Tuesday, September 17, 2019

God's Promises To Abraham - a seven-part series Part VII

Rachel and Jacob at the Well by James Tissot (c. 1896-1902)

by Michael C. Garrett

Good afternoon everyone. It might be afternoon where you are, it might be in the morning or the evening, but it’s in the afternoon here in Owensboro, Kentucky. Welcome to our weekly church service of the Owensboro Church of Jesus Christ. And my name is Michael C. Garrett – we’re glad to have you with us. And again, our website address is http://www.owensborochurchofjesuschrist.com/. And there are eight different pages that have sermons. And you can watch well over two-hundred different sermons you can watch over the years, and get a lot of backup information from that. We also have a blog site with a great many articles. And that blog site address is https://www.owensborocojc.com. And, if you would like the DVD’s, you can request them and we send them out free. Just go to our home page owensborochurchofjesuschrist.com and there’s a tab on the right which says, “Contact Us,” look up that information and send us an email and Deacon Trevor at deacon.t.p.k@gmail.com would be happy to put you on the mailing list and make you a regular. But we’re glad to have you with us here today. And today’s sermon will be God’s Promises To Abraham – a seven-part series part VII. And when I say that, it’s God’s promises to Abraham and his descendants. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Ephraim, and Manasseh.

And before I start – I was thinking – there are two things that simply confound me. I don’t understand, and I don’t think I will ever understand. One of them is Pokémon Go. Now, I’m almost embarrassed to say those two words - Pokémon Go. It sounds so ridiculous. And yet, it was one of the most used and profitable mobile apps in 2016, having been downloaded more than 500 million times worldwide by the end of that year. And you heard all these stories about people taking their fancy and expensive cell-phones out and trying to “capture” images of this strange Japanese art form!? I don’t know, and I don’t get it. Why you would waste your time doing that. I tell you what – for all of you people still doing that in 2019, just take a little time out, come here to Owensboro on a dry day and I’ll let you use a lawnmower. And if you want to walk around outside and do something productive – I’ll let you mow my yard. But anyway - Pokémon Go - just simply causes my mind to fluctuate in a spasmatic way. And another thing I just don’t get – I just don’t understand how with over 325.7 million people, the two main candidates of 2016 came down to Hillary Clinton – with all of her baggage, with all of her scandals – and Donald Trump – with his bombast and arrogance!? And I just went, “My, my, my! What a choice!” And, that’s all I have to say about that.

And, on a sobering note – August 3rd, 2016, a 64-year-old American, Darlene Horton, was in London, England – in Russell Square – and she was attacked by a 19-year-old male Norwegian national of Somali. Somali – think North Africa – think Islamic country. And he went on a knife slashing spree. And this poor woman unfortunately died. And five other people were injured. And the reports that first came out said – it possibly could be terrorism. Which sounded like a pretty good idea to me. And then, within a few days later, they were trying to soften those reports by saying, “Well, he was just mentally disturbed.” Well, I would contend – anybody that gets into the Islamic religion (in the extreme form of it) is by definition mentally ill! Because there’s nothing healthy about that set of ideas and principles. Now, will we know what his ultimate motivation was!? No, probably not. Now, I thought that I had heard a little blurb at that time – and I can’t confirm this – but I thought I heard that there had been another knife attack somewhere in Europe – by an Islamic extremist yelling, “Allahu Akbar!” The famous Islamic war cry. But I just heard maybe five-seconds – and then the report was over. Anyway, it just continues to happen over there in Europe and elsewhere around the world (See: ‘List of terrorist incidents in August 2019’). These horrible incidents – and truly we are under the shadow and the specter of TERRORISM from people who are motivated by extreme jihadism – extreme Islamism. And it’s a curse on this world as I’ve said before and I’ll keep saying – that mentality of Islamic extremism will indeed plunge the world sometime in the near future – and I cannot tell you when – into a massive WORLD WAR 3 that will truly become the end-times. And, this will usher in the return of Jesus Christ! So, things are happening every day, every week, that directly reflect some of the prophecies of your Bible.


