The Power of the Promise Part IV

Jacob and Esau – Part II

In our last lesson we saw that both Esau and Jacob were initially unconverted but yet had different attitudes to God's call and election. Esau's attitude was one of total indifference. His father Isaac had drilled into him the importance of the spiritual blessings of the Birthright and Covenant promises and had emphasized that these blessings were his by virtue of the fact that he was firstborn. But Esau couldn’t care less. He felt that the responsibility required would be too much of a burden and therefore he refused to respond positively even to the call.

Jacob, on the other hand, cherished the desire to have the birthright and covenant blessings. In contrast to Esau, who couldn’t care less, Jacob couldn’t care more. Day by day one thought, and only one, occupied his as yet unconverted mind. He wanted the spiritual blessings of the Promise more than anything else.

Undoubtedly God's spirit appealed strongly to both hearts. Esau resisted the Spirit's call until all was lost, whereas Jacob cherished the Spirit's call and was slowly yielding to the Spirit's drawing.

The mystery of human choice is mind-boggling. Why would Esau reject the call? One thing is clear, every one has freedom of choice and everyone can choose to believe. There is no explanation for the origin of unbelief just as there is no explanation for the origin of sin. The Bible calls it the mystery of iniquity.

But there is a practical lesson here for us. According to tradition the firstborn should have been the one, but here God shows that His purpose, which works by the process of election and which cannot fail, transcends all human devisings and traditions. The firstborn who was elected by human tradition was not elected by God's purpose. Why? He refused God's call into the Promise and rather than making his calling and election sure he made his non-election sure! And therefore the mysterious prediction came true.

That is, they which are children of the flesh these are not the children of god: but the children of the promise are counted for seed. Romans 9:8.

How?

But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which was born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man but of God. John 1:12,13.

Therefore:

… when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;). It was said unto her, the elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau have I hated. Romans 9:10-13.

To Reject The Call Is To Commit The Unpardonable Sin

Paul calls Esau a profane person, a person who prefers the “so called” fun and pleasures of this world (eat, drink, be merry; indulge the night club life; wine, women and music) to the new covenant blessings of eternal righteousness, eternal life and the eternal throne of God!

Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.

For ye know how afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance (no way to change his mind), though he sought it carefully with tears. Hebrews 12:16, 17.

God is calling you at this very moment! Are you resisting or are you yielding?

And the Spirit and the bride say, come. And let him that heareth say, come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Rev. 22:17.

Esau could not repent because repentance is given by the promise through the call. To reject the call is to reject the gift of repentance.

Old Covenant Devisings To Obtain New Covenant Blessings?

Jacob's as yet unconverted heart cherished the call but had not yet reached that level of surrender to be born again. And so, knowing only the birth of the flesh and the carnal mind, he was always scheming and devising ways of obtaining the birthright and New Covenant blessings.

God had promised that the younger Jacob would have had the preeminence over the older Esau and the promise would have been fulfilled by God, in God's time and in God's way! But whereas the new covenant experience is characterized by patience, faith, and righteousness (Rev. 14:12), the Old Covenant experience is characterized by impatience, unbelief and unrighteousness!

Jacob's first piece of scheming is described in Gen. 25:29-34. He bargained with the hungry Esau and managed to get Esau to sell him the birthright, as a matter of fact, scripture says that “Esau despised his birthright.” Gen. 25:34.

In the second piece of scheming Jacob's mother, Isaac's wife, Rebekah devised an unrighteous carnal scheme to obtain the birthright New-Covenant blessings by fraud. This parallels Sarah's scheme in which she told Abraham to go into Hagar to get Ishmael.

The difference between the two old covenant schemes was that Sarah's scheme produced the wrong result by the wrong method whereas Rebekah's scheme produced the right result by the wrong method.

In Paul's analysis of Abraham's family story he uses Hagar as a symbol of the covenant from Sinai – the Old Covenant (Galatians 4:21-31). In the analysis of the Isaac's family story who is the symbol of the covenant from Sinai? Undoubtedly the answer is Jacob the fraud, the “con-man”, the schemer. In the Abraham family story Hagar had to go away from the family. Similarly, in the Isaac family story, Jacob, the deceiver, had to go away from the family and when he should later return it would not be Jacob, the Old Covenant deceiver or supplanter, but rather Israel, the New Covenant Victor! Therefore between the going away and the return there would have to be a radical conversion, with a thorough cleansing from Old Covenant methodology and complete commitment to New Covenant principles by faith in the naked promises of God.

In being purged from his Old Covenant sins Jacob would have to undergo much suffering in order to learn the obedience of faith. The suffering would not be arbitrarily inflicted it would be the result of the outworking of the law of sowing and reaping. The same deception be practiced on Isaac to obtain the birthright would be practiced on him by Laban, his uncle, when he, Jacob, sought to marry his true-love Rachel. The Old Covenant definitely produces bondage, suffering, pain, and separation but the suffering is used by God to purge us of Old Covenant unbelief and Old Covenant devisings.

