Posts Tagged ‘Isaac’

Genesis 35:16-28 – LETTERS TO JACOB – Part 5  

Letters to Jacob © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Dear Ross, 

I have devastating news. Rachel, my beloved wife, has died in childbirth. I am grief-stricken 

On leaving Bethel, the clan and I moved on toward Ephraththe region around Bethlehem. But Rachel went into labor while we were still some distance away. Her labor pains were intense. (Genesis 35:16 NLT) 

As you know, after so many years of not being able to conceive, Rachel gave birth to Joseph before we left Laban. She asked that God would give her another son. That was 15 years ago, but she continued to pray and now finally God has answered her prayer but sent such grief to my soul.  

My twelfth son was premature. The birth was incredibly difficult. After a very hard delivery, the midwife finally exclaimed, “Don’t be afraid—you have another son!”  

Rachel was about to die, but with her last breath she named the baby Ben-oni (which means “son of my sorrow”). Such a name would have been an unbearable burden for him and all of us to bear, so I called him Benjamin instead (which means “son of my right hand”).   

His name replaces the sorrow I feel at losing Rachel. No longer will he be associated with grief but with honour in our family. He is a blessing that issued forth from sadness.  

I buried Rachel on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). I set up a stone monument over her grave, a lasting tribute to her memory. (Genesis 35:17-20 NLT).  

Yours in grief once again, 

Jacob 

____________________oOo______________________ 

Dear Jacob, 

 Rachel has shared with you the destiny God has woven into your life. Fruit from hard ground, my friend. I am so sorry for your loss and yet amazed by the promises of God which will be fulfilled through your sons. 

For you, Bethlehem is a place of loss. A memory of someone gone. An acknowledgement of a life of sorrow and joy.  Your monument leaves a legacy for future generations to wonder.  

You renamed your son from Benoni (Son of my sorrow) to Benjamin (Son of my right hand). Perhaps you will find some consolation in that your monument will also mark the place where the Messiah will be born who will also be known as both a man of sorrows and One who sits at the Right Hand of God in heaven.  

The love of your life was buried in the place where the Savior will be born. When He will be born, angels will announce “Good news of great Joy”. Your descendants will be the ancestors of the Son of God. 

The prophet Micah in Micah 5:2 says, “But you, O Bethlehem, Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf.”  

I pray, Jacob, for you and for me, that with our last breath, let us not see the sorrow, but the grace of what the Lord has accomplished in our lives and the legacy He gives us to leave behind. 

Isaiah 41:10 (NLT) says, Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with My victorious right hand. 

God’s strength, 

Ross. 

____________________oOo______________________ 

Dear Ross, 

Thankyou for your words of encouragement and prophetic insight. At the moment however I am faced with yet a new challenge and great disappointment. 

After Rachel died, I travelled on to see my father. We camped beyond Migdal-eder, the watchtower of the shepherds near Jerusalem. While I was living there, I heard some disturbing reports. My eldest son, Reuben, had intercourse with Bilhah, Rachel’s maid (Genesis 35:21-22 NLT).  

You may not understand the significance of this in your culture, but in Canaan, this is seen as a way of showing disrespect for the leader of the tribe or family, a challenge to say that he is unfit. It is described as “making yourself strong”. I know I have not been there when my sons and daughter needed me the most, but I thought we had all made a new start. 

I deserve the scorn of my sons for my lack of leadership. I don’t really know what I will do, but Reuben will not be excused. He is my firstborn but he will never have the leadership of our family 

I have experienced more fear, grief, disappointment and heartache with my sons than ever before in my life. These ongoing attacks, however, have only served to strengthen my resolve to obey God.  

At present, I am taking no action against Reuben. I have twelve sons and God has promised that from my family will come the blessing given originally to Abraham, that through them all the nations of the world will be blessed. How He can use us to do that I really don’t know, but I trust Him. 

God alone can fulfil His promises to me. In the meantime, I am returning to my father, Isaac, in MamreIt is a place of rich historyIt is near Kiriath-arba (now called Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac both lived. Abraham and Isaac lived there as foreigners but this land was promised to them and to us as their family forever.  

My father is blind but meeting his grandsons may give him some pleasure in seeing God’s promises being unfolded before he dies. 

Still trusting in God’s promises, 

Jacob 

____________________oOo______________________ 

Dear Jacob, 

Your letter reminds me that neither sin nor death can frustrate God’s purposes for His people. By faith, you have been blessed concerning things to come. 

Isaac must be well over 150 years old by now. He has lived an incredibly long life. (Genesis 35:28 NLT). I don’t want to live that long, but I do want my life to count for something. 

You have gone through so much of late, and you have overcome by your trust in God. You remind me that none of us are exempt from the trials of life; including the deaths of those we love, and the disappointments and stresses of family life.  

When the time comes for your father to die, you will be the great patriarch of the faith, the mantle of responsibility will be placed upon your shoulders to carry to the next generation. 

 Isaac will die in the faith, not having received the promises directlybut having seen it all from a distance and welcomed it. Abraham and Isaac were foreigners and nomads here on earth, looking forward to a country they could call their own. Like you, they have trusted in promises of God being fulfilled in generations to come. God is not ashamed to be called your God, and He has prepared you for a great purpose and blessing on the earth. You too, Jacob have received it by faith (Hebrews 11:13-20 NLT).  

In days to come at Migdal-eder, where you now reside, I prophesy that shepherds will hear of the Saviour who will come directly through your line.  

