Posts Tagged ‘Choices’

Ancient E-mails to Esau © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Genesis 36 – E-MAILS TO ESAU – Part 1 

Hi Esau, 

It was great that you and I were there when our Dad died. So strange to think we won’t see him or Mum again. I feel a little like an orphan.  

I appreciated spending a bit of time with you after all these years, but I realised that I don’t have any real idea of who is in your family. You spoke of some of your children but I really don’t know much more. I have been compiling our family history and wondered if you would mind letting me know about your side. 

Your brother, 

Jacob (now Israel) 

___________________oOo_____________________ 

Hi Jacob, 

So, you’ve changed your name. Sorry, but you’ll always be Jacob to me (the deceiver). I’m not really into family histories and you might not like my tribe. My parents certainly didn’t. I married Canaanite wives, outside the family of faith. 

I called our tribe the tribe of Edom, partly because of my red skin colour at birth (Genesis 25:25) and partly to never forget the pot of red stew that I exchanged for my birthright. After you stole my blessing from my father, the name Edom fed my desire to kill you if I ever saw you again. But then time got in the way and it didn’t matter anymore. 

Esau  

___________________oOo_____________________ 

Hi Esau, 

I’m glad that we were able to reconcile our differences. You have certainly done well for yourself. I was wondering if I could come and visit you and perhaps further heal old wounds and get this family tree thing in order. 

Jacob 

___________________oOo_____________________ 

Jacob, 

I wouldn’t come here to visit if I were you. It not exactly a safe area for strangers. But it’s your call.  

I call the country where we live Edom, South East of the Dead Sea. It’s a mountainous area, good for hunting and we are starting to build a rock hewn city, unlike any you have ever seen.  

Seriously, I wouldn’t attempt coming here any time soon. You wouldn’t be welcome. My people don’t like strangers. They think I should have killed you when you returned to Canaan. We are an independent people with no need for God. I am building a nation that doesn’t need birthrights or blessings to survive. 

Keep writing, however, brother, and when I have time, I’ll give you a rundown of the black sheep side of the family. Your side of the family tree must be the white goat side. Do you still like wearing goat skins on your arms and neck (just joking Jacob. Relax). 

Esau 

___________________oOo_____________________ 

Esau is the firstborn of twins, a hunter, Isaac’s favorite son. He sells his birthright to Jacob for a pot of red stew, loses his father’s blessing through Jacob’s deception, marries Canaanite women to the displeasure of his parents.

An independent man, Esau hated Jacob for a time but then reconciled after 20 years of being apart. He is proud and rejects God. His success is temporary. 

Genesis 36 invites me to choose long-term commitment to God and His purposes for my life over short-term gain without Him. There will be a cost, but it is the cost of choosing to be patient for the promises of God to be fulfilled.

Pastor Ross 

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Genesis 33:1-20 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Epilogue

What a relief. Jacob reunites with Esau without bloodshed. This story shows that bitterness and feelings of revenge are a choice, not a given. Forgiveness and reconciliation, integrity and generosity are also choices we can make.

“Then Esau looked at the women and children and asked, “Who are these people with you?”

“These are the children God has graciously given to me, your servant,” Jacob replied.” Jacob is keen to say that it is God who has blessed him. Maybe he’s also making it clear, “Keep your hands off, Esau!” only in a more subtle way.

The whole family bows before Esau to show their respect. This isn’t saying, “Esau, we are all coming under your authority”, just simply acknowledging, “we are coming into your territory.”

  1. ENSURE THAT AN AGREEMENT IS REACHED

Speckled. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, FilterForge, and Morguefile.org

Restitution © Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, FilterForge, and Morguefile.org

“And what were all the flocks and herds I met as I came?” Esau asked. Jacob replied, “They are a gift, my lord, to ensure your friendship” (Genesis 33:8 NLT).

Jacob makes it quite clear that he is not coming in any way as an act of aggression as he meets Esau. This time he’s not offering a pot of stew. These animals are a means of restitution for his deceit in the past. This is a tangible way to make amends. But there is something else implied that is another hint at what Jacob has been doing.

“My brother, I have plenty,” Esau answered. “Keep what you have for yourself” (Genesis 33:9 NLT). The fact that Esau has 400 men indicates that he has made a life for himself already, perhaps as a mercenary. He obviously has plenty. But Jacob needs some indication from Esau that he has abandoned his claim to his Father’s blessing.

It is important to Jacob that he shows a gesture of reconciliation, not merely mouth the words.

“But Jacob insisted, “No, if I have found favour with you, please accept this gift from me. And what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God!” (Genesis 33:10 NLT).

Strange thing to say.

Instead of struggling with Esau, Jacob struggled with God. The struggle with God meant a hip wrenched from its socket, but he did receive God’s blessing.

