John 17:1-19 – The Never Ending Glory

The Battle of Stalingrad…the Battle of Britain…Pearl Harbor…Guadalcanal… Midway…D-day.

Historians say any one of them could legitimately be considered the decisive turning point of WW2.

We are defining “turning point” as the point at which a very significant change occurs; a decisive moment.

There is a decisive moment in the history of the world…A single turning point that changed everything for everyone, forever.

“Jesus… lifted up His eyes to Heaven, and said, “Father the hour has come.”

The decisive “hour” that all human history turns upon was the six hours Jesus spent on the Cross.

All history before Jesus died on the Cross looked forward to it.
All history after Jesus died on the Cross looks back to it.

Jesus explained that it marked the fulfillment and replacement of God’s Old Covenant with mankind when He said, “This is the New Covenant in My blood, which is poured-out for you” (Luke 22:20).

Jesus’ last words from the Cross were the triumphant shout, “It is finished!” No longer would mankind perform temporary rites and rituals, follow religious rules and regulations. God would give believers new hearts – hearts of flesh, not stone.

“It is finished,” but it is not over.

The apostle Paul wrote, “He defeated the rulers and powers of the spiritual world. With the Cross He won the victory over them and led them away, as defeated and powerless prisoners for the whole world to see” (Colossians 2:15 ERV). The same apostle also told us to put on the full armor of God as soldiers in the ongoing spiritual warfare.

After the decisive, turning-point WW2 battles, the war continued. Even though Jesus was victorious over Satan, sin, and death, our cosmic battles in World War Spiritual continue.

Jesus talked to His Father about coming to “the hour,” and about what would happen after.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 Jesus Makes The Father Visible To You, and #2 You Make Jesus Visible To All.

#1 – Jesus Makes The Father Visible To You (v1-5)

You are moved when, at the end of Braveheart. William Wallace screams, “FREEDOM!”

He was defeated and being disemboweled, but he went out in a blaze of glory.

That isn’t glory, or glorious.

“Glory” is a word that should only be used of God.

You’ll notice as we read that some form of the word, “glory,” is used five times. What is “glory,” and how does one go about giving God “glory?”

Glory happens when the invisible qualities, character, or attributes of God are displayed in a visible way; in short, glory is the invisible God made visible.

Jesus told Philip, “he who has seen Me has seen the Father (John 14:9). Jesus made the invisible God visible.

Joh 17:1  Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You,

I find it interesting that He “lifted up His eyes to Heaven.” Christians tend to bow their heads, praying with eyes closed. God hears you in any posture, but think about Jesus’ example and it’s symbolism.

There is nothing in Jesus’ prayer telling you what to do. No instruction; no steps. It isn’t a model for our praying. It is all Jesus, praying for you.

To be accurate, He first prayed for the eleven. Then, in verse twenty, He prayed for us, their spiritual descendants.

Jesus often told His disciples, “My hour has not yet come.” He meant His crucifixion. It had been long anticipated and planned. God promised our parents, Adam and Eve, He would come as “the Seed of the woman” to win the decisive victory over the devil. The Old Testament progressively reveals the details of His coming.

There is even a passage that calculates “the hour.” The prophet Daniel was given the prophecy of the 70 Weeks.

Daniel 9:24-27 is a detailed prophecy that accurately dated the first coming of Jesus Christ.

You know who looked forward to “the hour?” Lambs, bulls, goats, and birds that were sacrificed by the tens of thousands from the time of Adam and Eve until Jesus. They were placeholders, temporary substitutes, for the final Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.

Father and Son would “glorify” each other at, on, and after, the Cross. It was a “Glory Back-atcha,” a Mutual glorifying. For example, there was a Centurion present at the Cross. After taking in all the things that happened, he said, “Truly this was the Son of God.” Deity was made visible through Jesus’ humanity.

Thomas Boston wrote, “In our redemption by Christ we have the fullest, clearest, and most delightful manifestation of the glory of God that ever was or shall be in this life. All the declarations and manifestations that we have of His glory in the works of creation and common providence, are but dim and obscure in comparison with what is here. Indeed the glory of His wisdom, power, and goodness, is clearly manifested in the works of creation. But the glory of His mercy and love had lain under an eternal eclipse without a Redeemer.”

Joh 17:2  as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.
Joh 17:3  And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Jesus has the “authority” to save. “Eternal life” is given as a free gift to any and all who “know” Jesus, and through Him, God the Father.

“As many as You have given Him.” Nothing in that phrase indicates that the Father limited the atonement on the Cross to “give” only a chosen few. Jesus was not, at that moment, praying for the world. He was praying for His eleven disciples. If I pray for a person to be healed, it doesn’t mean I am excluding anyone.

Joh 17:4  I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.
Joh 17:5  And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

The plan of salvation predates Creation. “Before the world was,” Jesus knew He’d die on the Cross to save us.

He rose from the grave, ascended into Heaven, and is seated there in splendor. He remains God and man forever, the God-man, in His glorious resurrection body.

I can imagine Jesus saying to His Father, “I showed them your grace and mercy when they brought that adulterous woman. The Law demanded she be stoned, true, but I was able to show them that, but for grace, they all deserved death.”

I can imagine the Father saying to Jesus, “How about that guy they let down through the roof? We were always going to heal him, but first I told you to forgive his sins. It showed them where My true priorities lie”

I could have shortened the Bible study by quoting Hebrews 1:3, where we read that Jesus is “the reflection of God’s glory and the exact likeness of his being” (ISV).

“Glory.” Making the invisible God visible.

#2 – You Make Jesus Visible To All (v6-19)

June 6, 1944.

An Allied force of more than 150,000 troops, 5,000 ships, and 800 aircraft assaulted 50 miles of northern France’s Normandy coastline. More than 4,000 Allied troops die, and 6,000 were wounded, but the Allies succeeded in breaching Hitler’s coastal defense of France.

D-day effectively ended the war in Europe. The war, nevertheless, went on another eleven months before General Eisenhower accepted Germany’s unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945.

Jesus “finished the work” His Father “gave [Him] to do.” It is finished, but He is not done.

Neither are disciples “done.” Until He returns for His Church, we are here to make Him visible.

Joh 17:6  “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.

After a night praying to His Father, Jesus chose twelve men to be His closest disciples. I guess you could say it was His Father’s fault. J.C. Ryle writes, “No one can read the four Gospels with attention, and fail to see that never had a great master such weak servants as Jesus had in the eleven apostles. Yet these very weak servants were the men of whom the gracious Head of the Church speaks here in high and honorable terms.”

Having received His disciples from the Father, Jesus submitted to the selection. There was never any talk of replacing them. No ultimatums to straighten up or leave. No threatening. “Not a word against His people,” W.S. Rainsford writes, “no allusion to what they had done or were about to do – forsake Him.”
How very sad when church leaders treat believers that way. For that matter, no Christian should treat anyone that way.

Jesus wasn’t done doting on the disciples. He said, “They have kept Your Word.” How generous is our Lord. He credits them for their perseverance, even as they were scattering. The Pulpit Commentary says, “To Christ’s eyes they have already come out of their fiery trial faithful and true.”

Joh 17:7  Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You.
Joh 17:8  For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.

For all of their confusion and misunderstanding of Jesus, they realized His words and works proved He was sent from God as the Messiah.

Joh 17:9  “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.
Joh 17:10  And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.

There are those who seem anxious to prove Jesus did not die for the sins of the whole world, but only for a limited group. They say, “See! See! Jesus did not pray for the world, only those God gave Him.”

Once again, we point out that this is Jesus’ prayer for these specific eleven guys. It doesn’t cancel the words, “God so loved the world,” or that Jesus said that through the Cross He would “draw all men to Himself” as “the Savior of all men, especially those who believe”

Jesus considered Himself “glorified in them.” Certainly not that night, when they would scatter. In fact, Jesus was probably not talking about specific instances, but was revealing that the work He had begun in them would come to completion. There would be a time, and an eternity, in which you look upon a saint and see Jesus glorified in what He accomplished with so little to work with.

In Iron Man, Obadiah Stane grew frustrated when Stark Industry scientists and engineers could not duplicate the arc reactor. He growled, “Tony Stark was able to build this in a cave. With a box of scraps!”

It must frustrate the devil to see what Jesus does and will do with us. Broken, lost, weary… Jesus makes us beautiful in His time.

Joh 17:11  Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.

Jesus was still speaking of the eleven. They were about to be scattered, ashamed of the Lord. If that tells us anything, it is that they could not “keep” themselves. The Father kept them, for Jesus’ sake.

God keeps you. You cannot fail so much that He will forsake you.

Joh 17:12  While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

People compare a difficult task with “herding cats.” (You might remember a series of commercials featuring cowboys herding cats. They are hilarious. They are what the internet was meant to be).

It was no small task to keep the disciples ‘discipling’ for three and one-half years. Especially in anticipation one of them would be lost.

We took a look at Judas in a previous study. His betrayal was supported by Scripture, but not in the sense that he, and he alone, was predetermined to betray the Lord. To say that is to go beyond what Scripture says. He was not a believer, but he could have been. In that case, the Scripture would have been fulfilled another way.

Joh 17:13  But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.

“I speak in the world” reminds us that the Lord was praying in the presence of the eleven. In their time of forsaking Jesus, they ought remember that Jesus secured the help of God the Father to bring them back in joy.

Joh 17:14  I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
Joh 17:15  I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.
Joh 17:16  They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary says, “Satan, the evil one, as head of the world system, seeks to do everything possible to destroy believers, but God’s plan will prevail. Christians must not take themselves out of the world but remain in contact with it, trusting in God’s protection while they witness for Jesus.”

For the first time ever, more people are leaving California than are coming to live here. I can only hope the newcomers are missionaries. The plight of the State is a Golden opportunity for the Gospel.

Joh 17:17  Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

“Sanctify” means set apart for special use. A believer is sanctified, set apart for God, the moment they are saved. It is called positional sanctification. Afterwards, we mature, we grow, in our walk with Jesus. Theologians call this progressive sanctification. We make incremental progress towards the goal of becoming more-and-more like Jesus.

The indwelling God the Holy Spirit is primary in our progressive sanctification. His #1 tool in our growth and maturity is the Bible. The Spirit teaches us the Word, guides us to the truth, and uses the Word to give us a clear vision of Jesus and inspire us with a deep desire to be like our Lord. We cooperate with the Spirit’s work in our lives when we believe He enables us to do what it says in the Bible. Like Jesus, we learn obedience. Everything we need for life and godly living is in the Bible. We can do it because we are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Joh 17:18  As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
Joh 17:19  And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

Jesus sanctified Himself means He voluntarily set Himself apart in order to die on the Cross, thus offering the world salvation by grace through faith.

He would set them apart, and send them into the world just like He was. Only there would be a lot more of them!

A Christian has been called out from the world by the Gospel. Hopefully we realize that we are a “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that [we] may proclaim the praises of Him who called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light” (First Peter 2:9).

We are very special. We can say it without pride because we haven’t earned it or deserved it. It is because Jesus said, “Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine,” and we are all together.

Show & tell was a highlight of elementary school. Like everything, however, there are fails:

A teacher reported, “Someone brought their pet bird, dead, in a box, that was going to be buried when they got home later that day.”

“A kid I went to high school with brought a hand-grenade his grandfather had to school for use in a drama production. He thought it was deactivated. The bomb squad confirmed that it was certainly still active.”

Christians are show & tellers. We “tell” others about Jesus, and we “show” Him. We thereby make the invisible, visible.

The originals seemed to be show & tell fails. F.F. Bruce writes, “With the Father’s enabling grace and the guidance and illumination of His Spirit, they would fulfill the mission with which they were now being entrusted and bring glory to their Master in fulfilling it. So confident of this is Jesus that he speaks in the perfect tense – ‘I have been glorified in them’ – as if it had already come to pass.”

We will be show & tell fails. Jesus is confident that He will complete the work He began.

Our Hero didn’t “go out in a blaze of glory.” He is the blaze of glory.

He is coming back in glory:

Rev 19:11  Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.
Rev 19:12  His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.
Rev 19:13  He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
Rev 19:14  And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.

That is us, by the way, on the horses, coming back from Heaven with Jesus to Earth. Elsewhere the Bible says Jesus will be “glorified in us” (Second Thessalonians 1:10).

William MacDonald explains, “Amazed onlookers will gasp as they see what He has been able to do with such unpromising human beings!”

Prophecy Update #716 – Green Trifecta

The only way to make sense of what is happening around the world today is to know what is going to happen tomorrow. God has seen fit to tell us a great many things about the future. There are hundreds of yet-to-be fulfilled prophecies in the Bible.

We reserve a few minutes Sunday morning to suggest news, or trends, that seem to be predicted by a literal, futurist reading of the Bible.

To avoid sensationalism, we are careful to use recognized, reliable sources for news.

We’re not saying the things we report are the definite fulfillment of prophecy. We’re saying that they are the things you’d expect to be happening in the build-up to the future seven year Great Tribulation.

Students of Bible prophecy have long argued that the government of the Great Tribulation will be some sort of global union, eventually controlled by the antichrist.

Global government means that all the nations of the world must surrender their sovereignty to a collective group of leaders. It isn’t such a crazy idea anymore. It’s happening.

We’ve talked about the World Economic Forum (WEF) many times. It is a group of by-invitation-only elitists who are pressing global governing of the planet.

On their website you can read for yourself, ‘My Carbon’: An approach for inclusive and sustainable cities. The article highlights three developments over the last five years.

✏ One development is what is the Fourth Industrial Revolution. They write, “Advances in emerging technologies like AI, can enable tracking personal carbon emissions, raise awareness and also provide individual advisories on lower carbon and ethical choices for consumption of product and services. There have been major advances in smart home technologies, transport choices with carbon implications, the roll-out of smart meters in providing individual choices to reduce their energy-related emissions, the development of new personalized apps to account for personal emissions, and better personal choices for food and consumption-related emissions.