And, we’ve been talking about the promises that God made to Abraham and his descendants. And what we’ve discovered as we continued going through these chapters –we’ve discovered that Abraham was promised a great number of descendants and two of these groups of people would become nations – and has had a major impact upon the world. And that was the United Kingdom commonwealth countries and the United States of America respectively. And, I’m sure, that this is information you’ve probably never heard before – if you’re a typical American or a typical person of the Western hemisphere, and maybe your churchgoing has been very limited or your Bible study has been very limited. I’m probably talking about things which you’ve probably never really considered. And yet, I’ve been showing you from the pages of your Bible where this information can be found. I do hope that you have your Bible with you as you read this series – God’s Promises To Abraham – a seven-part series. And I hope you follow along when I say to turn to a certain Book, chapter or verse – so that you know that I’m not making this up, not just creating verses out of thin air. That I am indeed quoting from the living Word of God. Now, you might say, “Well, I don’t believe in the Bible!” Alright, you’re free to do so. You’re not going to upset my life or you’re not going to cause me to lose sleep. But I’m just saying - for those of you who do believe in an almighty God, and who do believe in a Jesus Christ our Savior and do believe in the Word of God – the Holy Bible – if you’re in that mindset, then what I say should be very important to you.

Once again I want to stress – we live in a world today that is filled with religion. Many different religions. Here in America we have the Catholic Church, we have many different varieties of so-called Protestant churches, we have the Jewish religion, we have people who practice what you might call the Far-Eastern religions, you have people who are avowed atheists, who are avowed Satanists, we have people who were a part of the Worldwide Church of God once upon a time and maybe now you’re a part of the descendants of the Worldwide Church of God. And all of these groups have different thoughts – all of them! Nobody appears to agree with anybody. And that can become quite overwhelmingly confusing – and I know that there’s a lot of people out there who go, “There are so many different religions and my mind can’t handle it and I can’t comprehend it, and I’m just gonna shut it off. I’m not gonna think about it!” And you have the right to do so. You have the right to freedom of religion in this country and in this culture. And the freedom of religion means you have the freedom from religion – if that’s what you want.

But, you have to ask the question – “Is there a God!?”

And if there is a God, did He inspired the Holy Bible!? And if the Bible is indeed the correct translation – the inspired Word of God – then is it incumbent upon all of us to look into the pages of that Book and attempt to learn the truth of God!? And, that’s what we’re all about here at the Owensboro Church of Jesus Christ. We’re not here to make this huge organization that influences world leaders and whatnot. No, we’re simply here to talk about the Word of God, the Truth of God, and to understand and to explain the Plan of God - and, the future prophecies about the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the future prophecies about the European people, and the future prophecies about the end-time events. That’s something we want to know – that’s a part of the Plan of God – because it’s going to usher in the return of Jesus Christ and the setting up of the kingdom of God upon this earth. Remember Jesus Christ and His great sample prayer – “’Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.’” There is a soon-coming kingdom of God, that will replace everything that the world knows about religion and politics, and militaries, and cultures. Because Jesus Christ is going to set foot on this earth – He, His angelic beings and the resurrected saints are going to set about creating a new world. There was a song back in the 70s – A New World Coming. Well, there is a new world coming! It’s called the Kingdom of God! People have always longed for some type of utopian society. Well, a utopian society is indeed on the horizon. But it will come from God Almighty and Jesus Christ! And it’s talked about in your Bible. The Bible informs you about it. A little here, a little there (cf. Isaiah 28:9-10) – you can eventually put the whole picture together. And have a very complete understanding of what it’s going to be.

