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Sunday, February 16, 2020

posted Feb 16, 2020, 7:03 PM by Site Administrator

LEAH AND RACHEL

Genesis 29:1-30:24

Key Verse 29:35

 

She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "This time I will praise the LORD." So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children. 

 

First, "This time I will praise the LORD(29:1-31:8). After having a personal encounter with God at Bethel, Jacob continued his journey and came to Haran. There, he met Rachel, the daughter of his uncle Laban, and fell in love with her at the first sight. One month later, he said to his uncle Laban, "I'll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel." This is shocking! Nowadays you are lucky to find a guy who will wait seven months for a woman, let alone seven years! This shows that Jacob was not lustful nor were his hormones raging out of control. He was a man of noble character. Look at verse 20. It says: "So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her." This shows that his love for Rachel was genuineEvery day heworked diligently, happily taking care of flocks and herds,dreaming about married life with Rachel. He picked her flowersafter work and left love letters on her doorstep. He was completely dedicated to her that even seven years seemed like only a few days to him - he was a man of commitment. Once Jacob found something that was valuable, he pursued it wholeheartedly until he secured it; Rachel was what was valuable to him, so he pursued her wholeheartedly. Actually, during these 7 years he didn’t get one single paycheck, he didn’t make any money because marrying Rachel was his wages, but he didn’t care because in his eyes she was valuable.

 

When the seven years were up, they had a wedding ceremony. But on the night of their honeymoon, Laban cheated Jacob. He sent Leah into the room instead of Rachel… and Jacob slept with her. The next morning Jacob woke up to find Leah lying in bed next to him! "Oh no! What are you doing here?" "What's going on!?" He stormed out and went straight to Laban asking, "What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn't I? Why have you deceived me?" Then, Laban said, "Don’t worry. Finish this daughter's bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also… in return for another seven years of work." Laban's purpose in tricking him was to secure another seven years of service, because he saw that Jacob was a good employee. Jacob accepted this offer; at the end of the week he got to lay with Rachel, and he loved her more than Leah. 

 

How did Jacob's married life go with two wives? It was hard!There was a lot of conflict, heartache, and tears. Look at verse 31, it says: "When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren." It was obvious thatJacob loved Rachel. Leah knew it. Rachel was beautiful with a fit body, but Leah had weak eyes, she was average, or less than average. But thankfully for Leah, Rachel was barren. Quickly she began the pursuit for her husband's love, and her method was to produce many sons. 

 

When she had the first son, she named him, "Reuben," whichmeans, "see, a son." She felt triumphant that she proudly shouted, "See, a son!" At the same time, she expressed her thanks to God, saying, "It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now." Initially Leah sounds very spiritual, she gave credit to God for giving her herson and understood that God had personally seen her misery. This is a great thanks topic, how blessed she was! However, the second part of her testimony shows her real focus; what she really wanted and hoped for was her husband’s love. When her heart was set on her husband, then she couldn’t be comforted or touched by God’s grace; as a result nothing changed in her heart and she was still miserable.

 

The second son, she named, "Simeon," which means, "one who hears.She testified to God's grace, saying, "Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too." She named her third son, "Levi," which means, "attached," saying, "Now at last my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons." She thought that if she produced many sons, her husband would love her. So, she put a lot of hope in producingsons, but despite her great success in bearing sons, nothing changed; Jacob’s heart was unmoved. And Leah was stillsorrowful, depressed, lonely, and bitter. 

 

But when she had her fourth son, something changed. She named her son, "Judah," which means, "Praise," saying, “This time I will praise the LORD.” She was soo happy and thankful that her heart was filled with the desire to praise God. Praise was overflowing from her heart. What changed? When she could not secure her husband's love despite all her effort, when she reached her limit, she finally turned to God. Then, mysteriously, God's love filled her heart and she was satisfied. God solved her thirst problem for the husband's love, and she became soo happy and thankful that she wanted to praise God publicly throughnaming her son, Praise. Her husband made her sorrowful, bitter and miserable, but God made her happy, thankful, and satisfied. So she expressed her thanks to God by naming her son, "Praise." She came up with her heart's complete determination to praise God, saying, "This time I will praise the LORD." Her focus and desire shifted from acquiring her husband's love to praising and thanking God. 

 

When we check out her testimony at her sons' births, we see that she had faith in God. At her first son's birth, she said, "It is because the LORD has seen my misery." At her second son's birth, she said, "Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too." She believed in God and testified to God's grace upon her life. But it didn’t mean anything to her personally, it was more like head knowledge. As long as she was pursuing happiness and satisfaction in her husband's love God could not be the source of her happiness and satisfaction; instead, to her, God was the One who helped her in her difficulty, just like Superman. At that time, she was miserable, sorrowful, and bitter. She had this struggle for many years, and it was really painful. Then, finally, she turned to God and accepted His love, and she became happy and thankful, saying, "This time I will praise the LORD." 

 

When we think about Leah's struggle, we see that this is what soo many Christians are doing. They believe in God and testify that God has helped them, but still, in their real life, what theypursue is not God, but something or someone else, thinking that their promising career or their prince-charming would make them truly happy. To them, God is just there to helthem in their pursuit of happiness in something or someone else, definitely not the one they pursue and love with all their heart and soul. As a result, they are still thirsty, bitter and miserable. We must turn to God decisively and accept God's love for us, which brings us real happiness and satisfaction. We must have our heart's complete determination that we will praise God, saying "This time I will praise the LORD." Let’s say this together…

 

Meanwhile, how was Rachel doing? Look at chapter 30, verses 1 and 2. She captured her husband's heart completely. Jacob's love for her was real and genuine, so she should be happy, but that wasn’t the case. Rachel was jealous of her sister who gave birth to many sons. She felt defeated and disgraced. So, one day, she yelled at Jacob, saying, "Give me children, or I'll die!" She was acting like a spoiled brat. Since Rachel could not have children of her own, she decided to build her family through her maidservant, Bilhah. Then Bilhah bore Jacob two sons and Rachel named them. She named the first one "Dan," which means, "God has vindicated me" and the second one, "Naphtali," which means, "my struggle." She said, I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won. Who names their kid "Vindicate" or "Struggle? The word "vindicate" is a judicial term, meaning, "justify.This shows that Rachel considered her sister like an opponent in a trial. Rachel’s heart was full of hatred and a sense of loss; she wanted to get back at her older sister who bore Jacob four sons. It was clear that Rachel was not happy or full of praise like Leah. She tried to solve her innerproblem by improving her situationhaving children, beating her sister, and being Jacob’s #1 wife. But her testimonies show that it never made her happy. What she needed was to turn to God and accept God's love for her - that would solve all of her problems. 

 

Second, "How happy I am" (30:9-24). When Leah saw that she stopped having children, she took her maidservant Zilpahand gave her to Jacob as a wife. Zilpah bore Jacob two sons, and Leah named the first one "Gad," which means, "Good fortune," saying, "What good fortune!" When something good happened, she considered it as "good fortune," being able to truly appreciate itHer heart was no longer twisted with bitterness andsorrows; instead, as she turned to God, she was growing as a sound person who could appreciate good fortune. She named the second son, "Asher," which means, "happy." She said, "How happy I am! The women will call me happy." Actually the word for happy here is the word blessed in Hebrew. She said, How happy I am! The women will call me blessed (KJV).Leah became a happy and blessed woman. Later, she gave birth to her own fifth son; she named him, "Issachar," meaning, "reward." She said, "God has rewarded me." Then she bore Jacob a sixth son, and named him "Zebulun," which means, "honor." She said, "God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons." She no longer saw herself as a woman begging for her husband's love, but as a respectable person, deserving his honor. 

 

When she had two sons by her maidservant, she expressed her joy and happiness; she was a happy and content woman. Now she named her last two sons - Issachar and Zebulun, meaning reward and honor. The kind of language she used here shows her view and understanding of herself and her life. This is not the language of a mere housewife in the countryside, but the language of a spiritual womanWhen she turned to God, solving her problems with God's love, she became a happy woman. But things did not end there. As she remained in God continually,she was growing up as a spiritual woman of God who was worthy of honor and respect. No longer did she have to hang her head low or be overcome with sorrow because of her husband, now she could confidently stand tall; she could see herself before God and know that she was worthy to receive honor from others.

 

This is what happens to everyone who turns to God and solves their problems in God. They become happy people. And as they continue in the fellowship with God, they come to develop spiritual value system and a spiritual view of their life, themselves, and of the world that their way of thinking, their words and behaviors all change - they become spiritual people, deserving people's honor and respect. They become oaks of righteousness, and God rebuilds the ancient ruins through them. Later, God honored Leah by choosing her fourth son, Judah, to be the covenant person, through whose line the Savior would come into the world. Also, she was buried in the cave of Machpelah together with the patriarchs: Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob. 

 

Finally, the Lord remembered Rachel; he listened to her and opened her womb. She had a son and named him "Joseph," which means, "May he add." Her testimony was: "God has taken away my disgrace. May the LORD add to me another son." She was relieved from her sense of disgrace; but she was not satisfied at all and hoped for more sons. She was holding onto her own desire continuously. At that time, she could not truly appreciate what God had done for her, and thereby, she was still angry, bitter, and jealous, competing with her sister. Some people, when they experience God's help, are so thankful and turn to God, appreciating God's grace - they are full of thanks and happiness; they enjoy God's love for them and they love God dearly. But others, even with God's help and blessing, are not thankful; instead, they say, "May the LORD add to me another son." They ask God to give them more and more. When will they be truly satisfied with God? When will they stop their worldly pursuit and truly turn to God? What they need is not another son, but to turn to God decisively, truly appreciating what God has done for them. They must make their heart's firm decision, saying, 'This time I will praise the LORD." 

 

In Genesis 35:17, we see Rachel giving birth to another son, but while she was in delivery, she had great pain and as she was dying, she named him, "Ben-Oni," which means, "Son of my trouble." Even at her deathbed, she was only thinking about herself; she was complaining that her son was a source of trouble to her. Her outward situation had changed a lot, but inwardly, nothing had changed - she was still bitter and angry, full of complaints. After she died, Jacob changed his son's name to Benjamin, which means, "son of my right hand."

 

The struggle between Leah and Rachel teaches us a lot aboutlife. All women want to be like Rachel - beautiful, and finding a good person who genuinely loves them; actually, that is what all romance movies are about - a pretty girl finding Mr. Perfect. But we must remember that even Jacob's genuine love was not enough for Rachel; it never works. Leah and Rachel's struggle shows that improving our condition through having someone’scomplete love, having children, or being beautiful cannot solve the real problem; it cannot bring us real happiness and satisfaction; it cannot be our Savior. Only when we accept this and finally stop pursing those other things, then we can turn our heart and focus to God. Only then we find what we are really looking for - true love and true fulfillment; we become happy and blessed people and praise for God bursts forth from our hearts.

 

What about brothersDo they have any problems? They also thirst for many things, mostly, a secure life. College students typically earn minimum wage, but their dream is to have a career job that pays more than $80,000 a year, or to have a beautiful wife who is lovely in form. But having a desirable career job or a beautiful wife does not mean happiness or satisfaction. All those who have successfully built their career and all those who make a lot of money still look for better jobs.Those who have beautiful wives eventually grow tired of their wife, her beauty fades and they long for a younger wife who will respect them more. Simply, there is no end; just like all sisters, brothers also live as endless wanderers. You don't want to live as an endless wanderer, right? You don't want to name your sons, "Son of my trouble," right? Then, what should you do? Turn to God and accept his love; make your heart's determination, saying, "This time I will praise the LORD." 

 

How was the atmosphere in Jacob's family? Every day was like being on an episode of Jerry Springer! The whole family wasdivided into four, and they were fighting and competing with each other. There was constant strife, jealousy, and hatred in Jacob’s house, and everyone was suffering. It was complete chaos. But behind the scenes, God was working diligently to lay down the foundation for the 12 tribes of Israel. God was also breaking down Jacob little by little so that Jacob might be changed into a spiritual man, a father of many nations.

 

In my old life, my identity was always wrapped up in boyfriends, sports, success, and extracurricular activities. In high school when my boyfriend broke up with me, I was really hurt, but also I was lost. My relationship with him brought me honor and recognition, everyone at school knew me because of him, and my family was happy with me that I had a great boyfriend with a promising futureBut when he broke up with me, it was a big loss and from there I jumped from boyfriend to boyfriend looking for the one who was worthy of my heart and future. In high school I was the captain of the track team and personally made it to CIF. I had planned to do track at CSULB, but there were no scholarships available and I had to work to pay my way through college, so I had to let track go. I liked the sense of belonging that I got from being part of a team, so in college I lived in the dorms, picked up school spirit and attended many sports games, including: basketball, hockey, volleyball, and baseball. Then I joined a sorority and was on my sorority’s powderpuff team and participated in many charity events. On top of all that I worked 6 days a week so that I could pay my way through college without getting any loans. From one perspective I too looked like I had a promising future, I had arranged and paid for myself to study abroad in Spain for 1 year, I was planning to join the Peace Corps upon graduation and enjoy traveling and finding adventure. I really was soo determined to find happiness and joy. I really wanted to have a good life and to be honored and admired by others. 

 

But my inner person was really suffering, I had a void in my heart that could not be filled, I thought that eventually finding Mr. Perfect and attaining an honorable career would make me happy. I thought having my family’s approval and to have them be proud of me would make me happy. At night I could almost always be found drinking and partying, sometimes I would go to parties at CSULB, sometimes at USC, or Cal Poly, or UC Santa Barbara, I would go back to my hometown and enjoy partiesthere, and even made many trips to Vegas. I typically drank until I passed out, and then somehow woke up in the morning and went to work or class. It looked like I was having fun, but actually it was really shameful, I woke up in strange places or with strangers in my bed; my friends would have to tell me all the things I did. I drank and drove all the time. One time, after drinking and leaving a frat party, I broke into a coffee shop on campus and stole some furniture because I thought it would look good in my room. Another time I was pulled over for drinking and driving because I made an illegal u-turn and drove on the wrong side of the road. 

 

Even among my friends and acquaintances I had a bad reputation, at first I didn’t mind, I was even proud of my party and promiscuous life. But eventually I was sick and tired of my immorality, I could see that I was getting worse and worse, I was lying, stealing, and even did other shameful things in order to pay my bills. That was not the person I wanted to be, but I was stuck with no way out. I tried not to drink, but I drank anyway. I tried not to be promiscuous, but I gave in over and over. I wanted to be an honorable person, but I was not; I was dying inside from disappointment and shame. And still I had a void in my heart that always left me unsatisfied. Later I got a serious boyfriend who worked in the movie industry and found more honorable ways of making money. But still, even though the outward conditions of my life improved, I was still seeking love and approval from others.

 

Then in the Spring of 2008 I started studying the Bible. I had always believed in God, but I stopped going to church in junior high because I thought I was too sinful for God to help me, and by the end of high school I stopped calling myself Christian because I didn’t agree with the Bible. But when I started studying with my teacher I really enjoyed each Bible study, the Bible seemed soo clear and obvious and through each passage God was becoming more and more real. I felt like a little kid learning about God for the first time and it was really exciting! I had no intention to become Christian, I was just enjoying Bible study. God taught me about eternal life and the kingdom of God, soo many fascinating things; before studying the Bible I never knew that living for God was soo valuable and that everything I did for God counted for all eternity. I never knew that I could actually know God personally, I thought others could meet God, but not me. But through Bible study God sparked hope in my heart that I too could know Him. It sounded good! But there was one big problem, I was supposed to leave for Spain for 1 year at the end of the summer, I had already paid thousands of dollars including $1,600 for my non-refundable plane tickets. This was a real dilemma: I could go and pursue adventure and honor in Spain; or I could pursue God. God helped me by giving me John 12:35 which says, “Walk while you have the light before darkness overtakes you.” At first I was really struggling and debating if I should live for God or not.

 

I knew living for God would be an all or nothing deal, if I let go of my dreams and future, then I was going to give my whole heart and life to God. I secretly cried everyday for a month, I didn’t even tell my Bible teacher or mother what I was thinking about, it was a lonely and difficult struggle. But one day in Bible study my teacher asked me what God wanted me to do. I was cornered! And finally had to confess out loud what I knew in my heart. I squeezed out the words, God doesn’t want me to go to Spain, but to stay here.” When I finally confessed out loud what God wanted me to do, it was like all of my burdens were lifted from my shoulders and I was free to choose God. From that moment on I was like Leah saying, “this time I will praise the Lord!” All at once it seemed that joy and faith were planted in my heart, I went to my boyfriend’s house that day and told him my decision to live for God. He tried to deter me, but nothing he said mattered because I was finally going to have life together with my God. God had been paying attention to me and blessing me for some time, he sent me a Bible teacher, he had revealed many truths to me, and protected me from bad decisions, but I was soo focused on romance, partying, and having fun that I could not really give thanks to God or give him my whole heart. But once I reached my limit and finally confessed what God wanted me to do, then I could fully open my heart to Him and give Him everything. That is why my life of faith was soo precious those first couple of years, I was soo happy and satisfied with God, praise just kept pouring out of my heart like a well. 

 

Through preparing the message, this is what God showed me over and over, that he wants to fully restore my joy so that I might be bursting with praise for my God who has blessed me so much! I left my old life, not for any tangible blessing that God offered me, but because of one thing, that if I stayed in California and left my life, then I would finally come to know my God. That one thing is why I started my new life.

 

Now I have been living in God for 11 years, God has blessed me with a good husband, 2 children, a flexible job, I have mission, Ihave sheep. But my real happiness does not come from outward conditions. My real happiness and satisfaction comes from God himself, He is my best blessing, he is the reason I have meaning and purpose, he is the reason I can smile and have hope, he is the reason I have peace and confidence despite my characters flaws. I can praise God, not for tangible blessings, but I can praise God because he has revealed himself to me and called me out of my old life to himself. God wants to renew my spirit of praise, so no more wasting my time watching movies, shopping online or going on the internet. No more relaxing and doing what I want. No more focusing on how I look or trying to build up my life in this world. Now is the time to praise the Lord! Now is the time to pour out my heart on God’s sheep so that they too can come to meet God as the one worthy of their praise. May I be a source of blessing to others, like an oak of righteousness through which God uses to rebuild the ancient ruins.

 

One Word: This Time I Will Praise The Lord!  

 

 

Sunday, February 9,2020

posted Feb 9, 2020, 6:38 PM by Site Administrator

THE GOD OF BETHEL

 

Genesis 27:1-28:22

Key Verses 28:20,21

 

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then the LORD will be my God

 

First, "Jacob gets Isaac's blessing" (27:1-40). When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he thought that he could die anytime soon. So, he decided to give his blessing to his firstborn son Esau before he died. He called Esau to go hunting, and prepare tasty food for him so that after eating, he might bless him. Rebekah overheard this conversation. Then, while Esau was outside hunting the game, she told Jacob to bring her two goats so that she could prepare some tasty food for her husband. They devised a plan to take advantage of Isaac’s blindness, and get his blessing for Jacob deceitfully. At first, Jacob was afraid that he would be cursed instead of getting a blessing, because this scheme could be busted very easily, since he and Esau were too different from each other, in voice, in skin, and in smell. But Rebekah said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.” Then, Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau, her older son, and put them on her younger son Jacob. She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins. Then, she handed Jacob the tasty food. 

 

When people come to this passage, they are shocked and scream: “She deceived her husband. And she encouraged her son to trick his father!” But the Bible never blames her; God never mentions about this event either. This means that there was something more important than human ethics in Rebekah's action. A long time ago, while she was pregnant, God had shown her that He had a special plan for Jacob, the younger; God's will was that Jacob must be blessed, instead of Esau. Now in order to secure this will of God, Rebekah was doing all her best, even going beyond human ethics and manners. God's will must not be altered by anything, even by human ethics. We must not judge Rebekah, a great woman of God only with human standards, but must see her from God's point of view - she served God's will wholeheartedly. Also, we see that she really honored her husband as a servant of God, firmly believing that whatever he said would be fulfilled and whomever he blessed would be blessed - there was no revoke or a second chance in getting his blessing. 