What they just said is that the technology exists to track your personal carbon emissions with the goal of reducing them. Do you think for a minute that if they have the ability to do so, they would not force you to reduce your carbon footprint? Perhaps by controlling what you can buy and sell based on their tracking?

✏ The second development they present is raised awareness about the climate crisis. “Over 64% of people believe climate change is a global emergency. A new Pew Research Center survey in seventeen advanced economies found widespread concern about the personal impact of global climate change. 80% of citizens say they are willing to change how they live and work to combat the effects of climate change.

Young adults, who have been at the forefront of some of the most prominent climate change protests in recent years, are more concerned than their older counterparts about the personal impact of a warming planet in many public surveys.

What they just said is that the younger generation is convinced that Climate Change is a global crisis that must be addressed by surrender of personal liberties for the greater good.

✏ Then they said this:

“COVID-19 was the test of social responsibility. A huge number of unimaginable restrictions for public health were adopted by billions of citizens across the world. There were numerous examples globally of maintaining social distancing, wearing masks, mass vaccinations and acceptance of contact-tracing applications for public health, which demonstrated the core of individual social responsibility.”

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/09/my-carbon-an-approach-for-inclusive-and-sustainable-cities/

What they just said is that people all over the world can be forced to obey ‘unimaginable restrictions’ of their rights and privacy if they are convinced there is a global crisis that demands it, because they see it as their individual responsibility to the planet.

One editorialist wrote, “The trifecta is government power combined with technology combined with brainwashing young people.”

Climate Change may well be the issue that will lead the nations of the world to surrender their sovereignty to a global government with the goal of saving the planet.

BTW: I should mention that I am not really talking about climate change, per se. I am not saying that it is real, or that it is manufactured. That’s why I’m not telling you about the just released study by a group of Italian scientists that concluded, “There’s a lack of scientific data to support the view that the world is currently experiencing a climate crisis.”

https://thenewamerican.com/italian-scientists-climate-crisis-is-not-evident-yet/

Centuries ago, the Bible predicted the Last Day’s global government. Using climate change, pandemics, and other disasters, real or imagined, the push towards globalism is on. It is exactly what we expected.

We are witnessing the stage-setting for the seven year Great Tribulation that is described in the last book of the Bible. We will not, however, be on Earth during that terrible Time of Jacob’s Trouble.

The resurrection and rapture of the church are imminent. It could happen any moment; nothing needs to happen before it.

Jesus will come, in the clouds, and raise the dead believers of the Church Age. He will transform the bodies of living believers to glorified, resurrection bodies. We will join Him in Heaven while the earth endures one final seven-year campaign of severe evangelism.

Are you ready for the rapture? If not, Get ready; Stay ready; Keep looking up.

Ready or not, Jesus is coming!

Blood Brothers (Genesis 34:1-31)

Our passage tonight is a truly shocking depiction of sin. The story is full of ruin and violence, and waste. The most shocking thing is how much of it is carried out by God’s people.

Genesis shows what sin does to the world but also what God does to rescue us from it. It’s about how God gives grace to the undeserving, uses the unworthy, and accomplishes His plan by the power of His love. But, as that work unfolds, human beings continue to sin and the horrible consequences spread around the world, impacting both the guilty and the innocent.

Reading this awful tale might make us ask, “Where was God in this tragedy?” Martin Luther did. He wrote, “Who is on guard here? Who is keeping watch? God and the angels close their eyes and pretend not to see. God ignores the matter and acts just as if He did not know [it was happening].”

Was God ignoring His people? If He promised to protect them, why is the most innocent family member brutally assaulted and held hostage?

We know that God was there and, more importantly, we know that He had an unfailing love for His people. He does for us, too. When asking, “Where was God,” there’s one sure answer: Not on the minds of Jacob’s family. They don’t mention Him, speak to Him, or obey Him. He’s totally absent from their thoughts, words, and actions. The result is grim.

In our last study, we saw that Jacob began to walk by faith, but after the Lord delivered him from danger, Jacob stopped short of full obedience. He was meant to go to Bethel. Instead he set up camp 20 miles away. That’s close enough, right? Chapter 34 gives the answer. We’ll watch with breaking hearts the downfall of being outside the will of God.

It’s not that bad things never happen to God’s people – they do – but it becomes clear that this bad thing would not have happened if Jacob had kept walking by faith.

Genesis 34:1-2 – Leah’s daughter Dinah, whom Leah bore to Jacob, went out to see some of the young women of the area. 2 When Shechem—son of Hamor the Hivite, who was the region’s chieftain—saw her, he took her and raped her.

Dinah is around 15 or 16 years old. I would like to say right up front: She is not to be blamed for what happened to her. Almost every commentary immediately criticizes her for going out of the house. Yes, they say, Shechem did the worse thing, but Dinah was partially at fault or acting in disobedience or impropriety. Medieval commentators are particularly harsh toward her. They insist her rape was the punishment for her “curiosity,” which (they say) all women should avoid. Going back to Luther, he uses this text as a basis for teaching that women should be like “a nail driven into the wall,” not leaving the house. He wrote, “They should not form the habit of strolling about and looking out of the window and lounging around the door.”

Does Dinah share any blame? They had lived in this spot for years. We know women like Rachel would go out as shepherdesses alone. Jacob had developed personal relationships with the people of this village. Dinah had, no doubt, made many trips into town. This poor girl is not at fault.

If you want to blame anyone besides this scumbag, Shechem, then blame Jacob. Throughout this text, we are given the impression that he was totally indifferent to the plight of his daughter. Jacob, the master shepherd, let his most precious lamb go in and out of the fold without help, shield, or guide. He would never let a sheep graze this way, but it’s as if he has no care for his little girl.

If you read commentaries on this passage, a few will try to suggest that this may not have been rape at all but that it was a consensual relationship. That is a needless and heartless attempt to implicate an innocent girl in this sin. It doesn’t fit the context or the language, as explained at length by resources like The New American Commentary.

Genesis 34:3-4 – 3 He became infatuated with Jacob’s daughter Dinah. He loved the young girl and spoke tenderly to her. 4 “Get me this girl as a wife,” he told his father.

Shechem is repulsive. But, this was normal, Canaanite behavior. It’s normal sin behavior. Genesis teaches us that sin is no small thing. It’s not a joke. And it pervades human culture. Shechem was living out the advice that every Disney movie and romantic comedy preaches: Follow your heart! In a few verses, Shechem’s dad will say, “His heart is set on Dinah.” But our hearts are corrupted by sin. Look what that motivated Shechem to do. Your heart is the worst possible thing you could follow. The Lord says, “I’m going to rescue you from all of this and the first thing you need is a new heart!” Shechem really did “love” Dinah, but with a sin-soaked love – one that harmed and held her hostage. To him, it was real and it was passionate and it was good. What kind of love would it have been to Dinah? Were his words tender in her ears?

Genesis 34:5 – 5 Jacob heard that Shechem had defiled his daughter Dinah, but since his sons were with his livestock in the field, he remained silent until they returned.

There’s no record of Jacob sending word. It seems like he didn’t want his flocks disturbed. He was silent. We’re not given any indication that he was even upset. We might think, “How can that be? Of course he was upset.” That’s possible but remember: Moses has been quick to tell us other times that Jacob was emotional or upset or all the times he bursts into tears. But not here.

R. Kent Hughes contrasts Jacob in this scene with how he acts when it comes to Joseph being hurt or the mere suggestion that something might happen to Benjamin. The comparison is not pretty.

Now, on the one hand, what could he do? He’s just one man, right? But what did we see in the very last passage? As one man he stood as the defender between his family and the four hundred troops of Esau. Then he was walking by faith. But now, for some years, he has been indifferent to the Lord, and that indifference has influenced him profoundly.

Genesis 34:6-7 – 6 Meanwhile, Shechem’s father Hamor came to speak with Jacob. 7 Jacob’s sons returned from the field when they heard about the incident. They were deeply grieved and very angry, for Shechem had committed an outrage against Israel by raping Jacob’s daughter, and such a thing should not be done.

The brothers had a deep, grieving, blazing fury when they heard what had happened. Jacob is still silent and indifferent. For Jacob, this was about being outnumbered. For the brothers, it was an outrage. When Shechem and Hamor come to negotiate, the brothers arrive and take over the situation. Jacob, in his indifference, is sidelined.

Genesis 34:8-10 – 8 Hamor said to Jacob’s sons, “My son Shechem has his heart set on your daughter. Please give her to him as a wife. 9 Intermarry with us; give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves. 10 Live with us. The land is before you. Settle here, move about, and acquire property in it.”

Hamor thinks he has a lot to offer. But did you notice that he only offers things that God had already promised to Jacob? God had already promised them offspring and the land and abundance in it. In fact, God had guaranteed much more.

This is what the world does. It comes and whispers to us about all the things it can offer. It offers you pleasure. It offers you purpose. It offers you power and position. But everything it offers comes at a brutal price and what it delivers can’t compare to what the Lord wants to give. The pleasure of sin is fleeting and rancid. The Lord’s joy is forevermore. The purpose the world offers you is built on things that have no eternal value. It’s like the grass of the field. But the purpose the Lord gives makes us shine like stars forever and ever. The power and position the world holds out are not theirs to give. Compare that to what God promises through Paul in Ephesians 1:

Ephesians 1:18-19 – 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the mighty working of his strength.

The world has nothing to offer you that can last forever. And all its offers come at a brutal price. Look at what Hamor and Shechem did to Dinah. And then consider that, at that very moment, she was being held hostage in Shechem’s home. We learn that in verses 17 and 26.

I can see why Hamor made this offer. Jacob signaled that this was what he wanted. He spent years cozying up to these Canaanites like Lot had with Sodom. Throughout the scene, Jacob remains silent. They got all these signals, so Hamor says, “live with us.” The word can mean “remain sitting down.” It’s telling that the first thing God says to Jacob is, “Get up, go to Bethel and settle there.”

Genesis 34:11-12 – 11 Then Shechem said to Dinah’s father and brothers, “Grant me this favor, and I’ll give you whatever you say. 12 Demand of me a high compensation and gift; I’ll give you whatever you ask me. Just give the girl to be my wife!”

Now Shechem wants to do things honorably. He has no fixed morality – only desire. The Canaanites show us how different the life of faith is meant to be. Your life isn’t meant to be lived from one impulse to the next, with your desires ruling your thoughts and choices. We’re to be anchored to the truth of God, building our lives on it, and allowing it to conform us into the image of Christ.

Genesis 34:13-17 – 13 But Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully because he had defiled their sister Dinah. 14 “We cannot do this thing,” they said to them. “Giving our sister to an uncircumcised man is a disgrace to us. 15 We will agree with you only on this condition: if all your males are circumcised as we are. 16 Then we will give you our daughters, take your daughters for ourselves, live with you, and become one people. 17 But if you will not listen to us and be circumcised, then we will take our daughter and go.”

It is astonishing to realize that Jacob himself signed off on this plan. You see, he also didn’t know what the brothers were planning to do. He, too, was deceived. And like Hamor, he goes along with it. Look at what his indifference is doing. It left his precious daughter unprotected. It blinded his heart to right and wrong. And now, his indifference has just signed off on a plan that would be the end of the chosen people. The Canaanites immediately recognize that they will simply absorb this Hebrew family and they’ll be gone forever. But Jacob agrees to this plan. It’s a spiritual tragedy.

The story pivots to focus on the brothers, who are also part of the downfall of living outside the will of God. In Jacob, we see incredible indifference. In the brothers we see ruthless destruction. Their anger started out righteous, but their methods were completely outside God’s boundaries.

First, they start by deceiving. Second, their plan uses their sister as bait, exposing her to more abuse. The brother’s plan to “help” her would leave her captive for several more days, being subjected to unspeakable harm and fear. Third, their methods were sacrilegious. They took something Godly and perverted it so it could be used as a weapon. This is not how God’s people are supposed to contend with the enemy.

They said, “Do this or we will take our daughter and go.” That’s exactly what they should have done. But none of them were walking by faith. In fact, we’ll learn that Jacob’s family had become pagan idolaters. And so, in this terrible trial, they are not bearing the fruit of love but of sin and violence.

Genesis 34:18-20 – 18 Their words seemed good to Hamor and his son Shechem. 19 The young man did not delay doing this, because he was delighted with Jacob’s daughter. Now he was the most important in all his father’s family. 20 So Hamor and his son Shechem went to the gate of their city and spoke to the men of their city.

Archaeology indicates the town wouldn’t have been a major city, but it was large enough to have a wall and gates. There the men of fighting age gathered to discuss the plan. Shechem was their prince and had a lot of influence. He’s designated a “young man” here and leads them all to their doom. There’s a subtle warning about the dangers of putting youth in charge. Shechem isn’t wise, even by the world’s standards. He has no concern other than him getting Dinah.

Genesis 34:21-24 – 21 “These men are peaceful toward us,” they said. “Let them live in our land and move about in it, for indeed, the region is large enough for them. Let’s take their daughters as our wives and give our daughters to them. 22 But the men will agree to live with us and be one people only on this condition: if all our men are circumcised as they are. 23 Won’t their livestock, their possessions, and all their animals become ours? Only let’s agree with them, and they will live with us.” 24 All the men who had come to the city gates listened to Hamor and his son Shechem, and all those men were circumcised.

Their end goal was not just to take Dinah but to take everything from Jacob and his family. Remember all those promises of power and possessions and freedom? It was a lie – a ruse so that their enemies could bleed them dry. That’s what sin wants to do to you. Don’t take the bait.

The name Hamor means “male donkey.” He had invited Jacob to dwell with them, to enjoy all the pleasures they could offer. If they did, they’d be swallowed up. It reminds me of the old Pinocchio cartoon when the boys rush off to Pleasure Island, only to become donkeys, enslaved forever.

Genesis 34:25-29 – 25 On the third day, when they were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords, went into the unsuspecting city, and killed every male. 26 They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with their swords, took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and went away. 27 Jacob’s sons came to the slaughter and plundered the city because their sister had been defiled. 28 They took their flocks, herds, donkeys, and whatever was in the city and in the field. 29 They captured all their possessions, dependents, and wives and plundered everything in the houses.