Now, concerning religion – you have to ask yourself a question. If you are a practitioner of some type of religion – whatever it is – you need to sit down and have a very long lengthy complete discussion with yourself. You need to ask yourself the question, “Where does my religion come from?” Now, it’s amazing – you can be with some Catholic people, and they believe that they have the true religion. And a day later, you can be with some Baptist people, and they believe they have the true religion. And there are many different types of Baptist churches. There’s the Southern Baptist, Missionary Baptist, and General Baptist, and there’s even a seventh-day keeping group of Baptists. But every time I have been around some of them – if you get them talking – you’ll find out that they believe they are the only correct church. And so, if you listen to Jimmy Swaggart on television and his Pentecostal approach to religion – he thinks his is the only true religion. And I don’t care where you go – Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists – everybody believes they’ve got the true religion. But in TRUTH every one of the religions which I have just named, their religion comes not from the Bible but rather it comes from the traditions of human beings. Most people think in their mind – most people who are not that deeply involved in a church – that religion is sort of lighting of candles and ringing of bells and little chants, sometimes said in a foreign or ancient language, or a musical chant in the background that that somehow is religion. And yet, none of that is in the religion of Jesus Christ! NONE OF IT! I’m just saying be brave enough to ask yourself the question – “Is the origin of what I believe come from the Bible – truly the Bible? Or does it come from the traditions of human beings!?” Does it come from God as expressed in His Word? Or does it come from the practices and traditions of human beings? And if you really did the study – really honest with yourself – you would conclude (the inevitable conclusion) that the religions of this world are man-made manifestations. They are not from God! Yes, they sometimes talk a little about God, but the religion itself – the ideas the doctrines – come from human minds and human traditions and human practices. And, that’s just not good enough – for me. And, it’s not good enough for the people who are a part of the Owensboro Church of Jesus Christ. We want to know the Truth of God. And we don’t care if that steps on a few toes. There are many things about the true religion of God which has stepped on my toes through the years. And yet, I understood – “Well, that little idea you once had, it’s not valid. You need to get rid of it – throw it away! And replace it with knowledge from the Bible.”

And, if I say something that offends you – like “right now, we’re meeting on a Saturday afternoon” – the Bible calls it the Sabbath or the seventh-day - that might offend people. And, I don’t know why it offends people. Well, we’re simply doing what Jesus Christ did, and we’re doing what the apostles did – including the Apostle Paul which wrote the majority of the New Testament. Because all of those people kept the weekly Sabbath. Now, you can have a discussion on how to keep it. And some people try to keep the Sabbath like they’re Jewish – and I think that’s a mistake. Because the Jewish religion of today is simply a man-made religion. I don’t want to follow the practices of Jewish thought – I want to know the Truth of God. And the only way you can do that is by studying your Bible and being honest with yourself and not making excuses. Like people say, “Well, yeah, but they used to keep Saturday, but Jesus Christ changed all of that!” No, He didn’t! They say, “Well, He was resurrected on a Sunday morning!” No, He wasn’t! He died on what we call a Wednesday afternoon, and He was resurrected on what we call a Saturday afternoon. And He was in the tomb for three days and three nights. Not one-and-a-half days, like the people of this world believe. They keep Friday – they call it Good Friday – and then Easter Sunday – the rising of the sun. Well, Easter is not a part of the religion of the Bible. There’s one place in the King James English where the word Easter shows up in the Book of Acts – and it’s a mistranslation. It means Passover. Anybody with any degree of theological knowledge and reference material can prove that. It’s not difficult. But people want to make excuses. And you hear a lot, “Our minister teaches the following ……” And I don’t mean to hurt your feelings – but I don’t care what your ministers teach! And you shouldn’t either. The only thing you should truly care about – is what the Bible teaches! What God Himself teaches! And don’t be confused by the humans who try and tell you that what you’re seeing with your own eyes isn’t true when you look into the Bible. Well enough of this right now.

Jacob’s Dream

Let’s turn, if you will, to Genesis chapter 28. Now, keep in mind, we’ve talked about Abraham – we’ve gone through most of the life of Abraham. And, we’ve talked a lot about the life of Isaac – and all the promises that God made to Abraham, Isaac, and their descendants. And now we’re talking about the life of Jacob. Who had his name eventually changed to Israel. And that name change came from God.

And in part VI of God’s Promises To Abraham – a seven-part series we talked about how verse 41 of chapter 27, Esau – he’s also called Edom at times in the Bible – the progenitor of the Turkish people. And it says, “Esau hated Jacob.” And at the end says, “’ then I will kill my brother Jacob.’” And quite frankly, Jacob tricked Esau. And he didn’t do it just once – he did it twice! And Jacob had a lot of sneakiness in him – a lot of craftiness – and he didn’t treat his brother the way he should have. But, he did what he did.

“Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, …” – and apparently, when God chose back then to work through a certain man, He allowed that man to say things which carried great weight with God. Abraham blessed Isaac. And here we see that Isaac is now blessing his son Jacob. “…and charged [instructed] him, and said to him: ‘You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. 2) Arise, go to Padan Aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and take yourself a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother.” – so Laban would be his uncle. And notice what Isaac is telling Jacob in verse 3 – he is reiterating the promises God gave to Abraham, and then passed on to Isaac, and now being passed on to Jacob. “’May God Almighty bless you, And make you fruitful and multiply you, That you may be an assembly of peoples; 4) And give you the blessing of Abraham, To you and your descendants with you, That you may inherit the land In which you are [now] a stranger, Which God gave to Abraham.’” – and so now the torch has been passed on to Jacob as the carrier of these great promises. Verse 5 – “So Isaac sent Jacob away, and he went to … Laban … 6) Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away … to take himself a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, ‘You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan,’ 7) and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother …” – now, we’ve seen Jacob do some pretty unethical things. However, here we notice Jacob doing something very wonderful! Remember one of the commandments – ‘Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother, that your days may be long upon the earth’!? There’s a PROMISE in the Ten Commandments of God that if you honor your father and your mother, that you will have a special blessing on you in your life. And I think that’s something all of us should remember.

Now, both of my parents are now deceased, but I think about them every day. And often I find myself thinking about – well how can I do this in a way to honor my father and my mother if they were indeed alive. And someday I hope to see them again in the kingdom of God, and I hope that they are proud of the decisions that I made and the actions which I followed. And I hope someday to make my father and my mother yet proud again. And I think all of us should have that thinking – and ultimately we should strive to honor and to obey our Heavenly Father and our Heavenly Big Brother!

Verse 8 – “Also Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please his father Isaac. 9) So Esau went to Ishmael …” – so, remember Ishmael was Abraham’s son. “…and took Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife in addition to the wives he had.” So, Esau went and found some of the descendants of Ishmael. Now, Ishmael is the progenitor of the Arab people. And that’s why Turkey and the Arab people are so very similar in their appearance. Because there is a very ancient distant family connection. Verse 10 – “Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11) So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it as his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep.” – now, I hope he put some cloth on top of the stone – talking about a hard pillow! Verse 12 – “Then he dreamed, …” – now, throughout the Bible, many times God communicates – not all the time – and relays information to a human being through a dream. And here is a powerful dream. “…and behold, a ladder [or a stairway] was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven [meaning the atmosphere]; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.” – now, that’s quite a sight! That would be very startling to see that in your mind! Verse 13 – “And behold, the LORD stood above it …” – or as my margin says, ‘beside him.’ “… and said: ‘I AM the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.’” – now, he had just had his father Isaac tell him, ‘And give you the blessing of Abraham, To you and your descendants with you, That you may inherit the land In which you are [now] a stranger, Which God gave to Abraham.’ But now, Jacob is hearing it directly – in a dream – from the mouth of God. Which in this case is actually the One we now know of as Jesus Christ! Verse 14 – “’ Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” – we have heard that phraseology before – talking to Abraham and talking to Isaac. And, there’s a little double meaning there. This expression, ‘in you and in your descendants shall all the earth be blessed,’ is a type of prophecy of the yet future Jesus Christ! Because Jesus Christ would come from this genetic lineage. And also I think - it’s a general principle - that the people of this world have indeed (not to say that everything the British or American people did was correct) by enlarge has been made a better place, a more civilized place, because of the British Empire and the United States of America. You think about all of the scientific innovations, the medical innovations, the many medications which have been invented to prevent diseases, the mechanical inventions which have come from those two peoples, transportation, communication. The world indeed has been blessed because of the creativeness of the British people and the American people. And they’re not the only ones – however, they’ve had a major impact. And so this prophecy here indeed has come true. Verse 15 – “’ Behold, I AM with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.’” – so, a very powerful promise directly from the mouth of the One we now call Jesus Christ! Remember, Jesus Christ, is known as saying in the New Testament in the Book of Hebrews, “I will never leave you, I will never forsake you!” Very similar to what we just read. Verse 16 – “Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.’ 17) And he was afraid and said, ‘How awesome [how POWERFUL] is this place! This is none other than the House of God, and this is the gate of Heaven!’ 18) Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. 19) And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously.” – so, it had an original name and then the followers of Jacob started calling it Bethel. Verse 20 – “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21) so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God. 22) And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s House, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.’” – so here again is the principle of tithing. Abraham knew the principle of tithing. Remember, Abraham gave a tenth of all of the bounty he had collected when he went out and destroyed the people who had attacked his nephew. And he gave it to Melchizedek. So, throughout the Bible, there are examples of giving God a tenth of your income and of your life.

