Richvale Church
Sunday, August 22 2021
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  • Good morning… welcome… we have been in a sermon series entitled, The Journey… and for past several weekends… we have been looking at the spiritual formation of Jacob…
    Jacob is a character in the Bible who is striving for God’s blessing…
    He wanted the double portion of the inheritance…and He did everything he could to get the birthright…from his father Isaac..
    The problem is he went about it the wrong way…Even though God had already given him the Promise…
    Jacob was cunning and when he saw an opportunity to take the Birthright from his brother Esau…He jumped on it…Jacob manipulated the situation....
    Then later... he and his mother Rebekah hatched a plan to deceive and stole the Fathers Blessing from Esau….. There is lots of control..manipulation.. deception present in our story..... It is a real mess.. and what we learn is that God is at Work…
    God works in broken places.. God works in lives of broken people… work through our broken stories…
    The broken pieces of our lives are often the fabric of God uses in his master plan.
    God is at work… However..God is not only interested in outcomes He is interested in transformation.
    Max Lucado said it best..
    “God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way because he wants you to be just like Jesus.” Max Lacado
    God will use people and cirmcumstances in order to make us more like him..
    Jacob is really enrolled in God’s boot camp… When you think about it the purpose of boot camp is to take a civilian and orientate them to military way of life…
    The goal is to take that person from being an individual to being part of a team.. From being out of shape to being in shape.. It can be a grueling process.. of being broken down physically and mentally… but they are built back up… Why does the process have to be so difficult.. the reason is that they are training Warriors.... .. who can function in combat and high pressure situations..
    This is the kind of language that the Bible uses when preparing us spiritually… The apostle Paul tells us Our fight is not physical battle but a spiritual a battle… but it just as real..…
    Ephesians 6:12 ESV
    12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
    Paul says put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day… having done all stand firm..
    Jacob had some issues..….He had inherited his mother need to control and Manipulate others …He was crafty and deceitful.. He had the ability to pull the blinders over others…
    but God saw everything.... God misses nothing…God does work in His Heart..
    In God’s boot camp, there is no rush. He chisels and shapes a person until he or she is ready to be used—not beforehand… Here is the thing… God is not in a rush… especially when it comes to our formation…
    Jacob’s boot camp was going to last for 20 years...
    T/S Jacob story is about how God Works.. One of the ways that God works…

