November 22, 2010

Asher: The Merry-Making Chef

Jacob’s eighth son was called Asher (or ‘Happy’ in English), because his step mother was so overjoyed when he was born (Genesis 30.12-13). And, though a name like ‘Happy’ might conjure up images of a mafia boss, or a puppy dog … Asher was, evidently, neither of the two! According to the only information we have about him, either he or his descendants were actually fantastic chefs! “As for Asher” his father said, “his food shall be rich, and he will yield royal dainties” (Genesis 49.20). So he was, perhaps, a kind of Old Testament Jacques Pepin (or Guy Fieri, or Dom Deluise … take your pick, according to your food preference!). I might like to think of him along the lines of Justin Wilson ('I Garontee')!

And, while Asher’s culinary prowess may seem like an odd and pointless detail to include in the Bible (especially as the only detail about his life!) … it is at least a reminder that all God’s servants are valuable and necessary. For, remember, Asher’s family tradition of good cooking was not granted them simply so that they might host a good family Thanksgiving dinner (much as I am looking forward to just that in a few days!). No, the morsels that Asher and his family would be expert at preparing were actually to be “royal dainties”. It seems that God was starting a tradition, way back in Genesis, that would one day issue in Asher’s family serving the people of God by providing cooks to the king! So their cooking was a God-given talent, not to buried in the ground, but used for the kingdom of God … just like your talent, whatever it may be.

Not everyone is from the tribe of Levi, as it were … called to carry the holy things, and teach the holy book, and work every day in God’s holy house. No, most of us are more like Asher and his family … given different talents and gifts, but expected to use them in the service of God just the same. So when you read of David and his mighty men winning great battles, and Solomon wowing the Queen of Sheba with his wisdom, and building the house of God … remember that it may well have been some God-gifted Asherites that delighted and nourished them all with their rich foods! And, thus, it wasn’t just his step mother whom Asher made smile!

What’s the point? Well, just as David and Solomon could not lead the people of God to greatness without unnamed Asherites and Danites and Benjamites, each performing their God-given tasks … so the church cannot become great and the gospel cannot go forth as it should without church ladies who cook, so that Thanksgiving guests feel welcome; and custodians who clean, so that the atmosphere for worship is inviting, not distracting and dank; and singers who sing, so that the whole congregation is drawn into praise; and nursery workers who serve, so that young moms can be replenished spiritually and have the where-with-all to go back home and lead those youngsters to follow hard after God!

On and on the list could go. Because every member of Christ’s body has its important function, as Paul put it in his letter to the Corinthians! Hands, eyes, feet, eye-lids, toe-nails, and so on – all are important! And so it is in the church! So go all out! If God has called you to cook, then do it with all your might as working for the Lord, and not for men. If He’s called you to clean, or sing, or teach, or greet, or cut the grass ... do it with all your heart! Your role is vital and important! Jesus is surely being made known in and through your local church … and His fame spreads just a little bit farther because of the work that you put in! So you keep cooking in the name of Jesus, Asher! Heaven is smiling too!

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