Now, very quickly. And, I don’t know if I can prove this – and I don’t know if anybody can. But for many years the followers of the WCG – down to this day – believe that this stone (often called Jacob’s Stone or the Stone of Scone) is a part of the coronation crown of the monarchy of the British Empire. And there is an old coronation chair – called King Edward’s Chair. In 1996 the stone was returned to Scotland, where it is kept at Edinburgh Castle. And, at the base of that chair, at the bottom, there is this old stone. And the tradition says – and I haven’t studied this that carefully, I’m just going by what I’ve heard other people say – that over the years, decades, and centuries, the British royalty has been anointed a king and or queen while sitting upon that chair. And they claim that the story – the tradition – says that that stone which now resides in Scotland is this very stone. Now, I don’t know. Maybe it is – maybe it isn’t. It’s a great story. It has nothing to do with biblical truth, it’s just sort of an interesting sidelight.

Jacob meets Rachel

Let’s move ahead to chapter 29. Now, keep in mind, verse 20 – “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘IF God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21) so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, …’” Now, turning back to chapter 27, verse 41 – because this is a part of the story. After Jacob had twice tricked his brother Esau it says, “So Esau hated Jacob … and Esau said in his heart, … ‘then I will kill my brother Jacob.’” So, Esau was extremely angry with his brother! And Jacob indeed had tricked him. So, keep this in mind as we go on in chapter 29

“So Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the people of the East. 2) And he looked, and saw a well in the field; and behold, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks. A large stone was on the well’s mouth. 3) Now all the flocks would be gathered there; and they would roll the stone from the well’s mouth, water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place on the well’s mouth. 4) And Jacob said to them, ‘My brethren, where are you from?’ And they said, ‘We are from Haran.’ 5) Then he said to them, ‘Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?’ And they said, ‘We know him.’ 6) So he said to them, ‘Is he well?’ And they said, ‘He is well. And look, his daughter Rachel is coming with the sheep.’ 7) Then he said, ‘Look, it is still high day; it is not time for the cattle to be gathered together. Water the sheep, and go and feed them.’ 8) But they said, ‘We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together, and they have rolled the stone from the well’s mouth; then we water the sheep.’ 9) Now while he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess.”

So, Rachel was not a little dainty girl. She could get out there in the field and work with the sheep, surely had a staff. And, surely she could chase off wolves if she had to. She was quite a woman.

Verse 10 – “And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother.” – and so you get an indication there that Jacob maybe had a certain amount of strength to him. Because you get the feeling – it took several people normally to move this stone. But Jacob – apparently – is doing it by himself. And, he might just be showing off – because Rachel has already caught his eye. Verse 11 – “Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice and wept.” – now, was that a romantic kiss on the lips, or was that sort of the cheek kissing prevalent of the Middle East? I don’t know. But I get the feeling that Jacob enjoyed it – whatever it was. Also, was he weeping because he was in the presence of this very extraordinary woman or was he just excited because he had finally met Laban’s descendants!? Remember, he had been told, “You’re going to go to Laban, and there among those people, you’re going to find a wife.” But anyway, he’s very emotional about it. Verse 12 – “And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s relative and that he was Rebekah’s son. So she ran and told her father.” – so, here’s a long-lost cousin. Verse 13 – “Then it came to pass, when Laban heard the report about Jacob his sister’s son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house. So he told Laban all these things. 14) And Laban said to him, surely you are my bone and my flesh.’ …” – ‘You are my sister’s son – we’re family!’ is what he’s saying. “… And he stayed with him for a month. 15) Then Laban said to Jacob, ‘Because you are my relative, …’” – now, one time in the story of Abraham and Lot – and Abraham was Lot’s uncle, and Lot was Abraham’s nephew – we hear that Abraham called Lot ‘brother.’ And it has caused some people problems understanding. I just feel that in this culture the word ‘brother’ meant relative. Or, as we might say, ‘kinfolk.’ “…’ should you, therefore, serve me for nothing? Tell me, what should your wages be?’” – so Jacob is there a month – he’s probably helping out with all the chores and duties and he’s probably making sure he keeps an eye out for Rachel. And, finally, Laban says, ‘Well, you know you need to be paid for all this work you’re doing.’ Verse 16 – “Now Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.”

