Posts Tagged ‘Theophany’

Genesis 35:11-16 – LETTERS TO JACOB – Part 4

Letters to Jacob
© Image created by Ross Cochrane

From Last letter,… 

Dear Jacob, 

… How incredible that God appeared to you personally! I have all sorts of questions however. How did God appear to you? In a dream? As a person? What other promises? This is so fascinating, but you left out all the details in your letter…. 

Ross 

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Dear Ross 

I am still getting my head around all that God said to me. Sorry if I didn’t tell you the full story. Let me fill in some details. 

I didn’t tell you that God said to me, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Be fruitful and multiply. You will become a great nation, even many nations. Kings will be among your descendants! (Genesis 35:11 NLT).   

I can’t help but think that I am a blessed man beyond what deserve. Not only has God assured me through my new name that He fights for mebut through His Name, He reveals more of Himself to meEl-Shaddai is a name that speaks His great provision and sufficiency.  

Apparently, kings will come from my descendants. How amazing is that? The Lord is omnipotent. Nothing is impossible for Him. He can turn someone like me into someone who is great, simply because He is great.  

My prayer is that He blesses my children and their children with the kind of greatness that comes from acknowledging that He is God Almighty in their lives. 

But God didn’t stop there. He spoke about the promises He made to my ancestors. He said, “I will give you the land I once gave to Abraham and Isaac. Yes, I will give it to you and your descendants after you” (Genesis 35:12 NLT). 

I trust Him to fulfil in me all that I am created for and that many people in the future will be blessed and that my descendants will be blessed. 

And that’s the full story. After that God went up from the place where He had spoken to me (Genesis 35:13 NLT). 

Your utterly amazed friend, 

Jacob 

P.S. Loved the quote you gave from Ephesians? (Sounds like a good book). 

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Dear Jacob, 

I am as utterly amazed as you are by your encounter with God. How incredible and awesome! 

2 Peter 1:4 (NLT2) says, “And because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share His divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.”  

You may not fully understand what I am going to say to you next, Jacob, but God has spoken to other servants also through His Word about you.  

Not only will kings come from your descendants but also the Messiah, the King of kings and Lord of lords.  

1 Timothy 6:15 says, “For, at just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords.”  

Thankyou for sharing your amazing story, but Jacob, you are the master of understatement! … 

I am still dumbfounded that you wrapped up your last letter with the words that God “went up” from the place He had spoken to you. What does that mean?  Jacob, where you speaking to God in the form of a person? Was this a bodily presence? A visible person? Face to face with God? Was this a vision? A dream? Did you see Jesus, Himself, a Theophany of the Christ? Or was it just an impression? Please be more specific!  

Ross 

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Dear Ross, 

My apologies for not being specific. Let me tell you specifically. I saw God face to face, in bodily form. It was not a vision or a dream and He ascended into heaven after He spoke with me. This may well be a manifestation of the One you speak about in your letter as the King of kings and Lord of lords. 

The experience stirred my heart so much that I set up a stone pillar to mark the place where God had spoken to me. Then I poured wine over it as an offering to God and anointed the pillar with olive oil.  

This was the only way I knew to show my respect for the place where I had met with God, face to face.  This place will always be a very special place of worship to me. 

As you know I originally named the place Bethel (which means “house of God”), because God spoke to me there. (Genesis 35:14 NLT) 

Strange, when He met with me, I somehow felt that He was like the purest of lambs sacrificed for sin on the altar, and He was the drink offering I poured out before Him in worship. Bethel, the house of God cannot contain Him and although He went up from that place, He still remains with me. I am His house and I am overcome with worship within. I am filled with His presence even now. 

Tomorrow we are leaving Bethel and moving toward Ephrath (Genesis 35:16 NLT). From there we will travel to meet up with my Father. Where ever I tread, this land is my inheritance, promised from time immemorial to my ancestors, and now to me.  

Heir of promise, 

Jacob 

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Pastor Ross

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Genesis 35:8-10 – LETTERS TO JACOB – Part 3

From the last letter… 

Letters to Jacob
© Image created by Ross Cochrane

Dear Jacob, 

…. Tell me, did your sons actually repent and turn from their sins and turn to God? Did they seek God’s forgiveness and worship Him alone? Did your daughter find the healing she needed from her traumatic experience? I know that you finally fulfilled your vow, but did it make a difference in their lives as well?  

Ross 

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Dear Ross, 

Your questions are a little personal and sensitive. I can’t answer for my sons or my daughter.  I cannot control the choices of my children. They know that God is central to my life. You will have to write to them to find your answers.

Soon after my last letter, My Mother’s old nurse, Deborah, died. She was buried beneath the oak tree in the valley below Bethel. Ever since, we have called the tree Allon-bacuth (which means “oak of weeping”) (Genesis 35:8 NLT). 

She helped my mother in raising me so many years ago. She had been staying with my father Isaac until she heard about my return. She gave me the news about my Mother’s death and stayed on to live with us until her own death. I grieve deeply over her loss. 

Deborah nursed me when my name was Jacob; thief of Esau’s blessing, and now I bury her as a new person; heir to God’s promises. I wrote a poem which I spoke over her grave. 

DEBORAH  

“Thou too, Deborah, whose indulgent cares 

Nursed great thief, and formed my tender years, 

Expiring here, an ever-honoured name! 

Adorn El-Bethel with immortal fame: 

Thy name survives, to prompt our pensive hearts; 

As sacred lessons grace to us imparts. 

Soon as thy funeral rites are fully paid, 

Beneath the oak in honour of the dead; 

The sins and tempests of the past now o’er, 

turn, as heir of paths yet to explore.  

