Monday, March 9, 2015

The Promise, (Jacob, part 6)

Please note…this is "Jacob, part 6." I encourage you to scroll down and start with "Jacob, part 1."

What obstacles lie in the way of God working in your life?

As you look down the road at all the hurdles you'll need to overcome, what are some of the obstacle you face?

Wow, let me make a list!  Let’s see, there’s my sin struggles, my doubts, my character weaknesses, my defensiveness, my fears, my anxieties...TIME OUT!  

Let’s review. Before he was even born, God chose Jacob-a dude who has got to be the most manipulative, self-serving deceiver in the Bible!  A man who robs his blind father and steals his brother’s inheritance.  Yet, God begins to move into his life with this freaky dream, God Himself speaking from the top rung of “Jacob’s ladder”...

"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. Your descendants shall also be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And behold, I am with you, and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."  Genesis 28:13-15

Check out the dimensions of the promise that God gave to Jacob-I’m gonna give you...a COUNTRY!  This promised land of Canaan, this huge piece of real estate...AND you’re gonna have like a gazillion descendants; I mean kids, grandkids, great the dust of the earth...AND in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed.  ALL the families of the earth?  Seriously?  You mean that God chose this one guy, THIS GUY, Jacob, as...His man?
The magnitude of this promise reveals that the patriarchs, that is, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob--option one--had a collective ego of unlimited dimensions, of psych unit proportions...I mean, can you imagine telling your kids that God had chosen YOU, little old you to bless the entire world...OR, option two: God truly spoke to these men and promised to save the world through their descendant, the Messiah.    

This promise is meant to fill Jacob with great faith in God, NOT SELF.  This promise is meant to heal us from thinking our struggles, doubts, and sins are an obstacle to God.  This promise is all about GOD’S ABILITY, not our ability.  Because if you weigh what you bring to the table, it is, well--kinda sick--to trust in ourselves, isn’t it?

But here is the sad reality; though Jacob has had God reveal Himself, though he is given the same promise as Abraham and  Isaac, though Jacob has been chosen from the womb, he still can’t trust God or claim God as his.  Until the end of his life, you’ll notice that every time Jacob refers to God, he calls him “the God of Abraham and Isaac.”  Can you imagine my son, Caleb, praying before a family dinner, “Oh, God of my father, John...”  “I’d be like, “Son, he’s YOUR God, too!”  So what’s going on with Jacob?  Simply put, he’s not too sure about God.  He’s not all in.  Oh sure, he knows God is there, but if he were to release control, if he were to take God at His word and build his life around Him...Holy smokes, what would happen?  Yes, yes, God made the world and all...but this is MY LIFE that we’re talking about here.  If I just keep my hands on the steering wheel, I’m pretty sure I can get where I want to go.  Like I said...sick.  And I speak out of personal experience. 

Jacob has been blind to all that God has already done for him.  Why?  

Jeremiah 17:5-6 tells us “Cursed is the man who...makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the Lord....he will not see when prosperity comes.”  In other words, the more you trust yourself and your own resources, the more you’ll think you accomplished it when you succeed; you will be blind to God’s activity in your life, believing your own cunning, hard work and drive have produced your success.  Again, I speak from much experience. 

Here’s how this story should have unfolded; “And Jacob, now convinced of the goodness of God, learned to rest from his striving and manipulation, and enjoyed his life, trusting God to accomplish all that He had promised.”  Well, that’s NOT what happens.  Instead, his life message produces a pattern of deception and manipulation that continue to reveal a lack of trust in God’s promise.  Despite his enthusiastic response to this dream, there is a sinister two letter word which reveals his heart...

20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, 21 and I return to my father's house in safety, then the LORD will be my God.

This is subtle, but don’t miss it.  What Jacob is doing here is negotiating a contract.  He is brokering a deal, bartering with God Himself... “If God does this, then He will be my God.”  He is engaging with God the only way that his manipulative heart knows how to engage with anyone; “Esau, give me the birthright and I will give you this ‘red stuff.’”  “God, bless me, and you will be my God.” Again, Jacob doesn’t claim God as his until the END of his story.  His life message, “you are on your own,” has shrouded the goodness and faithfulness of God, such that his reflexive “trust self” dominates his journey.

The promise given to Jacob is exactly the same as the promise Jesus gave to us, “Lo, I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). And its meaning is what we see on display in the Jacob story; 
I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."  

So, what obstacles lie in the way of God working in your life?  Well...nothing.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil 1:6

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