2.19). But “saving faith” produces good works (Ephesians 2.8-10).

But what of other types of faith? Indeed, the New Testament discusses various types of faith, not just the saving kind.

According to Matthew 8.10, there is “great faith.” Jesus praised a centurion for believing that Jesus could heal his sick servant from afar. Jesus remarked that He had not encountered such faith in anyone in Israel.

Paul writes that Abraham had “strong faith” (Romans 4.20). Abraham, a devoted follower of God, trusted the Lord’s promise to bless him and make him the father of many nations. Paul says that Abraham believed God’s promise to him and acted accordingly; his faith never wavered, even after being asked to sacrifice the son for whom he had waited.

Peter serves as an example of “little faith” on one occasion. Jesus invited Peter to walk on water with him in Matthew 14. Before Peter took his focus off of Jesus and onto the raging sea, he was doing fine. However, after taking his gaze off Jesus, he found himself sinking. Peter begged Jesus to rescue him. Jesus did so but rebuked him for his lack of faith (Matthew 14.31).

Romans 14.1 informs us that there is “weak faith.” A weak faith belongs to a brother or sister who stumbles over his brethren’s scruples in judgment rather than doctrine. It’s worth noting that Paul says that the stronger brother should keep his or her freedom in check so that the weaker brother doesn’t stumble. Paul says they shouldn’t argue about it or condemn a weaker brother for having a different view. We can easily see the compassionate nature of Christianity in this, as one would typically expect the one with weak faith to capitulate to the one with stronger faith.

Lastly, there is a dead faith. James reminds us that faith without works is dead (James 2.17). We should have faith that manifests itself in our actions rather than just words, as this shows others that we are sincere in our beliefs. In 2.16, James says that seeing someone hungry but telling them to be filled rather than feeding them is an example of ineffective (i.e., dead) faith.

Though not called “living faith,” we realize that the New Testament also implies the existence of living faith. Fruit is proof that the plant producing it is alive. In Galatians 5.22-23, faithfulness is a part of the fruit of the Spirit. Those led by the Spirit will possess this living faith.

While thinkers like Martin Luther and John Calvin have indeed clouded the waters when defining faith, we must be careful not to underestimate its significance. Faith saves us. All we have to do is make sure we’re on the same page about faith and how to explain it to others.

Regarding the various faiths we’ve seen, a weak believer can strengthen his faith. One with little faith can embiggen it. A person with dead faith can resurrect it through repentance and obedience. But a demon cannot rehabilitate his faith. Demons are powerless to change their fate as a result of their punishment. So, let’s check our faith to ensure it’s still living and saving so that other people can see that we have a great and strong faith.

Brent Pollard
Consulting The New Testament For How To Treat The Jews Today

Consulting The New Testament For How To Treat The Jews Today


Neal Pollard

Six months after the deadly shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a similar attempt was made on the Chabad Synagogue in San Diego this weekend (4/27/19). Although Jewish people are not the only ones targeted in attacks toward religious and non-religious targets, hatred and violent acts against Jews are some of the most severe and ancient known to the world. Antisemitism has often been so strong and passionate, it is incredible. Stereotypes against them are sweeping and staunch. Among those professing to be Christians, there is a wide range of views and false extremes at both ends. Let us consider some truths and then a few applications.

  • Jesus was a Jew (Mat. 1:1-17).
  • All the apostles were Jews (Matt. 10:2ff; Acts 1:21-26; Phil. 3:5-6).
  • Some of the greatest Bible heroes, including Moses, David, Elijah and the prophets, Esther, and more, were Jews.
  • Jews prompted the Romans to cause Jesus’ death (Mark 15). 
  • Salvation came first to the Jews (Rom. 1:16). 
  • The first Christians were Jews (Acts 2-9).
  • The Jews were God’s chosen people to bring the Messiah for the benefit of the whole world (Gal. 3:23-29). 
  • Jesus fulfilled the Old Law (Mat. 5:17), and by His death He ended the religious separation between Jew and Gentile (Eph. 2:11-21).
  • Jews and Gentiles are all saved by the same “Way” (John 14:6; Rom. 11). 
  • Though some believe the Jews are suffering from the curse they placed on themselves when Jesus was crucified (Mat. 27:25), that is no justification for any mistreatment of the Jews today.
  • True, New Testament Christianity seeks to harm no one (Mat. 10:16) and wants to embrace any who come to Christ (Rev. 22:17; Rom. 15:7). So, anyone doing violence in the name of Jesus is misusing and abusing His name!
  • Premillennialists, who in their misunderstanding seek to elevate the city of Jerusalem or modern-day Israel, misunderstand the nature of Christ’s Kingdom and the end of time (Mat. 24:36ff; 2 Pet. 3:10; etc.).
  • No race is inherently superior or inferior (Acts 17:26; Gal. 3:28-29). God is not one to show partiality (Acts 10:34), so neither should we.
  • God wants every Jew to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4).

