Sun, Nov 18, 2007

MANIPULATING GOD'S WILL? GENESIS 27:1-33

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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MANIPULATING GOD’S WILL?
GENESIS 27:1-33
 

            Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Genesis chapter 27 as we look at a difficult subject, God’s will and how some will try to manipulate situations to produce God’s will in their lives. Now here’s the thing.  If God has promised something you are not going to stop Him nor are you going to manufacture the response, you will only be getting in the way. You see, God is all-knowing and thus, He knows what is best for our life and He knows how to accomplish these things without our help – HE IS GOD! Let me explain it like this with the following story. We are told:

            Newscaster Paul Harvey told a remarkable story of God's providential care over thousands of allied prisoners during World War II, many of whom were Christians. One of America's mighty bombers took off from the island of Guam headed for Kokura, Japan, with a deadly cargo. Because clouds covered the target area, the sleek B-29 circled for nearly an hour until its fuel supply reached the danger point. The captain and his crew, frustrated because they were right over the primary target yet not able to fulfill their mission, finally decided they had better go for the secondary target. Changing course, they found that the sky was clear. The command was given, “Bombs away!” and the B-29 headed for its home base.

Some time later an officer received some startling information from military intelligence. Just one week before that bombing mission, the Japanese had transferred one of their largest concentrations of captured Americans to the city of Kokura. Upon reading this, the officer exclaimed, “Thank God for that protecting cloud! If the city hadn't been hidden from the bomber, it would have been destroyed and thousands of American boys would have died.” God's ways are behind the scenes; but He moves all the scenes which He is behind. We have to learn this, and let Him work.

- Source Unknown

            That truly is an important lesson for us, to get out of the way of God so He can work and don’t try to manipulate situations so God’s will can be produced.  Here in Genesis chapter 27 it might as well open up like this, “As sand through the hour glass, so goes the days of our lives!” because it is like a soap opera, only real!

            Keep in mind that Isaac and Rebekah have two sons, Esau the oldest and then Jacob, twins but not identical.  And the Lord told Rebekah and Isaac that these two sons represent two different nations and the oldest son will serve the younger.  That is just the opposite of what was normal, but that was God’s will in this situation. With that said, let’s begin reading in Genesis chapter 27, starting in verse 1 and let’s see what the Lord has for us this morning as we study His Word.

GENESIS 27:1-33

            What a story!  Isaac wants to bless Esau because he loved Esau more than Jacob. Esau was an outdoorsman, a man’s man you might say.  Now what Isaac was doing was trying to subvert the will of God by blessing Esau and not Jacob and he truly believed he could get away with this and even get some venison also in the process.  His palate controlled his life, his flesh controlled his actions and he was going to circumvent the will of God, at least he thought he was.  No a great picture of faith here!

            Rebekah hears what is going on and she knows God’s will, that Jacob is to be blessed and she loved Jacob more than Esau, he was a mamma’s boy, he liked to stay home and cook. So she comes up with a plan to fulfill God’s will. Now that might seem great but when you examine how this is going to be done, it is horrible. Rebekah wants Jacob to dress like his brother so he had that outdoor smell by wearing Esau’s clothes. He was to place goatskins on his hands and neck so he would be hairy like Esau his brother. Hey, if you have that much hair, you should be called hairy!  Also, Rebekah cooked up some goat meat and she had a way to prepare it so that it tasted like venison. And because Isaac’s eyesight was so poor, they should be able to deceive Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing thinking he was Esau!  Again, not a great picture of faith here!

            Jacob’s only concern is that he is going to get caught and he does not want to get into trouble.  He has no problem with lying, the deceit that was going on because it will fulfill the will of God! And Rebekah tells Jacob not to worry, if he gets caught then let her be cursed and not him. Again, not a great picture of faith here!