 

Verses 18 through 29 describes how Jacob acted very well, deceived his father successfully, and secured his blessing. How hard he struggled to change his voice so that it might sound like the voice of Esau! How scary he was when his father, out of suspicion, asked him to come near and touched his neck! He carefully made sure that his father would touch the covered part with the goatskins. How anxious he must have been sitting while his father was eating! Maybe, his palms were wet with sweat. He had to finish this job before his brother Esau came back. 

 

When we see this scene with a humanistic point of view, what Jacob did is not acceptable – he cheated his father, and snatched away the blessing that would have been given to Esau his brother, otherwise. He was like a younger son who snatched away his older brother’s share of inheritance by changing the will of his father deceitfully. But again, the Bible never blames Jacob. Instead, we can see Jacob’s desperate desire and struggle to secure his father’s blessing. It was just the words of mouth his father would utter – it would not change anything right then. But Jacob valued his father's blessing so highly. To him, his father’s words of blessing were exceedingly important and valuable that he did not mind to tell lies to his father if he could secure them for himself. It was because his father was no ordinary man, but a servant of God - God would really bless the one his father blessed; indeed, securing his father's blessing was securing God's blessing, and for this blessing, Jacob would do anything and everything whether good or bad - it was more important than human ethics or manner. Surely, he sought it as the matter of life and death, as a result, he came to secure it and enjoy God’s blessing. 

 

Today, people value money and pleasures highly. They are willing to do anything for money and pleasures – they are willing to cheat others for them, even willing to dump God’s calling or even their faith for the sake of securing a promising job offer. For some good amount of quick and easy money, some people risk their life and become bank-robbers. It is very easy to find this kind of people around us, but it is very hard to find anyone who is so completely determined to pursue God’s blessing as a matter of life and death like Jacob did. Surely, when God finds that kind of people, he is overjoyed, and pours out his blessing on them. God says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jer 29:13) When God found Tamar who was willing to even go beyond human ethics and morals if she could be included into God’s covenant family, God was happy with her desire and blessed her greatly. Jesus says in Matthew 11:12, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.” Those who value God’s blessing highly pursue it and they are the ones who enjoy God’s blessing. These forceful men for God’s blessing serve God’s will in their generation. 

 

After Isaac finished blessing Jacob, Esau came in and said to his father, “My father, sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.” His father Isaac asked him, “Who are you?” “I am your son,” he answered, “your firstborn Esau.” What was Isaac’s response at this? Look at verse 33. Let’s read this verse together: 

 

Isaac trembled violently and said, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him and indeed he will be blessed!” 

 

When Isaac found that he had ended up blessing Jacob not Esau, he trembled violently. Modern day, people easily say, “God bless you.” But they do not care whether what they said will truly work or not. It is like saying, “Good morning!” Also, people would easily say, “Oh, that’s my mistake. I am sorry. Let me do it again.” But Isaac was different. When he blessed, he meant it, and he truly knew and believed that his blessing would come true. He said, “I blessed him and indeed he will be blessed!” At this, Esau let out a loud bitter cry, “Bless me –me too father!” He said of Jacob, "Isn't he rightly named Jacob? He has deceived me these two times: He took my birthright and now he's taken my blessing!" He begged his father, "Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!" Then Esau wept aloud. At this, Isaac answered him, "Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness, away from the dew of the heaven above. 40You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck." It was not a blessing, but just a description of what kind of life he would live - not good at all. Esau was stolen of his father’s blessing. After losing his blessing, Esau wept bitterly, begged his father for another blessing, but there was no blessing left for him. Thus, he was rejected from God’s redemptive history. 

 

In regard to God's blessings, we must not take it for granted; even if we are the firstborns, even if we are Christians, we must not simply say, "I will be raptured and reign with Jesus forever." Instead, we must value God's blessing highly, seek it with all our heart and by any means, secure it. In this matter, the apostle Paul shares his struggle in Philippians 3, "Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Phil 3:13,14) Paul's understanding was that, when Christ had called him and assigned him to his mission, God had a prize for him, which would be given to him when he completed his mission; Paul's goal was to secure that prize by completing his mission. So, he focused on serving God's mission all the way to its completion. Only those who have this kind of attitude toward God's blessing come to secure it and enjoy it. What about those who take it for granted? They do not make any effort to secure it; instead, when they see any other thing that looks great such as a promising job, or a romantic relationship, they go for it, thinking that, later, anytime they can come back and take God's blessing. Later, in the resurrection, when Jesus comes again, we will see many people gnashing their teeth and weeping in darkness - they will be full of regret and anger toward themselves, but it will be too late. 

 

Second, "The God of Bethel" (28:1-22). After losing his father's blessing, Esau was angry at Jacob and harbored in his heart the intention to kill him. So his parents, Isaac and Rebekah, decided to send Jacob to Haran. Isaac commanded Jacob not to marry a Canaanite woman, but go to Paddan Aram and take a wife for himself there from among the daughters of Laban, his mother's brother. Then, Isaac blessed him with God's covenant blessing, saying, "3May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. 4May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now live as an alien, the land God gave to Abraham." Now he was really confirmed of God's will upon Jacob, so he blessed him with God's covenant blessing freely. Originally, Isaac intended to bless his firstborn Esau out of his own preferences - he loved Esau and the food he made from the wild game. Isaac was a great man of God, but he could have made a huge mistake in handing down God's covenant blessing to his next generation. What would have happened, had Isaac given thcovenant blessing to Esau? We don't want to even think about it. But only thanks to his wife, Rebekah's help and support, Isaac could hand it down to Jacob according to God's will and purpose successfully. Indeed, Rebekah was a helper suitable for Isaac. Probably, for this, Isaac would be thankful to his wife eternally. 

 

So Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. He got his father’s blessing even though it meant deceiving his father, but he had to pay the price of his lies and deception. He had to leave his father and mother, and go to a foreign land, running away from Esau. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. His pillow was a stone - this illustrates Jacob's difficult condition very well. Jacob was scared for his unknown future in a foreign land; he was sorrowful that he had to leave his parents' tent. It was the most sorrowful and lonely time in Jacob’s life. But to God, it was the best chance to step into Jacob’s life. Look at verses 12 through 15. As he fell asleep, Jacob had a dream. In his dream, he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the Lord. 

 

God visited Jacob in the wilderness. When Jacob thought he was all alone and no one was there with him, God showed Himself to him and revealed that He was with him. Actually, Jacob might have expected a terrible nightmare such as his brother popping up in his dream with an angry and monstrous face, chasing after him and shooting arrows endlessly. But Jacob’s dream was fantastic. He saw a huge and glorious stairway extending from the heaven to the earth, and many beautiful angels of God ascending and descending on it. Jacob must have said in his dream, “Wow! Cool!” This scene was displayed in the wilderness. But it was far better and glorious than any IMAX movie displayed in the world’s largest IMAX theater. Through this glorious dream, Jacob’s spirit was revived with excitement. When Jacob was in the most difficult situation in his life; when he was in deep anguish and fear, and when sorrow and loneliness were scratching his heart, God visited him and restored his spirit with such a powerful and glorious dream. 

The God of Bethel is the God who is with us and comforts us with His presence when we are in deep anguish and distress. Actually, many of us have experienced the God of Bethel who visited us and comforted us in our lowliest condition. He restored our hearts and spirits so that we could get up from our defeat and failures and go on continually. 

In the dream God introduced himself, saying, "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac."The God who appeared to him in his most difficult situation was not a stranger to him, but the very One he had heard about from his grandfather and from his father. He was his family God. What a comforting moment it was for Jacob! And God gave him two sets of promises. One was his covenant blessings - God would give him and his descendants the land on which he was lying, his descendants would be like the dust of the earth, and all peoples on earth would be blessed through him and his offspring. The other set of God's promises was that God would be with him, watch over him wherever he went, and bring him back to the promised land. What was Jacob's response? Look at verse 16 and 17. Let's read these verses together:

 

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it." 17 He was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven."

 

Through this experience with God in his dream, Jacob came to have a great revelation. He said, "Surely, the LORD is in this place and I was not aware of it." Thus far, he had grown up in a believing environment; his father was Isaac, and his grandfather was Abraham. He had attended worship service with them so many times; he had learned about God from them; he prayed and studied the Bible; sometimes, he was excited at their story of God; sometimes, he sensed God's presence in his house - it was really great to learn of God and believe in God. But he had not known God personally yet. He had not been in the real relationship with God either. He was just a good believing person who had the knowledge of God, who had good intention toward God, and who liked God, but without any real fellowship with God - just like so many church going people who have been in the church environment. But now in the wilderness, in his most difficult situation, he met God personally, and through this personal encounter with God, he came to grasp one spiritual secret, that was, God was in that very place. "Surely, the LORD is in this place!" Then, that place was no ordinary place, but the house of God where God dwelt. He had complete confidence about it. This confidence was so great that he was even afraid, because he was at the house of God, at the gate of heaven, standing before HimHe shouted, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven." Through this encounter with God, through this great revelation, God was no longer the God whom his grandfather and his father had talked about, but the One whom he met personally, the One who dwelt in that place. That was now one thing he knew about God really. That was the beginning of his real relationship with God. 

“Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” This testimony of Jacob reminds us of how God intervened into our lives and revealed himself to us. Some of us were believers, doing Christian things, while some of us were unbelievers. Then, one day, God revealed Himself to us, maybe, at the Bible conference, maybe, through one to one Bible studies. On that day, our eyes were really opened, some of us, to God's love, some of us to our lost condition, some of us to God's truth. Then, we suddenly began to see everything differently.God was real; the Bible was really the word of God. Indeed, heaven was opened on that day for us. On that day, we were changed completely. That's how we could start this real Christian life, really living before Him alone. "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it." When people have an encounter with God this way, they start their real life together with God. At that time, their life of faith has a clear direction, meaning and purpose. No longer their worship of God is vague and conceptual. Instead, they begin to really live for God. We praise and thank God who revealed Himself to us and gave us this new life in Jesus.

Look at verses 18 and 19. Early the next morning, he took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on it. He called the place "Bethel" which means "house of God." Then, he made a vow to God. Let’s read verses 20 through 22 together. 

20Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21so that I return safely to my father's house, then the LORD will be my God 22and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth."

God's covenant is a deal God offers humans. But vow is a deal humans offer God. God does not need to accept the deal humans offer; He has no reason to accept the terms and conditions humans made. But when anyone offers his or her vow to God sincerely, God accepts it and binds Himself to the terms and conditions of the deal; this is his grace. So, when God showed his grace to you by accepting the deal you offered him,keep your vow to Him absolutely. 

In his vow, Jacob asked God for several things - if God will be with me (companionship), if God will watch over me on this journey (protection - Jacob was afraid), if God will give me food to eat and clothes to wear (basic security - he was not sure if he would be able to survive in a foreign land or not; he was asking God to help him with at least a minimum wage job in a foreign land so that he would be able to survive - he was not asking for great success, but basic survival - that was the most urgent issue to him), and "so that I return safely to my father's house." God already promised Jacob that he would be with him and watch over him and bring him back to the promised land; so Jacob did not need to ask God for these things. But he did so, because he wanted to make sure of God's companionship, protection, and provision so that he would return to his father's house safely. Nothing was certain in his life, and the only security, protection, and provision he could rely on was God. 

Jacob, then, promised, saying, "Then, the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth." If God accepted his vow and took care of him in this journey and brought him back to his father's house, Jacob would do three things. The first one was: The LORD will be my God. In those days, people worshiped so many kinds of gods. There were so many attractive looking idols. But Jacob's decision was that, to him, only the LORD, Jehovah would be his God. No matter what others worshiped, Jacob made a firm decision that he would worship and serve the LORD alone as his God. When we think about his decision, "The LORD will be my God," we see that he was a man with a strong backbone. He would not be bothered by others' opinion; he would not be influenced by peer pressure either. No matter what, he would worship God and serve Him only.

“The LORD will be my God!” This should be our personal confession of love to God as well. Nowadays especially in America, due to the development of science and natural discovery, people do not worship cast idols or starry hosts any more, but so many do worship idols in their lives. Money seems to be the most powerful and attractive idol. Simply, everyone is pursuing and worshiping Money. Also, many regard enjoying pleasure as the highest goal of their lives. They say, “Let’s eat and drink for tomorrow we die.” During Friday night, it seems that school campus becomes like Sodom and Gomorrah. In this wicked and adulterous generation, sometimes we are confused and tempted. But no matter what others do, our declaration toward the world is this: “The LORD will be my God." Even though the whole world may worship those idols, we are determined to worship the Lord, and pursue and serve Him only.Let's pray that many young people may rise for God with such a heart's determination, with such strong backbone.

He also promised, saying, "this stone that I have set as a pillar will be God’s house.” A house of God is a place where God dwells, and where people come to meet Him and worship Him. What Jacob meant was that he would come back to that place, and worship God in that place. To Jacob, God would be the God of Bethel. So, in Jacob's life of faith, there was a clear direction. He did not say that, since God is everywhere, he would worship God wherever he liked; no, there was a clear direction and place where he could really meet God and worship Him - Bethel. Bethel was the place Jacob experienced God’s grace personally, and it was the place he must be rooted, grow, and eventually serve God’s will. To him, Bethel was the house of God.

Jacob also promised one tenth offering, saying, “of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.” In Genesis 14, we saw Abraham bringing one tenth offering to Melchizedek, the priest of God. And now, we see here Jacob mentioning about it. Many hundred years later, through the laws, God would ask the Israelites to bring Him one tenth offering. When we think about this, we can see that one tenth offering is something fundamental we humans must do. Bringing a tenth is all believers' responsibility and at the same time, privilege. Jacob shows us the meaning of one tenth offering, saying, “of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.” It is the expression of our acknowledgement that everything we have acquired has come from God and it is the expression of our thanks to God. God gave us life. God has given us his grace. God gives us jobs so that we can pay the bills and support ourselves. God gives us all we need. Those who acknowledge this are thankful, and they bring one tenth to God.  

Now, through making his vow to God, Jacob entered a binding relationship with God. This vow would become a handle by which God would lead him according to his plan. Later, after fulfilling his end of the deal, God would ask Jacob to keep his vow by coming back to Bethel. Through meeting the God of Bethel, Jacob was strengthened, and his spirit was revived that he could continue his journey to Paddan Aram.

One Word: The LORD Will Be My God

Sunday, February 2, 2020

posted Feb 2, 2020, 7:23 PM by Site Administrator

STAY IN THIS LAND AND I WILL BLESS YOU

 

Genesis 26:1-35

Key Verse 26:3

 

Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham.

 

First, "Stay in this land and I will bless you" (1-6)Look at verse 1 in chapter 26. "Now there was a famine in the land-besides the earlier famine of Abraham's time-and Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines in Gerar." The famine means, in modern term, "lack of job opportunity," and as a result, suffering from the financial difficulty. Isaac's family was established by God and for God. We expect that everything would go very smooth with this family, and that they should be blessed. But instead, they were challenged even from the beginning of their marriage, and now after 20 years' struggle, they had the famine. When Abraham started his life of faith, God trained him through the famine also. It is interesting to notice that God trained both Abraham and Isaac through this financial difficulty. It is, probably, because the matter of financial security is the fundamental problem all mankind face, and through this very practical matter, God's people can learn the secret of relying on God. It is easy to say, "I believe in God," but it is not easy to trust in God in the practical matters like finance. It requires true faith in God. 

 

When the famine attacked the land, Isaac came to Gerar, modern day, Gaza strip, the gateway to Egypt. Like his father before him, Isaac calculated that going to Egypt was the best way to secure his life in such a difficult situation. He was going to leave the promised land because of practical difficulty. But God intervened into the situation. Look at verses 2 and 3. Let's read these verses together:

 

2The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, "Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. 3Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. 

 

God told him not to go down to Egypt. Instead, God asked him to stay in Canaan, promising him that, if he stayed there despite the famine, God would be with him and bless him. God offered Isaac his deal, his covenant. Isaac grew up in a believing environment, attending worship service with his father Abraham, learning of God from him; actually, he was a man of prayer. Yet, it did not mean that he was automatically God's covenant person. Instead, becoming God's covenant person is a personal matter; it is not conceptual but real. If Isaac accepted that offer by doing what God asked him to do, then, he would enter into a binding contract relationship with God - God would be his God, and he would be God's covenant person. My children grew up in a believing environment; in that sense, they were blessed; from their birth; they studied the Bible, attended worship service and served God's work through music and dance. Yet, it does not mean that they are automatically God's covenant people. When God offers them his deal, when God makes clear in their hearts what He wants them to do, when God's word touches their hearts, when God's love becomes clear in their eyes, they must respond to God personally and enter into a real binding contract relationship with God by doing what God wants them to do. 

 

What was the terms and conditions of this covenant offered to Isaac? God said to him, "Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and bless you." For Abraham, the condition God asked him to fulfill was to leave his country, his people and his father's household and go to the land God had planned for him - God's promised land. Now, since Isaac was already living in the promised land, the only condition God asked him to do was to stay in the promised land no matter what. Right now, in the promised land, there was an economic crisis; Isaac had difficulty to find a job; he had difficulty to support his family; he got eviction letters from his landlord; he could not afford his sons' baby sitting fee. Yet, he had to stay there if he wanted to live as God's covenant person - the only condition he had to fulfill. What if he really did not like the people around him? Yet, still he had to stay there. What if he really liked the lifestyle and culture and music and even weather in Egypt? Or what if his business partner invited him to come down to Egypt? No matter what, he had to stay in the promised land; he must not leave the promised land no matter what - that was the only condition God asked him.

 

Entering into a binding contract relationship with God is not conceptual; it is not like doing religious things all the time either. Instead, there is a specific thing God wants people to do,even where to live, and by doing so, they become God's covenant people. If you are not in the promised land yet, God asks you to leave that old life and start a new life in the promised land as God's covenant people. Now as you live in the promised land, then, God wants you to stay there continually - this is God's calling, this is God's mission assignment. As you stay there, you may have many challenges, difficulties and temptations such as job matter or financial matter as Isaac had, or someone who seems very desirable for marriage shows interest in you. For me, the most difficult one was conflict with other coworker in the church. Should we leave the promised land and go to Egypt only because of those difficulties and challenges? What will you say in heaven, when he asks you, "Did you do what I commanded you to do?" Should we say, "I wanted, but because of that person, I could not," or "I wanted, but because of that difficulty, I could not." In this covenant relationship with God, everything, eventually isbetween God and each of us. In this covenant relationship, even our father or mother has no place; even our son or daughter, even Ishmael or Isaac has no place; even our husband or wife has no place; even life or death has no place. Eventually, it is whether I obeyed him or not, whether I stayed in the place he called me or not. Jesus says, "He who has my commands and obeys them is the one who loves me." What God wants you to do is to stay in the promised land, the very place God has guided you for his own plan and purpose. It is the place where you experienced God's grace, the very place where you were healed of your wounds and scars - that's why the apostle Paul says, "Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship" - two things "grace and apostleship" at the same time. It is the place specially designed and prepared for you to grow up in Jesus for God's good and wonderful plan for you. This is what God's calling is about. God's covenant is very personal, and it is very real: There is a specific place, specific mission, and we must hold onto it absolutely by staying there no matter what, so that God's plan for us may be done in our life. Thus, in our Christian life, we have a clear direction, that is, to obey God's will by staying in the place God called us to be - that becomes Christians' real struggle, no longer hitting into the air, no longer just doing all kinds of religious things here and there, even attending 3 churches, or no longer trying to be nice to others,... The apostle Peter says, "Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall,  11  and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.(2Pe 1:10-11)  

 

God gave Isaac his promise of blessings that would be fulfilled in his life, if he obeyed God's direction and stayed in the promised land. God's promises had three parts and they are progressive. The first promise was, "I will be with you." If Isaac stayed in the promised land, God would not leave him alone, but be with him, meaning that He would take care of him, protecting him from dangers and providing him with what he needed. So, Isaac didn't need to worry about being a loser in the promised land or dying for starvation. God would be with him and take care of him. The next promise was, "I will bless you."This meant that, if Isaac stayed in the promised land in obedience to God's command, he would not just barely survive by God's help. No, instead, God would bless him so that he would be prosperous and successful in his career, in his business, and in his family life. He would live a blessed, fruitful and successful life. Then, lastly, God would fulfill his covenant promises in regard to the land, his children and bringing his blessing to all peoples on earth through his offspring. 