Simeon and Levi were full brothers of Dinah. So were Reuben, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun but we aren’t told why they weren’t involved in the mass murder. And that’s what this was. It would’ve been a prolonged, savage undertaking. We’ve never known carnage like this.

This is not justice. They butchered many innocent people. But revenge had taken hold of their hearts like indifference had taken hold of Jacob’s, and the result was maybe the worst act of sin this book has recorded, carried out by the family of faith. We are not immune from sin. We’re rescued from it, but if we think sin is only a problem for the pagans, we need to pay attention. God’s people are just as able to bring ruin and destruction to this world when we’re not walking with the Lord.

If the slaughter wasn’t bad enough, we see it was followed up by the plundering of the city. The text isn’t specific, but it would seem that while the two brothers did the killing, the rest did the stealing. It makes us wonder: Was Joseph part of the raiding party, too?

Let’s notice one more thing about this appalling deed: They took the wives and children from all these houses. So, in the end, they effectively are doing what Shechem did. But, they hide that sin behind a phony veil of religion. “We’re so offended at this unrighteous act that we have to turn around and do the same thing many times over to you!”

Compare the murderous spree of Levi, who claimed to be motivated by righteous anger, to Levi’s descendant Phinehas, who really was motivated by righteous anger and slew two people who were in open sin, mocking God, and bringing judgment on the nation. He executed them and no one else. That’s not what’s happening in this chapter. This is not justice. It is not righteous. They could not appeal to heaven’s morality because they had utterly violated it themselves.

There are things done under the banner of faith that have nothing to do with the truth. Sometimes people say, “Well, Christianity had the crusades,” as if that proves God doesn’t exist. The crusades had nothing to do with genuine Christianity any more than this vicious mass murder did. Today, prominent Christians will commit acts of sin and will expect to get a pass on it because of who they are. But that’s not how truth works. That’s not how holiness works. God expects real faith from us.

Finally, Jacob speaks. Let’s see what he has to say.

Genesis 34:30-31 – 30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me, making me odious to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites. We are few in number; if they unite against me and attack me, I and my household will be destroyed.” 31 But they answered, “Should he treat our sister like a prostitute?”

Earlier, Jacob showed no emotion. Now he’s all worked up. Did you notice that Jacob doesn’t talk about his daughter? He says, “they’re going to attack me and I and my household will be destroyed!” Where is the Jacob of chapter 33? That guy is nowhere to be found.

It’s interesting, the Lord renamed him “Israel” in chapter 32 which signaled the beginning of something wonderful. But after that great scene, Jacob stopped pursuing the Lord. He settled where he didn’t belong. He’s not Israel in chapter 34, he’s Jacob again. Once he returns to the Lord in chapter 35, the Lord will again rename him Israel. Jacob took two steps forward, one step back, but the Lord was still with him. This period of his life was a mistake – a very painful mistake – but God did not give up on Jacob. His mercy is new every morning.

As the chapter closes, we see a great divide in this family. The boys defy their father. They openly rebuke him. There is no resolution to their argument. The account just ends. Jacob, it seems, resented these two sons till the day he died, and we’ll see that the consequences of these spiritual missteps continue to impact the family in terrible ways.

Jacob worried about how “few” they were. But he should know by now it didn’t matter how few they were. If the Lord was for them, who could be against them?

Sin is a scary thing. Being outside of the will of God is a dangerous thing. This is why God has intervened to save us and draw us to Himself. He placed no barriers between Jacob and Bethel. It was Jacob who stopped short for commercial, strategic reasons. But this delay proves what Proverbs says more than once to us: “There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death.”

I don’t mean to suggest that as long as you follow God no one in your family will ever suffer or be hurt. Following God does not shield us from every attack. Bad things happen to God’s people even when they’re right where the Lord wants them to be. But this terrible story should remind us of how dangerous sin is in the culture around us and how dangerous it is when left to operate in our own hearts. And we see here how dangerous it is for us and those we love to be living life outside the will of God. We don’t need to live in fear of failure – just live in the fear of the Lord. “How happy is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways!” “the Lord keeps his eye on those who fear him— those who depend on his faithful love to rescue them from death.”

Now You See Me, Now You Don’t, Soon You Will, Then You Won’t (John 16:16-33)

Former Department of Military Instruction Director at the US Military Academy Colonel Robert “Tex” Turner famously said, “I woke up in a cold sweat. I had a nightmare that I was still in Ranger School. Thank God that I was in Vietnam. Compared to Ranger School, combat was easy.”

Each month hundreds of Army Ranger candidates report for their chance to face the toughest physical, mental, and emotional challenge they will likely ever encounter. Only a small number make the cut.

Navy SEAL training is not designed to get you in shape. You must arrive in excellent physical condition and pass the rigorous physical screening test before you can be considered a SEAL candidate. A majority wash out.

2nd Lieutenant Jake Jensen, West Point graduate with honors, was being considered for the elite international force, MIB. Answering future Agent J’s question, Jensen said, “We’re here because you want the best of the best of the best, sir!” He failed.

There is no easy way to say this: Jesus’ twelve disciples failed.

They completed three and one-half years of rigorous training, during which they were, all the time, with Jesus. He taught them many things, e.g., how to pray. They participated in two-by two missions, returning with stories of spiritual success.
They often spoke, either openly or secretly, about their readiness to serve the Lord in the Kingdom of God on Earth.

Then came Thursday night prior to Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday:

Philip expressed his uncertainty as to who Jesus was.
As Jesus was sharing the bread and the wine at the Last Supper, Luke tells us that the disciples began to fight over who was the greatest.
Judas betrayed Jesus to the religious authorities. He would afterward hang himself.
Jesus asked them to pray with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. They repeatedly fell asleep.
Peter denied the Lord three times under very little pressure to do so.
With the exception of John, who was at the Cross with the women, the disciples scattered, leaving the Lord alone.
Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem. Instead, they went back to the Sea of Galilee and returned to their fishing business. 

If this were Ranger School, or SEAL training, or the MIB, all of them would have failed to make the cut.

They made God’s Kingdom Cut.

Jesus said to them, “You will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy… And in that day… I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you… These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Have you felt like you have betrayed or denied the Lord? Maybe you have. Failed to pray? Sure, we’ve all been there. Been puffed-up with pride? O yeah.

It sounds to me as if Jesus will restore you, refresh you, and reiterate His love for you.

Keep this perspective as we go through the text. I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 When You Sorrow, Jesus Encourages You To Rejoice, and #2 When You Scatter, Jesus Expects You To Return.

#1 – When You Sorrow, Jesus Encourages You To Rejoice (v16-24)

The Lord is coming in the year 2060.

That is the prediction of Sir Isaac Newton. When he was not inventing calculus, or formulating the theory of universal gravity, he was commenting on the Bible. His contemporaries considered him a theologian. The historical jury is out on whether or not he was a believer, on account of his rejecting the Trinity, and secretly holding to a few other heresies.

I mention him now only to point out he spent half his life muddling with alchemy. He was looking for the mythical ‘Philosopher’s stone’ that would turn base metals into gold.

God turns your sorrows into gold.

Job, the chief sufferer in the Bible, said, “When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold” (23:10).

Jesus has not held back in this, His final talk to the eleven before His death. Trouble would follow them like Pig-Pen’s dust cloud. They would be the Lord’s solid gold servants.

Joh 16:16  “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.”

For “a little while,” the eleven would not see the Lord as His body lay in the tomb.

They would see Jesus for another “little while” after He rose from the dead in His heavenly body. Then He would ascend to Heaven, to remain there until He comes to resurrect and rapture the Church.

Joh 16:17  Then some of His disciples said among themselves, “What is this that He says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?”
Joh 16:18  They said therefore, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is saying.”

To them, it sounded like a “Who’s on first?” skit. Cut them slack.

Even with the completed Bible, and the Holy Spirit, contemporary commentators disagree on the exact interpretation of some of the things Jesus said the last night before He died.

Joh 16:19  Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’?

Jesus was God, and so we think, “Of course He knew what they desired to ask Him.” Really, in this case, you didn’t need to be God in order to know what they wanted to ask. It was obvious.

If it was supernatural knowledge, it was what we call a word of knowledge. We’ve been pointing out that Jesus was God from eternity and took upon Himself a body when He came to Earth. He was God, but voluntarily set aside the independent use of His deity. He relied instead on His Father and God the Holy Spirit. This knowledge about what the disciples were thinking would be a word of knowledge, from the Holy Spirit.

Joh 16:20  Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.

“Be turned into” expresses our Lord’s amazing capabilities. It isn’t alchemy, but from sorrow, He produces joy.

Joh 16:21  A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.

Childbirth seems painful. I wouldn’t know; not just because I’m a man, but back in my day, men waited. In a special waiting room. Eating donuts & drinking coffee. Talking to other manly men. Away from the shrieking and the carnage of birth. Clean up that baby and then I’ll hold him. As Archie and Edith Bunker sang, Those were the days.

The childbirth illustration has a lot to do with Israel and her Messiah and the promised Kingdom of God on Earth.

In His prophetic discourse on the Mount of Olives, in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus compared the future seven year Great Tribulation to birth pangs. The Earth and those who inhabit it with be in a seven year labor. Their birth pangs start slow then accelerate. That awful time of intense suffering will give way to incredible, lasting joy when Jesus comes in His Second Coming.

As for us, in the current Church Age, the world will get worse-and-worse. I feel like that old Wendy’s commercial, “Where’s the beef?”

Where is the joy?

Joh 16:22  Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

David Powlison writes, “In the hands of a loving God, sorrow and suffering become the doorways into the greatest and most indestructible joys.”

They would not “see” Him before suffering and dying for Him. But He would see them. Catch that. Jesus emphasized He would see them. He can never not see you.

He saw them as they were martyred:

Five of the eleven would be crucified.
James, son of Zebedee, was decapitated.
Bartholomew was decapitated, too, but first he was skinned alive.
Thomas was speared to death.
Matthew was stabbed to death.
The other James was stoned, and when he didn’t die, clubbed to death.

Edward Klink writes, “The definitive and permanent nature of the disciples’ joy is not based upon the absence of any future grief and affliction but by the placement of all grief and suffering into the larger context of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

Rejoicing is encouraged by our knowledge of the future of the world:

We live in the Church Age.
The Church Age will end with the coming of Jesus in the clouds to resurrect dead believers and rapture living ones.
At some point after the rapture, the Great Tribulation begins.
Jesus’ Second Coming occurs at the end of the seven years.
In fulfillment of what has been promised to the physical descendants of Abraham, Jesus rules the Kingdom of God on Earth for one-thousand years.
Final judgments on the wicked, final resurrections of the righteous, and eternity, round-out the future.

More exciting still, you know your future:

You were saved, and placed into the spiritual body of Jesus. You were born-again, and God the Holy Spirit now indwells you.
He guarantees you are going to Heaven at the resurrection and rapture, before the Great Tribulation.
Jesus will complete the work He has begun in you.
He will present you faultless in Heaven.
You’ll live in your mansion, in the city of gold, the New Jerusalem, hovering over a restored Earth in the restored heavens.
For all eternity you will enjoy perfect fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Don’t forget that you will experience reunion with your believing loved ones.

Your future ought to stir-up your joy regardless your sorrow in this world.

Joh 16:23  “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.
Joh 16:24  Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

“Ask Me nothing” means that they will have access to the entire God-head and not Jesus only. Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross and His resurrection bring us into a greater fellowship with God.

On Earth this was represented by the tearing in half from top to bottom the veil in the Temple that separated God from sinful men. We might say that God has an ‘open veil’ policy insofar as contacting Him anytime, 24/7. As Glenn Campbell sang, It’s knowin’ that His door is always open.

It is pointed-out, from these two verses, that (technically) we pray to the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit. A.W. Pink writes, “Consequent on Christ’s exaltation, the Spirit in and with believers would draw out their hearts in prayer, teaching them to present their petitions to the Father in the all-prevailing name of the Son.”

We should, however, quit parsing everything into a formula or method. This isn’t a prayer template. It is encouragement to talk to God all of the time, from an intimate love relationship.

What about receiving whatever we ask for if we ask in Jesus’ name? This cannot mean that I can ask for a Ferrari and expect to have the keys delivered to me at my convenience. It is simply not true that I can ask for anything I want and expect to receive it.

Start with the words, “that your joy may be full.” Fullness of joy is what we can confidently ask for and receive.

I have a disease. I can pray God heal me. He can; He sometimes does.
But what I really require, as His servant who has the treasure of the Gospel in my perishing body, is to have supernatural joy that is full of the glory of God.

In my new relationship with Father, Son & Spirit, I can have that supernatural joy. In fact, I do have it, since the Holy Spirit is in me. I believe that it comes from the Lord, and I simply ask for it.

Why doesn’t God give without asking? For one, I might not want it. I might insist that He get me out of my sorrow, rather than produce joy in it.

Christians can get stuck on wanting God to answer a certain way, not wanting to be joyful in sorrow, but by being delivered from it.

It is from our weakness God is shown strong in the dispensation of the Church Age.

Walter Cradock said, “Take a saint, and put him into any condition, and he knows how to rejoice in the Lord.”

There are a lot of resources that give you 5, or 7, or 10 steps for having joy.
We promote a no-step program. The apostle Paul was confident that joy was a fruit of the Holy Spirit. He is in you; you can have joy.

#2 – When You Scatter, Jesus Calls You To Return (v25-33)

J.C. Ryle writes, “The Savior of sinners will not cast off those who believe in Him, because they are babes in faith and knowledge. He can see reality under much infirmity, and where He sees it, He is graciously pleased. The followers of such a Savior may well be bold and confident.”

The disciples would scatter, abandoning Jesus. He assured them that He would be alright, and that He would make things right between Himself and them. He was, every moment of that awful night, pondering them, protecting them, praying for them. He does no less for you.

Joh 16:25  “These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father.

Figurative language was, in part, intended to confuse folks who kept hardening their hearts in unbelief that Jesus was Messiah.
Figurative language, to the believer, could be an aid to understanding. Parables and proverbs and signs and the like could make principles and precepts come alive.

