Friday, July 27, 2007

Leah: The Appointed One Of God

God always looks for ways that His will may be fulfilled. Some Bible scholars say that the will of God is expressed in three different ways. The three ways in which God’s will is expressed are: His ultimate will, His intentional will, and His circumstantial will. The ultimate will is what God ultimately wants, for example: the salvation of the man. The intentional will is what God wants that happens so that His ultimate will is fulfilled, for example: the death of Jesus to save the world, according to some experts, it should have been on an altar as the “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” John 1:29. His circumstantial will was what He had to do instead of His intentional, because we caused His intentional will to fail, for example: as the Jews did not accept Jesus, He had to die on the cross (Philippians 2:8).

Let us take another example: Abraham and Isaac. The ultimate will of God was to save Abraham. The intentional will of God was to make him understand the gospel through an only son: Isaac. But Abraham had another son whom He should have not had. So God had to look for a way to teach the gospel to Abraham with two children: Ishmael and Isaac. This last one was the Circumstantial Will of God.

Another example is Jacob and Esau. The ultimate will of God could be that there is someone in every generation bearing the responsibility and the privilege to live and preach the Gospel. This is what all who are in the lineage of Christ would do. This person would communicate the promise of the Messiah to the world. The intentional will of God is that this person would be Jacob. Abraham would teach Isaac, and Isaac in turn would teach Jacob. But the circumstantial will of God, made God move heaven and earth to remove Jacob from his native land, thus saving the lineage of Christ. Sister White says that Isaac felt Divinity in the words that he spoke to Jacob when Jacob disguised himself to deceive its father. God intervened to assure that Jacob received the blessing and not Esau. Esau sold his right to it for a “pot of lentils.”

The next example is Jacob, Leah and Rachel. Was it the will of God that Jacob had two spouses and their servants as concubines? Could one of them have been God’s will? If this is true then it should have been Leah. Leah was brought to Jacob, just as Eve was to Adam and Rebekah was to Isaac. (Rebekah was chosen by God to be Wife of Isaac). Leah was the only one that gave Glory to God for procreating (Genesis 29:35). In fact, it was when she gave birth to Judah that she gave Glory to God. Judah, her fourth son, originates the tribe of Judah and continues the lineage of Jesus. It seems to me that Leah had been the intentional will of God, if only Jacob had been a praying man. How different would it had been if Jacob had prayed to God having requested to him wisdom as far as choosing a life companion, instead of making God promises He could not fulfill. How different would it have been if Jacob would have waited, as his father Isaac waited for God to bring the woman to him, instead of Jacob choosing himself? As Abraham, he should have listened to the voice of God, and believe God’s Word to him.

The promise that God gave to Jacob was, “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”” Genesis 28:15. If Jacob had believed this promise - and had continued believing – and had understood everything covered in the promise, it would had been sufficient for him to hope that God could provide all his needs - including a wife - instead of working to provide them for himself. This does not mean that Jacob would have not worked for Laban, but that perhaps on different terms.

This promise also is also for us. Christ said to his apostles, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Since He is with us always He can still provide for all of our needs if we allow him – yes, even a spouse. His will will be done, if we respond, “let thy will be done.”

Friday, July 20, 2007

When Everyone Is Wrong

They seemed like a normal home. People arose from their sleep and went on to their normal affairs and chores. It was not a prefect family, but which family is? What separated this family from others, was daily family devotions, and lots of prayer. Even though, as of late, the oldest son seemed a bit rebellious, all things seem pretty well. Then one day, the mother was heard screaming with anguish. Those close by, heard the father say to the youngest son, “I am sorry it has to be this way. It is better this way. Here is a little something, it should hold you for a few days. Go with my blessings. You just do as I told you and things will work fine. Do not worry about us, we’ll be fine.” The young man – the younger of the two - just looked back nodding. He slowly walked away with a puzzled look. He ran when his father told him, “Go quickly, before your brother knows what happened.” Shortly after, the older brother showed up, angry and spouting curse words against his younger brother, “Where is he? I am going to kill him.” The father, stood by his wife, just looked sternly at him. “What is done is done,” said the father. “Your brother is gone,” the father added. The brother stood still with a face of disbelief. “Why?” he asked, “You let it happen, it is your fault.” The father answered with pain in his voice, yet firmly, “Yes, it is. I am sorry.” The son then replied angrily, “I don’t care if you’re sorry. It is not over for me.” After this, he slammed the door as he walked away.