            So Jacob goes in to his father, he lies by telling him that he is Esau, he lies by saying God blessed him by providing this deer so quickly, and he lied by his dress, pretending to be Esau.  And Isaac believed him and he blessed him. Well, as soon as Jacob leaves the tent of his father, in walks Esau with the venison and ready to be blessed.  But Isaac is confused and asks who he is and he tells him that he is Esau and then the lie is seen. He tells Esau that he has already blessed Jacob thinking it was Esau. And as soon as Isaac realized what happened, he began to shake uncontrollably because he saw that he could not circumvent the will of God, he could not beat God!

            That does not mean that Rebekah and Jacob were right. God does not need our help if we are going to lie, cheat, steal, and deceive to fulfill His will.  His will is going to be accomplished with or without our help.  And for Rebekah, she has to send Jacob away to her brother Laban’s house for a short time, a few days because Esau wants to kill him and she figures he will cool off in a short period of time. But, in the end those few days lasted more than 20 years and Rebekah will never see her son again on this side of eternity!

            For Jacob, that dirty rotten scoundrel, which his name means, will have to learn some lessons of faith, he will have to be broken before he will be changed from dirty rotten scoundrel to Israel or governed by God!

            You see, although Rebekah planned the deception, Jacob was equally guilty for carrying it out. And he truly reaped what he sowed. C. H. Mackintosh had this to say regarding what Jacob gained from this:

            . . . whoever observes Jacob’s life, after he had surreptitiously [secretly] obtained his father’s blessing, will perceive that he enjoyed very little worldly felicity [happiness]. His brother sought to murder him, to avoid which he was forced to flee from his father’s house; his uncle Laban deceived him. . . . He was obliged to leave him in a clandestine [secret] manner. . . . He experienced the baseness of his son Reuben . . . the treachery and cruelty of Simeon and Levi towards the Shechemites; then he had to feel the loss of his beloved wife . . . the supposed untimely end of Joseph; and to complete it all, he was forced by famine to go into Egypt, and there died in a strange land. . . .

- C. H. Mackintosh

            I think it is important for us to understand this. A few weeks back I did a study on integrity and how important it is that we have integrity in our lives. And I used an example of a football player who fakes making a catch so that the referee will think he caught it.  I said that was wrong, that it showed a lack of integrity.  And someone asked me, and I totally understand where this person was coming from, but they said, “Isn’t that part of the game?” Yes, it might be but it does not make it right. You see, you don’t have to lie, cheat, steal, to be deceptive to win and the same is true in accomplishing God’s will!

            Think about this church, about Calvary Chapel of Manitowoc. What if we had to lie, cheat, steal, be deceptive to keep this church going? What is that saying about our God? I guess He can’t do it and we have to come up with deceptive ways to do it? Absolutely not! We do not have to do ungodly things to fulfill God’s will in our lives, in the life of this church, in life in general!  And here is the point.  The sovereign will of God will be done in spite of our or any other person’s opposition to it or our deceitful ways of obtaining it! Robert S. Candlish put it like this as he wrote:

            On the one hand, we may be tempted to extenuate or excuse the sin of those who are taking part with God, and seeking to fulfill his purpose; and, in so doing, we may run the risk of compromising God’s holy law, and lowering our own sense of truth and right. Or again, on the other hand, we may allow our unjust indignation against the faults into which we see the professing people of God betrayed, to carry us too far in the direction of an unjust and uncharitable judgment of their whole profession. We may thus strengthen in ourselves and others a prejudice, not only against the godly, but against their godliness itself, such as may be anything but conducive to the spiritual prosperity either of our own souls or of theirs.

- Robert S. Candlish, Commentary on Genesis

            Then how do we know God’s will for our lives? How do we know what to do? With the rest of our time this morning we will be looking at that and my prayer as you leave here this morning is that you would leave being able to discern God’s will for your life.  That you will leave here being able to know what to do in situations, understanding God’s plan, His purpose, His will that is going to be accomplished.