But why does he describe his meeting with Esau as seeing the face of God? Perhaps he sees it as a blessing. Perhaps the blessing God gave had a specific clause that Esau would not annihilate him and his family. His smile was the face of God in terms of answered prayer. His fight with God substituted for his expected fight with Esau. Perhaps this is the blessing God gave to Jacob.

But I like what the Life Essentials Study Bible says. It suggests that the animals that Jacob gave to Esau amounted to a 10th of all he had, thus being an offering to God and this is why he said: “seeing your face is like seeing the face of God.” “Though it cannot be proven from this text, it would not be surprising if Jacob’s herd totaled 5,500 animals and the 550 he gave Esau represented 10 percent of his total assets, fulfilling his vow (Genesis 28:22).”

I really like this thought. He’s not setting Esau up as God, but fulfilling his vow to God to give a tenth of all he had. He did this by giving this offering of restitution for the blessing stolen from Esau. Perhaps this was the reason he gave his promise back in Genesis 28. Perhaps he always intended his tenth to be given to God in this way.

“Please take this gift I have brought you, for God has been very gracious to me. I have more than enough.” And because Jacob insisted, Esau finally accepted the gift” (Genesis 33:11 NLT). 

Esau can see that God has blessed Jacob, so he accepts the gift.

Pastor Warren Wiersbe says “He was made a prince, but he was acting like a pauper” but this seems an unnecessary assumption. No pauper is able to offer such a generous gift. And if anything, God humbled Jacob, not exalted him, in his encounter. Jacob experienced a blessing with a limp, not a crown with a title.

In accepting the gift, the rift between Esau and Jacob is requited. Esau doesn’t say, “I demand my birthright and blessing back” but submits to Jacob’s favour as restitution for the deceptive manner of their taking, in kind.

Living as an alien to God’s promises for over 20 years, Jacob was abused for his labour but also enriched. And he enters the land God promises, injured and blessed.

There is nothing automatic about the blessing of God to Jacob. He didn’t simply inherit it from his father and he certainly didn’t achieve it through deceit. It could only enter his life through consent and grace. There is always a risk when You struggle with God. It is the greatest conflict you will ever face.

Years later, Jesus, descended from the line of Jacob and faced the greatest conflict ever faced by anyone, as He died on a Cross for our sin. The Cross is a crutch for those who realize that they walk with a limp. It is the reconciling plus sign for the human race. We need faith in Christ to take the journey God intends us to travel. It takes us into the promises of God for our lives.

God is not yet through with Jacob. This is a stepping stone to an ongoing journey in receiving all that God has promised, not just a happy ending to a feel-good movie. As we have seen in Jacob’s past, he has a tendency to make short-term choices which cause long-term pain, but through obedience he has arrived in the promised land. But he hasn’t completely arrived in terms of obedience, as he is yet to discover. (But that it for another time).

Pastor Ross

Genesis 30:22-24 – HOW TO OVERCOME THE REGRETS OF YOUR PAST

HOW TO OVERCOME THE REGRETS OF YOUR PAST

HOW TO OVERCOME THE REGRETS OF YOUR PAST

Regret, like an old injury, seeks to restrict your present and to destroy or control your future.

Confronting regret is like doing battle with a street fighter. He wants to dominate and cut you with a switchblade so that you bleed before you even have the chance to pray. He’ll badger you into doing yet another round and you’ll see the faces of those you have disappointed and hurt in the crowd that gathers. There’s no place to go.

You’ve done battle with regret before but this time you know you must think differently in order to overcome him. You may need to refuse to fight, apologise and seek forgiveness. You may need to spend some time admitting the harm that you have caused until the crowd makes room for you to move on. Rachel comes humbly before God with sin in her hand and places it, with her wounded heart, at God’s feet.

Something changed that day. A breakthrough of faith and the response of God’s mercy. God remembered Rachel’s plight and answered her prayers by enabling her to have children (Genesis 30:24 NLT). At long last, Rachel conceives and gives birth to a son; Joseph (and later Benjamin is added to her family). The mandrakes (love apples) she acquired from Leah had nothing to do with this pregnancy (Genesis 30:5); God hears Rachel’s prayer and gives her a son (Genesis 30:23-24).

She names him Joseph, which means either “to take away” or “to add” (POSB commentary). “God has removed my disgrace …” (Genesis 30:23 NLT). Rachel declares that God has taken away her reproach and added richly to her life. He has turned cursing to blessing. Some read this as referring to the disgrace of not being able to bear children, but no such disgrace exists except in the eyes of her culture. Rachel had much more in her life that was barren. This is a confession of a desolate existence lived without asking for God’s help, not only an account of her neighbours attitudes to her not being able to have children.

What do you do when your life is a trainwreck of regrets; jealousy and abuse and unfulfilled hope.

