The Encourager

The Encourager

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Procrastination Regarding Obedience

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Procrastination Regarding Obedience

by Jeff Curtis

 

God’s people should be aware of the temptation to procrastinate in obeying Him. When Jacob was fleeing to Haran to escape the anger of Esau, God appeared to him in a dream at Bethel. God promised to be with Jacob and bless him wherever he travelled and then bring him back to the land of his birth. God also repeated to him the covenant promises that He had made to Abraham: the gift of Canaan and many descendants, who be a blessing to all the families of the earth. In response to this vision, Jacob promised to serve God. He set up a pillar at Bethel (“the house of God”) and promised to give God a tenth of all the blessings that he received (Gen. 28:12-22).

 

The text doesn’t tell how many years had passed since the Lord’s manifestation to Jacob at Bethel; but he spent twenty years in Haran, where eleven sons and one daughter were born to his wives and their maidservants. At the end of that time, Jacob reminded Rachel and Leah how their father had lied and cheated him throughout his stay in their homeland. He also revealed to his wives that God had appeared to him and told him to return to the land of his birth (Gen. 31:13), where his father still lived. However, after Laban left them on the east side of the Jordan River, instead of crossing over into Canaan in accordance to God’s command, Jacob and his family evidently settled down and spent a number years in Succoth. Jacob built a house there and booths for his livestock (33:17). When he finally crossed the Jordan and returned to Canaan, he bought a piece of property for his family in Shechem (33:18-20). They lived there for a period of time before incidents transpired in chapter 34.

 

Why was Jacob hesitant to return to Bethel or go home to father near Hebron? (1) He may still have been afraid to live too close to Esau in Edom. (2) Maybe he thought that his father was dead by this time – or was too embarrassed to face him again after all the hurt he has caused him. (3) Since he had given Esau a large portion of his wealth in livestock (33:8-11), he may have wanted to avoid giving another ten percent to God at Bethel (28:22). Whatever Jacob’s reasons were for procrastinating in obeying God, they had sad and hurtful consequences.

 

When people hear the call of the Lord to do His will, it is unwise to procrastinate or to give only partial obedience. The Bible contains many examples of such responses. 1) Samuel rebuked King Saul for rending partial obedience (1Samuel 15: 22,23). 2) A psalmist challenged his contemporaries not to postpone obedience: “Today, if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness…” (Psa. 95:7c-11). 3) The writer of Hebrews quoted this psalm to encourage Jewish Christians not to delay in the obedience to the Lord (Heb. 3:7-4:11). 4) Writing centuries before, Isaiah urged the Israelites who would be freed from Babylonian captivity that it was the “favorable time” (“a day of salvation”) for them to return to Palestine and rebuild the desolate places (Isa. 49:8-10). Most of the exiles from Judah procrastinated, refusing the call of God; and they never returned to the Promised Land. 5) Paul used Isaiah’s words in a different way: He encouraged Christians “not to receive the grace of God in vain” and not to cause offense that might discredit the cause of Christ. He appealed for an immediate response by the Corinthians, saying, “Behold, now is ‘the acceptable time,’ now is ‘the day of salvation’” (2Cor. 6:1-3). 6) Paul made a similar appeal to the Ephesians, who were careless in their “walk” as children of God. He said they were like sleepwalkers and needed to wake up and make the most of their time “because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5”14-16).

 

Christians constantly face the temptation to procrastinate in serving God. May He help us to act promptly and wisely.

The Lord's Power to Succeed

Saturday, April 17, 2021

The Lord’s Power to Succeed

by Jeff Curtis

The patriarchs and the later Jewish people viewed parenthood as a heritage of God (Psalm 127:1, 3; “1 Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” and “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.”) This view of family stewardship was especially appropriate in the case of Jacob, to whom God repeated the same basic promise that He had made to Abraham and Isaac. Yahweh reiterated His land promise, (Genesis 28:14).

 

The Lord had chosen Jacob to the next in line for this promise to be fulfilled. But strife between his two wives soon led to his involvement with two secondary wives, Bilhah and Zilpah. These four women helped to build a large family for Jacob and also created many problems for the patriarch. Jacob would participate in creating a family in which jealousy and division would often flare up in disturbing ways.

 

God in His mercy and compassion, blessed the afflicted and unloved in order to fulfill His plan for building a nation (29:31-35). In 29:30, we read that Jacob “loved Rachel more than Leah.” When “the Lord saw that Leah was unloved,” He enabled her to conceive (29:31). Leah was wrong in thinking that now Jacob would love her (29:32). It was impossible for Jacob to love both equally

 

Nevertheless, Leah lived in hope that Jacob would love her more if he realized that her fertility was the result of God’s involvement. After an unstated period of time, she gave birth to a second son. She gave the Lord credit for this birth saying that He had “heard” that she was “unloved”; suggesting that she had been praying to God about her unhappy condition.

 

Leah didn’t give up easily. She surpasses Rachel in one area, and that was childbearing. Since Jacob continued to want sons, she evidently encouraged him in that respect; so, she conceived and gave birth to a third son. She thought this time her husband would “become attached” or “joined” to her; therefore, she named this sone “Levi” (29:34). She had physically joined with Jacob, and together they had produced three sons; but she wanted a deeper joining of the heart like the relationship she saw with Jacob and Rachel.

 

Leah was disappointed again, but she wouldn’t stop trying. A fourth time, she conceived and bore Jacob a son. It seems clear that she had been praying to the Lord because, following this birth, she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” She named this son Judah (29:35). With the birth of Judah, Leah decided to stop complaining to the Lord about her husband’s lack of affection. Instead, she determined to praise Him for blessing her with this fourth healthy son.

 

God honored Leah’s example of steadfast love for her husband in later Jewish history, even though Jacob loved Rachel more than he loved her. This evident because the two most important tribes descended from Leah, through Levi and Judah. The first was the priestly tribe of Levi, which brought Moses, the lawgiver, as well as his brother Aaron, who became the father of the Levitical priesthood in Israel. The second was the kingly tribe of Judah, which brought David, Israel’s greatest king, and ultimately Jesus Christ, the “King of Kings” (Revelation 19:16) and Savior of the world.

Displaying 157 - 158 of 310

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