            Let me set the stage for this discussion by making this illustration. There is a harbor in Italy that can only be reached by sailing up a narrow channel that has dangerous rocks and shoals on either side. Because of that, over the years, many ships have been wrecked.  The navigation is very dangerous!

            So they came up with a way to guide these ships safely into the port. Their idea was very simple. They put up three lights on three huge poles in the harbor. Now, how does that help?  Listen carefully. When these three lights are perfectly lined up and seen as one, the ship can proceed forward and they will safely make it to the port. But, if the pilot sees two or three lights he knows that he is off course, he is in danger and he needs to readjust his course to get back in line, to be safe and make it to port.

            Folks, God has also given to us three lights or beacons to guide us. Thus, if these three beacons line up as one, then you are safe to proceed forward. But, if two or three are seen, they don’t line up, then we need to readjust to get back in line, to be safe! These three beacons of guidance are:

            1.  THE WORD OF GOD – THE OBJECTIVE STANDARD

            2.  THE HOLY SPIRIT- THE SUBJECTIVE WITNESS

            3.  THE CIRCUMSTANCES – THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE

            May we learn the lesson and not act foolishly like Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and even Esau did. But may we be guided by God’s beacons of light that will see us safely through situations we face in life!  So let’s dig in and see what we can glean as we look at how God’s work must be done God’s way!

1.  THE WORD OF GOD – THE OBJECTIVE STANDARD

            The objective standard is the Word of God and this is where many get into trouble. They either don’t know what God’s Word has to say, or they don’t care what God’s Word has to say and they ignore it, or they don’t believe this particular issue in God’s Word is for them, they are above it! Folks, God’s Word is the standard for us to follow, it is the truth and thus, by looking at any other source, any other standard, you are placing yourself in danger.  You see, this objective witness is not skewed by any biases or anything at all. God’s Word is truth – period!

            Jesus said in John 8:31-32, “ . . . ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’  And in John 17:17 we are told, Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. The Amplified Bible puts this verse like this, Sanctify them [purify, consecrate, separate them for Yourself, make them holy] by the Truth; Your Word is Truth.  May we believe it and apply it to our lives, walking according to it!

            If you don’t believe me then look at the life of king David, a man after God’s own heart. In II Samuel David is king over the nation of Israel and he had a heart of worship. Thus, after he captures the city of Jerusalem he goes to bring the Ark of the Covenant back. You see, the Philistines during the time of the high priest Eli and his wicked sons, Hophni and Phinehas during battle, captured the Ark. And the Philistines were plagued by this Ark of God and they got rid of it and it ended up finally in Kirjath Jearim for 20 years and Saul never attempted to get it back during his reign as king, he did not have a heart of worship, but David did.

So they placed the Ark of the Covenant on a new wooden cart, lots of big boards and the cart had big wheels and they are off to bring the Ark back home. And we are told in II Samuel 6:6-11, And when they came to Nachon's threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God. And David became angry because of the Lord's outbreak against Uzzah; and he called the name of the place Perez Uzzah to this day. David was afraid of the Lord that day; and he said, ‘How can the ark of the Lord come to me?’ So David would not move the ark of the Lord with him into the City of David; but David took it aside into the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite three months. And the Lord blessed Obed-Edom and all his household.

            Now wait a minute. I thought God wanted the Ark to be with David in Jerusalem? Yes, the Lord did. Then what was the problem?  The way they were bringing the Ark was not the way the Lord had instructed them to carry it, it was the way the world would do it but not God’s people. You see, this cart had big boards, and we have those big board meetings, lots of big wheels gathering together to carry out the work of God and God does not accept it. We need to be working according to God’s Word and not the world.

            David, after being angry with the Lord, finally sees the light and he sought the Lord and he brought the Ark back according to what God’s Word had said and not what the world did. The Ark of the Covenant did come back to Jerusalem.  Thus, God’s work must be done God’s way, in accordance to His Word – the first beacon!

