Posts Tagged ‘Questions’

Genesis 32:26-29 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 11

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau but along the way, Jacob faces an unknown assailant who fights with him until dawn? Jacob wouldn’t let the man go. Even after his hip is dislocated, Jacob still holds on and, of all things, asks the man for a blessing (See Part’s 1-10).

What sort of blessing is he after? We don’t know.

  1. BE WILLING TO CHANGE

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Be Willing to Change. Key Photo by GaborfromHungary, MorgueFiles

“What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob.” “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won” (Genesis 32:27-28 NLT).

So this verse finally tells us who it is who has been wrestling with Jacob, and I am surprised that it is God. God in human form is always astonishing, and this is one of the strangest examples of a Theophany in history.  

“What is your name?” God asks. Jacob had to admit that he was Jacob, meaning the supplanter, the deceiver. Years ago, when his father had asked him “Who are you, my son?” Jacob had lied and told him that he was Esau in order to receive the blessing. Now he admits that he is Jacob and receives the blessing that God always intended. He comes before God with honest intention and his name is changed.

This was not a dream because Jacob came away with a physical injury; a limp for the rest of his life, and a name change that established his faith and authority. We are not told directly, but it is inferred that God changed Jacob’s name because Jacob means deceiver, supplanter, and Israel means One who has struggled with God and man. Change of name, change of spiritual authority.

Am I prepared to allow God to confront my past in order to move on into the future with His purposes for my life? Wrestling with God will change me forever.

  1. ACCEPT THAT NOT ALL QUESTIONS WILL BE ANSWERED

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Not all Questions Will Be Answered © by Ross Cochrane

Why would God attack Jacob? We are not told. How does Jacob start to win? We don’t know. Why would God dislocate Jacob’s hip? Does God inflict harm on his servants? This may have been a spiritual struggle but it resulted in a physical injury delivered by God with a striking blow of violence. Why did Jacob ask God for a blessing after being injured? The writer is obviously not interested in answering my questions.

Lord, You do some strange things sometimes. Wrenching a socket out from Jacob’s thigh is not exactly what Jacob would have expected that night. It was certainly not what I expected You would do, especially since he is about to face Esau’s army of 400 men. If he wasn’t humbled before, he is now?

Lord, aren’t You the One who heals us, not cripples us? Yet the Hebrew word ‏נגע‎ naga apparently means an aggressive “strike” designed to harm. The blow that came from Your hand was so violent and disabling. How do I come to a place of blessing when there is so much pain? (Find out in Part 12. Coming Soon.)

Pastor Ross

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Genesis 32:1720 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 8

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. The meeting could be explosive. (see part 1-7). How do you prepare to meet with someone who is suspicious of your motives?

  1. ANTICIPATE THE QUESTIONS THAT WILL BE RAISED

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Anticipate Loaded Questions – I have used the Knotted Gun Sculpture by Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd and adjusted it to look like a question mark (Ross Cochrane).

He gave these instructions to the men leading the first group: “When my brother, Esau, meets you, he will ask, ‘Whose servants are you? Where are you going? Who owns these animals?’ You must reply, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob, but they are a gift for his master Esau. Look, he is coming right behind us’” (Genesis 32:17-18 NLT).  

Jacob anticipates the questions that Esau will ask and gets in ahead with the answers. This is a well-researched, well-managed exercise, taking every possibility into account. Esau is expecting Jacob behind every herd. Jacob is in last place this time, not first.

Did God command Jacob to do this? No. There is no record that this is directly commanded by God, but his plan appears to be a result of having been with God in prayer.

Jacob gave the same instructions to the second and third herdsmen and to all who followed behind the herds: “You must say the same thing to Esau when you meet him(Genesis 32:19 NLT). The message will be repeated a number of times.

And be sure to say, ‘Look, your servant Jacob is right behind us.’” Jacob thought, “I will try to APPEASE him by sending gifts ahead of me. When I see him in person, perhaps he will be friendly to me” (Genesis 32:20 NLT). 

This is not a deceptive strategy, but very straightforward, open and honest.

