The Gospel According to Oded

The Gospel According to Oded

The Gospel According to Oded.

“Ahaz was twenty years old when he became King, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. He didn’t do what was pleasing to Yahweh as his forefather David had done, but followed the ways of the kings of Israel.”¬† (2 Chronicles 28:1-2).

Ahaz was a particularly evil king of Judah who led a steep moral decline in the Judean society. He committed child sacrifice with his own children (!), developed a widespread worship of Baal, and “offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops, and under every spreading tree.” (2 Chron. 28:4). These detestable abominations stunk to high heaven, of course, and Yahweh could not bear with these evil sins in His chosen people. So God subjected the people of Judah to the punishment of an assault by their neighbors in the north, Israel. Heavy casualties were inflicted on the Judean army. In fact, in one day 120,000 of Judah’s soldiers were slain. After those mass casualties and the expected plunder from the attack, the Israelites took 200,000 mothers and children as captives with the idea that they would be slaves in Israel.

While on their way back to their homes in Israel, the victorious army passed by Samaria. And the hero of the hour takes center stage. There was a Samaritan prophet named Oded, a true spokesman for Yahweh, who stood in the middle of the road to greet the Israelite army as they marched with their captives. Oded stopped the Israelites in their tracks, and he boldly confronted them, saying… Yes, I know, the Lord was angry with Judah and gave them into your hands. But you have slain them in a sinful rage. You took things into your own hands and your violence was uncalled for. You committed a great sin against the Lord. Your slaughter of them has reached to heaven. And now you want to add to your sin by taking as captives all these innocent wives and children? Do you think you have a righteous leg to stand on that gives you the right to do this? Don’t you realize that you also are guilty of sins against Yahweh? Now listen to me! Release these prisoners and send them back to their home country, for Yahweh’s fierce anger rests on you!” (2 Chron. 28:9-11).

Oded spoke with God’s authority and persuaded the Israelite army to release their captives before returning to Israel. At this point some specially chosen righteous Samaritans took some of the plunder and clothed the naked prisoners. They gave them food and drink and anointed their wounds with healing oils. Then these compassionate Samaritans put the feeble and weak prisoners on donkeys, and took them back to their families in Jericho.

Oded succeeded in fleshing out many gospel values: caring for the weak and vulnerable; ministering to the least of these; loving your neighbor; loving your enemies; exhibiting mercy and justice to those who need it. Despite his heroics, Oded seemed to slip through the cracks of history, one of the unsung heroes of Scripture. The kindness, courage and wisdom of Oded and his Samaritan helpers literally calls to mind Jesus’ central parable of the Good Samaritan. Could Jesus have had this event in mind when he told that parable? Oded did what Jesus would have done, and he demonstrated the way of life that Jesus called for. Oded let his little light shine, and in the process anticipated the gospel values that Jesus emphasized. Jesus¬† duplicated Oded’s kindness by talking about releasing the captives, setting the captives free. The story of Oded is full of the gospel, and he anticipated the Good News of Christ’s compassion.