 

This is how God treats anyone who honors him by obeying his command and remaining in God's calling - He will be with them, bless them, and fulfill His covenant vision for them.When God is with you in your day to day life, blesses you in everything you do, at work, at home, in your career, in your business, and when God fulfills His great covenant visions upon your life, how will you be? You will be really happy and your life will be really fulfilling, and so many people will be blessed through you! Indeed, you will enjoy a successful life. This is what God promises us when we obey Him. His blessings are far better than a great dream job offer or a romantic marriage dream - don't be deceived by what the world promises - you never know when you will be fired; you never know when your business will go downhill, and even you never know how your family life will really go in the world when God's protection is removed. Only our God is trustworthy. Put your trust in God and obey His command; stay in the promised land, and God will be with you, bless you and fulfill his covenant vision for your life.

 

Look at verse 5. Let's read this verse together:

 

5because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws."

 

God wanted to bless Isaac. God wanted to pour out his blessing on Isaac. But God did not say, "Because you are a man of prayer," but he said, "because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws." God was so touched by Abraham's obedience that even if many years had passed, still, he was so happy whenever He thought about what Abraham had done for him. He still appreciated how Abraham had responded to his requirements, commands, decrees and laws. And out of appreciation, God wanted to pour out his blessing upon his son, Isaac. Our God is such a pure-hearted person that, if anyone loves him by obeying his command, he remembers that person for a thousand years and pours out his love and blessing on his or her descendants generation after generation. Don't you want to love this beautiful God? Don't you want to really please Him? Then, obey his command, even though it costs you a lot; keep his requirements, his commands, his decrees and his laws.

 

What was Isaac's response? Verse 6 reads: "So Isaac stayed in Gerar." Indeed, by faith, Isaac accepted God's covenant call, signed on the contract paper and became God's covenant person by obeying his command, by staying in the land God called him to live. Then, what about his job matter? What about supporting his family? He was determined that he would endure any related sufferings and pains; at the same time, he trusted that God would take care of him and bless him in the promised land. By faith, he stayed in Gerar.

 

Second, "Isaac became very rich" (7-13). Verses 7 through 13 describes what happened to Isaac as he stayed in Gerar in obedience to God's command. As he stayed in Gerar, he had two major challenges. One was his sense of insecurity. Now he was living among the Philistines in Gerar. They were war-like people; they were warriors with big muscles and tattoos all over their body. It was like living among gangsters. Isaac felt insecure. Especially, when some of them asked him about his wife's name, he was really freaked out. He thought that they would kill him so that they would take Rebekah. So, in order to protect his life, he said that Rebekah was his sister. Indeed, staying in the promised land was not easy. He was afraid; he was fearful. But trembling terribly, he still remained in the promised land; embracing such terrible fear, even the fear of death, he was struggling hard to obey God and do what God wanted him to do. Indeed, despite such fear and danger, Isaac was making his desperate struggle to obey God - indeed, he obeyed God wholeheartedly. 

 

When we think about Isaac's desperate struggle of obedience despite such fear and sense of insecurity, we are reminded of our own struggle of faith. We struggle hard to live by faith doing what God wants us to do. But certainly, it is not easy. Sometimes, due to our struggle to do God's work, our grade suffers terribly - how scared we are when we find D's in our report card; how scared and discouraged we are when we sense that our boss is going to fire us. We are scared thinking, "How can I pay the bills? How can I support my family?"Sometimes, with such great burdens and fear in our hearts, we still struggle to do God's work, fishing new students and teaching them the word of God. Indeed, we really desperately make all our efforts to love God and obey his commands. Many Christians who do not have this kind of real struggle, who do not live the life of obeying God's command, casually say, "I do everything God wants me to do." They are really blind. Despite such fear, despite such sense of insecurity, we still remain in the promised land, doing what God wants us to do today and tomorrow, rain or snow. Indeed, we make a desperate struggle to love God by obeying his command. That's what Christian life is about, struggling to live according to God's commands absolutely. But in this struggle, we are not alone. God promisesus that he will be with us when we stay in the promised land. When Isaac struggled to obey God that way despite such fear, God did not leave him alone. Instead, God was with him. One day, king Abimelech happened to see Isaac caressing Rebekah and realized that Rebekah was his wife. So, he called in Isaac, rebuked him, and declared his edict in regard to Isaac and Rebekah, saying, "Anyone who molests this man or his wife shall surely be put to death." Now Isaac and Rebekah were protected by king's order. Isaac must have been greatly comforted and encouraged at this. In this way, God protected and comforted Isaac as he struggled to obey God's command. As we struggle to  obey God despite challenges, from time to time, God comforts and strengthens us by showing his helping hands - suddenly our professors show favor to us, or our boss become friendly.

 

The other challenge Isaac had was, of course, the financial difficulty. He had no means to support his family in the land of famine. If it was for or by himself, he could just survive even on the street; but now he had his wife with two sons - he had to provide them with food. With such burden in his heart, he struggled hard to solve his financial problem. But nothing worked well. The passage says that he planted crops in the field. Genesis suggests that Abraham and Isaac were not farmers, but most likely shepherds. That's why whenever they became rich, the Bible did not say that they purchased a lot of fields for the crops, but it said that they came to have a lot of flocks and herds, menservants and maidservants. But this time, we see Isaac planting the crops in the field. What happened to all his flocks and herds? It seemed that he had used them all or sold them all to support his family. Now he was doing this - planting the crops in the field, willing to do anything to support his family, showing that he was really pushed to the limit financially and thereby, he was  desperate. He tried this - totally new area, new business, hoping that it would help him financially. Then, it turned out to be a great success - he reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him. And his wealth continued to grow until Isaac became very wealthy.  

 

The God of Isaac is the God who blesses us when we obey his commands. Many Christians believe that if they really dedicate themselves to God, they will be losers in the world. So, they are hesitant to make real commitment to God. So, even when they make commitment, still they try to keep a backdoor, for just in case; or while they put one foot in God's mission, they put the other foot in the world. It is indeed, their unbelief; it is their mistrust; and it is wickedness in God's eyes. Of course, God does not bless them; of course, God cannot use them for his work. Hebrews 11:6 says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God. For whoever comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."We must believe that God blesses us and that when we live for Him, He will bless us and grant us success. That's what I experienced, and that's what I have witnessed in the life of many servants of God. Put your trust in God and you will not be put to shame. You will be successful in your career building, in your family life, and in your mission life. God's blessing will be in your field, in your basket, on your bread, and on your sons and daughters. When you are victorious, we will shout for joy. The only thing we need to do is to earnestly seek him.

 

Modern generation is called the generation of commitment to non-commitment. People have an allergic reaction to the word, "commitment." Why? Fundamentally, it is because of the fear of losing everything. This is true even with many church-going people. They just want to enjoy good things of this church or that church, by putting one foot in God and the other in the world. But when they have to make true commitment, when they have to sacrifice, they calculate and run away. As a result, they are like single seeds that are never planted, but roll here and there on the ground. They never bear any good fruit. God commands us, "Do not go down to Egypt. Stay in this land, and I will be with you and bless you." God does not want us to live according to the ever changing situation, but according to his words. God does not want us to live by our calculation, but by faith in him. God wants us to trust in him, because he is going to bless us. "Stay in this land, and I will bless you."

 

Third, "Isaac's well-digging life" (14-35). Look at verses 14 through 16. Isaac became very wealthy. He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. So all the wells that his father's servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth. This cut off the water supply that all his crops and flocks and herds depended on; it was a blunt attack from the Philistines. In addition, Abimelech king of Gerar, told Isaac, "Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us."At this, Isaac did not fight for his human right, or for his material possession. Instead, without saying a word, he left the town and moved to the Valley of Gerar - no more city life, but like a nomad, camping in the Valley. But God was with him wherever he went, and God blessed him in everything he did.  Isaac first reopened the wells that his father Abraham had dug, which the Philistines had stopped up, and his servants even dug a newly discovered well of fresh water. But the shepherds there quarreled with Isaac's herdsmen claiming that the water was theirs. Wells in those days in the Middle East were very essential for people, animals, and crops – very important and valuable assets like modern day oil wells. Isaac could have hired a dream team of lawyers and fought for his rights. But how did he respond? He simply gave in. He simply named this well Esek, which means dispute, and moved on. Then they dug another well, but the same thing happened; the Philistines demanded that too. So Isaac, again, gave in. He named this one Sitnah, which means opposition. He moved on a third time and dug another well, which no one quarreled over. He named this well Rehoboth, which means room, saying, "Now the LORD has given us room and we will flourish in the land."

When Isaac was treated unjustly, He did not fight for his rights. And when he encountered opposition time after time, he humbly gave in without a word. If he fought for his rights, there might be a lot of quarrels and strife, or it could turn out bloody. But because he gave in time after time, everything was smooth, and everybody was blessed. How could he do that? How could he give up such important and valuable assets that were like modern day oil wells or newly launched fortune 100 business? He could do so because he believed in the God who would blesshim when he stayed in the promised land. Because of his belief in God, he did not need to fight to secure those blessings. Instead, when he was pushed to the right, he gave in and there he dug a well, and when he was pushed to the left, he gave in again, and there he dug another well. And wherever he moved to, a spring of fresh water would well up, which watered all his household, flocks and herds. He was a blessing to everybody around him, wherever he went. When Isaac obeyed God's command and stayed in the land despite such difficulties, God poured out his blessing on whatever he did, and made him a source of blessing. 

 

Look at verses 23 through 25. When Isaac came up to Beersheba, God appeared to him and said, "I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham." Even though Isaac gave in, willing to lose his wells over and over, when it happened repeatedly, he felt weary, maybe, worrying about how long things should go that way; he was even afraid that, as the Philistines forcefully claimed the ownership of the wells he had dug, one day, they might harm himGod knew this very well and assured that He was with him, protecting him, and that He would bless him. This shows that God did not take Isaac's good struggle for granted; instead, He recognized it and encouraged him to do so continually. Our God knows what we have been doing for Him; our God appreciates it. What is more, while we perform well in spirit, God understands the difficulty we have and comforts us. Praise God!

 

At this, Isaac was so happy and thankful that he built an altar there and called on the name of the LORD. Now his spirit was renewed. With a new spirit, there, he dug another well. One day, Abimelech came to him, with his two of high officials, and said, "We saw clearly that the LORD was with you; so we said, 'There ought to be a sworn agreement between us'—between us and you. Let us make a treaty." Isaac then made a feast for them and early the next morning they swore an oath to each other. Through being willing to suffer loss, through giving in, Isaac witnessed to godless and unbelieving men, the fact that God is a living God and showed himself to be a child of God. He won the victory by giving in time after time. When he had such a good spirit, his servants came and said to him, "We have found water!"

 

Isaac's life can be summarized with two things - giving in and digging the wells. He did not fight for the material possession, but gave in over and over. That's how he bore God's blessing - he did not cling to God's blessings, but he held onto God who would bless him. Through this struggle, he won the victory. And by digging wells, he brought great joy to many, including animals, the Philistines, and his family members. Wherever he went, he dug wells and quenched the thirst of many. In this way, by digging wells, he became a source of blessing for many.   

 

About 16 years ago, God sent me to El Camino College, and there, I dug a well, and many quenched their thirst and became happy; there was great joy. Later, we sent John Boos to CSULB, and there, he dug another well, and many people were overjoyed and grew up as beautiful children of God. It is our prayer and vision that wherever we go, there we may dig wells in each and every campus in California so that all Californian college students may taste the living water and rejoice in Jesus Christ. When we are refreshed, then, with a new spirit, we dig wells. When we are discouraged and depressed, we have nothing else to do, but we go and dig wells. Not just barely one or two wells, but numerous wells, everywhere, here and there, in every campus. In the book of Amos, the Sovereign LORD declares: "The days are coming when I will send a famine through the land-- not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD." Let's pray that we may dig the well of God's word so that many thirsty college students may quench their thirst through our one to one Bible studies. Those who dig the spring of living water in the word of God become a source of blessing for all people.   

 

The God of Isaac is the God who blesses those who trust and obey Him. By faith, Isaac obeyed God, stayed in the land, and so lived a truly blessed life. Those who trust in the God of Isaac, the God of blessing, give their whole life to God's purpose, and they stay in the promised land. Through them, God's blessing flows to many people.

 

One Word:God Says, "Stay In This Land, And I Will Be With You And Bless You."

 

Sunday, January 26, 2020

posted Jan 26, 2020, 2:13 PM by Site Administrator   [ updated Jan 26, 2020, 6:21 PM ]

A GOOD OLD AGE, AN OLD MAN AND FULL OF YEARS

 

Genesis 25:1-34

Key Verses 25:7,8

 

Altogether, Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people.

 

First, A good old age, an old man and full of years (1-18). Verses 1 through 11 talks about Abraham’s later life. He took another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore to him 6 sons. The statement in verse 6, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines (plural), shows that he had not just one concubine, but several concubines. But since Keturah was prosperous with many children, only she was mentioned hereHere, we are shocked and wonder why he should have concubines. Sarah died, when Abraham was 137 years old. 3 years later, when he was 140 years old, he established Isaac’s marriage. He would live 35 years more. But he didn’t know how long he would live. When he was 58 years old, Noah died at the age of 950. When he was 148 years old, Arphaxad died at the age of 438. Even after his death, Shem would live 35 years more, and then die at the age of 600. Also, after his death, Eber would live 64 years more, and then, die at the age of 464. In the eyes of ordinary people who lived about 100 years, these people who lived really long, looked mysterious and great like gods. In the ancient acupuncture bible, we see the Yellow Emperor and his teacher talk about those people who lived really long. The Yellow Emperor talks about the generations of people he had heard –the first generation of people lived really long and they did not die – they lived really long that in the eyes of people, they looked immortal like gods. After that, the next generation of people came up and lived really long, yet not as long as the first generation of people lived; after that, the next generation of people appeared and lived really long, but not as long as the second group of people lived; after that, the next generation of people appeared and lived very long, but not as long as the third generation of people lived. Abraham was living with these groups of people – Noah belonged to the first group, Shem to the second group, and Eber to the third group. So, since he was God’s covenant person, there was great possibility that he too would live really long, maybe, like Noah, or Shem, or Eber. It was very natural that after his wife’s death, several years later, he took another wife. Also, it was the custom in those days thatrich people, or mighty rulers like Abraham would take many concubines. 

 

The Midianites, the descendants of Midian, one of the sons Keturah bore to Abraham appear in Genesis 37:25-28 when Jacob’s sons sold their brother, Joseph to the Ishmaelites (vs. 25, 27); then, the Ishmaelites were described as the Midianites in verse 28, and in verse 36, showing that, since both the descendants of Ishmael and the descendants of Midian lived in the Gulf of Aqaba, they intermarried, thus, the Midianites were also called the Ishmaelites. Jethro – Moses’ father-in-law was the priest of Median. During the time of Gideon, the Midianites bothered Israel so much.

 

Dedanthe son of Jokshan, the son Keturah bore to Abramamwas prosperous and his sons became the Asshurites, the Letushites, and the Leummites. This description of Dedan’ssons shows that, as of the time when Genesis was written around 1430 B.C., already, Dedan’s sons were numerous, well known, occupying their lands in the Middle East. Dedan appears several times in the prophecies. Isaiah 21:13,14 An oracle concerning Arabia: You caravans of Dedanites, who camp in the thickets of Arabia, bring water for the thirsty; you who live in Tema (one of Ishmael’s sons), bring food for the fugitives. In Jeremiah 25:23, Dedan is mentioned in company with Tema and Buz as the object of God’s wrath. In Ezekiel 25:13, God’s judgment against Edom includes all the territories from Teman to DedanAlso in Ezekiel 38:10-14, Dedan is mentioned with Sheba (his brother)in a prophecy concerning Gog – the final war that will occur after the Millennium.

 

Basically, all the sons of Abraham’s descendants here became nations, playing their roles in human history. Indeed, as God promised, Abraham became a father of many nations, not only spiritually, but also physically. Abraham spent the majority of his life with God, pursuing God’s vision by focusing on one son, Isaac. Then, when God’s plan was fulfilled, God blessed him to enjoy life and prosperity freely – no conflict, no challenge, no anxiety, but smooth and wonderful life, and quickly, he became the father of many nationsBut Abraham, before his death, took care of all the matters properly so that Isaac would not be bothered. Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east. Look at verses 7 and 8. Let’s read these verses together:

 

Altogether, Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. 8 Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people.

 

Abraham died at a good old age, an old man and full of years. This is the conclusion of his life: His life was full and good; with God’s blessing and care, he enjoyed a wonderful life. This is what it means to have a blessed life. Actually, this is what all humans desire. But we see rarely anyone who enjoys this kind of blessed life. Instead, most people finish their life in sorrows, in regrets, and in loneliness, and in fear; their life is empty and meaningless. Why? It was because they chose a wrong way of life. What a terrible moment it is that at the end of their life, they find that they have lived a wrong life! Full of regret, sorrows, and fear! That’s really terrible. Life is one timetransaction; no one can say, O, it was a mistake. Let me start all over again. Life is really a precious asset. We must not waste it. We must not make a mistake. Do you want to live a truly blessed life? Do you want to be blessed like Abraham? Then, live like Abraham, holding onto God’s vision and obeying God’s commands absolutely. Don’t be bothered by what others say, even what other Christians say. As you live like Abraham and while others live like Lot, sometimes you may be confused – you suffer loss and have pains. But don’t be bothered by what others do and how they live their life. The life of losing your life for Jesus and the gospel is the only right way of life. Just be like Abraham. In the end, you will find life. Live as God’s covenant people. Then, God himself will be your shield, protecting you from all dangers. Life comes with a lot of dangers – China virus, cancers, traffic accidents, shooting rampage, natural disasters, wars, terrorism, and the danger of doctorsCNBC reported on Feb. 22nd, 2018: Johns Hopkins study claims more than 250,000 people die in the Unites States of America every year from medical errors. Other reports claim the numbers to be as high as 400,000. Medical errors are the third-leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. Indeed, we never know what may happen tomorrow. In this dangerous world, God is our shield when we live as his covenant people. This is the best insurance. So, live like Abraham, as God’s covenant people, and God becomes your shield, your very great reward, and you will enjoy a blessed life. Let’s pray that our life may be described in the same way, Roberto Flores died at a good old age, an old man and full of years.

 

Second, Ishmael’s family and Isaac’s family (12-21).Verses 12 through 18 is the record of the sons of Ishmael, Abraham’s concubine, Hagar bore to him. Verses 13 through 15 reads: These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, KedarAdbeelMibsamMishmaDumah, Massa, HadadTemaJeturNaphish and KedemahThese are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps. Later, these people would form many nations and empires in the Middle East. Indeed, Abraham was the father of many nations. Among them, as we already mentioned about, Tema appears in the Bible in relation with DedanAlso two other sons’ names appear in the Bible several times – Nebaioth and Kedar. (Isa 21:16-17; 42:11; 60:7; Eze 27:21; Psa 120:5; Jer 2:10)

The Nabataeans (descendants of Nebaioth, the first son of Ishmael) spoke and wrote an early form of Arabic and thus they were often referred to as 'Arabs' by Greek and Roman historians.The Nabataeans and the Kedarites fought against the Assyrian Empire, so they appear in the Assyrian records as well. Previous to this, Assyrian records tell us of King Ashurbanipal (668-663 BC) who was fighting with the 'Nabaiateans of Arabia.' Then in 703 BC a group of Chaldaeans and neighboring tribes rebelled against Sennacherib, the Assyrian ruler. The ancient records of Tiglath Pilezeer III list, among the rebels, the Hagaranu(possibly the descendants of Hagar, the mother of Ishmael), the Nabatu (very possibly the descendants of Nebayoth, the eldest son of Ishmael) and the Kedarites (descendants of Ishmael's second son). According to the records, these tribes fled from Assyria into the Arabian Desert and could not be conquered.

