The Encourager

The Encourager

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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.

When Was the Kingdom Established on Earth? (p2)

Saturday, April 10, 2021

When Was the Kingdom Established on the Earth? (part 2)

by Heath Rogers

Last week we saw that the Kingdom of God was established on the first Pentecost after the Lord’s resurrection. This event, recorded in Acts 2, certainly fits the prophetic timeframe of both Daniel 2:44 and Mark 9:1. However, there is another way to show when the Kingdom was established. A comparison of some New Testament references to the Kingdom indicates that a change did take place with the events recorded in Acts chapter two.

Before Acts 2, the Kingdom is spoken of as being at hand.

John the Baptist preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2). After His baptism and temptation, Jesus preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). When Jesus first chose the twelve, He sent them out to preach, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:7). Later, He sent the 70 out to preach, “The kingdom of God has come near to you” (Luke 10:9). “At hand” means that something is imminent, approaching or drawing near.

Jesus told a crowd, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power” (Mark 9:1). The Lord indicated that the Kingdom was not present at the time He was speaking, but they were to anticipate its arrival in their lifetime.

After Acts 2, references to the Kingdom are different.

Paul said that Christians were in the Kingdom, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13).

Paul told the Thessalonians that they had been called into the Kingdom, “That you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2:12).

The apostle John said that he was in the kingdom, “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:9).

There are some references to the Kingdom being anticipated after Acts 2. However, a close look at these verses will show that the subject under consideration is not an anticipation of an earthly kingdom, but realizing the eternal, heavenly presence of God. “For so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11). “And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:18). We may wait for a heavenly phase of the Kingdom, but that doesn’t mean the Kingdom has yet to be established. It just has yet to be delivered to God in Heaven, “Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power” (1 Cor. 15:24).

Jesus established His Kingdom in the first century. While there are glorious aspects of the Kingdom yet to be realized, the Kingdom itself is here. Will you become a part of it by surrendering yourself to the reign of Christ? Obey the gospel today.

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