I don’t think Jesus was telling them He had deliberately kept them in the dark. The problem was that they could only know and understand so much without the aid of God the Holy Spirit to teach them. He had not yet been given. Afterwards, they would be enabled to know and understand “plainly about the Father.”

Joh 16:26  In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you;
Joh 16:27  for the Father Himself loves you…

Jesus emphasized again that they would have immediate access to the throne of God. It was “in His Name,” meaning on account of what He did by dying on the Cross. The Father sees us as being in Jesus. He can thus lavish upon us His love. He can justify sinners while remaining just.

Joh 16:27  … and have believed that I came forth from God.
Joh 16:28  I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.”

They “believed” Jesus was the Messiah predicted in their Scriptures. It was a basic, introductory belief. There were many things they could not yet believe. His returning to “the Father,” instead of establishing the Kingdom of God on Earth, left them dizzy. But it was necessary.

Joh 16:29  His disciples said to Him, “See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech!
Joh 16:30  Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.”

You might say to the disciples, I feel ya. They wanted so much to understand. They wanted so badly to shine as the Lord’s disciples, in whom He had invested so much of Himself.

By saying Jesus was talking plainly, they were assuming that His promise in verse twenty five was fulfilled. But it couldn’t be until they received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They were misunderstanding Him.

Joh 16:31  Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?
Joh 16:32  Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone…

Their belief, however informed or uninformed it might be, would be challenged. They would fail in the trial, scattering like sheep without their shepherd.

The scattered sheep illustration comes from the Old Testament Book of Zechariah. It has at least three prophetic applications:

First, Jesus applied it to His disciples scattering.
Second, the scattering of the sheep refers to the scattering of the Jewish nation when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70AD.
Third, it will be fulfilled in the last half of the future Tribulation period, as antichrist seeks to exterminate all Jews.

Joh 16:32 … And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.

“It’s OK, guys. The Father can’t let Me down. And neither can I let you down!”

Are you, in some way, scattered? Not walking with the Lord as you once did? He calls you to return, and to rejoice. Yes, you failed Him. But you made the Kingdom cut when you were born-again, and the Lord desires your restoration.

Michael Keaton was the keynote speaker at a Kent State graduation. He ended his talk, by telling the graduates he had two words for them. Two words that would summarize everything he had said. Two words to inspire them. After a dramatic pause, he leaned into the microphone and said, “I’m Batman.”

One verse, the last verse, summarizes this entire talk.

Joh 16:33  These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

I don’t think that it requires much commentary. What it calls for is much believing. Jesus has “overcome the world.” To the extent I believe He has, I will “be of good cheer,” having His “peace” in my “tribulation.”

Do you believe that?

Prophecy Update #715 – The Big Chill

We reserve a few minutes Sunday morning to suggest news, or trends, that seem to be predicted by a literal, futurist reading of the Bible.

We are careful to use recognized, reliable sources for news. There is a lot of sensationalism surrounding unfulfilled Bible prophecy, and we don’t want to add to it.

We’re not saying the things we report are the definite fulfillment of prophecy – only that they are the things you’d expect to be happening in build-up to the future seven year Great Tribulation.

Students of Bible prophecy have long argued that the government of the Great Tribulation will be some sort of global union, eventually controlled by the antichrist.

Climate change maybe the issue that will lead the nations of the world to surrender their sovereignty to a global government with the goal of saving the planet. If the dire predictions regarding climate change are true, then we find ourselves in a do or die moment in which we either come together as a planet or face extinction.

BTW: I should mention that I am not really talking about climate change, per se. I am not saying that it is real, or that it is manufactured. I am only saying that it has the potential to tilt the world towards and into globalism.

I read an article this week titled, The UN Tells the EU That Green Energy Goals Are Worth Freezing to Death Over.

Excerpts:

As part of ongoing efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change, the European Union (EU) adopted plans intended to lower the continent’s reliance on carbon-producing energy.

Under its current framework, by the end of the decade, the EU seeks to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55% from what they were in 1990. It further pledges to make the continent carbon neutral by 2050. To achieve these goals, the EU has mandated that countries make certain changes. In June, it passed a resolution that would ban all sales of cars with internal combustion engines by 2035. Many nations have also been phasing out coal-fired power plants that produce a disproportionate amount of global carbon emissions.

https://reason.com/2022/09/13/the-u-n-tells-the-e-u-that-green-energy-goals-are-worth-freezing-to-death-over/

There is a problem. The EU is facing an energy crisis. To answer the problem, European governments are spending at least $50 billion on imports of coal and natural gas, and reactivating shuttered coal plants.

The UN wants them to stay the course towards reducing carbon emissions. Their counsel is, to be blunt, let people in Europe freeze this winter, staying on track to save the planet.

A UN commissioner said,

In the face of soaring energy prices which threaten to impact the most vulnerable as winter approaches, some EU member States are turning to investments in fossil fuels infrastructure and supplies. While that impulse is understandable, I urge the EU and its member States to consider the long-term consequences of locking in more fossil fuel infrastructure. It is essential to accelerate the development of energy efficiency projects and renewables. There is no room for backtracking in the face of the ongoing climate crisis.

If people have to die as result of carbon energy policies, so be it. We have to save the planet.

If you think I’m exaggerating, research what is going on in Sri Lanka.

Environmentalists convinced the government to immediately cease using non-organic fertilizer. Their president banned all synthetic fertilizers. Farmers were forced to go all organic overnight. Food production is down as much as 50%, while food costs increased by 80%. Farmers say that Sri Lankans are going to starve to death.

Michael Shellenberger, formerly a top environmental activist, points out that if we used all organic fertilizer, the earth could support a population of 3 billion. There are currently 8 billion on the planet now. I don’t think it’s going to far, at this point, to say that many are willing to allow more than half the global population starve.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JE5TrVEGP20

Centuries ago, the Bible predicted a global government. Using climate change, pandemics, and other disasters, real or imagined, the push towards globalism is on. It is exactly what we expected.

We are witnessing the stage-setting for the seven year Great Tribulation that is described in the last book of the Bible. We will not, however, be on Earth during that terrible Time of Jacob’s Trouble.

The resurrection and rapture of the church are imminent. It could happen any moment; nothing needs to happen before it.

Jesus will come, in the clouds, and raise the dead believers of the Church Age. He will transform the bodies of living believers to glorified, resurrection bodies. We will join Him in Heaven while the earth endures one final seven-year campaign of severe evangelism.

Are you ready for the rapture? If not, Get ready; Stay ready; Keep looking up.

Ready or not, Jesus is coming!

Genesis 33:1-20 – You Take The South Road, I’ll Take The North Road, And You’ll Be In Seir-land Afore Me!

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy had a momentous meeting with Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie. He arrived wearing “a field marshal’s uniform…and [carrying] a long swagger stick.” He and JFK had a series of gatherings over the next few days. The President, who suffered from severe back pain, graciously stood at attention while Selassie spoke.

He said he came to “explore ways and means of strengthening…cooperation” between the US and Ethiopia. He came hoping to receive JFK’s full support in Ethiopia’s dispute with neighboring Somalia. He also invited the President to come and visit Ethiopia personally.

“In [their] meetings, the President spoke simply and directly…even when he knew it might disturb or displease the Emperor…and he promised to give careful consideration to Ethiopia’s request.”

“The undisclosed U.S. strategy was to partially satisfy the Emperor’s request as inexpensively as possible while assuring a…friendly government in Ethiopia.” As to the invitation to visit, JFK “expressed his desire to arrange such a [trip] as soon as his schedule permitted.” Whether that was true or not didn’t matter. The President was killed seven weeks later in Dallas.

In our text tonight, Jacob and Esau have a meeting with many similarities to JFK’s and Selassie’s. Esau, a military leader, stands before his counterpart, Jacob, who is crippled and in pain. Esau hopes this will lead to new cooperation between their peoples and that Jacob would come and visit his homeland. Jacob has no intention of doing so but speaks tactfully so as not to offend his brother. Though he says he’d love to come down to Seir, he never takes Esau up on the invitation.

There’s one more interesting similarity. Haile Selassie’s fuller title was “Emperor of Ethiopia, Elect of God, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and King of Kings.” Of course, Selassie wasn’t God, but during his reign, there were those who really saw him as God.

In verse 10, Jacob says: “I have seen your face, and it is like seeing God’s face.” Was Jacob just being polite? Was he buttering Esau up? When we’re thinking about Bible characters who serve as types of our Lord, we never put Esau on that list. Hebrews describes him as an immoral, irreverent, unrepentant man. We don’t want to emulate Esau.

And yet, there’s something about this encounter that reveals God’s grace through Esau’s actions. Cyril of Alexandria said this scene foreshadowed the reconciliation of Christ with Israel. But it’s not just about God and Israel. We’ll find that the words describing Esau are almost exactly how Jesus describes the Prodigal Son’s father in Luke 15. Gordon Wenham writes, “Though Jacob’s comparison of Esau’s action with God’s sounds too [complimentary] (Wenham’s word is fulsome), it is not inappropriate, for God’s mercy is like this according to Scripture.”

Through this scene, we can revel in the mercy of God through the example of Esau, and then we’ll see the misstep of Jacob, who follows the example of Abraham too closely.

Genesis 33:1-2 – Now Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming toward him with four hundred men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two slave women. 2 He put the slaves and their children first, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last.

There are several moments where it may have been helpful to have a window into Jacob’s thought process, but those windows are left closed. We’re left to wonder what he was thinking. We wonder if he was afraid at this moment. Many commentators think he was and that his dividing of the family here was a defensive measure, hoping a few might survive an attack from Esau.

In the last passage we were told plainly when Jacob was afraid, but it’s not said here. This makeshift parade wouldn’t have been much of a strategy. They’re all pretty close together and on foot.

Sadly, what is clear is that Jacob is arranging his family according to how important they are to him. The text doesn’t bother to even name two of the wives or any of the children other than Joseph. Jacob’s heart is being transformed and he is finally starting to walk by faith, but he’s not perfect. He has allowed favoritism to taint the way he relates to his family. This has already been a huge problem for this family and it will continue to be a huge problem in the coming years.

The New Testament reminds us that God shows no partiality and we are not to show partiality. Not in the home, not in the house of the Lord, not in the halls of justice. It is a weed that kills fruit.

Genesis 33:3 – 3 He himself went on ahead and bowed to the ground seven times until he approached his brother.

The Lord has strengthened Jacob, but he doesn’t know exactly what’s going to happen. Unlike before, he faces his brother without fear. He moves in front of his family, bowing as he goes.

There’s an ancient tablet that explains how, in that era, bowing seven times was customary when you met a monarch. It signals Jacob’s absolute surrender and humility. He was emboldened, and the Lord had taken away his fear, but that didn’t make him swagger. He walked humbly. John Goldingay writes, “Release from fear does not mean release from deference and submissiveness.”

Genesis 33:4 – 4 But Esau ran to meet him, hugged him, threw his arms around him, and kissed him. Then they wept.

If you were to turn to Luke 15, where Jesus delivers the beloved Parable of the Lost Son, you would read: “…while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him.”

This is God’s heart of compassion and care for you! You and I were the prodigals the Father ran to save. He doesn’t hold us at arm’s length – the Lord rushes to embrace us – to fold us into His active, life-changing love. One commentator notes how “whole-heartedly” Esau acts. This meeting which could’ve been defined by anger or bitterness or argument, was instead defined by mercy and joy.

Bruce Waltke points out that while Esau runs, Jacob limps. No matter who we are or what we’ve accomplished, on the spiritual level, we come to God limping. We’re helpless and without hope. But then the Savior swoops in and takes us in His arms, covering us with His love, wiping out all our past wrongs, replacing all of that history with grace and tenderness and plans for a glorious future.

Esau had the right to hate Jacob. Jacob had cheated and wronged him. Even Jacob wouldn’t have blamed Esau for destroying him right then and there, taking everything away from him. But instead of wrath he found warmth. This is an affection these brothers never had for each other. It wasn’t that they used to be close – they weren’t. But despite the wide gulf of guilt between them, all Esau pours out in this scene is love and forgiveness and grace and assistance.

This is how God runs to you! We have a sneaking suspicion that God is fed up with us, don’t we? That He was willing to go to Calvary, but He’s not going to go farther for us. It isn’t true. Esau took a long trip – a hundred miles at his own expense – to embrace his brother. Our Lord crossed heaven and earth, time and eternity, death and the grave out of His love for you. In Jeremiah 31, He says:

Jeremiah 31:3 – I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to you.

If your heart is whispering: “I’m a worthless, limping failure. God must be disappointed with me,” then go to Psalm 136 where 26 times in 26 verses we read “His faithful love endures forever.” That hesed we talked about last time. A faithful, repairing, embracing, merciful love that endures forever.

Genesis 33:5-7 – 5 When Esau looked up and saw the women and children, he asked, “Who are these with you?” He answered, “The children God has graciously given your servant.” 6 Then the slaves and their children approached him and bowed down. 7 Leah and her children also approached and bowed down, and then Joseph and Rachel approached and bowed down.

Scholars tell us that Jacob used terms that are the unmistakable language of “submitting oneself…to be a subject.” In fact, we see a foreshadowing here how when the Lord arrives, “every knee will bow.” Jacob, the wives, children, and servants all bend their knees before Esau.

Christ Jesus is our Savior and Friend, but He is also Master and Commander. We owe Him our allegiance, our service, our loyalty, and our strength. He is no taskmaster, but we are to live every day with our knees bowed to the King. Read Ephesians 3 where Paul talks about the power and importance of kneeling before our Lord, Who loves us and enriches us and glorifies us as we kneel.

Genesis 33:8 – 8 So Esau said, “What do you mean by this whole procession I met?” “To find favor with you, my lord,” he answered.

Esau demonstrates how the Lord interacts with us. He speaks to us and invites us to respond to Him. We think of those times Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” Jacob’s answer here was, “Give me grace!” He calls Esau “Adonai.” That’s a term men would use for a master, but most of you know it’s also a term the Bible uses for our Lord. It’s a word that means “owner, master, father,” and it is used of the Messiah in passages like Psalm 110.