The Assyrian kingdom eventually broke into two as two brothers began to rule, one the King of Babylonia and the other the King of Assyria. In 652 BC conflict broke out between these two brothers, and the Kedarites supported the Babylonian kingdom. Then, soon, the Kedarites faded from history and the Nabataeans came to the forefront. Later, when Judah was destroyed in 586 B.C., by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and the survivors were taken captives to Babylon, the Edomites moved into Judah – later, those Edomites that lived in Judah were called Idumeans; then, when the land of Edom was empty, the Nabateans in the Gulf of Aqaba moved into it – just about 80 miles from the gulf of Aqaba, thus occupying the land of Esau. In time, the Nabataeans built an impressive civilization based on merchant trade. Their capital was the city of Petra, located deep in the sandstone mountains of southern Jordan. (All these quotation is from the website: http://nabataea.net/nabajoth.html) Later, the Nabateans were in coalition with the Roman Empire, and under Pox Romana, they prospered, eventually, being absorbed into Rome, and losing their identity, thus disappearing from the surface of human history. Indeed, As God promised, Ishmael’s descendants were prosperous, forming many nations.

In chapter 24, we saw God establishing Isaac and Rebekah’s family. It was really amazing – how all the people that were involved in it trusted in God and entrusted their life in God’s hands, how they obeyed God’s will and submitted themselves to it. It was really blessed marriage. Then, how did it go after that? Usually, we expect that everything went well with them due to God’s blessing and that they lived happily ever after. But things did not go that way. They remained childless, because Rebekah was barren, even for 20 years! What an embarrassing moment for Isaac and Rebekah! Rebekah saw God’s guidance in her marriage matter, so with confidence, she said, I will go. She expected that everything would go well with her family. But she remained childless. She was confused; doubt about God’s will and God’s love smeared into her heart.Isaac’s half-brother, Ishmael was really fruitful – 12 sons, then, many grandchildren, forming 6 soccer teams, having Ishmael cup soccer league. Whenever she saw how fruitful Ishmael’s family was, she felt ashamed, thinking that something was wrong with her. She became very self-conscious. When she saw several servants talking and laughing, she felt condemned, thinking that they were talking about her. Her barrenness was indeed, a very serious problem for her. 

 

In this very difficult situation, Isaac supported her fully, dedicating himself to her completely, praying for her, even for 20 years! In that very challenging situation, how comforted Rebekah was, when her husband showed such complete trust and support, praying for her all the time. Because of her husband’s complete trust and support, she could deal with this very challenging situation in a proper way. Because of her husband’s complete dedication to her, she was confident about herself as the mistress in the household and told the servants what to do and what not to do. Isaac’s love and prayer for her was the source of comfort and strength to her. Indeed, Isaac was the best husband in the world. When husbands show this kind of complete support for their wives, wives are very comforted and strengthened. With their husband’s complete trust and support, these wives’ self-esteem is boosted that thebecome confident about themselves; then, such confidence is exposed in their relationship with others – how they talk and behave. So, such husbands are the best husbands in the world. Who can be so great as husbands like Isaac? Those who have faith in God and thereby, those who pray for their wives! Don’t look for a humanistic solution such as taking another concubine, but pray for your wife! I pray that all the brothers here may have absolute faith in God and pray for your wives.

 

God’s covenant family had such a great challenge, but it had such strength to deal with it because God was at the center of their marriage. Then, finally, after 20 years of Isaac’s prayer for Rebekah, God answered, and Rebekah became pregnant. Every family comes with a lot of challenges in life. But when husband and wife have faith in God and pray, such a family is strong and can withstand all kinds of challenges. 

 

When we think about these two families – Ishmael’s family and Isaac’s family, we are really shocked. It seemed that Ishmael was blessed, while Isaac was cursed. But certainly, it was not the case. Here, we learn that we should not judge anyone based on the present situation. Some people have great fruit, while others don’t. But, that’s not the sign of God’s blessing or God’s curse.We never know how things will turn out in the end. So, we don’t judge anyone. Instead, with humility and sincerity, each of us struggles to live for God alone, doing what God wants us to do with a fearful and trembling heart. Then, God will bless us greatly when his time comes.

 

Third, “Esau and Jacob” (22-34). Look at verse 22. Rebekah was pregnant. The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, Why is this happening to me? So she went to inquire of the LORD. The LORD said to her, Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger. The statement, the older will serve the younger, shows that God had a special plan for the younger, Jacob. When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau, which means red. After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau's heel; so he was named Jacob, which means, He grasps, implying Jacob’s fighting spirit and never give up spirit. He had a wrestling match with his twin brother Esau in his mother’s womb, but he lost. Yet, he still did not give up; he was still fighting with him, grasping his heel. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them. And Abraham was 160 years old. So, Esau and Jacob spent their youth with him. Maybe, Esau and Jacob visited Abraham, calling him, “Grandpa!” Maybe, Abraham told them about God and they had worship service together. Indeed, Esau and Jacob spent wonderful childhood with Abraham and Isaac. 

 

Verse 27 shows how they grew. It reads: The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was a quiet man, staying among the tents.They were twins, but they were really different in every aspect. Esau was hairy, but Jacob had smooth skin, without that much hair. Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country. In those days, all boys basically should be warriors, practicing martial arts, shooting arrows, swinging swords; that’s norm. Esau was excellent in this aspect, maybe, with huge muscles, with nice beard and mustache; in our terms, he was very athletic, being popular among his peers. But Jacob was a quiet man, not talking too much, staying among the tents, cooking; he was his mom’s favorite son – momma’s boy; he was not manly unlike his twin brother. In the eyes of people, something was wrong with him; he looked weird and weak. But he should not be judged by outward appearance.

 

Verses 28 through 34 shows us how Jacob came to purchase the birthright from Esau. By the way, when did this episode of Jacob purchasing the birthright from Esau occur? One clue is verse 27. It reads: The boys grew up. They grew up – no longer little boys, but grown-ups, maybe, 30 or even 40years old. Another clue is found in 27:36. When Jacob deceived his father and took his blessing, he was 40 years old. At that time, Esau, in bitterness and anger said to Isaac, He has deceived me these two times: He took my birthright, and now he is taking my blessing! So, the scar of losing his birthright was still fresh to him. So, it was not long time ago; I think, those two events happened in the same year, or maybe, 3 years apart. Or, let’s say it happened 10 years ago. Then, it meant that Jacob was 30 years old. Yet, still he had not forgotten about the birthright. The birthright is not something you can get by struggling, but it is given by fate. But even 30 years later, Jacob was still thinking about it and pursuing it, trying to figure out a way to get it. While he looked weak, not saying too much, while he looked innocent, he was thinking about all those things, trying to figure out the way to get what he wanted – for the past 30 years, that’s what he had been doing, while cooking quietlyHe was really die-hard. Once he found something valuable, he sought it all the way. By the way, what was the birthright? The birthright was given to the firstborn son in the family, and it was a token that, once his father passed away, he would inherit everything. He would be the rightful heir of all his father’s estate, while other sons would go out and pioneer their own life. Right at the moment, the birthright did not give him any benefit, but in the end, it would give him everything. Jacob knew its value and pursued it for the past 30 years, even though he had lost it by fate. Then, when a chance came, he boldly offered a deal to purchase it. Let’s say, since Isaac was rich, the birthright would bring him $10,000,000.00 maybe 30 years later. Then, in order to purchase it, how much did Jacob offer? A bowl of lentil stew, maybe, $5.00 value! Usually, ordinary people cannot think this way, but Jacob thought it would be possible. He tried, and it worked. He purchased the birthright from Esau. 

 

Esau, on the contrary, did not consider the birthright that highly. When he was hungry, he valued a bowl of lentil stew more highly than the birthright. When the deal was suggested, he said, Look, I am about to die. What good is the birthright to me? Actually, even if he was famished, certainly he would not die because of that in the next two hours. If he did not get something from Jacob, then, surely his mom would give him something to eat – just about one hour later. He just exaggerated his condition. He made such a big deal out of nothing, and sold his birthright at a bowl of lentil stew. About this, the Bible conclusively talks about Esau, saying, So Esau despised the birthright. Hebrews 12:16,17 talks about him, saying, See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears. Who are godless people? Those who despise their birthright are godless people. We must not be godless like Esau. How? By valuing our birthright in Jesus highly and securing it by any means! 

 

What can be the birthright for us? The birthright is a token for future glory. God’s calling for us is God’s vision for us; that much is what God wants us to do – that much is what God wants us to get – so God’s calling is actually God’s promise for us. Right now, it may not give you that much benefit, but in the future, in the end, it will turn out to be your glory – it will bring glory, honor and eternal inheritance when Jesus comes again. Even if you suffer because of God’s calling, certainly you will not die. So, don’t panic or exaggerate your suffering too much. Just endure it, and certainly, God will not be late to help you. We must hold onto God’s calling and secure it firmly by any means. The apostle Peter says, Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2Pe 1:10-11)

 

Some people hold onto God’s calling for a while, servingGod’s work. But when a desirable job offer comes, they quickly accept it. What about God’s calling, God’s will upon their life? They toss off God’s calling freely. Simply, when a big bowl of lentil stew is offered, they quickly jump into it, selling their birthright. Such people are godless. Also, some people, at a temptation of a desirable looking marriage candidate, quickly give up God’s grace, God’s calling upon their life so that they may secure that person. When better looking lentil stew is offered, they quickly choose it, tossing off God’s grace, God’s calling upon their life. Such people are godless. Don’t be godless like Esau. There is no better lentil stew. Lentil stew is lentil stew – no more or no less. Also, even if you have a big bowl of lentil stew, even Olympic pool size lentil stew, still you cannot eat it all. Later, they come to their senses and realize what they have done, but too late. Even if they plead with God for his blessing with tears, nothing will be given to them. Faith in God’s calling, that complete confidence in God’s calling, that complete confidence in God’s will and purpose for you, is not something you can get anytime you want. It is from God; faith is a gift of God; it is more precious than gold. Secure it by any means. Don’t be godless like Esau. But be like Jacob! By any means, secure the birthright, because it is really valuable – a token for your future eternal glory.

 

One Word:A Good Old Age, An Old Man And Full Of Years

Sunday, January 19, 2020

posted Jan 19, 2020, 9:26 PM by Site Administrator

ISAAC AND REBEKAH

 

Genesis 23:1-24:67     

Key Verse 24:67

 

Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

 

First, Sarah died and Abraham purchased Machpelah cave as a burial site (23:1-20). In Chapter 23, Abraham’s beloved wife Sarah passed away at the age of 127. Abraham needed to buy a burial site for her. This shows that even though he had lived in the promised land for about 62 years, he did not purchase any property there; even if it was God's promised land, he did not try to settle there; instead, he lived there in the promised land as an alien, as a traveler. When Abraham wanted to buy a burial site among the Hittites, among whom he was living, they showed great honor and respect to him. They said to him, Sir, listen to us. You are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead. It was not just some people's opinion, but their general consensus among themselves that none of them would refuse Abraham his tomb for burying his dead. Everyone held him so highly. When Abraham pointed out the cave of Machpelah that belonged to Ephron the Hittite, Ephron refused to sell it to him, but pleaded with him to take it for free of charge. When Abraham insisted on paying the price, Ephron suggested Abraham 400 shekels of silver, but he said to himbut, what is that between you and me? Because he held him highly as a great man of God, he never wanted to have that kind of monetary relationship with him; it was almost like blasphemy. Let's say, you gave a ride to Mother Barry to LAX, and she wants to pay you the gas money, how would you respond? No way! Lot was very successful in the city of Sodom, occupying an influential position in the city. But, despite his success, no one actually respected him. When he tried to lecture them, they were upset and said, Get out of our way. This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge! It is all people's desire to be honored and respected like Abraham. Then, how can we be like Abraham, receiving respect and honor from others? The answer is simple. If you want to be like Abraham, then, live like Abraham, holding onto God's vision and living for it without any compromise. People watch you; they pay attention to how you live, more than what you say. If you live a compromising life like Lot, even worldly people will despise you. But if you live for God alone as Jesus' disciple, if you keep living that way despite challenges and difficulties, they will recognize you as a real disciple of Jesus and honor you.

 

Also, in this chapter, we see Abraham's maturity in dealing with the Hittites. Even if they held him highly as a great man of God, he did not take it for granted. Instead, he was very humble and sincere. Each time, when he was about to speak, he rose and bowed down before the people of the land. He did not utilize his spiritual authority for the monetary gain either. He insisted that he would pay the full price so that the property might be truly his. Thus, he purchased the field and the cave of Machpelah. Verses 17 and 18 emphasizes this transaction, saying, So Ephron's field in Machpelah near Mamre—both the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the borders of the field—was deeded 18 to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city. Since then, this cave of Machpelah was used as Abraham's descendants' tomb site generation after generation. Abraham buried Sarah there; he himself was buried there; Isaac and Rebekah were buried there; Jacob and Leah were too. Then, this field and cave became like all Israel people's sacred place like the origin of their family, just like their homeland; they talked to their children about this cave, and they all came to know that their true homeland which they should eventually go back to was the Canaan, where their ancestors' tomb site was. If Abraham took it for free of charge, several hundred years later, his descendants would not be able to claim it as theirs. But because Abraham secured it by paying the full price in the presence of all the Hittites in the city gate, and this transaction was recorded clearly in the Bible, they claimed its ownership. In this way, Abraham handed it down to his next generations together with God's covenant blessing.

 

Second, Make sure that you do not take my son back there (24:1-9). Look at verse 1 in chapter 24. Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the LORD had blessed him in every way. This verse describes Abraham’s later life. He had fought the spiritual battle of putting his trust in God and obeying God’s command absolutely. He was like a powerful general who set a good example for all believers to follow. Now, after going through all these challenges and trials of life by faith in God, Abraham was enjoying a very peaceful and fulfilling life, with God’s blessing in every way. Life in God was indeed sweet and fulfilling. But Abraham had one more important mission to take care of – it was to find a wife for Isaac, his son, and establish his marriage. Sarah was gone, and he knew that any time, he too could be gone. So, before his departure, he wanted to establish Isaac's family.

 

Look at verses 2 through 4. One day, Abraham called one of his servants and had the servant swear by God that he would not get a wife for Isaac from the Canaanites, but go to Haran and get a wife for him there. It was his only son's marriage matter - it was such an important matter, but amazingly, he entrusted this matter into the hand of his servant! Usually, no father would do so. Even if they may let their reliable friends or faithful employees take care of their business, they would take care of their own sons' or daughters' marriage matter by themselves. But amazingly, Abraham put his only son's marriage matter into his servant's hands. How could he do that? He could do so because he believed that God would go ahead of him and prepare a wife for Isaac. In his eyes, eventually, it was God who would choose a girl for Isaac and establish Isaac's family. For God's covenant person, God Himself takes care of his or her marriage matter, because He wants to establish God's covenant family. Then, whether Abraham himself would go and look for a wife for Isaac or his servant would do the job, it was not so important, because eventually, it was God would do it.

 

But there was one thing his servant must remember in finding a wife for Isaac, that was, he should not take a wife for Isaac from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom he was living, but go to Abraham's relatives in Haran and look for a girl there. Abraham considered it a very serious and important matter that he had his servant swear an oath by the name of the LORD, the God of the heavens and the God of the earth. Abraham understood that Isaac’s future spiritual life would be affected by his marriage partner greatly. Isaac was the covenant son who would carry God’s covenant to the next generation. So, his wife should also be God’s covenant person so that they would be one team, one flesh, with same desire and hope. When Abraham considered this in Isaac’s marriage, then, the Canaanites women were absolutely out of option. In Canaan, there must have been many beautiful and intelligent Canaanite women. Some of them might have possessed charming personalities. But fundamentally, they had different value system, different hope and different lifestyle that none of them could be one with Isaac. None of them could be a suitable helper for Isaac to carry God’s covenant blessing. So, he told his servant to go to Haran, his own country, and get a wife for him from his relatives.

 

Who should be our marriage partner? This is a very important question. This question is the reflection of the purpose of our marriage. Why do we marry? If it is for our own pleasures, if we want to please ourselves, then, like the believers in Noah’s time, we would marry anyone we choose. If it is to solve our financial needs, then, we would choose a wealthy partner. Fundamentally, why should we marry, and what is, by the way, marriage? In Genesis chapter 2, we see God establishing marriage between Adam and Eve, and his purpose in creating marriage was so that husband and wife together, might serve God’s mission more effectively, and when established according to God’s design, they could enjoy a delightful life in the marriage relationship. But in Noah’s time, the believers left God out of their marriage, and married anyone they chose; at first, their excuse in this intermarriage, was that, once they married unbelieving people, they would help them believe in God. But it never worked that way. Instead, it worked the opposite way. They lost faith and did not function as the salt of the world at all. As a result, the whole world was corrupt, and invited God’s judgment. Marriage affects one’s entire life. Some people, because of their wrong marriage, live in pain and sorrow all the days of their life – their families are broken, and their children are scattered. To them, marriage is the source of sheer torture, argument, disappointment and regret. But some other people, because of their marriage, grow to be great men and women of God. To them, marriage is the spring fountainof happiness and delight. When Abraham was concerned about his son’s future, he could not have him marry anyone. His marriage partner should be the one whom Isaac could form a spiritual unity with so that Isaac and his wife together, might serve God’s purpose effectively. One proud young man married a foxy woman, saying that through this marriage, she would have a chance to come to heaven. But after marriage, her situation became worse, and his life and faith were ruined. There are many people who are willing to give everything to God, except marriage dream. They say, I will give everything to God, but let me marry in my own way. But if we understand the importance of marriage – it can either build us up or destroy our life, we realize that our marriage must be established in God, by God, and for God. Our marriage partner should be the one who can form a spiritual unity with us in serving God’s mission so that through our marriage, God’s purpose can advance in our life effectively.

 

Look at verses 6 through 8. Let’s read these verses together:

 

Make sure that you do not take my son back there,Abraham said. The LORD, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land’ – he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.

 

Abraham said, If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there. Abraham had a clear idea about what kind of woman should be Isaac’s wife. Isaac's wife should be such a woman who could leave her family and her country to marry Isaac even though she had never met him. Wow! What a daring vision he had for his son’s wife! From Haran to Hebron, it was about 600 miles, 20 days’ journey in those days. On earth, what woman could say, Yes, and leave her country and her family and travel 600 miles to marry a man she had never met?! How could she even trust the old servant’s story that sounded too fishy? Such a woman must be very rare. But no matter what, Abraham wanted that kind of woman to be his son’s wife. If any woman was not willing to come, simply, she was not the one for Isaac. Humanly, it was impossible. But Abraham said to his servant, The LORD will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. He believed that even though it was a mission impossible, by God’s help, it would be done. Only a girl who was led and inspired by God would say, Yes, I will marry him.Abraham was looking for such a girlAbraham did not talk about any other condition such as wealth, intellect, character or outward appearance, but this one single thing - by faith in Godinspired by God, she would be willing to leave her country and her family and marry IsaacThe only preference he had for Isaac's marriage partner was this absolute faith in God that when inspired by God, she could leave everything behind including her own family, come to a foreign land and marry Isaac even without seeing him once before.

 

May our young brothers have faith in God in their marriage. May all of our young brothers be so powerful and passionate like Abraham saying, If any woman is not willing to marry by faith, then, she is not for me.

 

Third, I will go (24:10-67). Abraham's servant swore an oath by the LORD. He accepted this mission impossible by faith and left with ten camels with a lot of wedding gifts. From Hebron to Haran, it was about 20 days' journey in those days. When he arrived in Haran, it was toward evening, the time when women go out to draw water. He must have been tired after a long desert journey. Usually, in this situation, even zealous and faithful people would check in the hotel first, take hot shower, eat some good meal, sleep well, and then, from the next day, would start their mission. But, the servant was different. Even though it was the evening time, he did not say that he would start his mission tomorrow. Instead, he started his mission right away, looking for a girl to be Isaac's wife. He was really intense. And his method of starting his mission was to pray, saying, LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me success today and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. Let's read verse 14 together:

 

14May it be that when I say to a girl, 'Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, 'Drink, and I will water your camels too.' – Let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.