    1. God uses Our Minds to Interpret the Present.

    If you watched the news or opened any media this past week.. .. You have read or watched something about the health crisis we are still facing.. the Devastation of the Dixie fire …The US economy and current inflation…You would have read about the crises in Afghanistan…
    life isn’t lived in vacuum… We are learning that what happens half way around the world can impact us in very real ways.
    How we interpret our world is important… Everyone of us has a worldview..
    … Our worldview is the lense that we interpret the world.. It is influenced by a number of things… … our family background… our life experiences..
    A Christian worldview is informed by two kinds of events.. one is through “natural” causation.. and the other is through the miraculous… the belief that God intervenes in history…
    Jacob experiences both events.. natural causes and God’s miracles..
    Jacob finds himself alone and running from his brother Esau… He has no family, no income...no resources. The future looks pretty dismal…
    But not all is lost… Because God is working...
    God has been working in Jacob…
    In chapter 27 Jacobs Encounter God at Bethel..
    This was His Spiritual awakenings… Jacob has a vision of this ladder or staircase with angels ascending and descending.. With the Lord… he Lord the Pre-incarnate Christ standing at the top of the ladder..or as some commentators tells us that the Lord was beside Jacob..… and he is changed by this encounter... He wakes up.. from the dream and declares. says... surely the lord is in this place and I knew it not.. this is the house of God… the gateway to heaven.. Jacob anoints the rock…sets up an altar…
    His encounter with God impacted his worldview...
    He may not understand all the details.. but one thing Jacob knew... is that God was limited to a place…The Lord.. was with him in the journey....
    Jacob… continues his journey traveling east towards his family in Haran…He travels and incredible distance of some 550 miles… 20-30 days…of solid walking..
    One Jewish commentator said that His experience at Bethel lifted Jacobs feat… In other words that experience kept him going…
    Here is the thing about faith there are going to be the mountain top ....but there are also going to be valleys…God is present in both places.. but it is in the valleys’ that we hold to what God has revealed in the light...
    God works through the miraculous.. God answers prayers, God protects, heals… saves us…
    but He also works through our Every day experiences…
    …God works holistically..he works in the heart… he works with the will… but he also works in out thoughts..
    Jesus said the greatest commandment...
    Matthew 22:37 ESV
    37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
    God uses Our Minds to Interpret the Present
    In Llyod Webbers Hymn.. that we sang this morning… the words were... take my life and let it be.. take my voice..lips..my silver and my God.. then he says Take my intellect and use every power as You choose
    Jacob had no idea when he was going to arrive at his destination… there weren’t miles stones or road signs…Jacob travelled and he depended on his observation skills.
    We told thatJacobs reaches a watering-hole… where there flocks resting and in the distance..
    Genesis 29:1–2
    1 Then Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the people of the east. 2 As he looked, he saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep lying beside it, for out of that well the flocks were watered.
    The stone on the well’s mouth was large, 3 and when all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place over the mouth of the well.
    We can learn a lot from observation…
    The inventor and artist...Leonardo da Vinci once observed that the average human "looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, inhales without awareness of odor or fragrance, and talks without thinking."
    But not da Vinci. The quintessential Renaissance man called the five senses the ministers of the soul.
    Perhaps no one in history stewarded them better than he did. Famous for his paintings The Last Supper and Mona Lisa, da Vinci trained himself in curiosity.
    He never went anywhere without his notebooks, in which he recorded ideas and observations in mirror-image cursive.
    His journals contain the genesis of some of his most ingenious ideas—a helicopter-like contraption he called an ornithopter, a diving suit, and a robotic knight.
    While on his own deathbed, he meticulously noted his own symptoms in his journal. That's devotion to learning… Da Vinci… has a journal that of several thousand pages that have been preserved… and now belong to Bill Gates..
    .Jacob makes some observations of his surroundings…
    a. He Looked...
    1. He Saw Well in the field
    2. Saw three flocks of Sheep.
    3. The Flocks were watered
    4. Stone was large on the Well.. and It would take shepherds plural to move the stone..
    Jacob learned Just from his observation ...about the condition of the flocks…... and readiness for these Shepherds to possibly have a conversation… He also observed that there was a good chance that these shepherds knew Laban…
    T/s If we are going to interpret life.. we need to be observant and we have to ask the right questions…
    Carey Niewwhof said..
    “Asking the right questions will lead you to better answers” Carey Nieuwhof
    The best kinds of questions are inductive questions… What? Who?, When? Where? How?.
    Genesis 29:4–6 (ESV)
    4 Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where do you come from?” They said, “We are from Haran.”
    5 He said to them, “Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?” They said, “We know him.”
    6 He said to them, “Is it well with him?” They said, “It is well; and see, Rachel his daughter is coming with the sheep!”
    Jacob makes inquiries - where do they come from.” The answer is from Haran… Jacob is looking for places where his life intersects God’s providence… You can almost see his thought processes.. that is interesting… These shepherds could have been from anywhere…Jacob pushes further…with his question..
    Do you know happen know Laban? (who question) - The shepherds respond and say that that they “know him.”. .
    Jacobs then asks about the family…How is Laban doing? They say Laban is doing fine… in fact here come his daughter why don’t you ask her for yourself?
    T/S Jacob story is about how God Works..
    1. God uses Our Mind to Interpret the Present.