Thanks for being a friend, Jacob. I have to admit, there have been times when I have not particularly liked you or the way you have done things, but who I am to judge. I have equally not liked myself or my actions at times in my life. Nevertheless, you have always given me an example, especially of late, of someone who holds onto the promises of God in certain hope of seeing His purposes fulfilled. Only the gracious purposes of God will ensure the survival of our families during the perilous times in which we live. 

I will catch up with you again soon, my friend, 

Inspired to trust in the promises of God and His Word, 

Ross 

____________________oOo______________________ 

Dear Ross, 

Much has happened since last I wrote to you and one day I will tell you about my son Joseph, but for now I am writing to let you know that my father, Isaac, breathed his last and died at a ripe old age, joining his ancestors in death. Esau and I buried him (Genesis 35:29 NLT). 

Once again Esau and I were reconciled, only this time in our grief. My grandfather, Abraham, bought the cave of Machpelah, near Mamrefrom Ephron the Hittite as a permanent burial site. Abraham buried his wife Sarah there and he was buried thereNow my father joins them. My mother, Rebekah, is also buried there. One day Leah and I will be buried there as well (Genesis 49:29-32 NLT). 

As you said in your last letter, I am now the patriarch of the family, heir of the promises and blessings of God, not only Isaac’s wealth. May the Lord help me to honour the heritage He has given me.  

May God be known as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 

Jacob 

____________________oOo______________________

Pastor Ross

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Genesis 28:1-9 – HOW TO AVOID MISSING THE POINT ENTIRELY

Missing the PointIt was the first time I had spoken before Doc Gibson, a respected theological professor. Having been given a classic passage in the Old Testament on which to speak I had spent many hours reading every book and commentary I could find. By the time I came to speak I was exhausted from lack of sleep but felt I had something worthwhile to offer. The professor, however, after hearing what I had to say, told me that I had missed the point entirely. I was devastated. In a few minutes he summed up my blind spot and I went home a little annoyed, affronted, embarrassed and feeling sorry for myself. Over the next few days I reflected on how I could face the professor, but I kept coming back to the only conclusion I could make – he was right! How could I have missed something so obvious? Taking his advice, and seeking to diligently “find the point”, I was greatly encouraged at the end of the next year when I won the preaching prize.

All of a sudden in Genesis 28, Jacob, not Esau, has the full support of his father. Isaac has just blessed Jacob (Genesis 28:6), instead of him. How does Esau feel about all this? Understandably he feels he has been robbed. It’s as if he has caught the thief, laid charges but somehow on a technicality the case has been reversed so that the thief is awarded the damages. There is no justice. He is upset, rejected, annoyed, angry, hostile towards his brother, struggling to find answers. But hasn’t he also missed the point?

Jacob, his brother, is told not to marry a Canaanite and is sent to Syria to find a wife (Genesis 28:7). He is to go back to Rebekah’s family in Padan-aram, and marry one of his own cousins, one of the daughters of his uncle, his mother’s brother, Laban. Repeating the blessing of Abraham over Jacob (Genesis 26:3-5), Isaac, his Dad, tells Jacob that he will be a father of a great nation, and his descendents will own the land of Caanan. And just like that, by necessity, Jacob is propelled from the presence of his family.

It is obvious to Esau from this conversation his Dad has with his brother that his parents don’t approve of his choice of wives (Genesis 28:8). This has been clear since Genesis 26:34-35. If you had married Hittite wives (Canaanites, Philistines, Genesis 26:34), how would you feel listening to this go down between Jacob and his father Isaac? Esau, as impulsive as ever and so desperate to win back his father’s approval, does the only thing he can think of. Since Jacob is sent off to marry his mother’s niece, he will marry his father’s niece. That should solve the problem.

If you remember the story, Ishmael is the son of Abraham and Hagar. Abraham was married to Sarah and couldn’t have any children so Sarah gave Hagar, her servant, to Abraham as a surrogate mother. Hagar bore Ishmael (Genesis 16:1-4, 15). No Hittite blood here. Esau hopes his marriage into Ishmael’s family will please his parents. He wants to fix things outwardly by marrying someone who is not a Canaanite, but he missed the point entirely!

Esau’s descendents are called the Idumeans. One famous descendent is king Herod, who features in the Christmas story, is the Idumean who tried to take the throne of David, but who was merely a puppet king of the Romans. He was the Idumean who tried to kill Jesus after he was born by slaughtering every male child in Bethlehem two years and under. Unfortunately he highlights the characteristics of the Idumean line.

Although Ishmael was Abraham’s son his family line did not have faith in God. Esau aligned himself by marriage to Ismael and to the Hittites and although he was from the line of Abraham he did not have the faith of Abraham. Esau is still so spiritually blind that he just doesn’t get it! He thinks any connection by marriage to Abraham will regain approval with his Dad, but marrying into the family of Abraham is not the point! All through his life he has opportunities to submit his life to God. Even in marriage he misses the opportunity to marry a woman of faith and to serve God from his heart, but he is not interested.

He misses the point concerning his birthright! He misses the point concerning his blessing! He misses the point concerning his marriage! A birthright, a blessing and a marriage are all associated with responsible spiritual leadership under God. A birthright bequeaths spiritual leadership, a blessing bestows spiritual leadership and a marriage is a betrothal that gives expression to spiritual leadership as we submit to eachother and to God. He misses the point on 3 counts. But the invitation of this passage is that you don’t have to.