 

In his prayer, he revealed what kind of lady she he was looking for - the preferences he had. She would be such a thoughtful woman who was mindful of even speechless animals' thirst; and at the same time, she would be such a hard-working lady that she would be willing to water 10 camelsIn a good environment with no harsh labor or long trip, a camel drinks about5 gallons of water; when really thirsty in a challenging circumstances, a typical camel drinks about 30 gallons of water in less than 15 minutes, sometimes, even 53 gallons of water. After a long journey, 10 camels might drink really a lot of water. Even with tap water and hose, watering 10 camels would be challenging. Then, what about a girl drawing water from a deep well with a bucket, pouring it into a jar, and then, carrying it to the trough for camels to drink? It would be really not easy; it would be physically hard. But the servant prayed for such a girl to be Isaac's wife. Such a lady is totally different than a silly lady who is always concerned about how her pinky nail is broken, or how her manicure is chipped, or how her dress looks, and how her hairstyle is. The servant was looking for a very real and practical lady, so thoughtful, compassionate, and hard-working - a motherly character; indeed, he was looking for a mother of many nations.

 

During the time of Noah, God-believing peoples focused on outward beauty and thereby, married anyone they chose; as a result, the whole world was corrupt, inviting God’s judgment on themselves. Nowadays, both God-believing people and non-believing people show the same tendency in regard to their marriage partner. Or, even some people focus on the candidate’s financial condition. But Abraham valued the woman’s faith, and his servant valued the woman’s inner character and hard workingspirit. People’s view of their marriage partner reveals their spirituality very well. What is your view of marriage partner? What is the most important aspect?

Then, even before he finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. The servant asked her, Please give me a little water from your jar. Then, she said, Drink my LORD, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink. After she had given him a drink, she said, I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have finished drinking. So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran back to the well to draw more water. She did this continually, going from the well to the trough back and forth repeatedly until the camels finished drinking. 10 camels might drink about 100 gallons of water. It would take about 30 minutes or even 1 hour. While she was working hard to draw water, pour it on the trough, run back to the well and draw more, without saying a word, the servant watched closely to learn whether or not the LORD had made his journey successful. 

 

Rebekah was thoughtful, even being willing to take care of the thirst of speechless animals. Not only so, she was a hard-working woman. Surely, she was a material for a mother of many nations. When women are like this, the society has hope and vision. Brothers are encouraged and strengthened to do something really great. In Isaiah 3:16, God describes how the women of Israel were doing during the time of the prophet Isaiah. It reads: The LORD says, The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, tripping along with mincing steps, with ornaments jingling on their ankles.Soon, the nation was destroyed by the Babylonian Empire. Modern women are like these women of Zion, mostly concerned about their outlooks. They are wholehearted to seduce handsome brothers, and have many boyfriends. Such a society cannot last. We must pray that God may establish many women of faith like Rebekah among us, from among young college students, who would take care of so many wandering and thirsty people in our society.

 

After the camels finished drinking, he took out a gold nose ring weighing 1/5 ounce, and two gold bracelets weighing 4 ounces, and gave them to her. I checked out the gold price. It’s $1,559.30 per oz as if Jan. 19, 2020The gift was worth about$6,549.00 in US dollar. It was a lot of money for the service she had offered. The servant already was convinced that the girl was the one whom God had prepared for Isaac. When he realized that the girl was Abraham’s grandniece, he bowed down and worshiped the LORD, praising Him for guiding him to the house of his master’s relatives. 

 

Then, surprised, Rebekah ran and told her mother’s household about this. The family became excited and joyfully served the guests. Quickly a feast was prepared for him. The fragrant aroma came up from the hot meal just prepared. But the servant said to them, I will not eat until I have told you what I have to say. Then tell us, Laban, Rebekah's brother said.

 

In verses 34 through 48, he testified to his master’s blessed relationship with the LORD and to the LORD’s kindness in answering his prayer that day in detail. The whole point of his long testimony was that God had chosen Rebekah to be Isaac’s wife. He said in verse 48, I praised the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son. Then he immediately asked, Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn. He was very intense and forceful.

 

At this, Rebekah's father and brother - Laban and Bethuel -answered, This is from the LORD; we can say nothing to you one way or the other. Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD has directed.Abraham's servant bowed down to the ground before the LORD. He gave the gifts he brought to Rebekah and her family, and they joyfully ate and drank. 

Look at verse 54b. The next morning, when they got up, the servant said, Send me on my way to my master. We are really shocked at his words. Then , how much more shocked Rebekah's family were! He was really intense, pursuing his mission relentlessly. He was like a Terminator. To others, perhaps, he was a little too much, a little burdensome. But to Abraham, this man must be very reliable. Once a task was given him, he would pursue it with all his heart, focusing all his time, energy, and talent on his mission, and somehow, he would fulfill it successfully. This man was a nameless servant, but he possessed greatness because of his mission oriented life. And through him, this very important mission of finding a wife for Isaac and establishing Isaac's family was fulfilled. Since everything happened so sudden, they wanted to have at least 10 days or so to prepare her departure in order to say goodbye properly. It was very much understandable. But the servant insisted that he should go back home at once denying all human sympathySo the family decided to see what Rebekahwould say. What was her answer? Look at verse 58. Let's read this verse together:

 

So they called Rebekah and asked her, Will you go with this man? I will go, she said.

 

In those days, once she left her family, most likely, she would never see them any longer in her entire life. Also, she would have a totally different life with different people. Her whole life would change completely. But she did not hesitate; she did not cry like a little baby either. Instead, she made a clear cut decision, saying, I will go.

 

To many women, marriage dream is the most valuable asset they have. It is their lifetime dream to marry a prince charming, handsome, lovely, and gentle. So they are very careful to make a final decision; even after checking out all available conditions of their possible marriage partners for years, still, they hesitate to jump into the marriage relationship, worrying about this or that. They are simply afraid. But Rebekah decided to accept a man whom she had never met as her husband. She made this decision, because she had noticed that God had a plan for her and her marriage and she accepted God’s sovereignty upon her life that God chose her to be Isaac’s wife. She would marry Isaac not because of Isaac - his character or his appearance, or even his height, but because of God. She trusted God - God's goodness and love for her, God's good plan for her life, and thereby, entrusted her life and marriage in God's hands by marrying the one God had prepared for her. This is the meaning of marriage by faith. We marry by faith, not by sight, or not by calculation; we marry not according to our own marriage preferences, but according to God's good plan for us by faith. Through this whole event, Rebekah's family members were so amazed and inspired that they sent her out with their blessing, sayingOur sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the gates of their enemies. Verse 61 conclusively describes the servant's mission accomplishment, saying, So the servant took Rebekah and left. The mission impossible was accomplished.

 

Verses 62 through 67 zeroes in on Isaac, showing how he responded to this matter. He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel and asked the servant, Who is that man in the field coming to meet us? He is my master, the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself. Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. Isaac apparently did not know about his father sending his servant to find a wife for him. It must have been a great surprise to Isaac. But Isaac also was a man of personal faith. He accepted Rebekah as his wife, submitting himself to his father's authority. Verse 67b says, So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. His love for Rebekah was so genuine that even after 20 years, when Rebekah remained barren and childless, Isaac refused to take another wife as was the custom of his time, even though his own father Abraham did. Instead, he prayed and prayed for his wife Rebekah for 20 years, until they, at last, were blessed with twin sons. 

 

This was how Isaac's family was established. There were several people involved in establishing this family - Abraham who initiate it, trusting that God would go ahead and prepare a wife for Isaac, and thereby, entrusted this matter in the hands of his servant; the servant who pursued this very important mission wholeheartedly and relentlessly, and secured Rebekah for Isaac; Rebekah who decided to marry Isaac even without seeing him once and leave everything behind and go to the foreign land because she trusted in God who had a good plan for her; and Isaac who submitted himself to his father's authority and married the one his father had prepared. All of them trusted in God and pursued God's will wholeheartedly. Thus, God's precious covenant family was established. And today, this is how God's covenant families are established - by absolute faith in God and by submitting ourselves, our life and marriage and our dreams to GodWe pray that we may raise up many Isaac and Rebekah from among young college students who can marry by faith in God alone. We pray that we may establish this kind of beautiful marriages continuously that are by God, and for God among us.

 

One Word: By Faith And Obedience, A Godly Family Was Established 

 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

posted Jan 12, 2020, 8:09 PM by Site Administrator

BECAUSE YOU HAVE OBEYED ME

 

Genesis 22:1-24

Key Verse 22:18

 

And through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.

 

First, "Sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering" (1-8). Look at verse 1. “Some time later God tested Abraham.” We don’t know exactly when God tested Abraham. But we find one clue in verse 6: Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac. In order to sacrifice an animal such as sheep or ram as a burnt offering, you need a lot of wood, and Isaac was strong enough to carry that much wood. So he must have been in his late teens or early twenties. Isaac was God’s blessing for Abraham, and for about 20 years, Abraham enjoyed his life together with Isaac. He tasted what it meant to be blessed by God. Then, a time of testing came. One day, God called Abraham, saying, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” Abraham replied. God told him, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah on one of the mountains I will tell you. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” When we come to this passage, we are only shocked and many questions bother us such as, “Oh my goodness! Offer Isaac as a burnt offering? Why?” If we are surprised like this, then, how much more Abraham must have been shocked, surprised, and confused. Many people doubt God’s love when seemingly terrible or unpleasant things happen in their lives. They easily blame God for their misfortune. Then, how would they respond when they are asked to sacrifice their son Isaac, whom they love as a burnt offering to God? Some people, when they are asked to give up something they hold dear for the sake of obeying God's will upon their life, they say, "Uhh, that's not what I wanted when I believed in God." Or, they say, "Is that the only way I should live by?" and they simply move to another church. When this kind of real test comes to them, they all fail to obey God, thus, exposing their true motive in coming to God - not for God, but for some benefits.

 

Abraham must have been dumbfounded; he was quite at a loss without knowing what to say. He never expected that God would ask him for Isaac, because Isaac had come from God. Then, why did God do so? Verse 1 says that God ‘tested Abraham.” It meant that God wanted to see what kind of score Abraham would get if He asked him to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering. God wanted to see how Abraham would respond at this command. God knew that Abraham loved Him. He knew that if He asked him to offer 10 bulls as the burnt offering, Abraham would obey him absolutely. He knew that if He asked Abraham to offer all his money, Abraham would do it. But how would he respond if he were asked to sacrifice Isaac, his son, as a burnt offering? God even emphasized "your son, your only son… whom you love," showing that He fully understood how difficult it would be for Abraham to obey this command. But still knowing everything, God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son as a burnt offering to Him. 

 

God knows that we love Him, but He wants to see how much we love him. How much do I love God? This is a good question. The first man Adam loved God, but when he had to make his choice between God and his wife, he chose his wife because he loved his wife more than God. Maybe, he would do many things for God, but as long as his wife was concerned, he would make excuses to God. That much was his love for God, and because of that God was very sad. Eventually, Adam teamed up with his wife and rebelled against God, who had established his family and who had given him his wifeOn the other hand, we see Jesus loved God. How much did he love God? God commanded him to die on the cross as a ransom sacrifice for many. It is really difficult for anyone to obey this kind of direction. But, embracing all pains, sorrows and difficulties, Jesus obeyed God’s command. That much was Jesus’ love for God his Father. His love for God was complete that Jesus would do anything God asked him to do, and nothing could stop him from loving God wholeheartedly. Jesus was indeed free to obeyGod’s command because he loved God. During the time of Isaiah the prophet, the Israel people said, “I love God.” But the Lord said: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.” (Isa 29:13) Many people easily say, “I love God.” But loving God is not as easy as they think. By the way, how can we love God, when God is invisible and when God is in heaven? People think of it saying words, “I love God.” But loving God is not the matter of saying some words, but the matter of obeying God’s command. Jesus says in John 14:21, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.” If we love God, then, we surely obey God’s command despite sufferings, pains and sorrow. But those who do not love God do not obey God’s command because of the sufferings, pains and sorrows that are involved. Some people say that they love God, but they are even not willing to offer Sunday to God, even just a few hours on Sunday, so they do not come to worship service. They are not willing to sacrifice their trip plans even for the sake of worshiping God, instead, they sacrifice Sunday worship service for their trip plans. Some people say that they love God, but they never bring offerings to God – it is obvious that they love money more than God. God says, “I am a jealous God.” When we love something else, such as pleasures, money, our own life, Ishmael, or even Isaac, God is jealous because he really loves us and he wants us to love him back with the same kind of love. He wants us to love him alone. So he asks us to offer Isaac, our best treasure, to him as a burnt offering. What is your response to this test? What is your Isaac that you value the most?

 

What was Abraham’s response? Look at verse 3. Let's read this verse together:

 

Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 

 

The phrase, "Early the next morning" shows that he didn't hesitate or calculate. Instead, he was decisive. In this heart, Isaac was already offered to God as a burnt offering. Then he didn't tell anyone, not even Sarah. If he told Sarah, he would be able to come out of this dilemma very conveniently, saying, “Lord, I want to obey your command, but it seems that Sarah will kill me first. I am sorry.” But even if there was a legitimate way for him to come out of this dilemma, he didn't do that; he didn't talk to his wife about it. Instead, early the next morning, he left his home with his son and two other servants. Instead of looking for a way to come out of this dilemma with a valid excuse, he chose to obey God's command; this shows that he wanted to obey God's command; he wanted to do what God asked him to do, even if it would hurt him and cost him a lot. That was his heart's desire for God.

 

In addition, Abraham overcame his personal feelings and emotions. What God told him to do seemed crazy and insane.But throughout the journey to the very altar of sacrifice, his faith in God and simple obedience to God's command did not waver. Also, he overcame his logical and rational way of thinking. Logically, it did not make a sense to offer Isaac, because God had promised that through Isaac, his offspring would be reckoned. So it was contradictory to God’s word of promise. Furthermore, offering a human sacrifice is not biblical at all. So if he relied on his own logical thinking, reasoning, or understanding, surely he would not be able to obey God’s command. He had hundreds of understandable reasons to disobey this command. But “Nevertheless” he obeyed. Nevertheless, he obeyed God’s command overcoming all obstacles – the obstacle of his own logical way of thinking, the obstacle of his past knowledge about God, and the obstacle ofhis feelings. His faith was the faith of “nevertheless”. People’s disobedience is the disobedience of “because. Abraham’s obedience was the obedience of “nevertheless”. The situation is the same, but their responses are totally the opposite. So it is really the matter of whether they love God or not. Certainly, Abraham did not live by his feelings, not by his logic or reason, but by faith in God only. “Nevertheless” he obeyed.

 

After preparing enough wood for the burnt offering, he left together with Isaac and also two of his servants. It took a total of three days for Abraham to arrive at the place God spoke of. These three days must have been the longest three days inAbraham’s entire life, and a great spiritual battle was going on in his heart – all kinds of mixed emotions and voices of fear and faith, sorrow and confidence were going on in his heartMany people make a big decision to obey God and commit themselves to God. But then, when they have difficulties and pains as they struggle to keep their decision, they quickly back out, saying, "I want to, but my mother is angry at me." Or they say, "I tried, butit's too hard." Their hearts are not steadfast, because, fundamentally, they have no heart's real decision to love God and pursue Him; so they never come to experience God in their life. But Abraham, despite such pains and sorrows and confusion, did not back out. For three days, he fought the battle and kept moving forward step by step – his three days’ journey itself was the expression of his love and obedience to God. Abraham was like a mighty warrior for God who, despite such great pains and difficulties, struggled hard to do what God wanted him to do. Indeed, Abraham was seeking God with all his heart and soul. Then, on the way, Isaac spoke up and said to him, “Father? The fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” What a painful and heart-wrenching question it was! It was like a hammer knocking Abraham hard.To many others, this is the knock-out punch. At this, Abraham could have broken down, saying, “I cannot do it,” and cried uncontrollably. Yet, how did Abraham respond? Look at verse 8. Let's read this verse together:

 

Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together.

 

Abraham was not emotional. Instead, he said to Isaac, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” His statement here reveals to us his mindset - Abraham's mentality or logic, actually, Abraham's faith. Once Isaac was sacrificed to God as a burnt offering, how would God's promises given to him come true? Abraham's belief was that God Himself would provide a way to fulfill His vision. How? Abraham's response was: I don't know, but He must have a way. "God Himself will provide." God Himself will take care of that matter. He believed beyond his imagination and logic that God had a way to fulfill it even if Isaac was killed. So, he did not hold onto Isaac; he did not insist, saying that, in order to fulfill God's great vision upon his life, he must secure Isaac no matter what. Instead, he trusted in God who would do more than he could imagine, and fulfill His own promises. Thereby, Abraham entrusted this matter, the matter of fulfilling God's great vision given to him, into God's hands by faith in God. And by faith, he simply obeyed God's command instead of holding onto God's vision. In this way, he surrendered his own future, God's vision, and even his son Isaac into God's handsIndeed, with this simple trust in God, he had been fighting such a fierce battle for the past three days.

 

To God's people, Isaac is very important because to them, Isaac is the very embodiment of God's vision given to them - the most precious treasure they have. But the problem is that, often, they hold onto Isaac and even in the name of pursuing it and fulfilling it, they disobey God's command, or reject God's servant's authority above them. So, when the real test comes to them when they have to choose that either they would hold onto Isaac or they would submit themselves to God's authority, they fail and are found as just ambitious and even rebellious people who do not surrender themselves to God, but pursue their own ambition all the way. As servants of God, we must learn Abraham's belief - "God Himself will provide." How? I don’t know, but we just do our portion – what we are asked to do.When we really believe this, we can surrender our life, our future, and even God's great vision upon our life, to God by obeying God's command absolutely.

 

Second, "Because you have obeyed me" (9-19)Look at verses 9 and 10. When they had reached the place of sacrifice, Abraham built the altar there, bound Isaac, and gently laid him on the altar of sacrifice. Taking out the knife he had prepared, he was about to slay the sacrifice. Sweat was now dripping profusely from his body. He lifted the blade high in the air, every muscle in his body trembling. He closed his eyes and got ready to slay his son. Then just as the knife was about to come down, a voice from heaven called out, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” God saw Abraham’s heart’s desire to obey God no matter what, and to obey Him at any cost. God could see that in Abraham’s heart, Isaac had already been offered as a burnt offering to the LORD. God recognized Abraham’s deep trust and love for Him. It was obvious that since Abraham could obey this command, then, he would do anything for God in any situation. Surely, no one could stop him from loving God wholeheartedly. God felt honored by Abraham because Abraham said, “Yes!” even when commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering. So he intervened and stopped him from slaying his son Isaac. God commended Abraham’s love and faith in Him saying, “Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” God was so pleased and His heart was moved that Abraham loved Him this much. One time, Jesus asked his top disciple Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” Then, Simon Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Through his command to Abraham, God was asking Abraham the same question, “Do you truly love me more than these, even more than your son, Isaac?” Then, through his act of obedience, Abraham proved that he loved God the most. 

 

From Abraham’s example of obedience, we can see what it means to love and fear God. It is to love Him over everything, even our very best treasure. By offering our most treasured thing to God, we show that there is nothing that can come between God and us. No thing or person, whether good or bad, can stop us from loving and obeying God wholeheartedly. It is because people withhold from God Isaac, their best treasure, that they eventually fail to obey God. Those who love Isaac more than God cannot obey God. Jesus says, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matt 10:37) The greatest command is this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Those who are willing to offer their Isaac, their best treasure to God as a burnt offering can keep this command, and they are the ones who love God more than anything in the world. They are the ones who fear God. How can we sum up Christian life? It is to love God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength and love our neighbors as we love ourselves. God’s command to Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering is not only applicable for Abraham who lived 3,500 years ago, but also for all believers even today.

 

Look at verses 13 and 14. Let's read these verses together:

 

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.” 