    2. God uses Providence to Preserve His People.

    My older brother Robbie who lives in Wales ,...recently went on a hiking trip to Scotland with his son Jason…
    They were on an adventure and went several miles into the wilderness… When suddenly Robbie in the middle of the night...experienced terrible pains in his side.. It was so bad that..they didn’t even take time to pack their tent and belongings... but left immediately...... It pitch black and they disoriented …and got lost.. they finally found this road in the back woods… and fortunately there was couple were traveling on this road and stopped to help them… …The wife just happened to work for a local Doctor in a near by town… So… Robbie was able to be seen immediately and then referred to a near by hospital... It turns out he had kidney stones and had to have surgery… right away… Now…
    … You can call that good luck… you can that he was very fortunate that things turned out okay.....
    Someone once said that.. "Coincidences are God's way of remaining anonymous."
    God uses Providence to Preserve His People.
    What do we mean by Providence?
    John Piper describes providence like this.. he says… Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road.
    Switchback after switchback.
    Providence says that God is with us in all these strange turns...
    God is not just showing up after the trouble and cleaning it up. He is plotting the course and managing the troubles with far-reaching purposes for our good and for the glory of Jesus Christ…
    God is at work in Jacobs life…
    Genesis 29:9–12 ESV
    9 While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. 10 Now as soon as Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, Jacob came near and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and wept aloud. 12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s kinsman, and that he was Rebekah’s son, and she ran and told her father.
    We see the providence of God in God’s provision of a wife for Jacob.. Remember that was part of the mission.. Isaac and Rebekah.. wanted to make sure that Jacob did marry anyone form Canaan… So they sent on a mission to find a wife...
    This is one of those great Romantic scenes in the bible....... When Jacob see Rachael.. there is immediate… sparks… He is captivated by hear beauty… we told that she is beautiful in both form and beauty…
    They say Love makes us do crazy things..
    Jacob does two erratic things.
    1. He Wept out loud and kisses Rachael..
    Normally in the culture you would introduce yourself first.… then it would be appropriate to greet each other with a kiss..
    But..
    Jacob had one of those moment…where he was overwhelmed by the providence of God…He saw his future in front of him...
    This is another Bethel Moment… … Jacob is overwhelmed with the providence and the goodness of God.
    … Remember… When Jacob woke up from his vision of the ladder… The first thing he said… “Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it.”
    the second thing Jacob does is..
    b.Jacob opens the Well...
    We know that it is not the proper time to water the flock… because the well is closed… and sheep were resting — but when Rachael he came near… He foregoes all the protocols..
    — He Roles away the stone covering the well..… You get the impression that Jacob is trying to impress Rachael…Then he waters her flock.. He is basically cutting the line..
    Rachael obviously feels something.. Or maybe she in shock because she was just landed with a kiss.. but we told that…after this Rachael.. runs to tell Laban that his Nephew in town… Rachael must have felt it… after a greeting…
    God not only provides Rachael. but
    b. God provides Laban...
    Genesis 29:13–14 ESV
    13 As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he ran to meet him and embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things, 14 and Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” And he stayed with him a month.
    It is providence that Laban welcomes Jacob.. He fully embraces Jacob...“Surely you are my bone and my flesh! Laban says
    you are family… Have you ever stayed at a friends house… and they something like my home is your home… help yourself to anything… this the kind of exchange that is going on…
    R.C. Sproul said.
    There is not one piece of cosmic dust that is outside the scope of God's sovereign providence. - R.C. Sproul
    T/s Jacob story is about how God Works..
    1. God uses Our Min to Interpret the Present.
    2. God uses Providence to Preserve His People.