You have a birthright in Christ that has been bequeathed to you, a destiny to fulfil that is yours. In Christ you are blessed with the blessing of Abraham, blessed to be a blessing. The Bible says His Church is in marriage relationship with Christ, His bride. The invitation to have a personal relationship with God is yours. He loves you and wants a relationship with you. What would be the point of Christ dying for your sins if you were to gamble with your life at the Cross and not get the point of relationship with Christ?

Pastor Ross

MAY GOD BLESS YOU THIS YEAR

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Genesis 27:38 – 28:4 – WHAT WILL YOUR LIFE ATTRACT THIS YEAR?

Growing up, I never really got to know my father. I knew that at Christmas I could give him a record of Engelbert Humperdinck (Yes, a record and yes, that was his name, or at least his stagename). He liked cars, cigarettes and I liked reading, the Beatles and Bob Dylan. He was a tough man who worked hard for a living and went to the pub after work with his mates. I was a recluse who liked to hibernate in my room to paint, invent and write bad poetry. Having so little in common, I consequently learned nothing from him, (not even how to smoke, curse or drink). It might have been different if I had made an effort, and taken the initiative, but that was the farthest thing from my mind. I didn’t like him or want to be around him. Perhaps I was feeling the generational curse of a dysfunctional family rather than any sense of wanting to receive his blessing. I don’t remember him taking an active part in even giving gifts at Christmas. I guess Jacob felt a similar kind of estrangement from his Dad and affinity with his Mum.

But Esau had a good relationship with his Dad and wanted his blessing, any blessing, although it had already been given to Jacob. Genesis 27:39 (NLT) says “Finally, his father, Isaac, said to him, “You will live away from the richness of the earth, and away from the dew of the heaven above.” You will live in a desert! What does he mean by this blessing? “Away from the richness of the earth and dew of heaven…”? Not a good way to start blessing your son. Sounds more like a curse. What kind of blessing will your life attract this year?

Where Esau lives will be a reflection of the state of his heart. Esau’s descendents inhabited Idumea, a desert in comparison with where Jacob settled. Malachi 1:2-5 (NLT) is an indictment upon Esau’s negative attitude to God. Among other things the Lord says of Esau’s descendents “… Their country will be known as ‘The Land of Wickedness,’ and their people will be called ‘The People with Whom the Lord Is Forever Angry.’…”

In Genesis 27:40 (NLT) Isaac reflects his sons destiny and says “You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.”” These are fighting words. This is a blessing with a mean streak. Esau attracts the kind of blessing for Vikings and the vanquished, villains and the violent, not what you would expect for a son! He was going to be a man of war when it comes to his brother. Esau had the nature of a warrior. He would hunt and fight for his living.

Repentance might have attracted a very different blessing. It’s interesting that Esau took no responsibility for the loss of his birthright and blessing. It did not bring him to a place of confession, only anger, jealousy and hatred of his brother. He even seems keen for his father to die so he can get on with murdering his brother. Isaac, his father, virtually gave him permission to live by the sword and break free of Jacob.

Esau’s people took Mount Seir by force from the Horites. Continually at war with the descendents of Jacob, they chose every occasion to be in coalition with their enemies, but never succeeded in overthrowing their Jewish overlords. King David made the Edomites slaves but they eventually shook free of this yoke and assimilated into the Arab nations. Isaac’s prophetic blessing was thus realised. What kind of blessing will your life attract this year?

Jacob, no doubt to his relief, is about to leave home to live with his uncle Laban for the next 20 years, and Isaac gives part 2 of the blessing that God intended for the line of Jacob. It is in such contrast to that of Esau but reflects what is in Jacob’s heart. Jacob’s life, despite his shortcomings, attracts the blessing of God. Jacob has included God in his life and God has included him in the ancestral line of Christ Himself. Isaac says “May God Almighty bless you and give you many children. And may your descendants multiply and become many nations! May God pass on to you and your descendants the blessings He promised to Abraham. May you own this land where you are now living as a foreigner, for God gave this land to Abraham” (Genesis 28:1-4 NLT). Now that’s a blessing! What will your life attract this year?

May God articulate His vision and blessing over your life this year, to release your full potential as you trust in Christ. May He extend your territory and increase your fruitfulness and influence for Him. May He increase your love for Him and for others. May love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control be characteristics of your heart that overflow in your life. May He give you opportunities to honour Him and may you take them.

Julie and Ross Cochrane

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JUSTICE AND GRACE

JUSTICE AND GRACE

“Matthew and his friends were sliding down a Mammoth Mountain ski run on a foam pad at 3am, when he crashed into a lift tower and died. His makeshift sledge of yellow foam had been stolen from the legs of a lift tower on Stump Alley. The cushion is meant to protect skiers who hit the tower, and the tower Matthew ran into was the one from which he had created his sledge.” (The “Darwin Awards” 1998). In Genesis 27 each family member takes their own infamous ski run which causes untold damage to themselves.

There is a rhyme and rhythm to poetic justice. Job 4:8 (NLT) says “My experience shows that those who plant trouble and cultivate evil will harvest the same.” We reap what we sow. Deception’s voice has an echo. The dissonant chords of sin are often resolved by Poetic Justice. In Genesis 27, amazingly, the tangled web of deceptive words and actions serves to highlight God’s Prophetic Grace.