 

There was a ram in a thicket, caught by its horns. Was the ram there all the whole time, quietly watching what Abraham was doing? Or, did God quickly make the ram for Abraham? We don't know. But, one thing is clear: When Abraham's obedience was complete, God provided everything for him and everything turned out wonderful - Abraham sacrificed the ram as a burnt offering to God instead of his son. Abraham fought a reallyfierce battle, even willing to sacrifice his son to the Lord as a burnt offering. Then, that place where he experienced God's provision personally, and got his son back, was so special to him that he gave a new name to it  Jehovah-Jireh, which means, "The LORD will provide." And because of Abraham's experience and understanding, this truth of Jehovah-Jireh came into the world, and to this day, it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD, it will be provided." Now this truth has been revealed to us. Do you want to experience God? Do you want to experience God's provision and be victorious? Then, climb up the mountain of the LORD. Where is the mountain of the LORD? The mountain of the LORD is the place where your obedience to God is complete! The mountain of the LORD is not a small hill; it is not a place where people can approach so casually, like mountain trail, chewing gum and joking around. No. It is the high and steep mountain, which you must climb up with all your heart and strength. That's how you can obey God's command; that's how you can serve God. When your obedience is complete, there you experience this truth: Jehovah-Jireh - the LORD will provide. Once you experience it, your eyes are opened to God and you can see all things differently. Once you experience God this way, your whole view, understanding, value-system and everything, your whole life changes. We thank God for Abraham who reveals this truth to us even through his obedience of sacrificing his son to God. Now, let's enjoy this truth, by climbing up the mountain of the Lord. On the mountain of obedience, it will be provided.

 

Look at verses 15 through 18. Let us read these verse responsively, 

 

15The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16and said, “I swear by myself declares the LORD that because you have done this and not withheld your son, your only son, 17I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

 

Here God swore by himself, making an unchangeable oath to bless him and his descendants after him. In these verses God confirms three blessings -He would make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky; they would take possession of the cities of their enemies; and through his offspring all nations on earth would be blessed. These three blessings were the very content of the initial covenant between God and Abraham.  

 

A covenant is a contract involving two parties. Both parties should do their parts according to the terms and conditions of the covenant, then, the covenant will be fulfilled. In Genesis 18:18,19, God shared His original plan of fulfilling this covenantThere God said, “Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” According to the terms and conditions of this covenant, Abraham should direct his children and his household to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, and his descendants should do the same thing, teaching their children to keep the way of the LORD and doing what is right and just. This was how Abraham’s descendants were to grow into a nation of God-fearing and God-obeying people, doing what is right and just. Then through this nation, God would bless all peoples on earth. So, for this covenant to be fulfilled, Abraham's descendants should do their portion, becoming really good, and doing what is right and just. The covenant was dependant on their performance. But nowGod swore that He would surely keep these promises; He would surely make Abraham's descendants a great nation and bring blessing to all people on earth through them, not based on their covenant-keeping, but based on His own unchangeable oath because He swore to do these by Himself. 

 

Why did God make this unchangeable oath and bindhimself to itIt was all because he was so impressed and touched by Abraham's obedience that Abraham even obeyed this command; He felt so honored and loved. God appreciated how much Abraham had struggled to honor Him. Out of his great appreciation, God wanted to do something great for him. So, He made this unchangeable oath, even changing the terms and conditions of the covenant He had with Abraham. How happy God must have been at Abraham's obedience! Our God is the Creator of heaven and earth. All his creatures must honor Him, love Him, fear Him and obey Him absolutely. Such fear of God or absolute obedience is the basic duty of all his creatures toward Him. Yet, when any person obeys Him absolutely, God is so impressed and touched, and out of full appreciation of that person's love and obedience, God wants to pour out his blessings on him or her, and not only on him or her, but also on all peoples on earth. God does not take your love for him for granted; God does not take your obedience for granted; instead, He fully appreciates them; and He pours out his blessings on you, for you have obeyed him. This is how God deals with you, and me - what a beautiful person our God is! This is how we can please God; this is how we must live our life as children of God.

 

History proves that the Israel people failed – they rebelled against God, worshiped idols. They rejected God’s will for them to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation toward the whole world. But God still kept His promises and sent the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ through the Israel people and brought His blessing to all peoples on earth. It was all because of one man, Abraham…and because of his faith and obedience. Through his obedience to God, Abraham secured God's blessing for the whole world; through his obedience to God, he became a blessing, a source of blessing for all peoples on earth. Thus, what God had originally planned for Abraham was fulfilled.

 

Through one man’s disobedience, the first man Adam, who loved his wife more than God, sin came into the world, and all mankind were cursed. But through one man, Abraham and hisobedience, God’s blessing came into the world. Through one man, Jesus and his obedience even to the point of his death on the cross, God’s salvation came to many lost sinners including ourselves. Now, then, our obedience to God’s command means also God’s blessing and salvation to many people.

 

Today’s passage is the conclusion of Abraham’s life of faith in the Bible. When God saw that Abraham was willing to offer even Isaac as a burnt offering, he could see very clearly that Abraham would obey Him no matter what. So, he did not need to test Abraham any more. Abraham got A+, and it was the end of God’s training. Abraham had two treasures - his firstborn son Ishmael and his second son Isaac. God asked him to send off Ishmael into the desert and sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering to Him. Our God is indeed a jealous God who does not want anything or anyone to be between Him and his people. God wants us to love him alone, giving our hearts to Him alone and completely. If your love for God, if your obedience to God is hindered by anyone or anything, God simply tells you to get rid of that from your heart and life. 

 

Who is the God of Abraham? He is the God who called a hopeless and ordinary person, Abram and changed him into a source of blessing for all peoples on earth. He did this marvelous transforming work on Abraham with his long patience andfaithfulness. As God did to Abraham, He is doing the same thing with each of us and only when we remain teachable to him, He will complete what He began, and we will be found as a source of blessing for many.

 

One Word:Because You Have Obeyed Me

Sunday, January 5, 2020

posted Jan 5, 2020, 3:58 PM by Site Administrator

ABRAHAM SENT OFF ISHMAEL

 

Genesis 20:1-21:34

Key Verse 21:14

 

Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the desert of Beersheba. 

 

First, He will pray for you and you will live (20:1-18).Genesis chapter 20, verse 1 reads, Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar. Gerar ismodern day Gaza Strip in Israel where the Jewish settlers and the Palestinians have fought so far. Its original people were the PhilistinesAs Abraham moved into this area, he was afraid that the Philistines would kill him to take his wife. So he told Sarah to say that he was her brother. In the previous passage, we saw Abraham’s maturity – his hospitality toward the three guests, and his sincere prayer struggle for the people of Sodom testified that he was a great man; he grew to be God’s friend. But now in this chapter, we see him telling a lie, for he was afraid of the people in Gerar. Even though he had grown up as a great man of God, he still had a unique weakness, that was, the fear of people.When we see great servants of God like Abraham, we think that they are perfect. But, usually, they are not perfect. They too have their own unique weaknesses, and God bears with them. Because of his lie, Sarah was in big trouble - Abimelech, king of Gerar took her as his wife. How did God deal with his problem?

 

God did not say anything to Abraham about it. Instead, God dealt with Abimelech. God appeared to him in a dream, and said, You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman. Usually, God does not threaten anyone like this, saying, You are as good as dead! But this time, for the sake of Abraham and Sarah, God took this action - You are as good as dead. For the sake of protecting his friend Abraham, God was willing to go this far, changing his cool style. God gave Abimelech a direction to return Sarah to Abraham with a warning that, otherwise, he and all his men would surely die. Also, God said to him, He is a prophet. He will pray for you and you will live. Abraham being a prophet showed that he was not an ordinary human, but a divine being, deserving honor and respect. Also, Abimelech was king, but God showed him that actually his life was at the mercy of Abraham - only if Abraham prayed for him, he would be healed and live. In this way, God exalted Abraham highly so that Abimelech might show him proper respect and honor. Focusing on his fruitless life, Abraham might think that he had done nothing great for God; he might that he was nobody. But this passage shows that God deeply appreciated what Abraham had done for him, how he had struggled to keep God’s covenant in his heart. In God’s eyes, Abraham was really great. God wanted Abraham to be honored and respected, and even feared by others. This is how God sees and deals with those who love him and pursue Him. God says in the Bible, Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.” (1Sa 2:30) God is the Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. Yet, He says that there are the people whom He honors! What kind of people are they? They are those who honor Him by living for Him, pursuing God's vision wholeheartedly. When some peoplelive for God and pursue him, they are no longer ordinary humans, but the ones whom God honors and He is very concerned about their names; He wants them to be exalted highly so that they may receive honor and respect, and that they may be loved and even feared. God honors those who honor Him. 

 

When Abimelech woke up, he was very alarmed; he called in his officials and told them about it, and they were very alarmed too. So, after discussing how they should deal with this matter, they came to Abraham with their gifts of sheep and cattle, male and female servants and returned Sarah to him. Abimelech also gave Abraham a thousand shekels of silver as compensation for Sarah. In this way, the Philistines treated Abraham very respectfully, and let Abraham live wherever he liked in their territory.

 

Living as a man of God in a foreign land was not easy for Abraham, especially, in such a violent and lawless land. But God was his good shepherd who watched over him. And God patiently bore with Abraham’s weakness.

  

Second, God has brought me laughter (21:1-7). Look at chapter 21, verses 1 through 4. Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham named him Isaac, and on the eighth day of his birth, circumcised him as God commanded him. God's promise for a son had come trueIt was a long waited son - 25 years. How happy they were! It was a glorious and victorious moment for this couple. The passage zeroes in on how each of them responded to this great blessing of God. How did Abraham the husband respond? The passage focuses on how Abraham, in the time of blessing, obeyed God's instruction: He named his son Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day according to God's instruction. He was not carried away by the joy of victory; he was not carried away by his own desires either; instead, in the time of blessing, as the head of the family, he kept God at the center of his family, doing everything God commanded him to do. Often, people conveniently forget about God when things go well with their life. When your dreams come true in the matter of marriage, having babies, and getting a dream career job, don't get carried away by such things. Instead, in the time of blessing, remember God who gave you such great blessing, and keepGod's command. Especially, all husbands, be men before God as the head of the family by obeying God's will.

 

How did Sarah respond to this blessing? Before mentioning about her response, the passage testifies that it was very personal grace given to Sarah, saying, The LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. For Sarah, it was indeed more than just having a victory in her life, but very personal grace of God she experienced, which she would never forget; she would be eternally thankful to God for this grace. Once Sarah expressed her fatalism and despair, saying to her husband, The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her. Who could understand her agony that she, all on her own, put her maidservant in the arm of her husband? She waited and waited for God to give her a son. But when she passed menopause, she finally gave up all hope for a son that even when God told her that she would have a son, she laughed with silly smile; she didn’t believe. But now she really laughed, saying, God has brought me laughter. She had been humiliated for the past 60 years; even her maidservant despised her. Who could understand her agony, her sorrow, fatalism and despair? Who could make her laugh? No one! But God brought her laughter, and made her smile brightly. She became a happy woman because of God. For her, Isaac her son, was God's seal of approval, like the sign of God's personal love for her, which all people could see very clearly, and no one could deny - she was not a cursed woman, but a blessed woman, loved by God so personally. So, in all things from that time on, she was confident in her words and actions - nothing to be ashamed of, because the sign of God's personal love for her, that was, Isaac, was there. She summed up her entire life testimony in two sentences and shared itsaying, Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age. In her words, there was confidence and charisma. In this way, she became a victor because of God's power and grace.

 

Having laughter, this is the expression of true victory in life. Many people struggle to grab what they wantthey pursue what they desire, and when they get it, it seems that they laugh. They find a seemingly promising job at a young age; they marry so early in their age. But usually, the laughter they have produced is not real laughter. Soon their laughter turns to quarreling, strife, and disappointment. At the challenges of life, their laughter disappears so quickly, and even turns into anger, depression and nightmares. How can we really laugh? How can we become real victors in our life, in this world? Sarah says, God has brought me laughter! When God brings you laughter, you are a real victor in life. Isaac was more than a son to Sarah; Isaac was the fruit of Abraham and Sarah’s 25 years of life of holding onto God’s promise – sometimes, they were about to be blown away; but somehow, they overcame all difficulties inwardly and outwardly; they held on it firmly as if it were their lifeline - they fought the spiritual battle of believing in God’s promise, and after 25 years of struggle, they finally ended up seeing the fulfillment of God’s promise; they won the complete victory. The victory was indeed sweet, and they really laughed.This is what Christian life is about. This is how we can be true victors in life, laughing loudly. Those who hold onto God’s word of promise and live by it look stubborn, and they look likelosers; sometimes, they go through painful moments of self-denial, weeping and mourning; but when God’s word is fulfilled, they are the ones who truly laugh. Jesus mentioned about this - how he wants his believers live their life, saying, If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. He also saysRemain in me, and I will remain in you...If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit...Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love.(Jn 15:1-10) Holding onto God's word and living by it is what real Christian life is about. This is the narrow path, and narrow gate, and among so many God-believing people, only few find it. Hold onto God's word; remain in Jesus, and God will bring you laughter.

 

Third, “Because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned” (21:8-21). Look at verses 8 through 11. On the day that Isaac was weaned, Abraham held a great feast. Probably all of his friends and townspeople were invited and Sarah prepared enough mouthwatering dishes for everyone at this feast - homemade lasagna, Korean Bar-Be-Que, and even fresh baked pumpkin pie for dessert. The feast held in honor of little Isaac was such an important and joyous event that everyone rejoiced together with Isaac and his family. But there was one person who wasn’t so happy. It was Isaac’s older half-brother Ishmael. So far, he was the only son who was to inherit everything of Abraham and Sarah. But when Isaac was born, suddenly, he became an illegitimate child, the son of slavewomanHe lost everything. By this time, he was about seventeen years old. He knew what was going on. He was jealous of Isaac, so even at such an early age, he began harassing IsaacSarah saw this and was angry. She said to AbrahamGet rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac. Her reason was totally personal - she really disliked the idea of Ishmael sharing the inheritance with Isaac; she would never let it happen. So, she asked Abraham to kick them out. At this, Abraham was greatly distressed because it concerned his son. To Sarah, Ishmael was that slave woman's son. But to Abraham, Ishmael was his firstborn son whom he had gotten in his old age. Just until a few year ago, he had been so happy and satisfied with him that he even thought that it was okay to live and die as the father of this one son; he thought that his life was even worthwhile because of him. But now he was asked to kick him out of his house! Abraham was distressed greatly. Look at verse 12. Let's read this verse together: 

 

But God said to him, Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.

 

Abraham wanted his two sons, Isaac and Ishmael to live together in his home – how beautiful it would be if all his family members – Sarah, Isaac, Hagar and Ishmael - lived together in peace and unity; he was rich and there were many rooms in his house. But Sarah did not think that way-Ishmael should not stay with Isaac. Amazingly, God saw it in the same way. Even in God’s eyes, Ishmael should be sent off from Abraham’s home. God’s reason was, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. It meant that even though Ishmael was Abraham’s biological offspring, God would not consider him as Abraham’s offspring, because Ishmael was not from God, but from human thinking and compromise. Thereby, in the family of God’s covenant, there was no room for Ishmael to stay, and eventually, he should be sent off. Abraham’s desire was to take care of both of them very well, but God’s will was that Abraham would take care of Isaac only whom God sent, andsend off Ishmael, entrusting him in God’s hands, even though his heart was attached to him.

 

When we have both Isaac and Ishmael, we want to keep both of them, because both of them are important and lovely to us. But God wants us to take care of only Isaac who is from God and to send Ishmael offThen, God will take care of our Ishmael. As we serve God’s purpose, God sends many sheep to us – they are from God, and God’s will is that we should take care of them, because they will be reckoned as our offspring; they will be our real fruit according to God’s will and planThey will be our real family members - our sons and daughters, our brothers and sistersGod asks us to send off Ishmael by faith in him, so that we can focus on Isaac whom God sends to us.Through Isaac your offspring will be reckoned.

 

Who or what is our Ishmael? Our human dream for success in the world, our remaining compromise or love for the world. Our Ishmael can also be any human relationship such as boyfriend or girlfriend that conflicts with our new life in God. To Abraham, it was his own first born son; so, Ishmael can beeven our biological father or mother or brothers or sisters. People want intimate fellowship with God, talking to God and hearing from him directly. They want to do mighty works of God for God’s glory, even performing miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit. But to many of them, it ends as a wishful thinking, because they do not send off their Ishmael. With the elements of compromise in their lives and hearts, their spiritual growth has limit. God’s direction for us, as it was for Abraham,is to send our Ishmaels away, instead of holding onto them. And he promises that if we send them off, he will take care of them, because he knows our concern for them.

 

Upon being given such a harsh command, what did Abraham do? Look at verse 14. Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the desert of Beersheba. Abraham didn’t question or plead with God concerning this sensitive and very personal matter. Instead, early the very next morning, he gave Hagar and Ishmael one gallon of water and a sack of lunch, and sent them off into the desert as God had told him to. In the eyes of ordinary people, he looked very cruelOne of my students during this Bible studyexclaimed, Oh my goodness, he is a cold-hearted person! No, he was not a cold-hearted person. In order to obey God’s word, he denied his feelings and emotions. Indeed, Abraham was fighting a fierce battle. How did Ishmael feel when his own father was kicking him out only because he had a new son? He was confused; he felt betrayed and was angry at him; he did not want to see his father's face at all; maybe, he hung his head low; or he was staring at him with his eyes glowing with anger; or he screamed at him, saying, I hate you. I will never see you again. When Abraham saw his firstborn son suffering so terribly this way, or getting angry at him, his heart was broken. But he did not live by his feelings and emotions; he did not live by his human nature either. Instead, he lived by God's word, denying himself and doing what God wanted him to do. Even at such great pain, he did not back out; instead, he continued his obedience to God's direction and sent them off into the desert, swallowing all related misunderstanding, sorrows and pains by himself. He was not an ordinary man; he was not a silly emotional or humanistic man at all; he was a warrior who went his way despite all challenges. We are reminded of how Jesus, despite all difficulties and pains, proceeded his way and obeyed God's command - he was a mighty warrior. God says in the Bible, My righteous will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him. If God's people shrink back because of some difficulties or pains or sorrows, God will not be pleased with them. (Heb 10:38) At this, Hebrews 10:39 conclusively says, But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

 

How could Abraham do this? How could he send off his firstborn teenage son, Ishmael into the desert with just a lunch sack and a gallon of water? He could do so because of two reasons. One reason was because God had promised him that, when he sent him off, God would take care of him and bless him. Abraham believed in God's protection and care for Ishmael. So, he didn't need to give Ishmael a lot of food or many camels, but just a lunch sack and a gallon of water - God would take care of him. The other reason was because of God's blessing on Isaac. God promised him that God's covenant blessing would be given to Isaac and God's covenant people would be reckoned through Isaac. In order to secure this blessing of God's covenant on Isaac, Abraham was willing to send off his firstborn son Ishmael into the desert. This much, Abraham pursued God’s covenant blessing on Isaac. Here, we see the importance and value of God's covenant blessing. It is the most precious treasure we have. In order to secure this blessing for us, we are willing to send off anything or anyone that is in the way. We are like a farmer who found a treasure chest buried in his rented field - what does he do once he finds the treasure chest in his rented field? He goes home, sell everything he has and purchases the field. While he sells everything he has, people think of him crazy, but he knows what he is doing and he is overjoyed when he secures that field. We are like a merchant who found the pearl of the greatest value; it was for sale, and it seemed that no one really recognized its true value. So what does he do? He goes home, sells everything he has and purchases the pearl. God's covenant blessing is like that - it is a token that brings us into real intimate fellowship with God, a token that will bring us into true friendship with God; it is a token that will bring to us great inheritance in the kingdom of God. We value this blessing above all other things. We must take care of Isaac whom God sends, because through him, our offspring will be reckoned.

 

It was a turning point for Abraham that, as he sent off Ishmael, he got rid of all elements of human compromise from his life of faith. In order to live for God and pursue God's covenant blessing, he even sent off his own firstborn son into the desert - it showed his heart's complete decision that he would live for God alone and that nothing or no one would stand between God and him any longer. He crucified all human nature and passion so that he would live for God alone. Abraham fought a fierce spiritual battle and won the victory. 

 

In verses 15 through 21, we see how God took care of Ishmael. At first, they suffered for a while even to the point of giving up everything, even the hope for survival; they wept a lot. But God was always at the right time. He took care of them, helped them and made them prosperous.