So we see that Jacob’s heart is spiritually calibrated just as it should be. What do you want? Grace. As we speak to the Lord, the greatest thing we can ask for is His grace and the great news is that He does not withhold it from us. It overflows in abundance to us.

Genesis 33:9-11 – 9 “I have enough, my brother,” Esau replied. “Keep what you have.” 10 But Jacob said, “No, please! If I have found favor with you, take this gift from me. For indeed, I have seen your face, and it is like seeing God’s face, since you have accepted me. 11 Please take my present that was brought to you, because God has been gracious to me and I have everything I need.” So Jacob urged him until he accepted.

Jacob continues to call himself a servant and Esau his lord, while Esau consistently calls Jacob “my brother.” What an amazing thing God has done, not just sparing our lives, not just giving us entrance into heaven, not just allowing us to become His servants, but doing so much more in His affection toward us. The Lord says, “I’m going to make you citizens of My Kingdom. And I’m calling you friends. And I’m giving you the right to become children of God.”

This is the “acceptance” of God. Jacob said to Esau, “You have accepted me.” The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament tells us this is a term that means “to be favorably received” and “describes God’s pleasure with His servants.” It’s the word God the Father uses in Isaiah 42:1 when He says He delights in Christ, the Son. That delight is what He feels about you, too!

In Psalm 147 we read:

Psalm 147:11 – 11 The Lord values those who fear him…who put their hope in his faithful love.

“Values” there is the same root word we see here as “accepted.” On the authority of God’s Word we know that when we come to Him in faith and receive His free gift of grace, He accepts us, He values us, and He delights in us. Just like Jacob, we don’t deserve it – quite the opposite. The Lord’s acceptance and forgiveness are unmerited, but He extends it all the same. And now, much more than God just meeting us at the crossroads and saying, “Alright, this squares us,” He gives us more than we could ask or imagine. As people who have received the grace of God, we can say like Jacob, “I have everything I need.” Your version may say “I have enough” like Esau said back in verse 9, but in the Hebrew, Jacob is saying something different. He says, “I have everything I need.” Those words remind us of Psalm 23. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I have what I need.”

We can see God’s peace ruling in Jacob’s heart. Where would they live? Where would they go? What about famines or foes? What about his limp? Those are fair questions but in this moment, Jacob has the splendid certainty of faith and can correctly say, “I have everything I need.”

Genesis 33:12 – 12 Then Esau said, “Let’s move on, and I’ll go ahead of you.”

Like all Biblical types, we can’t press too hard otherwise the analogy crumbles. But here we still see a shadow of our Lord’s goodness. Esau says, “Let’s move out together,” or your translation may say, “Let us take our journey.” At the same time, he says, “I will go before you.” What a great statement of how the Lord leads and of His constant presence. He walks with and goes before. He is not some far removed Deity Who will answer one question if we can survive the climb up the mountain to reach His temple. In Deuteronomy we read: “For the Lord your God is the One who will go with you; He will not leave you or abandon you.” Of course, Jesus said the same in Matthew 28.

While this gives us one last, beautiful reminder of the Lord’s care for us, this is the moment when the scene of grace begins to fade, like a dream sequence coming to an end. We find the brothers there on the road and Esau has just made an offer to Jacob. He says, “Why don’t you all come with me, I’ll lead you on down to my territory.”

This is a dangerous offer. Esau’s plan would put an unbeliever in a position of leadership over the family of faith. He would be leading them out of the land of promise and out of the will of God. This is definitely not what God had directed Jacob to do, so how would he answer?

Genesis 33:13-14 – 13 Jacob replied, “My lord knows that the children are weak, and I have nursing flocks and herds. If they are driven hard for one day, the whole herd will die. 14 Let my lord go ahead of his servant. I will continue on slowly, at a pace suited to the livestock and the children, until I come to my lord at Seir.”

Some criticize Jacob, saying he was lying here – that it was old Jacob back in action. Others point out that the Bible doesn’t call this a lie. Earlier, the Holy Spirit labels Jacob’s actions as deception, but not here. In fact, if we had been there, it would’ve been obvious that he was saying, “I’m not going to go with you. We need to separate.” He’s just doing so in a very polite way. Esau wouldn’t need to travel hard and fast. In fact, now that he had nursing flocks given to him by his brother, he too would have to travel slowly. And we see he gets the message, he leaves that very day.

We’re not given all the details of their talk or their time together. We’ll find in chapter 36 that they figured out they wouldn’t be able to live together, just as Lot and Abraham had discovered. The land couldn’t support them both. So

Genesis 33:15 – 15 Esau said, “Let me leave some of my people with you.” But he replied, “Why do that? Please indulge me, my lord.”

Without Esau’s people to guide, how would Jacob find his brother in Seir? It would be possible, but obviously Jacob is doing what we all sometimes do: “Yeah we should totally get lunch sometime…”

I do see one last echo of the Lord’s grace in Esau’s final word. Our Lord, Who has gone before us, was faithful to leave some of His people with us. The Church is given not just out of convenience or simple tradition. God gives us each other so that we might encourage, support, protect, and guide one another as we are built up together. We’re meant to take the road of faith together.

So, in verses 1 through 15, Jacob enjoys the grace of God through the example of Esau. But this chapter which shined so bright at the start ends with storm clouds gathered on the horizon. Jacob makes a serious mistake. It seems as though, in the aftermath of these incredible events, he sort of sighs a breath of relief and instead of continuing in faithful diligence, he simply imitates the things he heard that Abraham did and calls it good. It starts with a small move.

Genesis 33:16-17 – 16 That day Esau started on his way back to Seir, 17 but Jacob went to Succoth. He built a house for himself and shelters for his livestock; that is why the place was called Succoth.,

Jacob doesn’t go to Hebron to live with Isaac. He moves 4 miles to the north and west of his meeting with Esau and he lives there for a while in a house. We’re not sure how long he’s there, but after some time, he moves on, not to where God led, but simply copying the footsteps of Abraham.

Genesis 33:18-20 – 18 After Jacob came from Paddan-aram, he arrived safely at Shechem in the land of Canaan and camped in front of the city. 19 He purchased a section of the field where he had pitched his tent from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for a hundred pieces of silver., 20 And he set up an altar there and called it God, the God of Israel.

We know this was not a good decision because of the disaster that comes in the very next chapter. And after that tragedy, God is going to speak directly to Jacob and say, “Get up! Go to Bethel and settle there.” Now, Bethel was only 20 miles from Shechem. So it seems like Jacob knew he should probably get himself back to Bethel, but once in Shechem thought, “Eh…close enough.”

How is this possible? The truth is, like the song says, our hearts are prone to wander. Walking by faith requires a daily determination to follow God. You don’t eat by accident. You make choices and put those choices into motion. King Joash is a powerful warning about our propensity to wander from the Lord. For 40 years he honored God, for 40 years his life was all about repairing the temple. That was his focus and his passion. But then, after those 40 years, the priest Jehoiada died. Jehoiada had been like a father to Joash. And Joash stopped listening to the truth. He abandoned the temple. He abandoned the Lord. And he even had Jehoiada’s son killed when he tried to direct Joash back to the Lord. Prone to wander, prone to leave the God we love.

Jacob was wandering from where God wanted him. Of course, it was only 20 miles. But what seemed safe to Jacob wasn’t safe at all. R. Kent Hughes calls this faith mixed with partial obedience. Genesis consistently described cities in Canaan as bad places for God’s people to be. But there’s Jacob, camped right outside of Shechem. Why did he do this?

It seems he was trying to mimic what Abraham had done. Abraham came to Shechem, built an altar there, and bought a piece of land as a burial plot. Jacob does the same thing. The land he bought would be used for his burial, according to Joshua 24. But, like Abraham, this time in Shechem was a prelude to disaster. At the same time, we see he wants to worship God. He wants to follow the Lord. Yet, he stops short of complete obedience in his choices. Instead, he mimics what his grandfather did and probably thought, “That’s good enough, right? I did the thing, so I’m good.”

Jacob assumed Laban was going to hurt his family. He assumed Esau was going to hurt his family. Ironically, now he assumes the people in Shechem would be good for his family. The opposite was true, as we’ll see next time.

God’s gracious love does not give us a blank check to do whatever we think is best. The Lord is still the Decider. Jacob’s walk of faith was not just about getting away from Laban or not going with Esau. It was about being where the Lord wanted him to be. And, at this point, that place was Bethel. Not a day’s journey from Bethel.

Jacob wasn’t perfect – he still had a lot to learn, just like we do. At the same time, his failure here did not diminish God’s grace for him. No, the Lord was still faithful to come alongside His limping son and faithfully complete the work He began, just as He will for us. His faithful love endures forever!

Footnotes & references can be found by visiting calvaryhanford.com/atruebeginning

John 16:4-15 – “Help! We Need Somebody’s Help, But Not Just Anybody’s Help”

Director Peter Jackson succeeded in making us forget that help was on its way to Helm’s Deep.

Defeat at the hand of Saruman’s terrible Uruk Kai army was upon the people of Rohan, when suddenly Gandalf came with reinforcements as promised, “on the first light of the fifth day,” from the east at dawn.

The devil, the world he is ruler over, and our flesh, often succeed in making you forget “our help comes from the Lord.” (Psalm 121:2)

Not only does our help come from the Lord, it is ever present. Jesus promised that His departure to Heaven would trigger the sending of “the Helper.” He meant God the Holy Spirit.

God the Holy Spirit was sent on the Day of Pentecost. From that day forward, He takes residence in believers the moment we are saved.

In verse seven, the Lord said that we have a great “advantage” thanks to the Helper within us.

We should take advantage of our advantage.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 Take Advantage Of The Helper’s Help In Your Walk With Jesus, and #2 Take Advantage Of The Helper’s Help In Your Witness To Jesus.

#1 – Take Advantage Of The Helper’s Help In Your Walk (v4-7 & 12-15)

God lives in you.

Here are a few verses to corroborate the incredible truth. When the text reads, “Jesus” or “Christ” lives in you, it means He lives in you in the Person of God the Holy Spirit, whom He sent as your Helper.

In Second Corinthians 13:5, the apostle Paul asks the Corinthian believers a question: “Do you not realize about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you?” 

Romans 8:10, “But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is life because of righteousness.”

Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.”

Ephesians 3:17, “Christ may make His home in your hearts.”

Colossians 1:27, “To whom God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

One commentator said, “Jesus Christ isn’t outside of us in our time of need; He actually lives in us, and is with us all the time.”

We can believe God the Holy Spirit indwells us, but behave as if His help is far off and late in coming. The apostle Paul described this tendency as “having begun in the Spirit,” but trying to go forward “in the flesh,” i.e., in our own efforts.

Jerry Bridges writes, “Our reliance on the Spirit is not intended to foster an attitude of “I can’t do it,” but one of “I can do it through Him who strengthens me.” The Christian should never complain of want of ability and power.”

God lives in you. Take advantage of Him to “do all things through Jesus who strengthens you.”

Joh 16:4  But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.

The Last Supper concluded, Jesus led His eleven disciples to the Mount of Olives. Along their walk, He taught them.

Jesus had just told them they would be hated and persecuted. While He was with them, on Earth, He took all the hatred upon Himself.

He didn’t need to warn them they would become targets until now, at His departure.

It sometimes seems that the Lord springs things on you at the last second. You don’t feel ready. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at Pam’s appointment.

You are always ‘ready,’ in the sense that God indwells you.

You are always getting ready, in a general way, by reading your Word and fellowshipping. Your day-to-day walk provides a strengthening of your foundation so that when storms come, the wind and waves will not topple you.

Joh 16:5  “But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’
Joh 16:6  But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.
The eleven did previously ask Jesus where He was going. They stopped asking, not because Jesus wasn’t answering, but because “sorrow” filled their hearts.

People are different. Our emotional responses are all over the place. A believer might be overcome by emotion, while another seems almost unaffected. I guess what I’m getting at is, since we are all different, we must be careful in our counsel to others.

Nevertheless, the apostle Paul was bold enough to comfort believers in Thessalonica whose loved ones were dying by saying he did not want them to sorrow as those who had no hope (First Thessalonians 4:13).

If you allow “sorrow” to fill your heart – depression, discouragement, defeat, etc. – it drowns out the still small voice of the Holy Spirit right at the time He could offer the most help. There is a time for every purpose under Heaven; time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:4).

Jesus wanted them to keep asking. For one thing, their give-and-take was a way of teaching them that would be more memorable than lecturing them. He would give them prompts and clues to figure it out.

The Bible was written by inspiration in a way that causes you to dig into it in order to discover rich veins of truth. God is not hiding things from you. He wants you to experience of joy in finding things yourself – with His Helper’s help, of course.

For another thing, the Lord seems to enjoy hearing you ask Him for things. Even things He has already given to you, like the Holy Spirit.

For example, in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells believers to keep on asking for the gift of God the Holy Spirit. He’s been given; He permanently indwells us. Why go on asking?

He is our Helper, but we can don’t like asking for help. How many times have you broken something, ruined something, hurt yourself, because you did not want to ask for a friend to help? Same goes with the spiritual help we need. Too often, instead of asking the Helper for help, we say in our hearts, “I got this.”

Without the Spirit’s involvement, you don’t got this.

Joh 16:7  Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.

Jesus rose from the dead in a physical body. He will remain in that body for eternity. So much so that He still bears the wounds of His suffering. He is described, for example, in the Revelation as a lamb that had been sacrificed.

Don Stewart writes, “Jesus made it clear that he was not a disembodied spirit. He did things only a person having a body can do. Jesus walked, He showed His disciples the prints of the crucifixion on His body, He breathed and ate. Consequently both His words and his deeds testify to the fact that His resurrection was bodily.”

Whereas Jesus is currently seated in Heaven, God the Holy Spirit, called the Spirit of Jesus, can indwell every saved individual.