ISAAC targeted Jacob. The operation sought to take territory rightly belonging to Jacob and put it in control of Esau. His efforts to bypass God’s purposes brought about great damage in his own life, a form of Poetic Justice. He lost the respect of both his sons (Genesis 28:1-5). He lost the trust of his wife. His desire to bless Esau instead of Jacob led to Esau being hurt deeply by his unfulfilled promise.

REBEKAH targeted Isaac and Esau. Her covert operation was enacted with military precision but caused untold collateral damage to herself. She suffered the loss of her favourite son and the trust of her other son (Genesis 27:43-45). Intelligence reports alerted Rebekah on Esau’s intentions to kill Jacob. Her deception had put her boy in harm’s way, and she was forced to make contingency plans on the run. Jacob was now trapped behind enemy lines, and had to be evacuated (Genesis 27:46 – Genesis 28:1-5). She paid the price for all her deceptive tactics in Poetic Justice – she never saw him again. She died before he returned. No doubt she spent a lot of time in a foxhole seeking to avoid the bullets flying around her from her husband Isaac and son Esau who no doubt had lost all confidence and trust in her as an ally.

ESAU targeted Jacob. His covert plans with his father tried to change God’s purposes and it left him in conflict with his brother and severely wounded by his father and mother. The unintended rejection by his father wounded Esau (Genesis 28:6-9) and left him bitter and insecure. Instead of a blessing he received a curse. Esau’s only option was to live the rest of his life in survival mode amidst constant conflict as a mercenary in many unstable military situations. He would be captured (Genesis 27:39-40) and subjected to hardship but eventually escape.

JACOB targeted his father Isaac and brother Jacob. He impersonated his brother to gain his objective (Genesis 27:6-29) but this led to devastating damage to himself. He obtained only the hate of his brother, Esau. (Genesis 27:41). In this climate of instability Jacob would have lived in constant fear of being murdered by his own brother.

Fearing civil war in the family Isaac makes the decision to extract Jacob from danger, and move him to a more friendly environment with his uncle (Genesis 27:42 – Genesis 28:1-5). He suffered the separation from his family, living as a fugitive (Genesis 27:42). He never saw his mother again. Although his uncle gave him refuge Jacob was tricked into serving him for about twenty years. The damage was ongoing (Genesis 29:15-30; 37:1-35), years of reaping what he had sown. Poetic Justice. 

Despite all this, God’s purposes were achieved and the promise of Abraham (Prophetic Grace) was passed down through Jacob as God had originally intended. Deception always reaps a harvest of unexpected, unintentional suffering and pain, but God still has the desire and power to turn cursing to blessing. Romans 6:23 (NLT) says “For the wages of sin is death, (Poetic Justice) but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord (Prophetic Grace).

Romans 5:8-10 (NLT) says “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” It seems our sin killed the One sent to save us from sin. The consequences of Poetic Justice are resolved by the covenant of Prophetic Grace when we believe in Christ. The choice is ours. 

Pastor Ross

Genesis 27:1-27 – RIGHT PRESENT, WRONG SON

TO ESAU?

To make a Christmas analogy, it was as if Isaac was wrapping up a Christmas present and giving it to the wrong family member. It was as if Rebekah was shoplifting to try to bless her son. It was as if Jacob was impersonating Santa Claus to be liked.

It is wrong for Isaac to secretly seek to bless Esau with the blessing God intends for Jacob. It is wrong for Rebecca to seek to bring about God’s will by deceptive means. It is wrong for Jacob to seek to impersonate someone else and expect to be blessed. Such mistakes will have serious consequences for this dysfunctional family in the future, but God still has a way of turning cursing to blessing.

If he was able to discern the voice of God Isaac would not forge ahead to bless Esau in the first place but now he blunders onto the set where he becomes the unknowing, though not innocent, performer in the first act of Jacob’s starring role as Esau. Although he is physically and spiritually blind, he suspects that he is not speaking with Esau, and he is left to initiate his own process of verification, based entirely upon his own reasoning and his other senses. Without God’s help all that is left is crude science.

QUESTIONS

Twice Isaac asks directly who it is. Jacob, prodded to deception by his mother, replies,“It’s Esau, your firstborn son. I’ve done as you told me. Here is the wild game. Now sit up and eat it so you can give me your blessing” (Genesis 27:19, 24 NLT).

REASONING

Not entirely convinced, Isaac asks, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?” Jacob is quick, “The Lord your God put it in my path!” (Genesis 27:20 NLT). Who can question the Lord? But Isaac is no fool. Perhaps he knows Esau would not give an answer that involves God. Esau seems to have left God out of his life. Why would he even mention God?

THE SENSES

Being blind he employs other available senses and says “Come closer so I can touch you and make sure that you really are Esau” (Genesis 27:21 NLT). Jacob comes closer to his father, and Isaac touches him. “The voice is Jacob’s, but the hands are Esau’s,” Isaac says (Genesis 27:22 NLT). Goat skin has been freshly stretched upon Jacob’s neck and arms. Isaac believes the hairy arms and hands of the goat deception, despite the dissonant chords of Jacob’s voice.