These are just some of the Bible facts to keep in mind when considering our own feelings or testing the feelings of others against Abraham’s descendants. In a world of hate and fear, Christians are to rise above such (Col. 3:1-2). While most Jews (and Gentiles) will refuse the gospel (cf. Mat. 7:13-14), our heart and efforts should be dedicated to trying to share it with anyone and everyone who is willing. Hateful words and harmful conduct are the characteristics of those against Christ and certainly do not represent Him!

Jewish Star Of David Ornament Religion Judaism

So You Have A Sinful Past? (POEM)

So You Have A Sinful Past? (POEM)


Neal Pollard

Moses was a murderer, Rahab was a liar,
David was an adulterer and to murder he did conspire,
Gideon and Timothy were timid, Peter a confirmed denier,
Paul wrecked havoc on the church, so full of hate and ire.

God, from time immemorial, has used the earthen vessel,
Sons of thunder or deceivers– like Jacob, who an angel did wrestle.
Just like Abraham and Isaac, very human if chosen and special
Barak, Samson, Jephthah, who with flaws their faith did nestle

From cover to cover, Scripture shows that God works through sinners
Preachers, prophets, kings and elders, saints and great soul-winners
It helps us who would serve today, to be better enders than beginners
To not let sin defeat us, to go from offenders to God defenders

Perhaps you have a sinful past or there’s guilt here in your today
A habit, sin, or weakness, crimes of deeds, thoughts, or what you say
Look back to men and women of old, they willed for they knew The Way
Conquer through Christ your old man, get busy, trust in God and obey!

Peter denying Jesus
Peter denying Christ

Singing With The Understanding: “Beneath The Cross Of Jesus”

Singing With The Understanding: “Beneath The Cross Of Jesus”

Neal Pollard

Most of us have favorite songs and hymns. My favorite category of hymns is songs about the cross. I love the somber, dramatic feel of Beneath the Cross of Jesus, a hymn penned right after the close of the Civil War by Elizabeth C. Clephane and one set to the music we sing with it by Frederick Maker a dozen years later in 1881. The cross of Calvary is treated as a metaphor of protection for one in a wilderness. One might envision the wandering Israelites making their way to the Promised Land and apply that, figuratively, to our journey through this world of sin toward heaven. But the song will change scenes multiple times until, in the last verse, it is a most personal challenge to each of us to be faithful disciples of this crucified Lord.

The first verse introduces the foot of the cross as a shadow of a mighty rock where we find relief and a home to rest in from trials and difficulties while pilgrims in a weary land (the world). We might easily think of Israel’s exodus from Egypt. Some songbooks have a notation to define “fain,” a word used in the first line. It means “gladly.” I am happy to shelter behind Christ’s cross in adversities.

The second verse builds upon the metaphor of the first verse, then subtly shifts to an event from the book of Genesis. The cross is, again, a shelter and refuge. But, then, he shifts to an allusion to Jacob’s dream (Genesis 28:10ff). He has left his father’s house and his brother’s wrath and beds down near Haran. He lays down, using stones for a pillow, and falls asleep. Moses writes, “He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.  And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants” (12-13). This is where God reaffirms the promise He had made to Jacob’s grandfather and father to make of them a great nation. It symbolized hope, reward, and heavenly assistance. The song writer says the cross is just like the ladder in Jacob’s dream, except that I ascend to heaven by way of the cross. Again, Clephane uses a poetic, if obscure word, in this verse: “trysting.” The word means “meeting.” At the cross, God’s perfect love and justice meet. His love is shown and His justice satisfied by Christ’s sacrifice.

The third verse becomes a straightforward look at a literal remembrance of the graphic, horrific suffering of Jesus on the cross. She focuses on what our reaction should be–a smitten heart, tears, and a proper conclusion. How great is His love! How unworthy I am that He would demonstrate it to me (cf. Romans 5:8).

The last verse is the challenge to respond to that sacrifice. We are to live in the shadow of the cross, daily reflecting upon it and letting it affect how we live. We are to ignore all else to focus on Him. Clephane seems to allude to Paul’s words in Galatians 6:14, if ever so subtly. Too, there’s a challenge to not be ashamed of Jesus and the cross, but reserve our shame only for the sin in our life that made the cross necessary.

It is beautifully and intricately woven. Despite some unfamiliar, even archaic, poetic words, it is powerfully written. What a great song to prepare our minds for the Lord’s Supper or to sing when our motives gets clouded and our priorities get muddled. May we take the time, when we sing it, to consider the truth it teaches and the challenge it contains.