A few times in our studies in John’s Gospel we’ve said that this permanent indwelling of the believer is unique to saints in the Church Age. Old Testament saints did not enjoy this permanent indwelling. Here we find another corroboration of that truth.

Jesus said He could not send the Holy Spirit unless He first returned to Heaven. Thus God the Holy Spirit could not have permanently indwelt believers prior to the ascension of Jesus to Heaven, because He would not be given until the Church was born.

There is only one way of salvation throughout history. Believe God, and He accounts it as righteousness:

Abraham, the father of the Jews, believed God, and it was put into his account as righteousness.
Israel had the Law of God, but no one was ever saved by keeping the Law. They were saved by believing God and accepting His righteousness.

The permanent indwelling of God the Holy Spirit was not necessary for salvation. In the Church Age, it is part of your salvation.

Jesus is in Heaven, and He told us it was better for us He stay there. I want to suggest for your consideration that this might have some bearing on our understanding of what happens when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper.

We celebrate the Lord’s Supper as a memorial. The bread and the juice represent Jesus’ body and blood.

In the Roman Catholic tradition I grew up in, “the change of the whole substance of bread into the substance of the Body of Christ and of the whole substance of wine into the substance of the Blood of Christ.” Put simply, the elements are believed to become the body and blood of Jesus.

Lutherans (and others) have yet another view, saying, “the substance of the body and blood of Christ are present alongside the substance of the bread and wine.”

Making application of this, J.C. Ryle writes, “It is not the bodily presence of Christ in the midst of us, so much as the presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, that is essential. What we should all desire and long for is not Christ’s body literally touched with our hands and received into our mouths, but Christ dwelling spiritually in our hearts by the grace of the Holy Spirit.”

Drop down to verse twelve:

Joh 16:12  “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
Joh 16:13  However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

“You can’t handle the truth,” not yet. He wasn’t prepping them for more suffering; He was encouraging them that they would be enabled to know and comprehend spiritual truth after the Spirit was in them.

Jesus emphasized during His earthly ministry that He only did and said what His Father told Him. He and the Father were in agreement. Likewise, God the Holy Spirit would be in synch with the Father and the Son.

One practical thing this means is that God the Holy Spirit will not act independently in ways that contradict what has been revealed in the Word of God. No prophecy can be attributed to Him that would not line up with the Bible. No gift of His can rightfully be exercised in a manner contrary to His instruction for doing so. It does not ‘quench’ the Spirit when we test behaviors and beliefs people attribute to Him according to God’s Word.

“Things to come,” at the end of verse thirteen, are things after Jesus sent the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. They include the mystery of the Church, the coming of Jesus to resurrect and rapture the Church, the security of the Church in Heaven during the seven-year Great Tribulation, and the Second Coming of Jesus with His Church to end the Battle of Armageddon and establish the one-thousand year Kingdom of God on Earth.

Joh 16:14  He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.

God the Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus. Since He is in you, He will encourage you to glorify Jesus in all you say and do.

Along those lines, D.L. Moody writes, “There are many of us that are willing to do great things for the Lord, but few of us are willing to do little things.”

Any genuine work of God must glorify Jesus. Not a man, not a movement. As stated by William MacDonald, “By this we can test all teaching and preaching. If it has the effect of magnifying the Savior, then it is of the Holy Spirit.”

Joh 16:15  All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

The “things that the Father has” include His divine attributes. Jesus says those same attributes are His. They are equal.

We list the attributes of God to answer questions like, Who is God?, What is God like?, and What kind of God is He?

Besides the four omni’s – omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnibenevolent – God is infinite, immutable, and self-sufficient.

All lists of divine attributes differ. Some say there are five essential attributes, others as many as twenty.

Jesus didn’t give the disciples a list of His attributes with their definitions. He lived-out the attributes of God. He exampled them.

Who is God?, What is God like?, What kind of God is He? Jesus – His words and works – answers those questions.

On Saturday’s, when possible, the Pensiero grandkids come to “help” me do yard work. Sweeping, weeding, landscaping, car washing. People who see them remark, “I see you have your little helpers.”

God the Holy Spirit is not “my little Helper.”

#2 – Take Advantage Of The Helper’s Help In Your Witness To Jesus (v8-11)

“There is not a better evangelist in the world than the Holy Spirit.”

D.L. Moody said that, and he ought to know. God used him to preach the Gospel to hundreds of thousand, and to see multitudes saved.

The verses we skipped over give insight to the working of God the Holy Spirit with regards to the Gospel and salvation.

Joh 16:8  And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

“World” here refers to Earth’s inhabitants who are unbelievers. The Holy Spirit accomplishes His convicting work in a partnership with believers. That is to say, since He is in us, it is our interaction with unbelievers that gives Him opportunity to interact with those the Lord loves, who are perishing.

Joh 16:9  of sin, because they do not believe in Me;
Joh 16:10  of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;
Joh 16:11  of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

“Sin,” “righteousness,” and “judgment” focus our minds on the big picture.

“Sin” is the problem. Our parents, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God. They defied His one, simple command. Their sin brought death into the human race. “You sin, you die,” paraphrases what God warned them. They sinned, and, boy, do we sin. Sin is imputed to us; we inherit a sin nature; we commit individual sins.

“Righteousness” sums-up what is needed to counter sin. In the Garden of Eden, after they sinned, God explained to Adam and Eve how He was going to overcome their sin. He would Himself enter the human race, but in a way that did not impute sin to Him, and which did not confer a sin nature. That ‘way’ was through the virgin birth. Because of it, Jesus did not have sin imputed to Him, nor did He inherit a sin nature. He would live among humans and never commit an individual sin. This perfect righteousness of His would be offered as a free gift to any who would believe on Him. He would take their sin (unrighteousness) upon Himself, and give them His righteousness.

“Judgment.” Jesus’ offer of righteousness has an expiration date. A sinner has only so much time, in this lifetime, to believe Jesus. Die in sin, in unrighteousness, and severe judgment follows.

God the Holy Spirit is tasked with “convicting” unbelievers they are dead and headed for eternal death unless they receive Jesus’ righteousness as a free gift. Since He lives in us, it is through our lives, through our witness – our words and works and our walk – that unbelievers are exposed to conviction.

They are convicted of sin, “because they do not believe” in Jesus. You do believe, and your transformed life cannot be denied.

They are convicted of righteousness, “because [Jesus went] to Father and [was seen] no more.” Jesus’ return to Heaven proved He had lived a perfect life, and was able to offer His righteousness to be Savior of the whole world, especially those who believe.

They are convicted of judgment, “because the ruler of this world is judged.” Since Jesus would defeat and judge Satan at the Cross, what hope could anyone in the “world” Satan rules have of avoiding judgment? None.

Thunderstruck was a 2012 movie no one saw. The plot follows a boy who magically gets pro basketball player Kevin Durant’s basketball skills. Needless to say, he dominates his high school team.

It’s not a great illustration, but you get it. If you were playing pick-up basketball, and Kevin Durant was on your team, you’d get the ball to him. If he wanted you to dribble, or pass, or shoot, you’d listen to his instruction.

What you wouldn’t do is leave him on the bench.

Take advantage of your advantage; God lives in you.

Prophecy Update #714 – The 66° Of 666

We reserve a few minutes Sunday morning to suggest news, or trends, that seem to be predicted by a literal, futurist reading of the Bible.

We are careful to use recognized, reliable sources for news. There is a lot of sensationalism surrounding unfulfilled Bible prophecy, and we don’t want to add to it.

We’re not saying the things we report are the definite fulfillment of prophecy – only that they are the things you’d expect to be happening in build-up to the future seven year Great Tribulation.

One thing is clear from reading the Revelation: The government of the Great Tribulation will be totalitarian. The world leader we commonly call the antichrist will utilize a surveillance society in which no one will be able to transact any business without having a personal identifier connected to a global system of commerce.

Once that happens, human rights and freedoms will be a thing of the past. The government will dictate everything about your life.

I know – it sounds as if we are whacked-out conspiracy theorists. We’re not. The control we are suggesting is what many in world leadership are openly advocating. They are using the need to address Climate Change as an overriding, global problem that overshadows any loss of personal freedoms.

Thus we have what I’m calling, “Thermostat Wars.” An article posted last week was titled, Switzerland might jail anyone who heats rooms above 66°F.

Excerpts:

Switzerland is considering putting anyone who heats their rooms above 66° in jail for up to three years. It would only happen if Switzerland is forced to ration gas because of the Russia-Ukraine war. Fines could also be handed out for violators.
Markus Sporndli, a spokesman for the Federal Department of Finance, said the rate for fines on a daily basis could start at 30 Swiss Francs ($30). He added that the maximum fine could be up to 3000 Swiss Francs (over $4,000).

https://torontosun.com/news/say-what-switzerland-might-jail-anyone-who-heats-rooms-above-19c

Closer to home, Colorado utility company locks 22,000 thermostats in 90° weather due to ‘energy emergency.’

Excerpts:

Thousands of utility company customers in Colorado were locked out of changing their thermostats due to an “energy emergency,” sparking outrage that spilled onto social media. Tony Talarico, an Xcel Energy customer in Arvada, Colorado, told KMGH-TV that he attempted to turn up the air conditioning as temperatures creeped into the 90s on Tuesday but was greeted with a message from this thermostat declaring an “energy emergency” and prevented from turning the dial. 

https://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/colorado-utility-company-locks-22000-thermostats-in-90-degree-weather-due-energy-emergency

In all fairness, those affected had signed-up for the program, and received a monetary credit on their bills.

The latest smart thermostats feature on demand response and can reduce energy use at peak times of consumption, pricing, and carbon emissions.

Spain has set strict limits on air conditioning in shops and other venues, requiring business and various buildings to keep their thermostats anywhere from 60° to 80° degrees Fahrenheit – despite the fact that the country is enduring a heatwave.

In addition to cutting back on air conditioning, Spain has proposed ministers, public officials, and private sector employees stop wearing neckties during hot summer months to keep cool.

Here is something less comical. The United Nations Human Rights Council says, “Climate change is an urgent global problem requiring a global solution.” The Council called for international cooperation to implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) “in order to support national efforts for the realization of human rights affected by climate change related impact.”

It sounds like the UN is in favor of human rights.

They are, but they define “human rights” globally.

For example, concerning the right to life, they say, “In order to uphold the right to life, States must take effective measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change and prevent foreseeable loss of life.” In other words, because they see Climate Change as the #1 priority, you are violating someone else’s right to life if you will not submit to a global authority that decides how you live.

https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/Documents/Issues/ClimateChange/COP21.pdf

I’m not really talking about Climate Change. We can agree to disagree on it.

I’m talking about the rapid movement of the nations of the world to give up their sovereignty to a global government. It is what the Bible said would exist in the Great Tribulation. We therefore expect to see it being implemented… And it is.

We are witnessing the stage-setting for the seven year Great Tribulation that is described in the last book of the Bible. We will not, however, be on Earth during that terrible Time of Jacob’s Trouble.

The resurrection and rapture of the church are imminent. It could happen any moment; nothing needs to happen before it.

Jesus will come, in the clouds, and raise the dead believers of the Church Age. He will transform the bodies of living believers to glorified, resurrection bodies. We will join Him in Heaven while the earth endures one final seven-year campaign of severe evangelism.

Are you ready for the rapture? If not, Get ready; Stay ready; Keep looking up.

Ready or not, Jesus is coming!

Genesis 32:1-32 – The Long And Fighting Road

How many different ways could you take home tonight? The farther you live, the more options you have. I live about a mile from here and there are two direct ways we use. If I were trying to go in a roundabout way, say to avoid certain spots, there are all sorts of detours we could take.

God told Jacob to go back to Canaan. He didn’t give him a specific address. We’ll find he doesn’t return to Hebron where Isaac is. He’s got a lot of options. But, as we read, we’ll see he takes the one road that puts him on a collision course with his brother, Esau. That might be a problem because the last Jacob heard, Esau was in a killing mood.

Jacob’s route home is even more conspicuous than we realize. Sartell Prentice writes:

“From Mahanaim there are two roads by which Jacob may enter Palestine. One road turns westward…this is the easy road, the safe road, and the natural one for Jacob to follow. It [would] bring him…into a land of walled towns and fenced cities, where his ancestors lived in alliance and friendship with kings and peoples. The other road runs…to the south…[turning and] plung[ing] down the steep descent of nearly 5,000 feet…This road is difficult and dangerous…Here weakness finds no place of refuge. [For] Jacob the risk is doubly acute, for he cannot travel that Southern route without coming face to face with Esau. When there are two roads running out from Mahanaim, why does [Jacob] reject the easy, safe, and natural path, and choose the one which is full of danger?”

The answer is: While there were many roads he could’ve taken, only one led to Israel. Not Israel the land – Israel the man. A tremendous spiritual journey will take him from Jacob to Israel. There was only one way to get there. It was God’s road of surrender, submission, and reconciliation. Physically, Jacob would be weaker than ever before. But on the spiritual level, he would finally be strong – finally be where he was supposed to be, all thanks to this road and the encounters along the way.

Genesis 32:1-2 – Jacob went on his way, and God’s angels met him. 2 When he saw them, Jacob said, “This is God’s camp.” So he called that place Mahanaim.

We tend to think this was a reassuring rendezvous that reminded Jacob of God’s protection. But that may not be what’s happening. Prentice suggests this wasn’t a friendly meeting at all. One Hebrew scholar translates verse 1: “The messengers of God accosted him.” Other linguists admit that the best sense of the word “met” is to oppose or harm.

Something is going on here. The term Jacob uses for “camp” has a military sense to it. These angels make sense of why Jacob took the dangerous, straight-toward-Esau road to the south out of Mahanaim instead of taking the easy road to the west. Remember: God drove Adam and Eve from Eden, then placed cherubim to bar them from returning to the Garden. And so, Jacob turns south.