    3. God uses Pressure to Produce Perseverance

    Sometimes life doesn’t turn out like we imagined..... When Jacob got the blessing from his father… He never thought that he would be a fugitive… he is running for his life.. There is pressure.
    Hudson Taylor the Missionary to China (CIM)
    Once said…
    “It matters not how great the pressure is, where the pressure lies. If we make sure it never becomes between us and our Lord, then the greater the pressure, the more it presses us to him” Hudson Taylor..
    After a month passes laban and Jacob sits down to talk about the future… there was plenty of work… the question What kind of wages...would be appropriate.. Now ... laban had two daughters Leah the oldest daughter… and Rachael… the youngest…
    The Bible makes the distinction between the two sisters... we are told that..… Rachael was beautiful in form and appearance…but Leah was quite plain in comparison.... Here eyes were weak....
    Jacob has had his sights on Rachael… she is the one..and Jacob “loves” or maybe attracted too… and he is willing to do the work…what ever that is… and so he agrees to work seven years for Rachael.....
    a. Jacob willingness to Work.
    Genesis 29:18–20 ESV
    18 Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” 19 Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.
    We immediately confronted with eastern culture… Where there is bridal a price that need to paid in marriage… This is just not an ancient practice.. it still happens today… In Zimbabwe.. the paying of marriage dowry is still practiced... They call it “labola”… Where young men have to pay the parents of the bride… money....or buy live stock as part of the wedding ceremony… It is a huge problem for young men… the same issue existed in the middle east.. Where the average young man wouldn't have been able to afford the dowry… And so It was common for a young man to work in order to pay off the bridal price...
    Jacob is absolutely taken with Racheal… He offers to work 7 years.. it is basically double the going rate...
    When Laban see Jacob willingness to pay such an exorbitant price..… He sees this as an opportunity…to profit from Jacobs… generosity..…
    In the negotiations..laban never said to Jacob explicitly that he agreed to give Rachael to him… .. rather.. he says “Well, it would be better for her to marry you than somebody else.”
    Jacob has met his match in Laban..
    Now this Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Remember this.. is the exact thing happened when Jacob took advantage of his brother Esau and his father Isaac.. in stealing the Birthright and the blessing..
    Now in our text things move quickly… we don’t have any details of the seven years of Jacobs work... All we know d time passed quickly.. the years felt like days to Jacob..…
    Then the day came.. when Jacob fulfilled his part of the deal.. and goes to Laban and says...… now let me have Rachael so I can be with her
    Laban agrees.. and all the wedding arrangements are made.. there ceremony and huge feast that last for hours and hours.. Finally…Jacob takes his bride into his tent.. spends the night with his bride…But Jacob is going to be in for a rude surprise the next morning...
    Genesis 29:25 (ESV)
    Genesis 29:25 ESV
    25 And in the morning, behold, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?”
    .as daylight hit their tent.. Jacob looks over and everything's a bit of a blur from the night before.. he sees past the wedding apparel.. he looks over at the figure in the bed next to him.. and he discovers that it is not Rachael… but Leah.. Jacob is in shock.. and he immediately runs to Laban —and says.. How could you have done such a thing to me… How could you be so cruel.. calculating and deceitful…
    Jacob doesn’t seem to be disturbed… he calmly responds to Jacobs accusations..... look at this..
    Genesis 29:26–27 ESV
    26 Laban said, “It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. 27 Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.”
    Laban basically put’s it back of Jacob.. … don’t you know the customs around here? ..this shouldn’t be a surprise to you… Around… It is our custom around here that “the older girl always gets married before the younger.” You should have done your due diligence…
    Laban sounds like one of those shrewd cars salesman… He has just enough sympathy and empathy that you feel he has got your back.. … I know this is rough.. and you probably feel bad… but.. I let me give you a deal you can’t turn down… If you just complete this week of the marriage Leah… you work for another seven years and you can have Rachael....Think about it… You get two wives out of it...
    There are lots of painful moments in Jacobs life… When Jacob learns lessons the hard way.... Jacob knew that the problem really was not Laban… but himself..…
    Tim Keller says it like this.."Suddenly, a flaming spear went into Jacob’s conscience and exploded. Maybe he understood (the minute he even used the word deceived"
    A theme that comes up in the life of Jacob… The problem of making the same mistake over and over… Repetition… You have… Isaac following Abraham’s bad examples… Jacob following Rebekah example of control and manipulation.. then it is going to impact his relationships… Jacob loved Rachael more than he loved Leah..
    The strange thing is that you would think that Jacob… would have had compassion.. When you think he longed for his fathers affection...
    You would think he would have empathy.. and put himself in Leah’s shoesBut --- He doesn’t have compassion… I feel sorry for Leah… she had to deal with a huge hole in her heart..
    Leah is the unwanted one. Leah is the ugly duckling. Rachel is the swan. Leah is the one who has been rejected. Leah is the one who people have looked right through. Leah is the one who has been ignored for years and years and years.
    Every time she names a child... that expresses her longing for Jacob. Reuben is taken from a word that means to see, because what she’s saying is, “Maybe now, finally, I’ll be visible to my husband. Maybe he won’t just look through me...
    Conclusion
    GOD IS AT WORK IN THE MESS..
    What we learn from Jacob that life is not perfect…straight line… but God is God of Election and choice.... God is a God of providence… The Bible has great promises for those who trust him…
    Romans 8:28 ESV
    28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
    T/s God is at work… He is work in this nation He is at work in our community… Our Job is to join Him in his efforts..
    .There are no coincidences in our life, only God’s providence. - Greg Laurie
    1. God uses Our Minds to Interpret the Present.
    2. God uses Providence to Preserve His People.
    3. God uses Pressure to Produce Perseverance
      • Ephesians 6:12ESV

      • Matthew 22:37ESV

      • Genesis 29:9–12ESV

      • Genesis 29:13–14ESV

      • Genesis 29:18–20ESV

      • Genesis 29:25ESV

      • Genesis 29:26–27ESV

      • Romans 8:28ESV

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