Now, this becomes very important as this story goes on because Jacob ends up married to both of them. And some of these sons of Jacob are from Leah, and some of the sons come from Rachel. And then, a handmaid or two get in there to become the mothers. And before it’s over, Jacob ends up with TWELVE SONS. Jacob is officially – later on having his name changed to Israel – and you often hear the term ‘the twelve tribes of Israel.’ Meaning the descendants of the twelve sons of Israel – the former Jacob. And so, I want to go over this to help you see how all of this transpires. Because the story of Abraham and his family really becomes important when you get to Israel – or rather Jacob. And especially one of his youngest sons – which is Joseph.

Verse 17 – “Leah’s eyes were delicate [or rather doe-eyed], but Rachel was beautiful of form and appearance.” – now, keep in mind, Abraham fell in love and married Sarah. And late into her life, she was still a beautiful woman, where other men were hoping to make her their wife. Isaac’s wife was very beautiful – he went through the same thing. And we talked about that. And now we have Rachel, who is also called ‘beautiful.’ Verse 18 – “Now Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, ‘I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter.’

So, we had early in this country an institution, or a practice called indentured servants. Have you heard of that term!? And what it said was – some young British lad would say, “Alright, I will promise you seven years of my life’s labor if you will get me from the British Isles over to America to the Colonies. And for seven years you can count on me being your worker. But then after that, then I’m free.” And this is the same type of custom. ‘I will give you seven years of my life, my work, and my effort, and then Rachel will become my wife.’ That was the deal.

Verse 19 – “And Laban said, ‘It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to another man. Stay with me.’” – Laban said, ‘Alright, I agree.’ Verse 20 – “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, …” – now, that is love. Would you have indentured yourself for seven years in order to win over your spouse!? But Jacob, he truly wanted this woman to be his wife, and he was willing to put in seven long years. “… and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her.” – so, as we would say – he was head-over-heels in love with Rachel. Verse 21 – “Then Jacob said to Laban, ‘Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in to her.’” – as in the marriage ceremony. The marriage bedroom. Verse 22 – “And Laban gathered together all the men of the place and made a feast.” – so they’re going to have a wedding feast! Verse 23 – “Now it came to pass in the evening, …” – and surely there was a ceremony. “ … that he took Leah his daughter and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her.” – now, what did we just see!? Jacob is expecting to marry Rachel. Now, notice again verse 22 – “Laban gathered together all the men of the place and made a feast.” What happens at most wedding feasts!? Unless you’re Baptist – it probably doesn’t happen at a Baptist wedding. A strong drink or two! And I think that took place here. Keep in mind, Jesus when He was attending most likely the wedding of His sister – performed His first public miracle. He had probably done many other miracles inside the family – like heal broken bones and cuts – but now for the first time in a public setting, He changed a tremendous amount of water into wine and it was the best wine the people had ever tasted. Well, here, there’s been a wedding, and there’s a feast and Jacob, and I’m only assuming – it doesn’t say – possibly had too much to drink. And in the evening when it was time for the honeymoon – as we say – he ends up with Leah – not the younger daughter Rachel. Verse 24 – “And Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as a maid.” – so, back in that time, it was very common for the wife to have an assistant – and she became the handmaid as they say. So, verse 25 – poor Jacob wakes up with a headache most likely – and guess what – “So it came to pass in the morning, that behold, it was Leah. And he said to Laban, ‘What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served you? Why then have you deceived me?’” – and I think it is sort of interesting – Jacob deceived his brother Esau. Not once but twice. Remember we covered it in God’s Promises To Abraham – a seven-part series Part III and Part VI?

Now Jacob is the one who gets tricked. And Jacob is tricked by whom!? Laban, who is the brother of Jacob’s mother – who is the one who perpetrated that second deception. So, the Laban family – they were a little tricky at times!

Verse 26 – after Jacob wakes up – possibly with a hangover – and understands that he was with Leah and wasn’t with his beloved Rachel. “And Laban said, ‘It must not be done so in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.” Basically, ‘We always allow the older daughter to marry, and then the younger daughter to marry.’ Verse 27 – “’ Fulfill her week, …’” – which means seven years. “ … ‘and we will give you this one also for the service which you will serve with me still another seven years.’ 28) Then Jacob did so and fulfilled her week. …” – he fulfilled another seven years – indentured servitude. And finally, he fulfilled this seven years, “… So he gave him his daughter Rachel as wife also.” So it took Jacob fourteen years and a few months to finally have Rachel as his wife. Verse 29 – “And Laban gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as a maid. 30) Then Jacob also went in to Rachel, and he also loved Rachel more than Leah. And he served with Laban still another seven years.”