Yes, it is true that Jacob is trying to appease Esau. Apparently, the word “Appease” means “to pacify, to make an atonement, to make reconciliation”. Literally “to cover his face” and it has the idea that Esau can no longer see Jacob’s shame.

He offers a gift to make atonement and recompense for a rift in a relationship. Some have said that this implies that Jacob makes peace with God by reconciling with Esau.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:22-24 (NLT) if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”  

It has taken twenty years. He didn’t exactly go straight away, but at least Jacob is doing something now.

The stress of conflict can easily consume us and have an impact on all our relationships. What can Jacob teach us about this? (See Part 9…)

Pastor Ross

Matthew 17:10 – LOOKING FOR A FOOTHOLD ON THE MOUNTAIN 

Foothold. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and FilterForge.org

Foothold. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and FilterForge.org

They are bewildered. They are reeling, trying to find some perspective, something to help them come to grips with all this; something in their experience of the world that relates to this event that will help them; a clue, any clue. 

They only have one small trace; one small hint of understanding that might start to unravel this mystery mountain tour. They have heard some talk of how a man, a great leader, would one day come to bring justice to the world. They are now convinced that Jesus is that man. Is this the beginning of the end? 

Jesus tells them to keep quiet about what they have just witnessed but a flailing question searches for a tiny crevice that would provide them with a foothold. What question could possibly give them enough purchase on this mountain? 

Surprisingly they don’t ask about the sudden appearance of Moses who had been dead for over 1000 years. They don’t ask about the voice that came from the cloud leaving them prostrate on the ground, frozen with fear. They don’t ask Him about His face, though it shone like the sun? It seems they only want to know about one thing. 

They ask “Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?” (Matthew 17:10 NLT). I mean, that’s the first question that came into my head too. NOT. 

All they can think about after such a dramatic appearance on the mountain is the nagging possibility that this might be the beginning of the great and dreadful day that will bring judgment and justice to the earth. If I had just been introduced to the prophet Elijah on a mountain 900 years after his sudden disappearance from the earth and if I knew about the prophecy about him, then perhaps I would ask that question too. 

The prophecy the teachers of religious law have been speaking about was written in the book of Malachi, “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse” (Malachi 4:5-6 NLT). The question could be rephrased. “Since Elijah has just appeared on the mountain with You, Jesus, is this the beginning of the end of the world as we know it?” 

Jesus replies “Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready for the Messiah” (Matthew 17:11 NLT). Now here’s the opportunity for the disciples to really get a handle on the end times, but they don’t ask anything more. The conversation could have gone something like this… 

“Hang on. Did You say Elijah is COMING, as in HASN’T ARRIVED YET? He was just on the mountain and You are saying that he is STILL YET TO COME? 

So let me get this straight. Moses and Elijah were talking to You about Your death. That doesn’t sound like plans to bring justice to the world. 

Is Elijah going to COME AGAIN and intervene with fire from heaven to stop You from being executed by the religious leaders?” 

“Has Elijah gone ahead to Jerusalem to fulfil the Malachi prophecy, to preach and get people ready to receive You as the Messiah? Lord, I need Your help here. Could you elaborate just a little more? I’m confused.” 

Jesus says “…Elijah has already come, but he wasn’t recognized, and they chose to abuse him. And in the same way they will also make the Son of Man suffer” (Matthew 17:12 NLT). 

“Slow down a bit. You just said Elijah is YET TO COME and now you are saying Elijah has ALREADY COME? Not on the mountain but sometime BEFORE the mountain, incognito?” 

Then it clicks. He’s talked about this before (Matthew 11:14). And there was a prophecy about John. “I get it! You aretalking about John the Baptist’ (Matthew 17:13 NLT). It was once said that John ‘will be A MAN WITH THE SPIRIT AND POWER OF ELIJAH. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly’ (Luke 1:17 NLT). He fits the prophecy about Elijah. Right? John the Baptist was really Elijah the Baptiser?” 

“So Elijah was just on the mountain to talk about the death of Jesus, not to usher in the end of the world (Luke 9:31). The prophecy of Malachi was fulfilled by John the Baptist who ALREADY CAME with the spirit and power of Elijah, but was rejected.” 