Over the meal, Isaac thinks of one more test. He says “Please come a little closer and kiss me, my son” (Genesis 27:26 NLT). So Jacob comes over and kisses his Dad. And when Isaac catches the smell of his clothes, he is finally convinced, and is willing to give his blessing. Isaac says, “Ah! The smell of my son is like the smell of the outdoors, which the Lord has blessed!” (Genesis 27:27 NLT). Jacob foresaw the need to wear Esau’s clothes (If Hugo Boss had been around he would have made a new men’s fragrance called “Fresh Air The smell of the great outdoors. Receive the Blessing” – expensive and deceptively alluring).

ANALYSIS

Jacob and Rebekah teach me that Deception cannot procure God’s spiritual blessings and purposes. Isaac teaches me that when I seek to defy God’s purposes then I am limited to my own resources, to my own reasoning and the senses. The senses will never plumb the depths of spiritual truth. The senses don’t make sense when faith and obedience are required.

God invites me to “…live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7 (NIV). He wants me to (excuse the sensory analogy) hear His voice, smell the fragrance of His Presence, touch the Hem of His garment, taste the very bread of life, see with the eyes of faith, perceive and receive His blessings for my life and for my family this Christmas.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 27:1-27 – WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

Celebrities trace their family history and tell such interesting stories about their ancestors in the classic series “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?” They find those who fought in major battles, accomplished heroic deeds, overcame insurmountable circumstances. Some lived infamous and tragic lives. All lived extraordinarily unique lives and their loves and hardships tell a moving story that inevitably brings tears to the eyes of their descendants who, in uncovering their past, layer by layer, are discovering more of who they are.

To trace Jesus family tree ancestry.com would take us back to Genesis 27 where Isaac wants to give his son ESAU the generational blessing handed down from father to son from the time of Abraham, even though God has promised that it will be his other son Jacob who leads the family (Genesis 25:23, Romans 9:10-13), not Esau.

Obviously not an identical twin, ESAU is the Bear Grylls of the Old Testament, only with body hair.Rugged, unkempt and lion-like, he is more Hagar the Horrible than Brad Pit, more caveman than business-man. He is a great hunter, sportsman, an outdoors man. And he has rejected God in his life.

Much less adventurous than his brother, JACOB stays around home. He’s the Master Chef of the family, especially good at making stew (Jacob has already used his cooking skills to entice his brother into giving up his Birthright – Genesis 25).

Rebekah, their mother, will go to any length to see Jacob, not Esau, receive the Father’s blessing for the firstborn. Whatever it takes! Even if it means deceiving her blind husband! Lying comes easy to this family.

Not really knowing who he is, and easily led by his Mum, Jacob seeks to accomplish God’s will by IMPERSONATING ESAU. With a family history riddled with such ruse, now it’s his turn to play a leading role. Records show that Sarah acted the role of Abraham’s sister (Genesis 20:2). Rebekah played the role of Isaac’s sister (Genesis 26:7). I’ve done it too. I admit it. (no, not played the role of my sister! What I mean is that I’ve tried to imitate others.) I’ve tried to look like, act like, preach like famous preachers in the hope I might receive their blessings, instead of simply being myself and allowing God to fulfil the promises for my life in His way. What about you? WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

With goat’s skin stretched onto his arms and neck and wearing Esau’s clothes, Jacob impersonates Esau. He lies to his blind Dad, saying “It’s Esau, your firstborn son. I’ve done as you told me. Here is the wild game. Now sit up and eat it so you can give me your blessing.Isaac asks, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?” “The Lord your God put it in my path!” Jacob replies. He blasphemes God by saying that GOD gave him success in finding the game so soon, but notice he says “The Lord YOUR God” helped me to hunt (Genesis 27:20), and not “the Lord MY God” because he knows that this is what Esau would say.Esau has no faith of his own.

God wants me to be myself, yet the Bible speaks of imitating Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). Does it mean that I lose my personality in order to receive God’s blessing? Do I have to live a lie? Followers of Christ often say “More of Him, less of me” but does God want me to be LESS of who I really am? John the Baptist declares in John 3:30 (NLT) “He (Christ) must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” but what does he mean? Did God want him to be less of himself? In Mark 8:33-38 (NLT) Jesus says “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?”

Only by knowing and loving Christ can I truly understand who I am. Jesus wants those who have a relationship with Him to live life to the full (John 10:10). John the Baptist was preparing the way for Christ to fulfil His destiny in dying for our sins, so that we could receive the gift of eternal life and live our lives under His blessing. We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit, so we can be all God intends us to be, not emptied of ourselves, but fully alive in Him. Not less of myself but certainly less selfish! Not sinless but sinning less. I don’t have to live a lie, but be honest to God.

The question is not so much “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?” based on your family tree, but “WHO HAS GOD CREATED YOU TO BE?” based on being in the family of God. As His children, we live the life He intended for us to live in all it’s fullness, …and pass on to our children the generational blessing found in knowing Christ.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 27:5-17 – THE STING – HOW TO SHAPE YOUR DESTINY THROUGH DECEPTION

THE STING

My Mum always believed that a little white lie was always acceptable if it brought about the right end. Rebekah went all in for THE STING. Strictly speaking, Esau is her FIRST BORN SON, if only by a few seconds, and as such is entitled to certain privileges. A first-born son in Old Testament times is given the overall LEADERSHIP of the family, the SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY of the family as well as a DOUBLE PORTION of the inheritance. This is his BIRTHRIGHT. This is how it is always done. Or is it? If it’s up to Rebekah, it won’t be.

Romans 9:10-13 says “When Isaac married Rebekah, she gave birth to TWINS. But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God.” She was told, “Your older son will serve your younger son.” That had an impact on Rebekah then, and years later it still does.