2.  THE HOLY SPIRIT- THE SUBJECTIVE WITNESS

            Here we see the subjective witness of the Holy Spirit. Paul put it like this in I Corinthians 2:10-16, But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For ‘who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.

            You see, the Holy Spirit knows the things of God because He is God! Thus, He gives to us the heart of God, the mind of God, the deep things of God as He speaks to our hearts. Now, once again we can listen to His voice or we can choose to ignore it and do it our own way, do our own thing.  But understand that there are consequences to our actions be they good or bad, depending on our walking in the Spirit or working in the flesh!

            Case in point. Moses felt called by God to deliver his people from their bondage in Egypt, he’s the man!  But in Exodus 2:11-15 we are told, Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. And when he went out the second day, behold, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, ‘Why are you striking your companion?’ Then he said, ‘Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?’ So Moses feared and said, ‘Surely this thing is known!’ When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian; and he sat down by a well.

            Now, did God want Moses to deliver the children of Israel from their bondage in Egypt? You bet He did. Then what was the problem? The problem is simply that God did not want it done that way or at that time. But Moses had a plan! He killed one Egyptian and buried him in the sand, only maybe 2 million more to go! If that was God’s will then Egypt would look like the Bad Lands, all these little mounds of buried Egyptians throughout the land!  But that was not God’s will and it took 40 years before Moses was broken and willing to be led by God to deliver God’s people!

            A positive example of being led by the Holy Spirit is given to us in Acts 16:6-10, where we are told, Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.”

            You see, Paul was on the move but he was also sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and when a door closed, he went the other way until finally a door was opened and he went through, being led by the Holy Spirit. How did it work out? In Acts 16:11-15 we are told,Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days. And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ So she persuaded us.  Thus, God’s work must be done God’s way, in accordance to His Spirit – the second beacon!

3.  THE CIRCUMSTANCES – THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE

            Here we see the divine providence of the circumstances that come our way, that come across our path. Folks, I’m sure you have all seen God work out situations for you, place you in situations, and you know it is the Lord who has done this and it is the Lord who will see you through it, you just need to walk.

            The prophet Jeremiah had a tough ministry. He spoke to the Southern Kingdom of Judea rebuking them for their idolatry and the coming judgment of God by the hands of the Babylonians. That they were going to be taken captive to Babylon by them! Thus, they hated Jeremiah, they persecuted him, threw him in prison, threw him into a slime pit and in 40 years of service, he had not even one convert!  And in Jeremiah 20:7-9a we are told, O Lord, You induced me, and I was persuaded; You are stronger than I, and have prevailed. I am in derision daily; Everyone mocks me. For when I spoke, I cried out; I shouted, ‘Violence and plunder!’ Because the word of the Lord was made to me A reproach and a derision daily. Then I said, ‘I will not make mention of Him, Nor speak anymore in His name.’ . . .”

            Jeremiah was devastated over the situations he faced and he was blaming God for getting him into this mess. He spoke the truths of God but no one wanted to hear him, no one wanted to listen, they only persecuted him for it. And because of that, he does not want to speak any more. Jeremiah wants to quit!  How does that go?  Well, he has seen the divine providence of God in his life and he goes on to say, “. . . But His word was in my heart like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not. For I heard many mocking: ‘Fear on every side!’ ‘Report,’ they say, ‘and we will report it!’ All my acquaintances watched for my stumbling, saying, ‘Perhaps he can be induced; Then we will prevail against him, And we will take our revenge on him.’ But the Lord is with me as a mighty, awesome One. Therefore my persecutors will stumble, and will not prevail. They will be greatly ashamed, for they will not prosper. Their everlasting confusion will never be forgotten. But, O Lord of hosts, You who test the righteous, And see the mind and heart, Let me see Your vengeance on them; For I have pleaded my cause before You.  Jeremiah 20:9b-12.