Now, Jacob makes no bones about it – he loves Rachel! He always has. And he loves Rachel more than his first wife Leah – that he was tricked into.

Verse 31 – “When the LORD saw that Leah was unloved [loved less by comparison] …” – now, was this Leah’s fault!? Well, somewhat – but I think most of it goes onto the head of Laban. And God didn’t think that Leah should be punished for the disrespect she received from her husband Jacob. “ … He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren.”

Now, turn to chapter 30, verse 22 – and we’re going to jump ahead a moment – “Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. 23) And she conceived and bore a son, and said, ‘God has taken away my reproach.’” – and that son is Joseph. A very, very important part of this prophetic story! Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel) and eventually becoming the father of Joseph. And Joseph becomes the father of two sons – Ephraim and Manasseh. Keep those five generations in mind – because that’s a very important part of this story.

So, verse 31 – “Rachel was barren.” Now, remember I’ve said many times how – when you read about Abraham or Isaac or Jacob and their wives, so many parts of this story keep repeating!? Keep in mind Sarah who was Abraham’s wife was barren until God granted a miracle. Also, keep in mind Rebekah who was Isaac’s wife was barren until God performed a miracle. And here Rachel – for three generations the wives are barren until God intervenes and performs a miracle. And to me, it’s very interesting that these themes keep happening over and over. Which is to say – the promises that God made to Abraham, He proved that His answer was miraculous because He kept allowing these women (who naturally could not have children) to be able to have children. And it happens in three straight generations. A very interesting part of the story!

Verse 32 – “So Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben; … 33) Then she conceived again and bore a son, … And she called his name Simeon. 34) She conceived again and bore a son, … Therefore his name was called Levi.” – now, Levi is the progenitor of the Levites – which became the priestly tribe of Israel. Verse 35 – “And she conceived again and bore a son, … she called his name Judah.” – and Judah is the progenitor of the Jewish people. And keep in mind, right next door to Judah is Levi. And down through the ages there are many people whose last name have the word Levi in it – remember those jeans, Levi’s!? They were produced by a man named Levi Strauss. He thought he was Jewish – but in fact, he was probably from the tribe of Levi – but the Jewish people and the Levite people have been so close together it’s hard to tell which one is which anymore.

Genesis chapter 30 - “Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or else I die!’” – she was truly heartbroken by this! Verse 2 – “And Jacob’s anger was aroused against Rachel, and he said, ‘Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?’” – Jacob gets upset saying, ‘I can’t control that!’ Verse 3 – “So she said, ‘Here is my maid Bilhah; go in to her, and she will bear a child …’” – now, this is a part of the story – remember Abraham had his son Ishmael by Sarah’s handmaid!? And think about all the conflict that created to this day! We have the Arab people and the descendants of Israel – and for decades, centuries, millennia, there have been problems between those two peoples. Well, here we have another theme repeating itself. Verse 4 – “Then she gave him Bilhah her maid as wife, and Jacob went in to her. 5) And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. 6) Then Rachel said, ‘God has judged my case; and He has also heard my voice and given me a son.’ Therefore she called his name Dan. 7) And Rachel’s maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. 8) Then Rachel said, ‘With great wrestling’s I have wrestled with my sister, and indeed I have prevailed.’ So she called his name Naphtali.” – another one of the tribes of Israel. Verse 9 – “When Leah saw that she had stopped bearing, she took Zilpah her maid and gave her to Jacob as wife. 10) And Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11) Then Leah said, ‘A troop comes!’ So she called his name Gad. 12) And Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13) Then Leah said, ‘I am happy, for the daughters will call me blessed.’ So she called his name Asher.” – so again, another one of the twelve tribes of Israel is born.

Verse 18 – we see the birth of Issachar. Another one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Verse 19 – “Then Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. 20) … Zebulun. 21) Afterwards she bore a daughter, and called her name Dinah.”

Now, Dinah – this young lady – as she gets older becomes a very dramatic part of this family's story.