THE SET-UP

Overhearing a conversation Isaac has with Esau, Rebekah discovers that Isaac intends to secretly give the family blessing to Esau NOT JACOB. Once given it will be binding and irrevocable. Family inheritance, family leadership, spiritual authority. BUT GOD PROMISED REBEKAH THIS WOULD GO TO JACOB!

THE HOOK

When life appears to be going pear-shaped for your children, don’t give up! Manipulate, deceive, badger and lie! If God won’t work things out immediately, do it yourself! At least this is Rebekah’s way of getting things done. Rebekah wants to work out the will of God on HER OWN TIMETABLE in Genesis 27.

There is always a Rebekah, who feels she is responsible, playing God, but in the most ungodly of ways. God said it, I believe it, BUT… Lacking faith in God’s ability to accomplish His promises, Rebekah has her own plan, a STING OPERATION on her blind husband. It’s a long-shot and poorly conceived, but she finds Jacob and gives him an opportunity to earn an Oscar. Not wanting Jacob to be the biggest loser and be by-passed for a leading role in life (Genesis 27:6-7), Rebekah tells Jacob that deception, trickery, fraud, dishonesty, lying and a sting operation is the only way left for her to fulfil the will of God! How twisted is this kind of thinking?

THE STING

She convinces Jacob to bring two of the young goats from the herd and she cooks them in the way Isaac likes. To complete the ruse, she finds some clothes belonging to Esau and puts them on Jacob. Since Esau is hairy, she glues goat skin to Jacob’s hands and neck (Genesis 27:16). She gives Jacob the meat and sends him in to play Esau and receive the blessing from his blind father. Simple. Who will ever know?

I can know God’s will and try to bring it about in the wrong way and in the wrong time. God doesn’t need me to lie and scheme in order to accomplish His purposes for my life. Do I really believe that unless I don’t act now it won’t happen and if I don’t do something God will bypass me? Is a deceptive means to a good ending justified? Is it really up to me to bring about God’s will in whatever way I please? I know I have to co-operate with God, but it seems to me Rebekah’s method is a bit sus.

God says “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT).

THE INVITATION God so patiently gives is for every one of us to believe Him and His promises. Like a father, He longs for relationship with us. He wants to include us in HIS plans, not the other way around. When I simply try to include Him in MY plans, I get it wrong and although He can turn cursing to blessing, He doesn’t condone my sin. Will my impatience with His timetable set into play a series of consequences that will inevitably shape my destiny in adverse ways? He gives every person the invitation and the opportunity to place their trust in Christ and come under His authority for their lives, and to co-operate with Him along the way. Only He knows the beginning from the end. He can shape my destiny based on integrity not a sting operation. He likes to write the end of the story with my co-operation not my interference.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 27:1-4 – DAY OF DESTINY – YOU ARE SO NOT INVITED!

Dear God, You are So NOT INVITED!

Can I really control my own destiny or is it predetermined for me? Can I frustrate fete or the plans of God or am I able to choose what I want for my life? What about Isaac and Rebekah? What about their sons, Esau and Jacob? I mean, none of them will admit to you that they are all trying to bypass and tamper with God’s will, but that’s what they are trying to do in Genesis 27. Can God’s will and purposes be thwarted? This story will be passed down for generations as an example of how the stubborn and hurried choices we make to determine our own future can go wrong, and how, despite our dogged desires, God is still able to accomplish His purposes.

Esau. Skilful with weapons. A sportsman/hunter. A man’s man. A Father’s favourite. Isaac loves his rugged outdoorsman son, Bear Grylls. Jacob, his other son, is a Mummy’s boy. That’s where all the trouble begins. Favouritism.

If Isaac had been reading his diary lately he would have been reminded that God told Rebekah “The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son” (Genesis 25:23). Jesus would eventually come from the line of Jacob, NOT Esau. He has spoken with Rebekah about this promise. Isaac knows that Jacob is supposed to receive the father’s blessing. Now he is intending to disregard God’s will. Is he blind? Well, as a matter-of-fact yes, totally (Genesis 27:1), but what I mean is he is making a big mistake!

A little further back in Isaac’s diary and we read that Esau isn’t interested in the family or in a relationship with God. Esau SOLD HIS BIRTHRIGHT to his brother for a pot of stew! (See Genesis 25:27-34 – Bear Grylls and Master Chef.) Irresponsible!, Perhaps he needs to go into the army for a season and learn a little discipline. He is definitely not suited for being CEO of the family business or leading his family spiritually. More suited to taking tourists on Safari. He doesn’t appear to have a spiritual bone in his body.

Isaac is not stupid. He knows the will of God, and he still wants to do things his own way. Hebrews 3:12 (NLT) says “Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God.” Now totally blind and well over 100 years old, Isaac thinks he’s going to die soon (Genesis 27:2. Understandable (How could he know he would live 40 years more – Genesis 35:28-29)!

He decides to act quickly and covertly to give Esau, not Jacob, the family blessing. Instead of killing one of the flock and celebrating a feast with family and friends, he asks Esau to go out and kill some game and prepare that instead. Then he would bless him and bestow leadership, inheritance and the spiritual responsibility upon him.