Let us now continue to follow the story in Patriarchs and Prophets Chapter 17.

“ Threatened with death by the wrath of Esau, Jacob went out from his father’s home a fugitive; but he carried with him the father’s blessing; Isaac had renewed to him the covenant promise, and had bidden him, as its inheritor, to seek a wife of his mother’s family in Mesopotamia. Yet it was with a deeply troubled heart that Jacob set out on his lonely journey. With only his staff in his hand he must travel hundreds of miles through a country inhabited by wild, roving tribes. In his remorse and timidity he sought to avoid men, lest he should be traced by his angry brother. He feared that he had lost forever the blessing that God had purposed to give him; and Satan was at hand to press temptations upon him.

The evening of the second day found him far away from his father’s tents. He felt that he was an outcast, and he knew that all this trouble had been brought upon him by his own wrong course. The darkness of despair pressed upon his soul, and he hardly dared to pray. But he was so utterly lonely that he felt the need of protection from God as he had never felt it before. With weeping and deep humiliation he confessed his sin, and entreated for some evidence that he was not utterly forsaken. Still his burdened heart found no relief. He had lost all confidence in himself, and he feared that the God of his fathers had cast him off.

But God did not forsake Jacob. His mercy was still extended to His erring, distrustful servant. The Lord compassionately revealed just what Jacob needed–a Saviour. He had sinned, but his heart was filled with gratitude as he saw revealed a way by which he could be restored to the favor of God.

Wearied with his journey, the wanderer lay down upon the ground, with a stone for his pillow. As he slept he beheld a ladder, bright and shining, whose base rested upon the earth, while the top reached to heaven. Upon this ladder angels were ascending and descending; above it was the Lord of glory, and from the heavens His voice was heard: ‘I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac.’ The land whereon he lay as an exile and fugitive was promised to him and to his posterity, with the assurance, ‘In thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ This promise had been given to Abraham and to Isaac, and now it was renewed to Jacob. Then in special regard to his present loneliness and distress, the words of comfort and encouragement were spoken: ‘Behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.’

The Lord knew the evil influences that would surround Jacob, and the perils to which he would be exposed. In mercy He opened up the future before the repentant fugitive, that he might understand the divine purpose with reference to himself, and be prepared to resist the temptations that would surely come to him when alone amid idolaters and scheming men. There would be ever before him the high standard at which he must aim; and the knowledge that through him the purpose of God was reaching its accomplishment, would constantly prompt him to faithfulness.

In the vision the plan of redemption was presented to Jacob, not fully, but in such parts as were essential to him at that time. The mystic ladder revealed to him in his dream was the same to which Christ referred in His conversation with Nathanael. Said He, ‘Ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.’ John 1:51. Up to the time of man’s rebellion against the government of God, there had been free communion between God and man. But the sin of Adam and Eve separated earth from heaven, so that man could not have communion with his Maker. Yet the world was not left in solitary hopelessness. The ladder represents Jesus, the appointed medium of communication. Had He not with His own merits bridged the gulf that sin had made, the ministering angels could have held no communion with fallen man. Christ connects man in his weakness and helplessness with the source of infinite power.

All this was revealed to Jacob in his dream. Although his mind at once grasped a part of the revelation, its great and mysterious truths were the study of his lifetime, and unfolded to his understanding more and more.

Jacob awoke from his sleep in the deep stillness of night. The shining forms of his vision had disappeared. Only the dim outline of the lonely hills, and above them the heavens bright with stars, now met his gaze. But he had a solemn sense that God was with him. An unseen presence filled the solitude.‘ Surely the Lord is in this place, he said, ‘and I knew it not. …This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’

‘ And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.’ In accordance with the custom of commemorating important events, Jacob set up a memorial of God’s mercy, that whenever he should pass that way he might tarry at this sacred spot to worship the Lord. And he called the place Bethel, or the ‘house of God.’ With deep gratitude he repeated the promise that God’s presence would be with him; and then he made the solemn vow, ‘If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God: and this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that Thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto Thee.’

Jacob was not here seeking to make terms with God. The Lord had already promised him prosperity, and this vow was the outflow of a heart filled with gratitude for the assurance of God’s love and mercy. Jacob felt that God had claims upon him which he must acknowledge, and that the special tokens of divine favor granted him demanded a return. So does every blessing bestowed upon us call for a response to the Author of all our mercies. The Christian should often review his past life and recall with gratitude the precious deliverances that God has wrought for him, supporting him in trial, opening ways before him when all seemed dark and forbidding, refreshing him when ready to faint. He should recognize all of them as evidences of the watchcare of heavenly angels. In view of these innumerable blessings he should often ask, with subdued and grateful heart, ‘What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me?’ Psalm 116:12.