  • She agreed to marry an old man already married to her older sister.
  • She lived in a bitter jealous power play with her sister
  • She forced her maid servant to be a surrogate mother with Jacob so she could look good in the eyes of others
  • She trusted in superstitious love potions in order to bear children herself 

These choices only served to increase the barrenness between her and God. Our frantic search for happiness without God attracts the dry, famine producing winds that blow ever stronger with the power of regret. But now, as she submits to and is humbled before God, in the midst of her dysfunctional life, God answers her prayer and gives her a child. 

Joseph, her firstborn son, will remind her of the new life that issues like a newbirth as she trusts in God as her Saviour. Joseph will save his family from a terrible famine through the POWER OF FORGIVENESS. He will foreshadow a coming Saviour who will do the same for us. 

I may have to live with the consequences of my choices but I am reminded that there is no twisted dysfunction in my past that is too great for God to forgive, no damaged goods that cannot be redeemed and restored, no distorted perspectives that cannot be cleansed and re-viewed from heaven’s eyes, no regrets that can restrict my present or rule my future. 

Like Rachel “God has removed my disgrace” when Christ bore my sin upon the Cross. I can choose to live a life of grace and beauty as I trust in Him, today. 

Pastor Ross

PART 5 – GENESIS 19:1-38 – HAPPILY EVER AFTER – NOT!

Happily Ever After?

Julie and the kids were on their way home from the park when it happened. Ben was only about 5 years old and happily walking and running ahead on the edge of the road. There was no footpath beside the road but he was still on the grassy area. Then he must have seen our house on the other side of the road and headed towards it, edging onto the road just as a car roared up from behind him. Julie screamed for him to stop but there was not enough time.

To this day, Julie does not understand how it happened. He should have been run over. It looked to her as if Ben was picked up and thrown out of harms way onto the grass. She believes a guardian ANGEL PROTECTED HIM.

We have sought to bring our children up in the ways of the Lord. They have an understanding that they are important to Him and to us.

In Genesis 19 ANGELS SAVE LOT, his wife and his girls from the angry gay mob. Mind you, the angels have their work cut out for them in trying to get Lot and his family out! Judgment, DRAGON-LIKE, is just about to be UNLEASHED AND SWEEP DOWN upon the city and Lot is arguing with the angels about which way to escape? Figure.

MY CHOICES DETERMINE MY DESTINY.

Lot was saved because God ANSWERED Abraham’s prayer back in Genesis 18:23-32. James 5:16 (NLT) says “…The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” 

So Lot starts afresh and they ALL LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER. NOT!

Lot had argued with the angel about escaping to the mountains. When he sees the destruction of Sodom and his wife, his life is now RULED WITH FEAR and he decides to obey the original suggestion and hives it up into the mountains, living in a cave with his daughters.

From BIG MAN in the city with servants and livestock, sitting in the gate negotiating business to being a frightened little man with a drinking problem. From exercising leadership and power to having NOTHING but the daughters he had tried to offer up to the men of Sodom. God has a way of impressing on Lot what is IMPORTANT in life, but he KEEPS MISSING IT. Here’s a brilliant opportunity to get to know his girls and bring them into relationship with God.

Lot’s girls, having been protected from being raped from the men of Sodom think that they will now never have children, unless they can RAPE THEIR FATHER while he is drunk. SKEWED VIEW OF SEX from the cities they had lived in and a view of themselves based no doubt on the poor view their father has of them! Talk about DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY!

Proverbs 22:6 (NLT) “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” The opposite is true too. Lot doesn’t seem to direct his children in anything but in DESTRUCTIVE PATTERNS.

IT’S WHAT DIRECTS MY LIFE THAT DETERMINES MY DESTINY.

Lot is a believer but he is ruled by his CIRCUMSTANCES! Ruled by FEAR! Ruled by ALCOHOL! Obviously Lot agrees to GET DRUNK. Can’t blame this on the girls. The girls saw this as the way to get him to sleep with him. Lot may have been a righteous man (a believer) but certainly not disciplined enough not to get drunk.

It happens twice. DRUNKENESS is not unfamiliar to Lot. What I want to know is how come they have so much wine in the cave? Where did it come from? Did they escape in a distillery truck or something? What is it that makes bringing wine up to a cave a priority? Is Lot an ALCOHOLIC?

MY PRIORITIES WILL DETERMINE MY DESTINY.

God bless you Church as you continually CHOOSE to live in obedience to God, and refuse to let the pattern of your life be DIRECTED your sinful actions. May your PRIORITIES be God’s priorities. Seek first His kingdom and you’ll live happily ever after? Well no. Happiness comes and goes. A life full of a deepseated joy in serving the Lord. Yes!

Pastor Ross