But how absent of celebration this blessing will be. How empty and devoid of congratulations! This is like a 21st birthday party without a cake and a mother’s kiss! Without music and laughter! Isaac acts in secret. He calls only Esau (Genesis 27:1)! He chooses a substitute feast and a secret celebration. No personal cost. As if God doesn’t notice! In Jeremiah 16:17 (NIV) God says “My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from Me, nor is their sin concealed from My eyes.”

Esau does not believe in God. It’s worth asking – Can I really send God a “You are so not invited to my destiny” Card and still expect the blessing of God? I know at times I have tried to control God and tell Him what I want Him to do for me as if He is a genie in a bottle. It makes me wonder what other ways I deliberately try to ignore, neglect, disobey and reject God?

Isaac leaves God out of his plans. Can I really expect the blessing of God when I refuse to include him in my decisions? I can’t receive what God wants for my life through the false hopes and dreams of my parents. The blessings of God, the Father, are given to those who are the children of God through faith in Christ. Galatians 3:14 (NLT) says “Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing He promised to Abraham, …THROUGH FAITH.”

The invitation God gives comes in the form of a Covenant promise and a sacrifice. The promise was Eternal life. The sacrifice was paid on the Cross when Christ died for our sins. Christ sacrificed His life for our sins in order to bestow the blessing of Eternal life. He invites you to believe in Him and receive the promised blessing today.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 26:26-35 – WE’RE NOT GOING TO LIVE IN FEAR!

She is new to Shalom, the Aged Care Facility where I work as a Chaplain. Jane (not her real name) is old and frail, and anxious. She clings onto my hand, frantic eyes wide and pleads “Will you stay here and talk to me. I don’t have any friends here. I need someone to stay with me. Please don’t leave me alone.” I can almost smell the fear it is so palpable as she looks into my eyes and tentatively glances around the room at her new surroundings.

That’s when I notice Francis (not her real name) at a table nearby, listening to our conversation and pretending to read a book. I breathe a sigh of relief. After all Jane can’t live the few remaining years her life in fear. Meeting new friends can only help. The perfect opportunity for Jane to meet a new friend. We arrive at her table and I introduce Jane to Francis.

Fancis, a rather tall and well built woman stands to her feet and before I can stop her she slams her considerable sized book on the table in front of her. With venom in her voice she yells at the top of her vocal range, swearing into Janes face “Get a ^%#@* grip on yourself woman! … Keep her away from me!” All of a sudden the loungeroom was a battlefield, Jane’s wheelchair was her trench and each strange face her enemy. She was afraid and I was her only ally, vainly waving a peace flag while it was being shot to pieces.

The shock of this confrontation is almost too much for Jane and I quickly wheel her away from her “potential friend” before she has a heart attack. I shake my head in disbelief as Francis continues her tirade from a distance. If Jane was fearful about being in a new place she is now TRAUMATISED against meeting anybody new. Who knows how the next stranger might respond? She feels REJECTED AND ISOLATED.

Isaac is also in a new place and among strangers, but initially he is tolerated and they allow him to farm the land. For someone who has never farmed before, Isaac has an unbelievably fruitful season, a bumper crop, by the time we get to Genesis 26:12. He is being blessed by God, and God, it seems, has incredible farming skills.

Although Isaac becomes very prosperous in his business, his RELATIONSHIP with his Philistine neighbours is in a mess. Isaac is seen as a THREAT and is ordered out of Gerar by the authorities. REJECTED AND ISOLATED in a strange place. Jane understands how he feels.

Isaac moves eventually to BEERSHEBA after a number of provocative incidents which, like a fully cocked flintlock on an ancient musket, were ready to create a spark that would ignite the priming powder of war. The Philistines are itching for a fight and they vandalise his wells by filling them with dirt.

Isaac is still pretty upset about the vandalism of his fathers wells. So when the Philistine King Abimelech walks into camp with his army commander, Phicol, he isn’t exactly receptive. He says “Why have you come here? You obviously hate me, since you kicked me off your land” (Genesis 26:27 NLT). He’s not being paranoid. They do hate him!

Abimelech acknowledges that he can see that the Lord is with Isaac. I spoke with a man the other day who can see the difference that faith has made but he is still unwilling to commit his life to Christ. Why is that? Is it because he is unwilling to come under God’s authority and to be accountable to Him?

Obviously Abimelech is a little bit afraid of the reprisals that might occur because of the vandalism to Isaacs wells. He says he wants peace. He says “Let’s make a covenant. Swear that you will not harm us, just as we have never troubled you. We have always treated you well, and we sent you away from us in peace…” (Genesis 26:28 NLT). What gall! Treated him well? He has just finished running him out of town, almost instigating a war in the process, and he says that he sent him away in peace! Thems fighting words!

Here’s Isaacs opportunity to get even by running Abimelech out of town, but Isaac doesn’t take it. He sees the bigger picture. He begins being intentional about peace. He starts thinking in effect “How long can we look at each other down the barrel of a gun?” The Australian pop singer Johnny Farnham would have been proud. “We’re not gonna sit in silence, WE’RE NOT GONNA LIVE WITH FEAR, Oh-o-o-o, whoa-o-o-o!” (The Voice).

Isaac prepares a non aggression treaty. They eat and drink together, a sign of their mutual agreement. Jesus says “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9 NASB). Paul says “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” (Romans 12:18 NASB). The next morning they sign the treaty by making a solemn oath with each other in front of witnesses. Then Abimelech leaves in peace (Genesis 26:30-31) and in that atmosphere of peace and security comes more good news.