Ancient, But Temporary

Ancient, But Temporary

Neal Pollard

The oldest buildings in the world are found in Turkey, France, Italy, Scotland, Malta, England, Ireland, and Iran. All of them date back to at least 3,000 B.C.  They include tombs, temples, settlements, houses, sanctuaries, and plazas. They are historical treasures, revealing the earliest dental procedures, burial habits, religious ceremonies of pagans, societies and more. Some are remarkably preserved for their age, and many are visited by tourists after having been meticulously studied by archaeologists and other students of history.  It fires the imagination to think about what life was like for people who lived contemporary to Noah’s sons, Abraham, and perhaps Job. The fact that any part of these edifices still stand is incredible. When you consider that the oldest buildings intact in the United States are Puebloan houses and villages located in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah, dating only as far back as between 750-1000 A.D., the existence of the aforementioned structures in Europe and Asia is all the more impressive (information via taospueblo.com, wikipedia, et al).

History and archaeology buffs revel at the thought of visiting such sites, and who could fail to marvel at such testaments to durability?  We can hardly fathom buildings that have stood for several thousands of years.  However, they are all comparatively temporary.

Peter writes, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!” (2 Pet. 3:10-12).  When Christ comes again, all the works of earth will be destroyed with fire. Such a promise is meant to motivate us to live in view of the unseen and the eternal.  Specifically, Peter says such knowledge such cause us to be holy and godly, watchful and anticipating.  Ancient buildings can be seen with the eyes of flesh.  Future destruction must be viewed through eyes of faith.  May we remember, as we live each day and build our lives, that nothing in this life is worth surrendering eternal life.




Neal Pollard

Ask George Dawson!  This Texas grandson of a slave, born in 1898, worked from the age of twelve on a ranch tending livestock.  He married at the age of twenty-eight, becoming a father the next year.  What is so noteworthy about this man?  Well, for 98 years he did not know how to read.  In 1996, ten years after the death of his spouse, a young man working for an organization designed to teach adults how to read knocked on Dawson’s door.  He was able to achieve a fourth-grade reading level and even read the Bible aloud at church services.  He summed up his remarkable story by saying, “I just figured if everybody else can learn to read, I could too” (Bingham, Reader’s Digest, June 1998, p. 156).

Ask Medzhid Agayev, who was the oldest resident in Azerbaijan in 1976.   He decided to retire—after 120 years as a shepherd at the age of 139!  The Russian press agency in Novosti said, “He is in good health.  He is thin, active and has excellent eyesight.”  Perhaps he quit his job to enjoy as many of his 150 children and generations of grandchildren as he could.  He was a tribute not only to longevity, but also to changing one’s life even after such a period of time as Agayev had lived.  Yet, he was a baby compared to a 165-year-old man named Shirali Muslimov and a 195-year-old woman named Ashura Omarova, both reported by the Novosti press agency in 1970 as living in the Soviet Union republics of Caucasus (what today is Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia)( The Centenarian Question: Old-Age Mortality in the Soviet Union, 1897 to 1970, Lea Keil Garson,Population Studies, Vol. 45, No. 2 (Jul., 1991), p. 265).

Many Bible characters, Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 18:11-15), Barzillai (2 Sam. 17:27ff), Jacob (Heb. 11:21), Anna (Lk. 2:36), and others teach by their lives that it is nevertoo late to be servant of God.  The foolish may set aside the counsel of the “gray heads” (cf. 1 Kgs. 12:6ff), but the Lord’s church today will carefully consider the wisdom of her senior saints!  Age may bring limitations, but the aged are among the most precious resources we have for spiritual strength and progress!  It is never too late for an elderly Christian to be a viable contributor to the life and work of the church.  In fact, Paul puts such on a high pedestal (Ti. 2:1-10).

It is also never too late to become a Christian!  This is true, whether one is eighteen, eighty, or any time before, between, or after.  Almost is after (Acts 26:28), later is a lie (Acts 24:25), and waiting is a wager few win (Prov. 27:1).

In youth we anticipate the stability of adult life as the time when becoming a Christian will be easier.  With adulthood comes, marriage, children, and job concerns, and retirement becomes a more appealing time to obey the gospel.

Three potential tragedies await those who bank on the elusive capital of tomorrow.  First, old age may find one too distracted with golden year goals to make the commitment to Christ.  Second, death may stand between one and the time he or she hoped to be a baptized believer.  Third, Christ may come before one submits to the Lord’s plan.

However, now—being the accepted time (2 Cor. 6:2)—is not too late!  Are you still breathing in and out?  Is there still within you a heart soft enough to be touched by the power of the gospel?  If so, it is not too late!  As long as there is time and opportunity, it is never too late to do all the will of God!

Your eyes may be cloudy, a halt may slow your gait.
But as long as your soul is within you, it is never, no never too late.
The years you may have wasted, and in shame you might hesitate,
But though it be the eleventh hour, it is never, no never too late.