Our time, our talents, our property, should be sacredly devoted to Him who has given us these blessings in trust. Whenever a special deliverance is wrought in our behalf, or new and unexpected favors are granted us, we should acknowledge God’s goodness, not only by expressing our gratitude in words, but, like Jacob, by gifts and offerings to His cause. As we are continually receiving the blessings of God, so we are to be continually giving.

‘ Of all that Thou shalt give me,’ said Jacob, ‘I will surely give the tenth unto Thee.’ Shall we who enjoy the full light and privileges of the gospel be content to give less to God than was given by those who lived in the former, less favored dispensation? Nay, as the blessings we enjoy are greater, are not our obligations correspondingly increased? But how small the estimate; how vain the endeavor to measure with mathematical rules, time, money, and love, against a love so immeasurable and a gift of such inconceivable worth. Tithes for Christ! Oh, meager pittance, shameful recompense for that which cost so much! From the cross of Calvary, Christ calls for an unreserved consecration. All that we have, all that we are, should be devoted to God.

With a new and abiding faith in the divine promises, and assured of the presence and guardianship of heavenly angels, Jacob pursued his journey to ‘the land of the children of the East.’ Genesis 29:1, margin. But how different his arrival from that of Abraham’s messenger nearly a hundred years before! The servant had come with a train of attendants riding upon camels, and with rich gifts of gold and silver; the son was a lonely, footsore traveler, with no possession save his staff. Like Abraham’s servant, Jacob tarried beside a well, and it was here that he met Rachel, Laban’s younger daughter. It was Jacob now who rendered service, rolling the stone from the well and watering the flocks. On making known his kinship, he was welcomed to the home of Laban. Though he came portionless and unattended, a few weeks showed the worth of his diligence and skill, and he was urged to tarry. It was arranged that he should render Laban seven years’ service for the hand of Rachel.” P.P. 188.

Conclusion

God is merciful. He does not forsake his own because they are in the Old Covenant condition but He patiently, tenderly works with them to bring them into the beautiful victorious New Covenant experience. Both Abraham and Jacob had to learn the lessons of implicit faith in God's promises. And they learnt the hard way. We have their example. Shouldn’t it be easier for us?

Faith is the victory!

Appeal

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.” Let no one try to carry his own sins, for they have been atoned for by the great sin-bearer. The only begotten Son of God voluntarily met the claims of God’s violated law. He was stricken of God and afflicted in our behalf. One with the Father, he was fully able to bear the penalty of our disobedience. By connecting his divinity with our humanity, Christ has exalted the human family. His divinity grasps the throne of the Infinite in behalf of man. As our substitute, he took our sins upon himself, and now he intercedes before the Father in our behalf. ‘In all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of his people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.’

It is impossible for us to save ourselves. Only by the efficacy of the blood of Jesus Christ can we be saved. He died on Calvary’s cross for us, and we may be complete in him; for his sacrifice is all-sufficient. Why will you keep your eyes fastened on self, when your Saviour stands beside you, saying, ‘Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light’? ‘Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.’ Lay your sins on me.

Satan will come to you, saying, ‘You are a sinner;’ but do not allow him to fill your mind with the thought that because you are sinful, God has cast you off. Say to him, Yes; I am a sinner, and for that very reason I need a Saviour. I need forgiveness and pardon, and Christ says that if I will come to him, I shall not perish. In his letter to me I read, ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ When Satan tells you that you are lost, answer, Yes; but Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. ‘A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench.’ The greater my sin, the greater my need of a Saviour.

The moment you grasp God’s promises by faith, saying, I am the lost sheep Jesus came to save, a new life will take possession of you, and you will receive strength to resist the tempter. But faith to grasp the promises does not come by feeling. ‘Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.’ You must not look for some great change to take place; you must not expect to feel some wonderful emotion. The Spirit of God alone can make a lasting impression on the mind.

Christ longs to see his people resist the adversary of souls; but only by looking away from self to Jesus can we do this. Cease to bemoan your helpless condition; for your Saviour is touched with the feeling of your infirmities, and to-day he says to you, Be not discouraged, but cast your burdens upon me. I will take them all, and will bring to pass that which is good for your soul. Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, we shall be inspired with hope and shall see the salvation of God; for he is able to keep us from falling. When we are tempted to mourn, let us force our lips to utter the praises of God; for he is worthy of praise. ‘They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.‘ ’Trust ye in the Lord forever; for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.’

Never has a soul that trusts in Jesus been left to perish. ‘I, even I, am he,’ the Lord declares, ‘that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. Put me in remembrance; let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified.’ ‘I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain; I the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right. . . . Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.’ Respond to the calls of God’s love, and say, I will trust in the Lord, and be comforted; for he has loved me. I will praise the Lord, for his anger is turned away.” R.H. 15-09-1896.