That very day Isaac’s servants came and told him about a new well they had dug. “We’ve found water!” they exclaimed. So Isaac named the well Shibah (which means “oath”). And to this day the town that grew up there is called Beersheba (which means “WELL OF THE OATH”)”. Isaac sees a connection with the finding of this well and the peace treaty he has just made with Abimelech, but mostly this is the place where God appears to him and reaffirms His covenant of blessing (Genesis 26:24-25).

Don’t miss it. Not having to live in fear is not just trying to please everyone around you. Deep-seated peace comes when I am in relationship with Christ who is my peace. Jesus says “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27 NLT). Reconciliation with God leads to reconciliation with others.

The invitation of peace with God and eachother is found in Christ. To followers of Christ, Paul writes, “You were His ENEMIES, SEPARATED from Him …Yet now He has RECONCILED you to Himself through the death of Christ …” (Colossians 1:19-22 NLT).

2 Corinthians 5:14-21 (NLT) says “… we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. … anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. … And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”

Now that’s some PEACE TREATY. Forgiven! Restored! Loved! “WE’RE NOT GONNA TO LIVE IN FEAR! OH-O-O-O, WHOA-O-O-O!”

Pastor Ross

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Genesis 26:12-25 – FOREIGNERS GO HOME!

Foreigners Go Home!

He is not afraid to let others excel to the point where they are better than he is. He is not THREATENED by others rising to the top. I like that about Pastor Brian Houston. How can I expect to grow if I am not willing to encourage others to reach their full potential in life and be all that God intends for them to be?

The trouble is when I begin to focus my attention on great preachers all of a sudden my ability to make a difference seems so small in comparison. They have such incredible impact in people’s lives all around the world. I can choose to either praise God for their influence or get JEALOUS, CRITICAL and INTIMIDATED BY THEM. When Isaac begins to prosper, he gets up close and personal with the destructive consequences of jealousy.

On reflection Isaac didn’t exactly get things right along the way when it came to his relationships. He uses his wife as a shield to protect himself without considering what this would do to her. He is rebuked by the Philistine leader, Abimelech, and regarded with suspicion from then on. It’s like getting the Mayor of the city offside.

All this probably contributes to the REJECTION AND JEALOUSY of Isaac by the local residents in Gerar, especially when God starts to prosper him. You can almost hear them say Not only is he a liar but these foreigners are stealing our jobs and livelihood!” You know how the conversations go when overseas investors take over iconic homegrown businesses.

Not having a belief in God and therefore not having an appreciation of God’s blessing in another persons life, the Philistines express their PROVINCIALISM and JEALOUSY by vandalising Isaacs property. They fill Isaacs wells with dirt, leaving him without a water supply (Genesis 26:14-15).

This is the Bible’s first act of VANDALISM. I’m sure there was graffiti saying “FOREIGNERS GO HOME!” Obviously the locals in Gerar were threatened and intolerant of strangers. Without water Isaac is forced to move (Genesis 26:18-22).

What makes it worse is that these vandalised wells had been in the family for years, built by his father Abraham. If it was me, I’d feel a little angry. Filling in a well with dirt was equivalent to an ACT OF WAR, a crime, an act of terrorism. Isaac had enough men to take these guys down. RETALIATE! REVENGE! GET EVEN! Perhaps Isaac is too much of a WIMP to try this. He doesn’t do anything but dodge the blows. Some suggest that he is just a PEACEFUL man. Whatever.

Isaac takes the easy way out. He moves from Gerar to Beersheba, singing the “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers. “… You got to know when to turn away, know when to run.” His relationship problems with his neighbours are reflected in the names he gives to the wells he dug. Esek – “argument”, Sitnah – “hostility”. He’s not having a good day by the time he gets to the end of Genesis 26. Ever feel like this? Alienated? Rejected? Excluded?

JEALOUSY and prejudice is a terrible thing. It’s like a splinter that irritates you and becomes infected. It also separates you in terms of your relationships. It seems that even Abimelech is jealous and intimidated by Isaacs wealth and power. And since a leader sets the culture, he orders Isaac to leave the country. “Go somewhere else,” he said, “for you have become too powerful for us.” (Genesis 26:16 NLT). “FOREIGNERS, GO HOME!” God promised this land to Isaac and his descendents but now he finds that he is a foreigner in his own land.

Jesus had the same thing happen to Him. John 1:10-12 (NLT) says “He came into the very world He created, but the world didn’t recognize Him. He came to His own people, and even they REJECTED Him. But to all who believed Him and ACCEPTED Him, He gave the right to become children of God.”

God always has a way of turning CURSING TO BLESSING and Isaac keeps moving until God opens the way for him. It takes a while but I know that as I trust in God He dispels my fears and reaffirms His desire to bless me and impact future generations. He brings me to the place where, like Isaac, I can dig wells such as REHOBOTH, which means “the Lord has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land” (Genesis 26:22). That’s when I know that I am SUSTAINED by Him and, like Isaac, I build an altar to WORSHIP Him and spend time listening to what He has to say about my life (Genesis 26:23-25). I return to that place where I am closest to God.

Beersheba is an invitation to DRAW CLOSE TO GOD. It speaks of that place where God says to me “Be strong and courageous! …. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT). It is that place where God says “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with My victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10 NLT). Philippians 4:6 (NLT) echoes these words “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT) says “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” It is a place where you are ACCEPTED as a child of God. You can find Him waiting for you there right now.

Pastor Ross