The story does not say what happened. But, the fact is you probably already have created a situation in your mind that would fit this scenario. Probably, you have also assigned blame to the parties you think are guilty and have absolved those whom you think innocent. But, you still want to know from the writer what could happen to split a family in such way? Could it have been prevented? Can it be solved or fixed? Who is to blame? Someone messed up. And, this started a chain reaction that ended in one sibling hating the other, and the other fearing the one. And, this event robbed the parents of the joy of having their two children around them. The guilty party should pay. Most of us would say, “Amen!” The truth is they were all guilty. They all –parents and children - had their own agendas and interests, moved forward to fulfill them, without caring about the other persons involved. They were all wrong. All needed to repent.

The story is a paraphrase of what happened in Isaac’s home as written in Genesis 27. A closer look at the characters involved – from the book Patriarchs and Prophets - will show that they all had a part to play in this crisis. Let us start with Isaac. Although Isaac knew about the angel’s word to Rebekah – the oldest would serve the younger – he still favored Esau. Esau’s stories of hunting adventures thrilled Isaac. And, Isaac thought that as the elder Esau should receive the inheritance, which would include the spiritual legacy. Isaac, although a Godly man, held on to the value of passing on the legacy to the oldest. All this on top of the fact, that Isaac enjoyed the game hunted and cooked by Esau. Isaac was preparing for death; however it took more than 20 years to die. Normally God instructed these men about their death. No instruction had come from God.

Esau was a hunter. He was a man of adventure. He lived for the moment. He had no regard for the future, and much less for spiritual things. He sold his birthright and every rights to it to please his appetite. But, he was no ‘dummy.’ He knew a good opportunity when he found one. The thought of inheriting material goods was of interest to him. He probably, thought of how he could use it to enjoy his life more.

Rebekah hastened in her move without praying to God to intervene. She believed, years before, that she was to leave her home and go to a strange land to marry a man she never met. She also believed what the angel said to her about her children. However, just as Isaac had his favorite in Esau, she had her favorite on Jacob. Jacob’s temperament and disposition appealed to her more. She tried to reason with Isaac about Jacob being the rightful heir, but Isaac would not listen. When Isaac arranged with Esau to hand the blessing to him, Rebekah took matters in her own hand. She plotted a deceptive scheme to secure the blessing for her favorite. In short, Rebekah disbelieved that the One who made the promise – God - could fulfill it in His own way. The plot worked, but at a cost.

Jacob longed for the blessing of the inheritance. He learned from his mother what the angel had told her, and he treasured it in his heart. He esteemed the eternal over the temporal; however he did not have an experimental knowledge of the God whom he revered. As such, he did not trust God to give it to him. His heart had not been renewed by divine grace. He believed that the promise concerning himself could not be fulfilled so long as Esau retained the rights of the first-born, and he constantly studied to devise some way whereby he might secure the blessings which he held so precious, but his brother held so lightly. Jacob at first resisted his mother’s plans. He thought nothing good could come out of it, but was eventually overcome by her insistence. From the hour when he received the birthright, Jacob was weighed down with self-condemnation. He had sinned against his father, his brother, his own soul, and against God. In one short hour he had made work for a lifelong repentance. This scene was vivid before him in afteryears, when the wicked course of his sons oppressed his soul.

All but Esau repented. However, they all suffered the consequences of their Sin. This is more evident in Jacob and Rebekah, they never saw each other again. We are no better then these four. We can all identify with these four. Some of us are as Isaac, stubborn in our ways, even when knowing our ways are not God’s will. We find reasons to excuse our attitudes, just as Isaac did. Some of us are as Rebekah, although we once believe and trusted, we become as foolish Galatians allowing ourselves to be bewitched by disbelief and trying in our own efforts instead of depending on the Holy Spirit (Galatians 1: 1-3). How easy it would be if like Mary –the mother of Jesus – we just said, “Behold the handmaid (or handyman) of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” Luke 1:38. Some of us are as Jacob, wanting Godly things, but resisting the heart transformation from an experimental knowledge of God. This leads to not having the courage to say “No,” when temptation assails us. Some of us are As Esau, living for the moment. Our motto is "Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die" 1 Corinthians 15:32. Hopefully, we are as the first three, in that we repent and allow God to do His work in us and through us.