Genesis 32:3-5 – 3 Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the territory of Edom. 4 He commanded them, “You are to say to my lord Esau, ‘This is what your servant Jacob says. I have been staying with Laban and have been delayed until now. 5 I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, and male and female slaves. I have sent this message to inform my lord, in order to seek your favor.’ ”

Jacob had no army – no 318 armed men like his grandfather had. His brother, on the other hand, had always been a hunter. Jacob had probably heard that while he was developing livestock, Esau was developing might. So Jacob sends out a diplomatic delegation to assess Esau’s mood.

Our primary focus tonight is on Jacob and how following God means surrendering to Him and allowing Him to direct the course of our lives. But there is a sub-theme about serving the Master that comes from these servants. They provide some exceptional insights for us. Jesus once told His followers that He was sending them out “as lambs among wolves.” Jacob’s servants look like that. They’re sent into hostile territory with a message to share and no certainty they would succeed.

It’s evident that the angels of verse 1 made no promises to Jacob. God did not appear and say, “Don’t worry about it, Esau isn’t going to harm you.” Jacob makes these plans because he is afraid. And he has good reason to be afraid. In this message, he hints to his brother, “Hey, I’ve got a lot of wealth to spread around. If you’re mad about the birthright thing, let’s talk.”

At the same time, we can already see a new Jacob emerging. When had his servants ever seen him speak with this kind of humility? We’ve seen Jacob struggling for twenty years to throw off his last master – Laban. Now he’s talking about being Esau’s servant. Something is going on in his heart that hasn’t happened before.

There’s an application for us: The more truly spiritual a person is, the more they are willing to serve. Jesus was a Servant, and He is the image we’re being conformed into. He didn’t come to be served but to serve. If you want to know if someone is truly spiritual, look to see if they’re serving others.

Genesis 32:6 – 6 When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau; he is coming to meet you—and he has four hundred men with him.”

This would’ve been terrifying news. Esau sends no message back but instead mounts up with 400 men, which was the typical number in a militia or raiding party. Think about it: You don’t get 400 guys together just because. That’s a lot of effort and gear and hassle. Esau is making a statement.

After all these years, after all he had worked for, all he had clawed to make for himself, all he had overcome to get to this point – Jacob is powerless to defend any of it with nowhere to run.

Your life is not your own. You cannot control what today holds, let alone tomorrow. So, in all your efforts, engrave Psalm 127, verse 1 on your heart:

Psalm 127:1 – Unless the Lord builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain; unless the Lord watches over a city, the watchman stays alert in vain.

Genesis 32:7-8 – 7 Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; he divided the people with him into two camps, along with the flocks, herds, and camels. 8 He thought, “If Esau comes to one camp and attacks it, the remaining one can escape.”

Jacob is in panic mode, but he’s also in prudent mode. Some of you are facing very scary situations or dangers of one kind or another. While we trust the Lord and allow His peace to rule in our hearts, making prudent plans is ok. Jacob assumes Esau is coming to kill him, so he puts together a plan hoping that at least some of his family might survive.

Being prudent isn’t a bad thing. Proverbs 14 says, “The sensible [person] watches his steps.” If the Lord has given you direction in life, follow it and don’t turn back. If you’re waiting for His direction or His deliverance, wait in hope, but also use sanctified common sense as you wait.

The walls are closing in. He can’t go west from camp – there are angels there. He can’t go back the way he came – that would violate his treaty with Laban, who also might kill him. Now, not only is he heading toward Esau, he knows Esau is charging toward him. So Jacob pairs prudence with prayer.

Genesis 32:9-12 – 9 Then Jacob said, “God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said to me, ‘Go back to your land and to your family, and I will cause you to prosper,’ 10 I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. Indeed, I crossed over the Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two camps. 11 Please rescue me from my brother Esau, for I am afraid of him; otherwise, he may come and attack me, the mothers, and their children. 12 You have said, ‘I will cause you to prosper, and I will make your offspring like the sand of the sea, too numerous to be counted.’ ”

This is Jacob’s first recorded prayer, but it’s a beautiful debut. It’s so different from how he spoke about God back in chapter 28. In this prayer, Jacob acknowledges who he is and Who God is. He recognizes that God has already done many incredible things on his behalf. He presents God as One Who intervenes and is long-suffering, One Who understands and Who speaks and Who gives generously. This is a God Who helps and loves and Who restores and Who forgives and Who approaches and is approachable.

As he prays, Jacob holds firm to the spoken word of God. Jacob moors himself to those promises as if they were true and literal. Jacob also recognizes that he has no hope outside of God’s salvation. He says, “Lord, You have to save me like you have before.” We are watching him pour out his heart to the Lord. He’s completely open and honest. He says, “I’m afraid, I’m helpless, and I’m unworthy.” But in this prayer, we also see God’s tender, loving care. Jacob realizes that this is Who God is. He calls Him Yahweh in verse 9. Not just some powerful Being, but the revealed, personal God of heaven and earth – the God of this family – of Abraham and Isaac and now, finally, of Jacob, too. He prays about the Lord’s kindness and faithfulness. These are key terms in the Old Testament. One of them you might have heard before, it’s the Hebrew word “hesed.” These terms describe when a superior freely acts to help an inferior who is in need, not out of obligation but out of love and loyalty. Scholars tell us that these terms speak of love, action, forgiveness, certainty, and mercy. This is Who God is. And Jacob asks this God to rescue and prosper him.

What does that mean? To us, prosper has such an economic quality to it. It doesn’t help that the “prosperity gospel” is so prevalent in the pseudo-Christian culture around us. Biblical prosperity is more than sheep and goats. The word means “deal well” or “do good,” and it indicates a purpose or result. One source says that verse 12 is literally translated, “You have said, ‘I will do good for you.’” True prosperity is when God accomplishes what He desires in your life to make you spiritually strong and fruitful. It is independent of your physical circumstances. It is independent of your bank account, or your blood work, or your career track. Of course, God may enrich those areas for His glory, but prospering is not about getting. It is about the good-ing of God in your life.

I wish we could spend more time in this prayer. Just one more thought: Jacob clearly believed and yet he was afraid. It is natural for us to be afraid of death, afraid of suffering, afraid of the unknown. But, God doesn’t want us to live in fear. He wants His peace to rule in our hearts and minds. And so, when we are afraid, we can follow Jacob’s example. Call out to the Lord. Remember what He has already done. Remind yourself of the Word God has spoken, and believe those promises. Ask the Lord to save. Remember that He is in covenant with you and will not leave you, but He is a Savior.

Genesis 32:13-21 – 13 He spent the night there and took part of what he had brought with him as a gift for his brother Esau: 14 two hundred female goats, twenty male goats, two hundred ewes, twenty rams, 15 thirty milk camels with their young, forty cows, ten bulls, twenty female donkeys, and ten male donkeys. 16 He entrusted them to his slaves as separate herds and said to them, “Go on ahead of me, and leave some distance between the herds.” 17 And he told the first one, “When my brother Esau meets you and asks, ‘Who do you belong to? Where are you going? And whose animals are these ahead of you?’ 18 then tell him, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau. And look, he is behind us.’ ” 19 He also told the second one, the third, and everyone who was walking behind the animals, “Say the same thing to Esau when you find him. 20 You are also to say, ‘Look, your servant Jacob is right behind us.’ ” For he thought, “I want to appease Esau with the gift that is going ahead of me. After that, I can face him, and perhaps he will forgive me.” 21 So the gift was sent on ahead of him while he remained in the camp that night.

Do you remember in Aladdin when Prince Ali comes to town with his “white Persian monkeys” and “purple peacocks” and “world-class menagerie?” Imagine that. There was less singing and dancing, but we’re talking about more than 550 animals moving in herds down the road. This is a huge gift.

Again, the servants are sent out as living sacrifices. This time there is even less hope that they’ll return safely. But I love their faithful obedience. They go, armed only with the message and the gifts that they’ve been assigned. This is an excellent devotion about how to serve the Lord. He assigns which gifts we’ll get. Some had cows, some had bulls, some had goats, some had donkeys. Each would move at its own pace, depending on the type and size of the herd. But, they all had the exact same message. As Jacob sent them out, he said, “I’m entrusting you with this duty, but say this. Not your message, mine, because lives depend on it.” And then the master sent them out in wave after wave to speak to their adversary with humility and generosity and grace.

Was this plan one final fleshly scramble on Jacob’s part? Was he failing to trust God? In the end, this gift was unnecessary – Esau refused it. The Lord was also working on his heart the whole time.

On the other hand, Jacob did take the family blessing by deception. Jacob, it seems, is trying to make things right. I don’t think we can say he was doing a bad thing. It wasn’t a bribe, but it demonstrates that fear often makes us do unnecessary things. Jacob assumed some things about Esau’s heart that were no longer true. But he also owns up to his guilt before his brother and is seeking forgiveness. When he says “appease” there it’s a word used for atonement.

God’s way will always include admitting when we’re wrong. Our culture hates that idea. But real Christianity includes confession and reconciliation. It’s not that we have to keep asking forgiveness from God for the same sin, but that we’re humble enough to admit when we’ve made mistakes. Jesus’ letters to the seven churches are full of pleas that they would admit their failings and turn back to the Lord so they could spiritually prosper. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks about settling disputes and how we should reconcile when we have wronged those around us. So, while Jacob’s strategy here wasn’t ultimately necessary, it came from a place of humility and repentance.

Genesis 32:22-23 – 22 During the night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two slave women, and his eleven sons, and crossed the ford of Jabbok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, along with all his possessions.

This decision reveals how frightened Jacob really was. It was a perilous thing to ford waters at night. But it’s a risk he’s willing to take to try to give one last layer of protection to his family. His situation reminds us that we must face God on our own. When you stand before your Creator, it will not be in a crowd or in a family. It will be you and Him. If you are a Christian, then you will stand in your Savior. But no family member can sub for you or shield you. It’s just you.

Genesis 32:24 – 24 Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.

The Jewish rabbinical tradition says that this was Esau’s guardian angel. Some suggest it was a demon. The prophet Hosea tells us precisely Who it was: He declares it was Yahweh Himself. We call this a Theophany – a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament.

It was Jesus who initiated the fight. Jacob had been gearing up for a battle with his brother, then this happened. It reminded me of the scene when Johnny Ringo is waiting to fight Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, but instead Doc Holliday shows up. The difference is that the Lord didn’t want to kill Jacob. Jacob had prayed for rescue, and the Lord was on the job. He was there to save him!

“Lord, this doesn’t feel like salvation…it feels like You’ve got me in a headlock!” Maybe. But this was the rescue Jacob needed. Commentators point out he had been wrestling all his life. Wrestling his brother in the womb – wrestling with him as they grew up. Wrestling with his father and then his father-in-law. Wrestling with wives and with rocks and with herds. Now it’s the title fight. He had admitted his need for God. He had owned up to his guilt. He had willingly followed this road to reckoning. But he still had his own strength. Remember, Jacob had incredible vigor. But if he was going to get to Israel, he could have no self-sufficiency. And so the Lord grabbed him. R. Kent Hughes writes, Jacob “was in the grip of God’s relentless grace.” This fight was his rescue.

Genesis 32:25 – 25 When the man saw that he could not defeat him, he struck Jacob’s hip socket as they wrestled and dislocated his hip.

How is it possible that the Angel of the Lord “could not defeat Jacob?” Obviously, that isn’t true in the most literal sense because, after all, He simply touches Jacob’s hip and cripples him instantly. One linguist says the term is not really “struck” but “to touch” or “to barely touch.”

What we are seeing is a lovely type of Jesus’ future work. Andrew Steinmann writes, “Here God is depicted as…imposing upon Himself the physical limits of a man until the very end of the struggle.” That is what the Lord did to rescue you as well. He emptied Himself, taking on the likeness of humanity and humbled Himself so that those who surrender to Him might be rescued.

Genesis 32:26 – 26 Then he said to Jacob, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

It may have taken hours, but Jacob figured out this is no ordinary man he’s fighting. If you read it thinking Jacob is angry, allow Hosea to change your perspective. There we’re told that, in this moment, Jacob “wept and sought the Lord’s favor.” And so we see the transformation. Jacob isn’t fighting anymore. Now he’s purely clinging. He isn’t holding the Angel down, he’s holding on!

More than once in the Revelation, our Lord says, “Hold on to what you have till I come.” Hold on to God’s grace and His word and His promises. Don’t let them go. Cling to your Savior.

Even in this very difficult circumstance, even though Jacob is exhausted, crippled, and brought to the end of himself, he still counts on God’s kindness and he realizes that personal strength isn’t going to save him. Buying his way out of guilt isn’t going to work. Taking some different road won’t save him. Only by God’s grace will he be able to survive and thrive and lay hold of goodness in life.

Genesis 32:27-28 – 27 “What is your name?” the man asked. “Jacob,” he replied. 28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” he said. “It will be Israel because you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.”

The new name means “contends with God.” But there’s more: When ‘El’ is at the end of a name, it makes God the subject of the verb. The name also means “God will strive” or “God will preserve.”

In this moment, God wipes away Jacob’s past mistakes. 120 years of selfishness and failure gone because of grace. The Lord says, “You’re not Jacob anymore. You’re not defined by your sin or your shortcomings, but by My future for you.” God made him new.

You and I have victory in Christ because He gives it to us when we believe by faith.

Genesis 32:29-30 – 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he answered, “Why do you ask my name?” And he blessed him there. 30 Jacob then named the place Peniel, “For I have seen God face to face,” he said, “yet my life has been spared.”

In the Old Testament, it was assumed that if you saw God, you would die. Gideon and Manoah express this idea in Judges. Jacob is surprised he survived. So, what gives? Don’t we read in Exodus 33, “Humans cannot see Me and live?” We do, and it’s true! Human beings cannot see God the Father and live. We cannot approach God without being destroyed. Because that is true, God made a way to rescue us as He did with Jacob. He sent His Son to put on flesh to come to earth and interface with us so that we could be hidden in Him, redefined by grace, and reconciled to God.

Jacob recognizes that God has already rescued him. He says, “God should’ve killed me, yet my life has been spared.” If you’re an unbeliever here tonight, the Bible declares that you are dead in trespasses and sins, and the fact that you’re not physically dead yet is because of the grace of God. The breath you’re breathing belongs to Him. He allows you to live in hopes that you will surrender to Him, be born again, and become one of His children. It’s a free gift if you’re willing to take it.