            Yes, the outward circumstances didn’t look good, but Jeremiah knew that God had called him into this ministry from his mother’s womb and God put the words into his mouth. Yes, they were words of judgment but they needed to be spoken for the Southern Kingdom of Judah was living in idolatry and judgment was coming.  Let me illustrate it like this. We are told:

There was once a little bird who decided to rebel against tradition, and when it came time to fly south for the winter, he decided to stay behind. All the other birds flew south for the warmer weather, leaving the rebellious one alone.

Of course, it wasn't long before the little bird discovered he had made a terrible mistake. Winter set in and it became very cold. So, he decided that he had better take off and fly south like his friends.

He started flying, but didn't get very far before the cold north wind began to freeze his wings, and he went plummeting down, down, down ... He fell straight down from the sky, through an open hole in the rooftop of a nearby barn, and directly into a fresh pile of cow dung.

Well, the warmth thawed out his wings, and soon he was feeling fine again. But, as his little head popped out from the smelly dung, along came a cat who plucked him up and ate him.

The moral: Whenever you end up in a pile of DoDo it may not necessarily be a bad thing, and everyone that comes to pull you out of your DoDo may not necessarily be a good thing.

- The Storybin

            I bet you didn’t think you get a pearl like that this morning. But here is the thing. God’s work must be done God’s way, in accordance to the circumstances of divine providence – the third beacon!

            Thus, as you line up these three beacons of God: His Word, His Spirit and the Circumstances, you won’t go wrong. If one or more of these don’t line up, then you need to get refocused, you need to find out what is wrong and what God wants you to do.  It is as Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. The Amplified Bible puts these verses like this, Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.  You see, don’t trust your own feelings, but use those beacons that God has given to us to make sure he is guiding you!

           Also, in Psalm 37:3-5 we are told, Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.  The Amplified Bible puts these verses like this, Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass. You see, God wants to guide us, but we need to look to Him!

            Folks, allow God’s Word, through the inspiration of His Spirit according to the circumstances He brings across your path to show you the way to go! But make no mistake about it. Either with you or apart from you God’s will is going to be accomplished. Don’t try to manipulate situations like Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Esau did, but let God be the one who is leading. Don’t lie, cheat, steal, be deceptive to get God’s will done, God does not need that kind of help, He can accomplish it His way and it will be right, it will be holy, it will be fair! Follow those three beacons that God has given to you and as they line up you will not go astray, for as you do, Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 58:14.

            As I begin to close this morning, let me share these words from James Packer and listen to what he wrote as he quotes George Mueller:

“I will seek the will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with, the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions also. If the Holy Ghost guides us at all, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.”   George Mueller

If we want God to guide us, our attitude needs to be right. Here are some guidelines as to how we can play our part in arriving at right decisions.

First, we must be willing to think. It is false piety, super-supernaturalism of an unhealthy pernicious sort that demands inward impressions with no rational base, and declines to heed the constant biblical summons to consider. God made us thinking beings, and he guides our minds as we think things out in his presence.

Second, we must be willing to think ahead and weigh the long-term consequences of alternative courses of action. Often we can only see what is wise and right, and what is foolish and wrong, as we dwell on the long-term issues.

Third, we must be willing to take advice. It is a sign of conceit and immaturity to dispense with taking advice in major decisions. There are always people who know the Bible, human nature, and our own gifts and limitations better than we do, and even if we cannot finally accept their advice, nothing but good will come to us from carefully weighing what they say.

Fourth, we must be willing to be ruthlessly honest with ourselves. We must suspect ourselves: ask ourselves why we feel a particular course of action will be right and make ourselves give reasons.

Fifth, we must be willing to wait. “Wait on the Lord” is a constant refrain in the Psalms and it is a necessary word, for the Lord often keeps us waiting. When in doubt, do nothing, but continue to wait on God.

- James Packer, Your Father Loves You

            Thus, You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.  II Peter 3:17-18.

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