(based on a poem by Virgil) 

The things of my past are falling away in so many ways and I have new spiritual pursuits.   

Yours in grief, 

Jacob 

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Dear Jacob, 

What a beautiful tribute in poetry in your last letter. In a time when things are beginning to be going so well for you, you have now experienced great grief. Christmas and the new year aren’t exempt from grief. Bethlehem experienced the rage of a tyrant and the deaths of innocents, but you don’t know about that yet. 

So sorry to hear about your Mum’s death and that of Deborah, your nurse. Tell me, did you ever meet up with your Mum again before she died? Deborah was obviously well-respected. I love the way you expressed your grief by naming the tree nearby, “the oak of weeping. 

May the Lord help you and me to grieve the losses of our past and bury them each with the thoughtful reflection you have given Deborah. 

God bless you as you grieve, 

Ross 

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Dear Ross, 

I’m sorry, but I can’t talk about losing my Mum. It’s all too painful. What I can tell you is that in the midst of all my grief, God appeared to me. 

I have come full circle. 20 years ago, I escaped to Paddan-aram and on the way God appeared to me at Bethel. Now I have returned from Paddan-aram, and God has appeared to me again at Bethel. God has blessed me. God has never given up on me. He said to me, “Your name is Jacob, but you will not be called Jacob any longer. From now on your name will be Israel.” So God renamed me Israel” (Genesis 35:9 NLT). This is very significant for me. 

Israel means either “the man who prevails with God” or “God prevails and rules over the man.” For me, both are true. The reason I limp is because I prevailed upon God to bless me and God has certainly prevailed over me in that I want to serve Him as my King.   

I may limp, but I am learning that blessing comes from cursing when you finally obey God. I feel as if I have finally entered into my destiny as the man God intended me to be, no longer Jacob the deceiver but Israel the authentic.  

My life has been anything but problem-free. I have experienced much pain, most of it brought about by my own actions, yet in my many fights with God, He has allowed me to prevail as Israel, to prevail not over God, but with Him, to enter into my destiny having grown through the ordeal. 

He also gave me a number of other promises for the future. 

Yours, limping but moving ahead, 

Jacob  

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Dear Jacob, 

I understand your reluctance to talk about your Mum. Sorry for asking.  

How incredible that God appeared to you personally! I have all sorts of questions however. How did God appear to you? In a dream? As a person? What other promises? This is so fascinating, but you left out all the details in your letter.  

Nevertheless, after reading your last, very moving letter, I found myself praying that God would continually return me to the place of promise and blessing, no matter what pain life may hold in getting there.  

I want Him to change any accoutrements of my past that suggest a lie, and to lead me into my destiny, and to fight for me to be authentic also. I want Him to help me not fight against Him but with Him.  

Thanks for all your inspiring letters this week. So pleased to be in correspondence and reading about your journey. 

Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) says “Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” 

Ross 

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Pastor Ross

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

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 13

God appears in human form. He strikes Jacob, as well as blessing him, so that he limps forever after. Jacob recognises this “man” as one who could bless him, and as God. He holds onto God until the blessing comes. It demands faith. (See Parts 1-12). But I also need to …

  1. REALISE THAT THERE MAY BE BIGGER ISSUES AT STAKE

Love this video as an illustration of a Bigger Picture

Jacob could never have known but the blessing he received reached down through the ages and was realised in its fullness through what Christ accomplished for us on the Cross.

So often we have to wrestle with God before we can face up to our circumstances. Our struggles spiritually determine our struggles naturally. Jacob’s struggle was spiritual and natural. And much bigger issues were at stake.

How is it that God becomes a man and struggles with Jacob? We could equally ask, “How does God become a man in the form of Jesus?” We don’t know specific answers but marvel at the miracle we receive by faith.

When God became a man, in the form of Jesus, He struggled with our sin and won the victory. When God became a man and struggles with Jacob, He allowed Jacob the opportunity to win a blessing while barely able to walk away at all. This was a worship experience like nothing experienced before but Jacob must be wondering, “What now, Lord? How can I meet Esau in this broken state?”

  1. USE YOUR PREPARATION IN MOVING FORWARD

Prepared for the journey.jpg

 

“Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” (Genesis 32:26 NLT). Why is this wrestling champion concerned about the sun rising? He’s not afraid to be seen in the light, is He? Hardly. 1 John 1:5 (NLT) says “God is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all.” 

But Jacob refuses to let him go. Does He want to go before the dawn because He wants anonymity? Too late. Jacob knows that He is God and quite capable of releasing Himself from Jacob’s grip. More likely it is something a lot simpler. God wants Jacob to get on with his meeting with Esau. It was important that Jacob meet up with his wives and children and continue on their way to fulfil God’s promises.

Many suggest that since this figure is God Himself, a Theophany, then He wants to use night to veil His appearance to protect Jacob from dying in His presence? Moses had a similar experience.

Moses in Exodus 33:18-23 (NLT) says to God,

“Then show me Your glorious presence.” The Lord replied, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will call out My name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. BUT YOU MAY NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT MY FACE, FOR NO ONE MAY SEE ME AND LIVE.” The Lord continued, “Look, stand near Me on this rock. As My glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove My hand and let you see Me from behind. But My face will not be seen.”  

Sometimes our real conflict is not the natural one but the spiritual one that wages war on our souls. Jacob has been wrestling with God. Have you? Are you prepared to keep moving forward with the changes God has made in your life? How can you do this? (Find out by reading Part 14. Coming Soon).

Pastor Ross