Genesis 32:31-32 – 31 The sun shone on him as he passed by Penuel—limping because of his hip. 32 That is why, still today, the Israelites don’t eat the thigh muscle that is at the hip socket: because he struck Jacob’s hip socket at the thigh muscle.

The sun set when Jacob was at Bethel, running for his life out of the Promised Land. Now the sun rises as he returns, limping. Though the text isn’t explicit, most commentators agree that this crippling was permanent. And it’s commemorated in the diet of Jacob’s descendants. No filet mignon for kosher Jews.

God’s road for Jacob led him straight to his brother, with no physical help, not even legs strong enough to run away. That’s the kind of rescue Jacob needed – a crippling. Bruce Waltke writes, “The limp is the posture of the saint.” Hughes says, “His end was his beginning. His defeat wrought victory. His weakness birthed strength. Israel prevailed when [Jacob] came to the end of himself.”

Now Jacob was ready. Now he was safe. Now he had arrived.

Could Jacob have gone another way? Certainly, this is one of those stories where God’s providence looks more heavy-handed than we experience in a day-to-day sense. When we are making life decisions – if you’re choosing between two jobs – I doubt you’ve had a group of angels standing over your shoulder saying, “No, you’re not doing that one.” But even though God’s Providence might not be as forceful, His attentiveness is equally passionate for us as it was for Jacob. God has definite opinions about the direction of your life and the choices you make because His desire is to prosper you – to do good for you and through your life. There are choices He wants you to make and others He doesn’t want you to make. Look at Paul’s missionary journeys to see a New Testament example that mimics the principles we see in Jacob’s story.

So, what is the way forward? What do I choose? Is it south or west? Well, through Jacob and Paul, we see how to navigate these issues. There’s prayer, there’s the Word of God, and there’s the presence of God. Jacob kept returning to what God had said and clung to those specific words. His great transformation began when he finally began to pray. All was made right when he experienced the presence of God. He still faced uncertainty, he went forward limping, but he became strong that night when he surrendered. He became strong as he obeyed God’s directions and submitted to His charge. It wasn’t his physical vigor or his flocks or his schemes that he needed. It was the Lord bringing his heart from Jacob to Israel.

God has set many directives in front of us. We have a lot of markers already in place that show us what God’s heart and opinions are for our lives. It may not always be the easy road, but it’s the only one worth taking.

John 15:18-16:3 – You Hate Me. You Really, Really Hate Me!

The answer is: Adolf Hitler.

It is the answer to the question, “Who is #1 on lists of the most hated person in history?”

Other potent potentates include Ivan the Terrible and a handful of Russians; Gengish Kahn, Attila the Hun, Saladin, and Chairman Mao.

Bloody Mary, anyone? Queen Mary tops the women’s lists.

We should add two names: Jesus, and yours.

Jesus said, “[Since] the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you” (v18).

Most of us don’t seem to be experiencing the hatred Jesus spoke of. Nevertheless, all of us are subjected to it – if you look behind the scenes.

You are the special hatred of the person behind all the insane dictators throughout history.

The devil hates you. The Bible says he accuses you day and night before God. He is described as a lion, on the hunt to devour you. Towards that end, the devil has a malevolent agenda that he employs nonbelievers to carry out against believers.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 The Lord You Love Is The World’s Hated Man, and #2 The Lord Who Loves You Sends You To Love The Haters.

#1 – The Lord You Love Is The World’s Hated Man (15:18-25)

Haters gonna hate.

If you want something that sounds more academic, J.C. Ryle writes,

“Let us realize that human nature never changes, that “the carnal mind is enmity against God,” and against God’s image in His people. Let us settle it in our minds that no holiness of life or consistency of conduct will ever prevent wicked people hating the servants of Christ, just as they hated their blameless Master. Let us remember these things, and then we shall not be disappointed.”

Joh 15:18  “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.

“If” means since. The world most definitely hated Jesus and, therefore, it hates you.

Theologians parse the biblical concept of “the world” in five ways: the physical world, the human world, the moral world, the temporal world, and the coming world.

The physical world includes all of Creation, but it mainly refers to Earth.
The human world is all the people living on Earth.
The moral world are the people in the world who are indifferent or hostile to God.
We live in the temporary world that will be destroyed in favor of the coming world.

For our purposes today, “the world” means the indifferent and hostile people on Earth who are in spiritual darkness. Satan is “the god of this world” of mankind. He employs one-third of the created angels, and many other kinds of supernatural creatures, e.g., “principalities… powers… the rulers of the darkness of this age… [and] spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

He additionally has multitudes of human boots on the ground.

He takes captive nonbelievers to help him carry out his will against God’s people (Second Timothy 2:26).

The forces of evil marshaled against us are indeed formidable. For our part, we may be few, but we are strong, because He indwells us.

Do you, everyday, expect to be hated? Are you surprised when not hated?

It isn’t defeatist. It is realistic. It does no good, and it may bring harm, to sugarcoat the opposition of the world. Early warning of storms preserves life. Consider yourself in a state of constant ‘early warned.’

Joh 15:19  If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

These verses are full with what we are going to call über-uplifting. The first über-uplift is that, since you are hated by unbelievers, without cause, it is evidence you belong to Jesus. You are among those Jesus “chose… out of the world.”

Uh oh. Did Jesus just say, “chose?” Yes, He did, but not in the sense of choosing them for salvation. This is not the Doctrine of Election. He wasn’t looking back to eternity past. They were in the world when Jesus chose them to serve.

Jesus chooses you, too, after you are saved, to serve Him. When you believe Jesus, He gives you the gift of God the Holy Spirit indwelling you. For His part, God the Holy Spirit gives you a supernatural gift or gifts. He does it according to His own determination, not ours. Call this über-uplift #2.

Joh 15:20  Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.

They would be sent out to share Jesus. They would be hated, which led to persecution. To be persecuted for the Lord is a third über-uplift. Or, it can be, if we understand it properly.

Some people would “keep” their word. Nonbelievers would hear the Word, be saved, born-again, immersed into the life of the Church, and receive the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit. Your sharing of the Gospel might plant a seed in the heart of a nonbeliever, or water a seed already planted. It might even harvest that seed. A person headed to Hell is thus transformed by your witness. Is that not uplifting? It is – #4.

Joh 15:21  But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.

Jesus repeatedly told His followers that He and God the Father were one. He said that if you saw Him, you saw the Father. The Jewish leadership refused to believe Jesus was equal with God. They convinced themselves Jesus was a blasphemer. If the Jews thought Jesus was a blasphemer, that would extend to all those who followed Him.

Joh 15:22  If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.

Of course, they had sin. Every human conceived, Jew or Gentile, has sin imputed to their spiritual account.

If they are born and live, every human inherits a sin nature. Then we all commit individual sins, falling short of the glory of God.

A.W. Pink writes,

“The generation to which Jesus came bore a greater responsibility than any previous generation, because men and women of earlier days had not heard His teaching or seen His mighty works, as His own contemporaries did. His own contemporaries for the most part rejected His teaching and refused to admit the evidence of His works. Therefore they compared unfavorably with pagans like the queen of Sheba who was impressed by Solomon’s wisdom or the people of Nineveh who repented at Jonah’s preaching. Indeed, the cities which had been the centers of his ministry would receive severer judgment on the great day than the sinners of Sodom.”

God holds a person accountable for the witness he or she has received. Before the Gospel comes to a person, they have the witness of conscience within, and creation without.

Pricked by their conscience, and aware there is a Creator, God expects them to seek Him. He will provide more revelation, sufficient to lead to salvation.

There is no excuse in most of the civilized world to refuse the salvation offered by Jesus Christ. We have conscience, creation, and Christians sharing the Gospel.

Joh 15:23  He who hates Me hates My Father also.

The Jewish leaders convinced themselves they were so in love with God that they must murder Jesus to preserve and protect His glory. You cannot hate Jesus and love God.

G.K. Chesterton said, “There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions.”

If nonbelievers hate Jesus so much, why do they seem, for the most part, so indifferent about Him?

They may not be hearing all of the Gospel.

The first martyr of the church age was Stephen. Giving an answer for himself to the Jews, he reviewed the history of Israel. It was going well, until he said, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.”

Stephen told them they were sinners, a point often suppressed.

Whatever Happened to Sin? In 1973, psychiatrist Karl Menninger wrote a book with that title. In a review I read, I learned that,

“In his book the doctor projected the day would come when sin would no longer be a descriptor of human behavior. He speculated that the explanation of sin and wrongdoing would be replaced by rationalizations excusing individual accountability.

Menninger predicted the term “sin” would be replaced with words like illness, disorder, dysfunction, syndrome, etc. The human condition would be excused as a product of biochemistry, environment, experience, and trauma. He projected that even crime would go unpunished as criminal activity would be justified and minimized as the result of some medical abnormality for which one could not be held responsible.”

It’s another type of “Replacement Theology,” replacing repentance from sin, and faith in Jesus. People need to know they are sinners, in need of salvation, which can only, exclusively, be found by believing Jesus. The Cross is thus offensive to those in the devil’s kingdom of darkness.

Joh 15:24  If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father.

The “works which no one else did” were the innumerable miracles the Lord performed – incredible healings, dramatic exorcisms, raising the dead.
These were predicted in the Old Testament as evidence of the Messiah. “No one else” but the Savior of the World could do these works.

Get this: Those works, being true history, are still evidence Jesus was the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

Joh 15:25  But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘THEY HATED ME WITHOUT A CAUSE.’

Several times, in the Psalms, David reported he was “hated… without cause.”

I think we are on über-uplift #5. When you are hated solely for Christ’s sake, you are fulfilling Scripture.

An un-human, inhuman, inhumane despot is the god of this world. The Rolling Stones barely scratched the surface of Satan’s hatred for Jesus and Christians when they sang,

I rode a tank, Held a general’s rank, When the blitzkrieg raged, And the bodies stank.

We see his hatred expressed in the moral world, or I guess we might say, the immoral world. Christian values are imploding. We are living in the first chapter of the Book of Romans, in verses 18-32, in terms of hostility toward God. Powers that be are indoctrinating children to believe irrational lies about biology, sexuality, and truth in general. Spend only a little time on social media, or watching news, and it becomes clear that hatred for all that is righteous is the prevailing atmosphere.

As much as we work to affect change, as individually led, no real, lasting change will come unless sinner’s hearts are transformed. The Gospel, and nothing else, is the power of God to salvation.

#2 – The Lord Who Loves You Sends You To Love The Haters (15:26 – 16:3)

John Newton wrote, “When we look at the ungodly, we are not to hate them – but to pity them, mourn over them, and pray for them. Nor have we any right to boast over them; for, by nature, and of ourselves, we are no better than they.”

What is so amazing about grace is that we can share the love of God for them to the haters.

Joh 15:26  “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.

Jesus came as God in human flesh, the God-man, to die on the Cross so that a person might be declared righteous by believing Him. He is the only way, the only truth, the only life. For the purpose of our salvation, God the Father sends God the Holy Spirit to us, to dwell in us, when we believe. He continually sets our affections and attentions on Jesus. In that sense, the Holy Spirit can be called, the “Spirit of Truth,” or the Spirit of Jesus. He is a Person, fully God along with the Father and the Son. But He has a unique ministry subordinate to the Father and the Son.

One of the early Christian Creeds declares this regarding our God in Trinity:

The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten.

The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits. And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another. But the whole three persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.

Joh 15:27  And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

The word “also” indicates that their “witness” follows upon their receiving the Holy Spirit. Their witness was unique, seeing they were eleven guys who knew more about the Lord than anyone on Earth. But that was not enough. They must rely on the Spirit.

Speaking to pastors, Jay Adam’s said, “You must not exhort your congregation to do whatever the Bible requires of them as though they could fulfill those requirements on their own, but only as a consequence of the saving power of the Cross and the indwelling, sanctifying power and presence of Christ in the Person of the Holy Spirit.”

Joh 16:1  “These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble.

Another über-uplift, #6, is that we need not “stumble” when we experience hatred. The disciples would face excommunication and death. Remembering that Jesus was hated and martyred, and that He had predicted the same for them, they would be able to stand and keep moving forward instead of stumbling and possibly retreating.

We’ve adopted a slogan I picked-up from one of our police chiefs. When asked about a particularly difficult task facing him, he replied calmly and with resolve, “It’s the job.” If you are where you are supposed to be, doing the Lord’s work, when opposition and hatred come, “It’s the job” to respond as God the Holy Spirit leads you.

One of the commentaries said, “Forewarned, forearmed!”

They must not look for a smooth course and a peaceful journey. They must make up their minds to battles, conflicts, wounds, opposition, persecution, and perhaps even death. Like a wise general, Jesus did not conceal from His soldiers the nature of the campaign they were beginning.”

Joh 16:2  They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.

Excommunication. The word itself invokes terror. Herem is the Hebrew word. It is the total exclusion of a person from the Jewish community, including shunning them for life.

During their time with Jesus on Earth, the apostle Peter once said, “We have left all, and followed you” (Matthew 19:27). Little did Peter know that his life of leaving all and sacrificing was just starting, and would intensify until he was crucified upside-down.

Joh 16:3  And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.

They refused to recognize the Father at work in the words and deeds of Jesus.

I cited verses in the first chapter of the Book of Romans. There and here, a willful ignorance lies behind the rejection of Jesus. The unsaved know the truth but deliberately suppress it.

A.B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, (not to be confused with Grandpa Abe Simpson), wrote this over 100 years ago:

“The chief danger of the Church today is that it is trying to get on the same side as the world, instead of turning the world upside down. Our Master expects us to accomplish results, even if they bring opposition and conflict. Anything is better than compromise, apathy, and paralysis. God, give to us an intense cry for the old-time power of the Gospel and the Holy Ghost!”

Haters gonna hate… Unless they hear the Gospel and receive our Lord.