 

FourthAbraham called on the name of the LORD, the Eternal God (21:22-34). In verses 22 through 32, we see Abraham’s second encounter with Abimelech, the king of Gerar.Abimelech with his army commander Phicol came to Abraham and said to him, God is with you in everything you do. Now swear to me here before God that you will not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants. Show kindness to me and the country where you are living as an alien the same kindness I have shown to you. When Lot spoke, the people of Sodom laughed at him. They didn’t respect or revere him at all. But people recognized Abraham as God's servant and came to respect him. Now Abimelech king of Gerar wanted to make a peace treaty with Abraham, asking him for kindness to him and his descendants. At this, Abraham responded, saying, I swear.Then, he complained to Abimelech about a well of water, which Abimelech's servants had seized, which Abraham had dug. Then, at Abimelech's apology, Abraham initiated two contracts - one for the peace treaty and the other for the well he had dug. At their first meeting with Abimelech, Abraham had been shaking in fear, without being able to say anything when king Abimelech even took his wifeBut now Abraham stood as an equal to the king of Gerar, making his opinion very clear to him and initiating contracts with him. This shows that as Abraham continued to live by faith, he came to overcome his unique weakness, that was, his fear of worldly people, especially, those who had political power. That was a true victory Abraham experienced in his life of faith. 

Look at verses 33 and 34. Let’s read these verses together:

 

33Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called upon the name of the LORD, the Eternal God. 34And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time.

 

After this event with Abimelech, king of Gerar, something amazing happened in Abraham’s heart. Usually, when something great happened, Abraham built an altar to the Lord as an expression of his thanks to God. When he was really reallythankful, then, he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. But this time, something really really reallygreat happened that he did something totally different - he planted a tamarisk tree and there he called upon the name of the LORD, the Eternal God. Tamarisk tree is a slow-growing evergreen tree in the Middle East. When you plant a tree, you do it not for yourself, but for your next generation. Also, it was the first time that Abraham had called God by this name, the Eternal God. Through experiencing victory in God in his practical life, he came to know God who is eternal. It meant that his eyes were opened to see who God was - the Eternal God - God lives eternally; He remains eternally. Abraham realized that all other things such as humans, property like the well and even precious sons and daughters were temporary, remaining in the world just for a while, and then, going away, losing all their value, meaning and purpose, but God would remain forever. Even he himself would stay on earth for a while and would be gone sometime later, but God would remain there forever. Only God is great and only He carries real meaning and purpose, while all other things eventually lose their meaning, purpose and valueSo far, Abraham was so concerned about his life, his son, and his desire; he built an altar to the Lord whenever God did something good for him such as encouragement or promises. But now, in view of God who is eternal, the value of the things of this world and humans faded away in his eyesThings of this world lost their grip on Abraham whatever they might be. His focus changed from the things of humans and himself, to the things of God who is the Eternal God. Abraham graduated from the things of humans and entered the world of God who is eternal. Verse 33 is indeed a glorious statement. Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the Lord, the Eternal God.

 

This passage shows us the key characteristic of ourChristian life, that is, spiritual growth, very well. Christian life is the life of experiencing God personally, and thereby, opening our eyes to who God is more and more. When our eyes are opened to God as we experience God, we begin to see things in a different perspective than before, and there, our value system changes and our hope also changes. That’s how we grow in God continually. This knowing God personally through experiencing God is the real essence of our Christian life. Without this knowing of God personally, then, we just do Christian activities, at best being nice to others; such a Christian life has no real power, and it is boring. The question is how we can know God more and more. When we think about Abraham’s case, we see that his great understanding of God as the Eternal God had not come to him without any cause. Instead, we see that it came to him as the result of his sincere struggle to obey God’s words, even the command of sending off his firstborn son Ishmael. Sending off Ishmael was not something he did one time and forgot about; instead, it was something he thought about so much and, with this, he thought a lot about fundamental things of life such as what life is about, what is truly important, and who his God was – so many things. And also experiencing personal victory over his weakness helped him know God more. Through all these struggles and experiences, his understanding of life deepened, and finally he could see who his God was – the Eternal God. Jesus says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Let’s pray that we also may have the same kind of sincere struggle before God by holding onto Jesus’ teaching. This struggle of holding onto Jesus’ teaching, this struggle of obeying God’s commands despite challenges and pains, will lead us to knowing God more and more. As a result, we will enjoy freedom from all things in life.

 

The Lord has brought me laughter! Let’s pray that this may be our testimony too. It is through Isaac your offspring will be reckoned. Let’s accept this plan of God and send off Ishmael. Our God is the Eternal God. With this understanding of God, we can graduate from the things of humans and enter into the world of God.

 

One Word: Through Isaac Your Offspring Will Be Reckoned

 

Sunday, December 29, 2019

posted Dec 30, 2019, 12:21 PM by Site Administrator

GOD DESTROYED SODOM AND GOMORRAH

 

Genesis 19:1-38

Key Verse 19:29

 

So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.

FirstNo, we will spend the night in the square (1-9).Look at verse 1 and 2. The two angels arrived in Sodom in the evening. They met Lot, who was sitting in the gateway of the city. Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city: The gateway of the city was the place where people brought their cases such as selling property, business contract or conflicts with others, and settled the matters before those who were seated there. So, those who sat in the gateway of the city were the influential people of the city - officials and lawyers and judges. This shows that Lot was firmly rooted and established as an influential person in the city of Sodom. When he saw the two men, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground and said, My lords, please turn aside to your servant's house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning. But the two angels did not feel comfortable with his invitation, even if he invited them in the same way Abraham had done, bowing down to the ground, and humbly asking them to come to his house. So, they said, No, we will spend the night in the square. Yet, since he insisted, they went with him. Then, at his house, Lot prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast. When he insisted, it seemed that he was going to treat them really well, but, once they went with him, he did not treat them well at all. Abraham killed a choice, tender calf for them, but Lot prepared for them a simple supper of unleavened bread, just some crackers for their dinner. There was no enthusiasm, or true sense of servitude, no warm welcome. Also, no one in his family helped him – where were his wife, and his two daughters while he was entertaining the guests? Lot was successful in Sodom; he was rich and occupied an important position; yet, it seemed that he was not enjoying an abundant life; it seemed that no one truly honored or respected him, even his own family members. 

 

Look at verses 4 and 5. Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They demanded Lot to bring out his two guests so that they might have sex with them. They were really pervert - whole town. This was how they used to treat travelers that came by their town. No wonder the outcry against the people of this city reached God. Sodom was a wicked city.

 

It is really shocking that Lot who was called a righteous man in the Bible, wanted to live in the city like this. The Bible says that Lot, as he lived among them day after day, was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men. He was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard. He should not have lived there, or he should have left that area long time ago. Or, if he decided to stay there, he should have lived as a man of God trying to evangelize the city of Sodom; if preaching the message of repentance was too challenging, he might have invited some of people to one to one Bible study. But he didn't do any of them. Why? It was because he liked the city life in Sodom; he liked his success in Sodom, occupying a high position. So, while being distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men in Sodom, he pursued success, knowing how wicked they were, but not standing up as a man of God; maybe, he thought that he would never be so wicked like the people of Sodom; instead, he thought that he would just live a good life, enjoying prosperity in Sodom, and of course, attending worship service once a week. But when he did not seek God's work wholeheartedly, when he did not challenge them to repent, when he did not strive to evangelize them positively, then, things did not go as he had planned, because he had been influenced by the lifestyles and value system of the Sodomites. In the passage, Lot tried to protect his guests; it was praiseworthy. But the way he tried to solve the problem was really terrible. He offered them his two virgin daughters! It was unthinkable for any father to do. But in his eyes, it was the best choice. As he had lived there, actually, he himself was becoming a Sodomite - his way of thinking, value system, hope and direction were all being aligned with those of the Sodomites. Also, his two daughters were pledged to marry the Sodomites - in Lot's eyes, it was okay. In this way, he himself had become a Sodomite. 

 

This is how so many Christians live their life in the world. Like Lot, they never intend to be wicked like the wicked people of the world; but at the same time, they have no heart's true decision to serve God's evangelical mission either; instead, they just pursue success in the world, while going to church once a week. Yet, they do not realize that, as they do so, they are becoming like the people of the world, being influenced by their value system and lifestyle consciously and unconsciously. And they do not realize what dangers are waiting for them. Jesus mentioned about these people, saying, Whoever wants to save his life will lose it. Indeed, often we see them losing everything they hold dear - family, success, dream career, fame and money, just in the same way Lot lost everything. Even if they don’t lose them in this life, their life does not carry any value, because they have done nothing for God in this life; all these people end their life in great regret. The best way of life is not Lot's way, but Abraham's way. Jesus shows us the best way of life, saying, Whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it to eternal life. Don't try to save your dream for marriage in this life, but make a heart's decision to lose it for the sake of Jesus and his gospel, then, you will find it. The world is not the place where we should try to settle down and enjoy a comfortable life in; instead, the world is the place which we should evangelize with the gospel. Don't try to save your dream for success in the world, but for the sake of serving God's kingdom work, for the sake of obeying God's will for you, lose it, let go of it, and amazingly, you will find it eternally.

 

Look at verse 9. At Lot's offer, the Sodomites were angry at him and said, Get out of our way. This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge. We’ll treat you worse than them. While Lot struggled to establish himself as an influential person, while he won the election, it seemed that the townspeople respected him; but now they showed how they considered him – anytime, when their real agenda was concerned, they ignored him and despised him; they considered him as someone they could despise any time. Lot was respected neither by his family members nor by his townspeople.

 

If love is for women, then, respect is for men. The apostle Paul says, However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Eph 5:33) Men have this desire for respect. Brothers, do you want to be respected? Then, don’t be like Lot. Even if he had a high political position, even if it seemed that he was successful, no one respected him – his neighbors and even his family. But see how Abraham was respected by everyone. The Hittites respected him so highly, saying, Sir,… You are a mighty prince among us. They considered showing him favor as great privilege. God considered him as his friend. See even how Sarah his wife respected him, calling him, My master. Isn’t this all husbands’ dream? Don’t follow the footsteps of Lot. Instead, follow the footsteps of Abraham. 

 

Second, Flee for your lives! Don’t look back (10-38).Look at verses 10 and 11. The Sodomites, after despising Lot, kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door. But the two men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door. They revealed their true identity and told Lot to get all who belonged to him out of the city, because they were going to destroy the city according to God’s decisionSo, Lot went to his sons-in-law and told them about this, but they thought he was joking. Now it was the time for Lot to leave the city as soon as possible. But Lot hesitated that he did not leave until the dawn. Let's say that the angels told him to leave the city at 11 pm; then, until 4 or 5 am, he was not leaving. So, with the coming of dawn, the angels urged him, saying, Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished. Yet, he still hesitated. Even if God's judgment was announced, and he was given a chance to save himself from it, he was hesitant between two opinions - staying in the city or leaving the city. Why did he have such a great difficulty to leave the city, to choose between heaven and hell? It was because he loved his life in Sodom - simply, he didn't want to give up his life in Sodom. When he thought about leaving the city, his pleasure-seeking life in Sodom pulled him back; his big bank account dragged him down; his factory, his fancy restaurant, his beautiful house, his orchard, his high position in the city all pulled him back. Because he loved his life in Sodom, because his life had been so deeply rooted in Sodom with his career, human network, business and positions, he could not leave the city. So, even at the angel's direct message about the destruction, he was hesitant to leave the city. 

 

Many people refuse to make commitment to God, because they want to pursue their own life in the world - maybe, for marriage, maybe, for a successful career. They say that later, they would come back to God. Later when? After retirement when they have nothing else to do, and certainly, before they die. Their plan seems really fantastic. They would enjoy their life in the world freely. Then, right before death, they would repent and turn to God and go to heaven. But things will not go as they plan. When their life is rooted in the world deeply, for about 10 years, 20 years, or even 50 years, later, on their deathbed, when they try to pull up their life from the world, simply, they cannot; they are rooted in the world deeply that they cannot move any longer. Even if they know in their mind that they must repent and turn to God for their salvation, still they cannot repent; simply, their hearts are not responsive. As of that time, they have developed completely worldly value system, worldly hope and vision, and lifestyle that they cannot change anything. Even if great signs of the last days appear before their very eyes, even if God's angels appear to them and tell them that the last days have come and that they must repent, they cannot respond. 

 

College period is the very beginning of people's real life in the world. Some people enter through the narrow gate and walk on the narrow path, while others take the wide gate, and walk on the wide path. At the beginning of the journey, there is a littledifference between these two groups of people. But as they continue on their journey for 20 years, 30 years, or even 50 years, the gap between them grows wider and deeper that, at the end of their life, the gap is so huge that no one can cross over from one path to the other - a big chasm is fixed that no one can cross over. In this way, those who walk on the wide path go to destruction, while those who walk on the narrow path go to eternal life in God's kingdom. God says in the last chapter of the Bible, Revelation chapter 22:11, Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy. (Rev 22:11) What a solemn statement it is! There is no sneaky way for salvation. Today, you make your heart’s clear-cut decision to be holy to God, then, you will live that kind of life continually for the rest of your life. Then, you will see Jesus’ smiling face on that day.

 

Look at verse 16. When he still hesitated, the angels could not wait any longer. They grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them. Literally, they dragged them out of the city. About this, verse 16 gives us the reason why the angels even yanked them out of Sodom and saved them, saying, For the LORD was merciful to them. The apostle Peter called Lot a righteous man. But Lot's own righteousness was not enough to save himself from God's judgment. God was merciful to him and saved him from the catastrophe. After bringing them out, one of the angels said to them, Flee for your lives. Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away! Lot and his two daughters obeyed this direction, and escaped from God’s judgment successfully, but Lot’s wife looked back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt. Her failure is a great warning to all those who want to escape from the coming wrath of God. As we live as the believers of Christ Jesus, we should not look back what we have left – our old sinful way of life- just looking back at it or yearning for it can destroy our spirituality. The Israel people experienced God's salvation through Exodus from Egypt. But as they lived as God's people in the desert, due to some difficulties and challenges, they yearned for their life in Egypt, saying that they missed the meat and garlic bread they ate as they had sat down by the meat pot in Egypt. All of these people who yearned for their past life could not be wholehearted to God as God's people; as a result, all of them failed to enter the promised land; instead, they all collapsed in the desert. Today, we must flee from the coming destruction. Flee for your lives. Don’t look back! Don’t stop in the middle.

 

Look at verse 29. Let’s read this verse together:

 

So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.

 

In chapter 18, Abraham pleaded for Sodom so earnestly; he lowered the required number of the righteous to ten; he never mentioned about Lot’s name in his prayer. But God knew why Abraham was praying so earnestly, and even though there were no ten righteous people in Sodom, God rescued Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the city where Lot had lived. By Lot’s own faith and righteousness, he could not be saved from God’s judgment. But because of Abraham’s prayer, he was saved. In Jesus, now we love our family members dearly; with pure heart, we want them to believe in Jesus. So, we pray. Sometimes, thinking about their salvation, we groan in deep pain and sorrows; we pray in tears for them. Our God remembers our prayers for them. He watches over them because of us. Pray for your beloved ones, and God will intervene into their lives because of your prayer for them. James 5:16 says, The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

 

The final fruit of Lot was not good at all. When Lot saw how God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, he was afraid to live in a city. He lost appetite for it. So, he left Zoar, went to the mountain and lived in a cave. One day the older daughter said to the younger, Our father is old, and there is no man around here to lie with us, as is the custom all over the earth. Let's get our father to drink wine and then lie with him and preserve our family line through our father. Their understanding was that having sex was the custom all over the earth – that’s their understanding, their perspective. As they lived in Sodom, they became nothing but Sodomites. They wanted to have sex, but there was no man available around them except their father. Then, with a lame excuse of maintaining their family line, they committed incest; thus, this family produced tragic fruit of the Moabites and the Ammonites. What a tragic life Lot had! He never imagined life in Sodom would end in this way!

 

Lot wanted to secure his wealth and enjoy a city life even by going out of God's will; he really pursued them wholeheartedly. But in the end, he lost everything – he lost his material possession; he lost his city life, instead, he came to live in a cave like animals; he lost his wife; he lost God’s blessing, and he lost even his two daughters; he produced enemies of God for the generations to come. Jesus says, Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. (Mark 8:35) Lot lost everything, but Abraham gained everything - wealth, an abundant life, son, happiness, respect and honor, and he became God's friend, bringing God's blessings to all peoples on earth. Abraham and Lot, they are the two metaphors that serve all believers about how we must live our lives as believers. If Lot were an unbeliever, we easily say that the end of unbelievers’ life is so terrible like this. But when we realize that Lot was called a righteous man, we are really alarmed. The believers’ life can be as bad as that of Lot if they compromise! 

 

Modern day, Lot’s lifestyle is absolutely prevailing among Christians, and when a Christian boy lives like Lot – saying that he believes in God and pursues the things of this world, he is praised as a good kid. But if a Christian boy takes Abraham’s way of life, giving up his life in the world and living for God’s purpose alone as a disciple of Jesus, other Christians and family members persecute him and do everything to stop him. The absolute majority of believers in our society take the way of Lot, and their life is full of blame. It is no wonder that the divorce rate among God-believing people is higher than that of unbelieving people in America. They produce really bad fruit in their life like Lot’s, too shameful even to talk about. Don’t be like those Christians! Even unbelieving people refuse to believe in Jesus, because of them. Never say, “Other churches do this or that.” It’s really hard to find a good role model church or Christians. We just study the Bible and do what the Bible shows.We must walk in the footsteps of Abraham, holding onto God's covenant vision upon our life, then, we can grow according to God’s plan and we can be used as a source of blessing for many. You will be a great and powerful nation and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. Live for this will of God so that God can fulfill His good and great plan for you.

 

God’s judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah shows God’s justice. God is love; that’s his character. At the same time, as the judge of all, God must be fair; justice must prevail. God bears with the sinful behaviors of sinful people with long suffering patience. But when sin reaches its limit, God’s judgment comes. Abraham, as God’s servant, as God’s business partner, must be aware of this. As God’s servants, we must know this as well. Now we are living in the last days. Sin is prevailing in the lives of people. In this situation, we must tell them to repent so that they may not be destroyed. 

 

One Word:Flee For Your Lives! Do Not Look Back!

Sunday, December 8, 2019

posted Dec 10, 2019, 6:16 AM by Site Administrator

SO THAT HE WILL DIRECT HIS CHILDREN TO KEEP THE WAY OF THE LORD

 

Genesis 18:1-33

Key Verse 18:19

 

For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.

 

First, If I have found favor in your eyes,... (1-8).Today's passage talks about how Abraham treated God and two angels who visited him in human form. Abraham did not know who they really were; to him, they were travelers who happened to pass by his tents. This event happened when Abraham was 99 years old, the same year when God appeared to him and asked him to circumcise, as we see in verse 18. Actually, this happened not long after Abraham was circumcised, maybe, 3 or 4 weeks, because we see that God mentioning about the birth of Isaac, saying by this time next year, in chapter 17, and about this time next year in chapter 18. 

 

Look at verses 1 and 2. It was just another ordinary day. Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Maybe, he was meditating on God's covenant, or it was so hot that he was dozing there. He sensed something and looked up and saw three men standing nearby. At once he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. He didn't hesitate or calculate, showing that that's how he had treated the travelers passing by his tent. He was 99 years old, with that famous Middle Eastern men's gorgeous beard! Yet, he bowed low to the ground! That must have been amazing. He said, If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. 4 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5 Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way-- now that you have come to your servant. He was very humble and polite. He was so considerate in his words, saying, If I have found favor in your eyes, Let a little water be brought, and Let me get something to eat, trying not to give them any burden. As he had had life together with God as God's covenant person, he became a beautiful person, very mature, thoughtful and humble.

 

The three men felt his welcoming spirit, so they answered, Very well, do as you say. So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. Quick, he said, get three seahs of fine flour and knead it and bake some bread. Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree as if he were a waiter ready to serve. 

