Sunday, February 10, 2008

Humanity in Sin Part 42: God Appeared to Jacob Again

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 3rd February 2008 in Newton Life. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: Genesis 35

In this passage, the only One True God revealed to Jacob His plural personhood. He said, “Go up to Bethel and settle there, and buld an altar there to God (instead of “to Me”), who appeared to you when you wre fleeing from your brother Esau.” There are several passages in the Bible where God implied the plurality of His personhood.

God is the Revealer. He is also the One who is being revealed. The 3 generations, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, received revelation from the Revealer. Jacob’s weaknesses were apparent but he was also a person who consistently pursued God’s blessings.

He struggled with his brother, his uncle, his children and his God. But through it all God had preserved him. Earlier Jacob promised God that he would build an altar for Him if God protected him all the way. God reminded him of his own oath. We need to take seriously whatever we speak before God. God reminded him to fulfil his oath towards the God who revealed Himself to him.

Jacob was obedient and later on commanded his household to remove all the foreign gods among them. Here the greatness of Jacob is seen. Only 400 years later the 10 commandments was passed, of which the first was we are to have no other gods before Him. But these words already proceeded from Jacob’s lips. Before him, his grandfather Abraham had stood fast to monotheistic faith. Now God revealed Himself as the One True God through His plural personhood, Jacob understood and said to his family to get rid of all foreign gods because he believed there was only one God.

Everyone at that time has their own personal god to protect them. Jacob’s children were not as faithful as Jacob. They might have some anxiety and follow some superstitions. It is not uncommon to see parents who are godly with children who lack faith. Jacob buried all their idols. This could create a lot of commotions as people might be offended and also afraid that some disasters might happen. But Jacob was not afraid of false gods. We see later that the terror of God fell upon Jacob so that nobody pursued them (v.5). Here we see one principle that when we are fully obedient to God and bravely displayed our faith, the problems in our surrounding come under control.

Jacob’s faith was not only theoretical belief but it transformed into action. Jacob built an altar and called it El Bethel, which means God in the temple of God. It means that the temple of God is not empty, but God dwells in it. So his faith is not an empty religion, but faith given to him by the true and living God.

God told Jacob that his name was Jacob but he would no longer be called Jacob, but Israel. This is the second time God told him his name was Israel. The first time was when Jacob wrestled with the Messenger of God, who changed his name to Israel when Jacob was blessed. God reminded him of his new name, and then revealed to him what would happen in the future. Israel means the Crown Prince of God. From the day of creation God had wanted to crown us. Psalms 8 said that God had crowned man with glory and honor. We often forget we are human beings and we do not live like one. If for one instance we suddenly understand that we are human beings, our life will be lifted up. When a person live a holy and righteous life, we can see how great the honor of humanity is.

When we are born again, we are new creation in Christ. The old has gone and the new has come. We will manifest the glory of heaven and not the decadence of the world. But we often still live as though we never have a new life. If we always go back to our old self, we will live a defeated life.

Before Jacob died, he had become Israel. What about us? Do we still live as though we have never believed? May we reach abundant life through living faith in the promises of God in Christ.


Post a Comment

<< Home