So, after all of these sons and one daughter were born to Leah, Bilhah, and to Zilpah – and all this time Rachel has felt left out or unwanted or cursed – “Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her …” – which means she was spending a lot of time in prayer. She was asking God – probably on a continual base, ‘please allow me to have a child!’ And eventually, God heard those prayers “and opened her womb. 23) And she conceived and bore a son, and said, ‘God has taken away my reproach.’ 24) So she called his name Joseph, and said, ‘The LORD shall add to me another son.’”

And Joseph occupies a tremendous amount of space in the Book of Genesis! Joseph is a pivotal personality in this family’s history.

Now the next part talks about livestock – basically, Jacob was experimenting through observation on how to get stronger animals. And, that’s a very interesting story – especially if you’re a scientist or you study genetics. It’s not really important to our story – here.

Jacob wrestles with God

Genesis chapter 32, verse 22 – “And he [Jacob] arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok. 23) He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had. 24) Then Jacob was left alone; …” – now, the next few verses are one of the most interesting stories in the Bible! I find this utterly and completely fascinating! “ … and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.” Jacob gets into a wrestling contest. Turns out the person he was wrestling was not human. The person – the Being – he was wrestling turned out to be the One we now call Jesus Christ! The God of the Old Testament – who came to Jacob in the form of a Man – and they wrestled. And Jacob kept wanting to be blessed. Notice what it says, verse 25 – “Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, …” – the One we call Jesus Christ is rolling around in the dirt with Jacob! And one couldn’t get an advantage over the other! Now imagine how unbelievably exhausting that would be! And when He saw – the One we now call Jesus Christ – that He could not win as a human against a human, “He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him.” – He put his hip out of joint! Verse 26 – “And He said, ‘Let Me go, for the day breaks.’ But he said, ‘I will not let You go unless You bless me!’” – He’s wrestling with a human form of God! It’s an amazing account! Verse 27 – “So He said to him, ‘What is your name?’ He said, ‘Jacob.’ 28) And He said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.’” – so, what God – the One we now call Jesus Christ – is saying is, ‘I can’t get you off of Me! I can’t win this wrestling match! Alright – I’m going to change your name, and I’m going to bless you!’

Now the name ISRAEL – Leviticus 23; ‘the children of Israel’ – ISRAEL means “struggle with God” #3478 – However, many other Bible help books (and I realize that the Strong’s Concordance isn’t the most accurate, or maybe the most extensive word study help you can use; my hardback states “struggle with God” – the Online Strong’s states “He will rule as God”) does state that the name Israel has a shocking meaning - “He will rule as God.” Think about all the times in your Bible we hear about the children of Israel, the house of Israel, the people of Israel – even the Church at times is called the Israel of God. In the very name Israel - is the destiny of all humankind! The destiny of all humankind someday – after going through a period of repentance, growth, and having God’s Spirit – were destined to rule as God. Meaning – a member of the Family of GOD.

Verse 29 – “Then Jacob asked, saying, ‘Tell me Your name, I pray.’ And He said, ‘Why is it that you ask about My name?’ And He blessed him there. 30) So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: ‘For I have seen God face to face, …’” – he not only saw God face to face, he wrestled with God face to face! All night long! Didn’t Lionel Richie have a song by that title!? Great singer back in the 80s! Well, I guess you could change that song around to describe Jacob wrestling with the One we now call Jesus Christ – all night long! They didn’t have a party, karamu, fiesta, as the song says – they had a wrestling match! ‘For I have seen God face to face!’ Verse 31 – “Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip.” – he had an injured hip! Keep in mind, he kept wrestling even after his hip was dislocated! Now that is determination! So, here we see something about Jacob which is truly admirable. Jacob knew what he wanted and he wasn’t willing to quit until he had achieved it. And it took him a lot of personal effort. So there is something about Jacob which is special. And I know he did some really tricky things, and he sort of got tricked himself, but there was something very solid in Jacob’s nature – now named ISRAEL. Verse 32 – “Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob’s hip in the muscle that shrank.” So they had some sort of family custom because of that.

Now I find that story utterly fascinating! And the very name Israel contains the destiny of all mankind! Because someday all mankind will be a part of the House of Israel – as it were. A part of the Kingdom of God who will rule as God! Great story! □

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