By Roger Carswell - I have always liked my Christian name. Though I have noticed that most Rogers are of a similar age. There is a current trend to give boys Old Testament names, but as yet I have not met a ‘Uriah’. But if ever I do, I will immediately wonder how he will fare compared to his biblical namesakes. There are six men in the Scriptures called Uriah, (meaning Jehovah is Light), and all were godly. Four were priests, one a soldier, and one a prophet.
Uriah the priest
The four priests lived routine lives. They had daily duties in the temple. There were sacrifices to be made, and prayers to be prayed. The temple was to be kept as an apt place according to God’s plan and purpose. They would read the word of God, and we knew that when unusual demands were made on them, these Uriahs acted as the needs presented themselves. A nation, and indeed the kingdom of God, is blessed when there are faithful, prayerful individuals, serving the Lord and fulfilling their God-given responsibilities on a daily basis and making known that Jesus is the light of the world.
Uriah the Hittite
How Uriah the Hittite must have longed to be home with his beautiful wife Bathsheba. Instead, he was on the battlefield, and all was not going well. The passions he felt would have been no different from those poor men who found themselves incarcerated in the trenches before the Battle of the Somme in 1916. We’ve seen their letters longing for better times whilst remembering past joys and trying to be stoical about their present conditions. Hundreds of thousands died and never had their dreams and ambitions come to anything.
Uriah was similar, but not because of military mistakes but as a result of the selfish adultery of his military commander, who tried to cover the sin-stained tracks of his own indulgence. Uriah was a martyr. He refused the offer of legitimate joys of time with his wife because of his deep loyalty to the cause of the kingdom and the men with whom he was soldiering. He never knew why he was being put on the front line of battle, nor for that matter why the king had earlier dined and drunk with him, but he was caught in a web of deceit spun by lust and greed. Through it all, he demonstrated that Jehovah is Light. And I imagine he received a “Well done, good and faithful servant” from the ultimate Commander-in-Chief. David was bewitched in sudden and intoxicating passion and obsession, but to deliberately have put to death a man who rightly disobeyed the king’s commands was an act of gross wickedness. Praise God for Psalm 51, but it would have been better if there had never been need for it to have been written.
I know Christians, who like Uriah the Hittite, have suffered at the hands of spiritual leaders in our land. I am thinking of situations where someone has stood firm to their principles doing that which is right, but the respected church leaders have ensured that reproach would be brought on these less influential Christians. They refused to compromise and though innocent, suffered at the hands of people who are more privileged. The Lord knows; He is weighing and watching all that is happening among His people. Enough said, but these things should not take place amongst the people of God, and where they have, there ought to be Psalm 51 type repentance.
Uriah the prophet
And what of Uriah the prophet? We read of him in Jeremiah 26:20-23. I admire him. His was not the forty years of unpopular preaching, persecution, suffering and heart-wrenching loneliness that faithful Jeremiah endured. We do not read of his melancholy, or his eyes being a fountain of tears as he proclaimed to an apostate nation their need to repent, but we do read of the fire in his bones so that he could not refrain from preaching truth. His prophesies were the same as Jeremiah’s. He was proclaiming that Jehovah is Light. But he had to run for his life after incurring the wrath of Jehoiakim and his cronies. But the king’s henchmen brought Uriah back to the king before brutally killing him. Another Uriah was martyred, not this time at the hands of ‘a man after God’s own heart’, but by an evil king. Jehoiakim had burned the word of God, oppressed the people of God and refused to heed the prophet of God. So evil was Jehoiakim, that his name is taken out of the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:11). Why did Jeremiah survive yet Uriah die? Perhaps for the same reason that in Acts 12, James was beheaded though Peter was spared. God has His answer to the question, but for the moment we don’t know it.
I, like you, read and hear of believers who in the steps of Uriah the prophet, are laying down their lives for the Lord Jesus whom they love, live for and are dying for. My heart breaks at the plight of my brothers and sisters in North Korea, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, Sudan, the Gulf countries, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia and other nations. They, like Uriah the prophet, may not be well known in the world’s eyes, but they matter to God. Jesus died for them, and they are precious in His sight. We who live in great comfort, enjoying so many freedoms (even though they are being eroded) must, at very least, pray for them, give to them and never forget them.
The Uriahs of the Old Testament I salute, but I want to stand with the Uriahs of the 21st century, remembering their faithfulness, their mistreatment, or their chains.