 

There are some nice rich people. They like to treat others. So, what do they do? They call servants and ask them to serve their guests, showing favor to them. But Abraham was not like them. He was there not as the one who was going to show them favor, but as the one who begged them for their favor, bowing down to the ground so that he would be given a chance to treat them. Then, once he got an approval from them, he was not like an aged man, but like a young man, running here and there; he served them with great enthusiasm; his hospitality for them was genuine. He had joy in serving them. Also, these three men were nothing but travelers, but in order to treat them, he slaughtered a choice tender calf, the best quality beef, and really a lot for three people; in those days, fine flour was expensive, but he used 20 quarts of fine flour to bake bread for them - it was really a lot of bread, maybe, enough for 300 people. Abraham was rich, but unlike many rich people, he was not stingy; instead, he was enjoying abundance both outwardly and inwardly; at that time, he indeed, enjoyed his life in God freely. Also, not only he, but also all his household served the guests wholeheartedly. At Abraham's instruction, Sarah quickly baked bread, using 20 quarts of fine flour, and his servant quickly prepared the calf; Abraham did not need to tell them what to do in detail, but just one direction, and they knew what to do and how to do it. This shows that they had been doing this kind of service to the travelers many times; they participated in this treat in one mind and heart - they were indeed God's covenant family.

 

This episode shows God's people's blessed life very well, enjoying abundance in heart, growing in maturity, becoming beautiful people. What a great blessing it is that God called us into this kind of beautiful life. We have tasted the same joy and happiness as we grow as Jesus' disciples, serving God's kingdom work. At the last Christmas worship service, we were to prepare fruits for about 300 people, but we ended up preparing for about 1000 people. Last October, we had two special guests, missionary Jose and Maria Ahn. All of us served them in one mind and heart, and we were really blessed. We thank God for granting us this wonderful life. We are growing in Jesus as mature people of God. Praise the Lord! Let's pray that as we get old, maybe, at the age of 60, 70 or 80, we may be so beautiful like Abraham, revealing God's image to the people around us. 

 

Second, Is anything too hard for the LORD? (9-15).Look at verses 9 and 10. Where is your wife Sarah? they asked him. There, in the tent, he said. Then the LORD said, I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son. Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. The LORD was so happy with Abraham and his hospitality. He could see what kind of person Abraham had become – such a great and mature person. So he exposed his identity and confirmed His blessing of a new born baby Isaac. We all want to please God, and this case shows us that when we grow as mature and beautiful people like Abraham in today's passage, we can please God. Some people, as they get old, become so stubborn that everyone avoids; some people become so proud and demanding that no one wants to come around. Let's pray that we may not grow so bad like that; instead, let's strive that we all may grow as beautiful people, very mature, thoughtful, humble and serving others. That way, we can please God revealing God's image to others around us.  

 

At this good news, how did Sarah respond? She did not say, Hurray! At the last! Instead, she laughed to herself as she thought, After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure? She was past the age of childbearing. Even if God said that she would have a son by the same time the following year, she didn't believe, because she was past menopause; simply, it was something impossible. In the previous passage, when God talked about his great vision, Abraham laughed out of unbelief. Now in today's passage, Sarah laughed out of unbelief.

 

Up until that time, God had wrestled with them. What they really wanted was a son. In their struggle for a son, sometimes, they were depressed. Then, God visited them and said to them, I will give you many sons. Trust me. He did not give them any son, but encouraged them to believe that he would give them son, even many sons. Then, they believed and were thankful. Then, sometime later, they were depressed again. God visited them and encouraged him, saying, Trust me. I will give you many sons. He didn't give them a son, but just his promise of many sons. They believed and were thankful. Then, later, they were depressed again. God visited them and told them to trust him that he would give them many sons. God did not give them any son, but he encouraged them to believe that he would give them many sons. They believed and were thankful. This had been going on continually. God did not give them any son, but always encouraged them to trust him that he would give them many sons. In this struggle for a son, they had a certain dead line, that was, Sarah's menopause. They expected that God would give them a son before menopause. But God didn't. Then, finally, Sarah was past menopause, and several years passed.God pushed them to the limit, I mean, even beyond the limit. Yet, they still lived as God's covenant people, even if God's promise had not been fulfilled. Wow! How would respond if God pushes you this much, beyond the limit?

 

As shepherds, we want sheep; because of sheep, we laugh and weep. It is painful to be fruitless year after year. And God keeps encouraging us through his words to trust him that he will bless us with many sheep. He encourages us that we will become fathers and mothers of many nations. We believe, and are thankful, yet still no tangible fruit. As this struggle goes on, we feel scared because we are getting old. Like Abraham and Sarah, in our struggle for sheep, we also have a certain deadline - maybe, 7 years, or 10 years. Then, when God goes beyond that deadline, when they remain fruitless, despite their struggle for such long time, there come two different responses. One response is that people become bitter, doubt, and complain, blaming others, even God; many of them fall away; then, theycome to have really bad perspective about life of faith in GodThe other response is that people finally realize what they must really pursue and turn to God. Abraham and Sarah did not fall away, even though they laughed out of unbelief. Even though they laughed out of unbelief, they still lived as God's covenant people, entrusting their life in God's hands. How come? It's because, in the course of their struggle with God for a son for the past 24 years, they came to experience God many times, and thereby, they came to know God personally; their eyes were opened to Him. Then, even though they had not gotten a son, even though God had not given them a son, even if God's promise was not fulfilled, and even if there was no possibility for them to have a son, still they were glad with God and they were determined to live as God's covenant people, finally understanding what God meant, I am your very great reward.Because of God, they would live as God's covenant people.

 

Actually, it might be much easier for God to give them a son, make them happy, and move on to the next phase with Isaac. Then His redemption plan would be accelerated - easy and fast! Yet, instead, He wrestled with them for so many years. Why did He wait so long? He was more concerned about them, than using them for his purpose - they would know him and grow in him. This is what God is doing for us - He is wrestling with us so that we may be purified from our own ambition, self-seeking desire and all other impure things so that we may know him really. Once we see his beauty, we will all fall in love with him. This is what God is pursuing in our life today. Let's come to God and know Him so that we may really love Him with all our heart and strength.

 

For this purpose, God had been wrestling with them all this time - Knowing Him really, opening their eyes to God's goodness and beauty was such an important matter that God had wrestled with them until then. Then, once they saw God's beauty, they were ready to have a son, because, when they knew God's goodness and beauty, when they loved God, nothing would be a problem - even having a son, the very purpose of their whole life struggle would not be a hindrance in their life of faith. What if, after a few year's struggle, God gave them a son? Maybe, they would be really happy and their hearts would be given to him completely that they would not be interested in living as God's covenant people, saying, I am all right. Only if Isaac may live under your blessing. But now, he really knew God, even having a son did not become a matter at all. Later, even when God asked him to send off Ishmael and sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering, still Abraham would choose God over all others by obeying God's commands. 

 

Look at verses 13 through 15. Then the LORD said to Abraham, Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Will I really have a child, now that I am old?' Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son. Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, I did not laugh. But he said, Yes, you did laugh.

 

It seemed that God was having some fun with Abraham and Sarah at this moment, pointing out Sarah's unbelief, but instead of talking to her directly, talking to Abraham about it. And when she said, I did not laugh, God said, Yes, you did laugh.Sarah was embarrassed, but God had some humorous time. After pointing out her unbelief, God said, Is anything too hard for the LORD? How do you respond? Nothing is too hard for the LORD. What about God wrestling with you for 20 years, and then, when you become 40 or even 50, God starts his mighty work with you? Then, in 10 years, maybe, 1,000 disciples under your care, and in the next 10 years, you cover the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. God is never late. God's time is the right time, and God's way is the fastest way. Trust God - when the right time comes, He will do mighty works with you, fulfilling his vision upon your life. The only thing is, have faith in God and strive to serve God in spirit, for He seeks that kind of worshipers.

 

Third, So that he will direct his children to keep the way of the LORD (16-33). Look at verse 16 and 17. When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. Then the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? At Abraham’s hospitality and maturity, God was so happy; he could see that Abraham had become a great man of God. When you become so great like Abraham, God is so happy with you. Then God felt so uneasy that He had not shared His business agenda with him yet! He said, Shall I hide from Abraham about what I am to do? No, he would not. Instead, he would share with Abraham all his business agendas, because he considered him as his business partner.

 

What does it mean to be God’s business partner? God shares with you everything He is going to do. Our service to the Lord should not be like we work hard and He gives us a salary, some glory here and there. Or if I work hard as a shepherd, He will give me a ticket to heaven. If I don’t work hard, He will punish me. Maybe in our spiritual growth, we do start out that way. It’s good to have the fear of God. But we shouldn’t remain at that level! That’s not right – living as a slave to God. That’s the attitude of the older son in the parable of the Prodigal Son. If you live that way, it’s the evidence that you don’t know God yet. 

 

So what does it mean to become a business partner? As an employee, you work 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week. But a partner works 20 hours a day! They have no problem with that. Sleepless nights? No problem. On their own, they figure out the best way to run the business and make a profit – they invest anything and everything. When you are God’s business partner for His world redemption work, all on your own, you figure out the best way possible, and you struggle hard to serve God’s work more effectively, pouring out many hours. Then God does not need to tell you to do this or that, do more. All on your own, you do more than what is expected. You serve God and pursue God wholeheartedly, pouring out all your time, energy, talent and life. People around you cannot understand what you are doing. That’s the meaning of being God’s business partner. Jesus says, I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (Jn 15:15) We must grow up in Jesus. God’s business, God’s plan, God’s kingdom. Jesus considers us His business partners for God’s redemption work. This is a great honor. Who are we? Nothing but dust and ashes. When we were on our own, we had messed up - not so great at allBut because we accepted his covenant, he considers us as His business partners. Let's live as his business partners!

 

Look at verses 18 and 19. Let's read these verses together:

 

v18Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.v19For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.

 

Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. This was God's vision, and God's purpose for Abraham. That's God's will, and by the will of God, it would be done. By the way, how was God going to fulfill this vision of God? That's what he shares in verse 19. God says, For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what He has promised him. God chose Abraham so that he would direct his children after him to keep the way of the Lord. Abraham directing his children to keep the way of the LORD was the whole purpose of God's calling for him. Then, his children would be those who knew and keep the way of the LORD by doing what was right and just. What kind of people? Those who do what is right and just, at work, at home, at school, and in the church, whether people watch them or not. At work, with or without any supervision, they do what is right and just; on the streets, they do what is right and just - no wickedness, no deceit, no malice is found in them - they are great people, very honest, sound and healthy in every aspect. When these people form a nation, it is a great and powerful nation all whose people do what is right and just. Then, they direct all the nations on the earth to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just; thus, all peoples on earth are taught the way of the LORD, and come to live such a wonderful life, doing what is right and just, overcoming their sinful nature. Thus, God's vision for Abraham be fulfilled. This verse reveals God's master plan for Abraham; this is God's master plan for all his covenant people. God chose Abraham to be a blessing so that all peoples on earth may be blessed through him. How would this vision of God be fulfilled? It would be fulfilled as Abraham direct his children to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just. Basically, what does it mean to be a blessing? It means to be a Bible teacher. God called us to be the fathers and mothers of many nations. How does this vision of God be fulfilled in our life? As we go and direct others, college students to keep the way of the LORD - for this, he called us - to be Bible teachers for college students.

 

How would Abraham know the way of the LORD, God's way? By experiencing him and knowing Him - his person, his perspective, his purpose, his desire, his hope, and his style. That's what's going on as God and Abraham had wrestled together in regard to the son matter, financial matter, war matter, and fear matter,... In great victories and in great failures, Abraham experienced God. Through all these struggles together with God, Abraham came to know God very personally, and thereby, came to know what kind of Person God was, what He likes, what He dislikes, what He hopes, and how He deals with things. Thus, he could understand God's way, and direct others in the way of the Lord. As we struggle to do God's work, sometimes, we weep in deep pains and sorrows; sometimes, we leap for joy; sometimes, we taste terrible failures, and sometimes, we are victorious. But there is no real failure in God, because, through such struggles, we come to know God more and more, and thereby, we are growing up in Him. We are like just mighty warriors with so many battle scars in our back, on arms, and even in the face, well experienced in the spiritual world, and thereby, understanding it very well - no longer just naive weak Christians, but indeed, mighty warriors for God. We can direct many people in the way of the Lord, showing them what to do and what not to do, which to go and not to go, and how they must live their lives. As God established Abraham as a good Bible teacher to fulfill his grand vision for him, God is establishing us as good Bible teachers who know Him very well and thereby, direct others in the way of the Lord. Then, when we see God fulfilling his vision upon our life, we will shout for joy and render glory to God.

 

Also, when we think about this verse, we can see what it means to be a Bible teacher. God says, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Teaching the Bible to others does not mean that you just share your knowledge of the Bible with them; rather, it means that you help them see what God wants them to do and do it. People are sinful, worldly, and selfish. In nature, people don't have inclination to do what is right and just. So, we wrestle with them, sometimes challenging them, and sometimes, comforting them to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then, thanks to our labor of love, thanks to our patience, they begin to pay attention to what God wants them to do and grow in God; eventually, under our care, they become strong men and women of God whose hearts are fully dedicated to Him. That's what it means to direct people in the way of the Lord; that's what it means to be Bible teachers. Simply, it means to be shepherds for God's flock.

 

Fourth, For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it (20-33). Look at verses 20 and 21. Then the LORD said, The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know. The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. God shared His concern about the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The outcry against them had reached God’s ears. What does this mean? When travelers visited these cities, they were molested and experienced terrible injustice; maybe, their sons or daughters were kidnappedThey were so angry and bitter, wanting revenge. But since all townspeople did the crime together, there was nothing they could. Out of frustration, they cried out, shouting, Ahhhhhh! That reached God’s ears. We must not do anything wicked against anyone, lest they cry against us. Also,we see that when sin reaches its limit, God’s judgment comes. God deals with people's sin. When wickedness is going on, entrust that matter in God’s hands, because God Himself is burdened about that. God is the God of love, but He is also the Judge of all – He must be fair. Through this event, Abraham learned God's justice.

 

But why did God come to earth in human form? That’s a little cumbersome. He could see everything better from heaven, in 4D! Why did He want to check it out? It seemed that God was not so delighted about destroying these cities, even though the outcry against them was so great. Maybe He was looking for a way to not destroy them – maybe He wanted to give them a chance. God does not delight in the destruction of wicked people. 

 

In verses 22 through 33, we see Abraham praying for the city of Sodom. Abraham asked God to save the righteous people in Sodom, and for the sake of the righteous people, even spare the whole city. He started with 50 righteous people, then 45, then 40, then 30, 20, and finally 10. Each time, God agreed. They exchanged their opinions, and together they drew a conclusion of how God should deal with the matter. Who was Abraham? He was just a human, nothing but dust and ashes. Yet, he suggested God how to deal with the judgment matter, and God accepted all his suggestions. Indeed, Abraham was God's council member - his business partner. What an amazing thing it is that God wants us to grow to be his council members so that He can discuss his business matters with us! 

 

The reason why Abraham was so persistent about sparing the city of Sodom was because his nephew Lot was living in that city. When some practical benefit was concerned, Lot freely left him, and Abraham was hurt. Yet, when Lot's life was at stake, he prayed wholeheartedly for his sake. In his prayer, Abraham never mentioned about Lot, but God knew why he was doing so. So, later, when God was going to destroy Sodom, because there were not 10 righteous people in it, still He rescued Lot, because of Abraham. When you pray for your loved ones, God remembers youHe might save them and give them a chance because of your prayer. 

 

God says, For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it. About 25 years ago, there was big commotion among Christians because some Christians prophesied that Los Angeles would be destroyed. It was widespread, and people were scared. Then, someone asked missionary Isaac Kim about it. At that time, he said, If there are 10 righteous people in Los Angeles, God will not destroy it. Then, sometime later, about a few years ago, again some people, even some famous preachers said that God would destroy Los Angeles, and they suggested that we must move to Arizona or Texas. At this, some Christians and even some pastors were alarmed that they moved to Texas, and, of course, nothing happened. There are always strange people, saying that they are prophets, or saying that they have seen something in their dreams; don't be deceived by them. Instead, struggle to be in the right relationship with God. When you do so, you have nothing to be afraid of, because, for your sake, God will spare the whole city of Los Angeles.

 

In his prayer, Abraham said, Though I am nothing but dust and ashes, in verse 27, May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak, in verse 30, Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, in verse 31, May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more, in verse 32. God considered Abraham so highly, honoring all his suggestions, yet Abraham did not take it for granted. Instead, in his prayer, he approached God very humbly and sincerely. God honored Abraham highly and Abraham honored God as his Creator.

 

Let’s grow up as such sincere, humble, and considerate people. Worldly education encourages us to show off so that our voice may be heard. But the Bible shows us how we must grow up. We must grow in God's image - humble, submissive, thoughtful, polite, and righteous - such great people

 

One Word: So That He Will Direct His Children To Keep The Way Of The LORD

Missionary Underwood's Prayer

posted Oct 25, 2010, 4:10 PM by Unknown user


Missionary Horace Grant Underwood prayed in korea one hundred years ago.

보이지 않는 조선의 마음


주여! 지금은 아무 것도 보이지 않습니다.
주님, 메마르고 가난한 땅
나무 한 그루 시원하게 자라 오르지 못하고 있는 땅에
저희들을 옮겨와 심으셨습니다.
Lord, nothing is visible at this moment.
Lord, you have planted us on this barren and poor land, where not even a single tree can grow tall enough.

그 넓고 넓은 태평양을 건너왔는지
그 사실이 기적입니다.
주께서 붙잡아 뚝 떨어뜨려 놓으신 듯한 이곳
지금은 아무 것도 보이지 않습니다.
It is such a miracle that we could come to this land across the wide wide Pacific Ocean.
Nothing is visible, though, in this land on which we seem to have been dropped off by your hand.

보이는 것은 고집스럽게 얼룩진 어둠뿐입니다.
어둠과 가난과 인습에 묶여 있는 조선 사람뿐입니다.
그들은 왜 묶여 있는지도, 고통이라는 것도 모르고 있습니다.
고통을 고통인줄 모르는 자에게 고통을 벗겨주겠다고 하면
의심부터 하고 화부터 냅니다.
Only stubbornly stained darkness can be seen.
Only Korean people chained with poverty and superstition can be seen.
They don't even know why they are chained, what suffering is.
They just distrust us and express anger to us as we tell them how to take away their suffering, which is not suffering to them.


조선 남자들의 속셈이 보이지 않습니다.
이 나라 조정의 내심도 보이질 않습니다.
가마를 타고 다니는 여자들을 영영 볼 기회가 없으면 어쩌나 합니다.
조선의 마음이 보이지 않습니다.
그리고 저희가 해야할 일이 보이질 않습니다.
The thoughts of Korean men are not visible.
The mind of this government is not visible.
We are afraid that we may not have any more opportunity to see the women commuting on Kamas(-a cart carried by men).
And we do not see what to do.

그러나, 주님, 순종하겠습니다.
겸손하게 순종할 때 주께서 일을 시작하시고
그 하시는 일을 우리들의 영적인 눈이 볼 수 있는 날이 있을 줄 믿나이다.
"
믿음은 바라는 것들의 실상이요, 보지 못하는 것들의 증거니... "
라고 하신 말씀을 따라
Yet, Lord! We will obey.
We believe that you begin your work as we humbly obey,
And that the day will come when our spiritual eyes will see your work,
According to your Words, "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see..."


조선의 믿음의 앞날을 볼 수 있게 될 것을 믿습니다.
지금은 우리가 황무지 위에 맨손으로 서 있는 것 같사오나
지금은 우리가 서양귀신 양귀자(洋鬼子라고 손가락질 받고 있사오나
저희들이 우리 영혼과 하나인 것을 깨닫고, 하늘 나라의 한 백성, 한 자녀임을 알고

눈물로 기뻐할 날이 있음을 믿나이다.
We believe that we will see the future of the faith of Korea.
Although we are as if standing on a desert with bare hands,
Although we are condemned to be Western devils,
We believe that the day will come when they will rejoice with tears realizing that they are one with our spirit in Christ, and that we all have one Kingdom and one Father in Heaven.

지금은 예배드릴 예배당도 없고 학교도 없고
그저 경계의 의심과 멸시와 천대함이 가득한 곳이지만
이곳이 머지않아 은총의 땅이 되리라는 것을 믿습니다.
주여! 오직 제 믿음을 붙잡아 주소서!
Although there is no church to worship you, no school to study,
Although this land is filled with doubt of suspicion, contempt, and disdain,
We believe that in the near future this land will become a land of blessing. 


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