“But Elijah is still YET TO COME and when he does he will get everything ready by preparing the way for Jesus and a generation of rebellious people will repent and be saved. Stop me any time here, Lord, if I’ve got this wrong.” 

Elijah gets Fathers to have a heart for their kids by teaching them to accept godly wisdom. This is a generational blessing that comes to those who repent of their rebellion against God and trust in Jesus. That’s the foothold for the question. That’s the secure place that will lead us down this mountain experience. 

“2 Kings 2:11 tells us that Elijah was taken up into heaven and didn’t die. Did he go on living in heaven as an immortal man until he returned to the mountain? Where did he and Moses go then? Back to heaven? Will they return again? Will Elijah be one of the “two witnesses” described in Revelation 11. TOO MUCH INFORMATION! I NEED THAT SECURE FOOTHOLD AGAIN!” 

What I do know is that at the bottom of the mountain a father’s heart is turned toward his son and he brings him to Jesus (Matthew 17:14-18). A generational imprint will be left upon this family as Jesus heals him. The spirit and power of Elijah is already at work as we bring our families into relationship with the Lord, preparing the way for Jesus’ return. 

Pastor Ross

Hunger and the Hunt

Part 15 – Matthew 12:42 – THE HUNGER AND THE HUNT

“She was not beautiful but her eyes were magnificient. They were piercing and caught the light as jade shards and occasionally as she passed into shadows you could catch glimses of the hunger betrayed in the depths of their opalescent gaze.

As the inquisitive marvelled at her entourage, she walked with poise towards the door, her femininity couched in trained self assurance. No-one saw the dissonance of heart and mind as the huge doors opened and she was ushered into his presence.

She entered without hesitation as befitting a queen, her eyes adjusting to the light and her mind alert, enquiring, curious. She thought she heard a voice whisper her name as the doors shut behind her and the muted echo of it’s thud sounded within the hall, but surely no-one knew her name here.

It was beautiful, the curtains and tasteful articles of furniture, and as she met his gaze, she could see that her hunt was at an end. She would find the elusive treasure that would satisfy her soul, her mind, her heart?”  

Jesus speaks of this visit of the QUEEN OF SHEBA to Solomon’s court many years later. He describes her as one who came from a distant land to hear the wisdom of Solomon. He says that as a result of that visit she will “stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it.” He says, “Now someone greater than Solomon is here-but you refuse to listen” (Matthew 12:42 NLT).  

I don’t know a whole lot about the Queen of Sheba but it seems as if she comes on a QUEST. She has an OVERWHELMING DESIRE to seek spiritual wisdom and her quest for truth leads her to SOLOMON. In 1 Kings 10:1 (NLT) it says “When the queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame, which brought honour to the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions.” 

This isn’t just a cursory visit on the way home from a royal holiday. This is an INTENTIONAL SEARCH to discover spiritual reality. She leaves her kingdom responsibilities behind and enters into Solomon’s territory and sphere of authority. She comes PERSONALLY and travels a great distance to get there. There is a HUNGER and questioning thirst after the things of God. She is WILLING TO LISTEN. Surely when a woman is willing to listen that says something (and of course when a man listens it is no less amazing).

Jesus says that if I am to discover spiritual wisdom and truth then the queen of Sheba is an example in the INTENTIONALITY of that search. Proverbs 2:2-6 (NLT), written by Solomon, puts it this way “Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants wisdom! From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” 

Deuteronomy 4:29 (NLT) speaks of our search for God and assures us that “if you SEARCH for Him with all your heart and soul, you will find Him.” 

Jesus claims to be GREATER than Solomon. Not only does He HAVE THE TRUTH but He claims to BE THE TRUTH. He says in John 14:6 (NLT) “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” He goes on to say that it is only “…the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.” (John 14:16-17 NLT)

God bless you in your spiritual quest as you search for Him, listen to Him, respond to Him today. Solomon expresses the timeless response of God to your quest in Proverbs 8:17 (NLT) as He speaks to you today “I love all who love Me. Those who search will surely find Me.”

Pastor Ross