We're in a verse-by-verse study of the book of Genesis, and for the last couple weeks we've been looking at the story of Jacob and Esau, how Jacob stole Esau's blessing, how Esau then plotted to murder Jacob, and how Rebecca, Jacob's mom, urged him to get out of Dodge. And if you missed any of those messages, I urge you to pick them up on CD or to go online and download or podcast them. There was some great spiritual truth that we've talked about, but what we're gonna do today is move on. As Jacob now flees the wrath of Esau, we're gonna go look and see what happened, and then we're gonna bring all of that home and talk about what difference it makes to our life. So are you ready?
Are you ready? All right, thank you very much. All right, here we go, Genesis chapter 28 verse 1. So Isaac called Jacob, Isaac his father, of course, and blessed him and commanded him, Do not marry a Canaanite woman. Arise and go to Badam Aram to the house of Bethuel, your mother, Rebecca's father. This is Jacob's grandfather.
And from there take a wife for yourself, a woman obviously who knows and loves the Lord. Now we know from ancient texts found at the city of Ugarit that Badam Aram was just another name for Haran. Haran was Rebecca's hometown where her father and her brother lived. And so let's show you a map, and you'll see how far Jacob had to go. He started at Beersheba in the south, and he had to go all the way into northern Mesopotamia.
This is quite a journey all by himself. Well then Jacob left Beersheba, the Bible says, and he set out for Haran. And he came to a certain place where he stopped for the night, and he took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head and lay down to sleep. And he had a dream in which he saw a ladder resting on the earth with its top reaching into heaven, and the angels were going up and down on it. And behold, the Lord stood at the top and said to him, I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of your father Isaac, and I will give you and your descendants the land upon which you are lying.
Moreover, your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread out to the west and the east and the north and the south, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. Now folks, this is the very covenant that God gave Abraham way back in Genesis 12, and that he gave Isaac Abraham's son in Genesis 26, and now he gives it to Abraham's grandson Jacob here in Genesis chapter 28. And this covenant had three primary provisions.
Number one, possession of the Promised Land, the land of Canaan. Number two, a large number of descendants, and number three, from their lineage Abraham Isaac and Jacob, a blessing would be given to the entire world. And we know from the New Testament, Acts chapter 3, that this is a direct reference to the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was a blessing to the whole world. Verse 15, and God goes on to say to Jacob, and behold I am with you, and I will keep you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. Now watch, so Jacob arose early in the morning and took a stone that he put under his head, and he set it up as a pillar, and he poured oil on it and called on the place where he slept. They will call the name of the place Bethel, meaning the house of God. Look, then Jacob made a vow saying, if God will be with me, and will watch over me on this journey I'm taking, and will give me food to eat, and will give me clothes to wear, and will bring me back to my father's house in what?
Safety. Then he says, the Lord will be my God. Now it's obvious that here in Genesis 28 that Jacob had not yet given his whole heart and life to the Lord, but he makes a deal with God that he would surrender his life to the Lord if God will prove his reality and his faithfulness to Jacob.
And this is exactly what God did. Jacob was gone from his land, the land of Canaan, for 20 years. During that time, living in Haran, he became a wealthy man. He had sheep. He had flocks. He had wives. He had children. He had clothes to wear and food to eat. Everything that he asked God to do, God did for him, but there was still one thing.
He still was not living in his own land where his fathers lived. Ah, but God's about to fix that, folks. Genesis 31. In a dream he gives to Jacob 20 years later in Haran, God says, I'm the God of Bethel where you anointed a pillar, and you made a vow to me, Jacob. You remember that vow?
Now rise and leave this land, the land of Haran, and return to the land of your birth. This is the last part of that if. You remember? If, if, if, if, if, if. This is the last one. So Jacob came, say the next word.
Say it louder. Safely, right, to the town of Shechem in the land of, say it, Canaan. This was the deal, right? That God would bring him back safely to his land, right?
Wasn't that the deal? So look what Jacob did. Then Jacob said to his family, come now. Let us go to Bethel, and I will make an altar there to the Lord who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.
And from that day on, Jacob was a man whose whole life was totally given to God. Now, that's as far as we're going to go in the passage because it's time for us to ask our most important question. And you know what this is, don't you? Yeah, we all know.
All right, at all our campuses, we know. So are you ready? All right, come on now. Nice and loud. Here we go all together.
One, two, three. So what? Yeah. You say, Lon, that's a nice story. I appreciate that. I'm glad God came through for Jacob.
You know, I have never used a rock as a pillow, and I don't see what this story has to do with me. All right, well now look, it does have to do with you and me because what Jacob did here in Genesis 28, we call throwing out or putting out a fleece before the Lord. This expression, this phraseology comes from a story in the Old Testament about a great man of God named Gideon in Judges chapter 6. Gideon was a godly man living in a very ungodly time in Israel, and look what happened. Judges 6, and the Lord said to Gideon, go and deliver Israel from the hand of the Midianites.
Surely I will be with you. Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed the Jordan River and camped in the valley of Jezreel. Now the Jezreel Valley, I'll show you a map, is right in the heartland of Israel. It's right in the breadbasket of Israel there in upper Galilee, and so you couldn't leave all these enemies right there. You had to deal with them, and so Gideon said to God, if you indeed will save Israel by my hand as you have spoken, here comes, behold, I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand as you have said. And it was so. That's what happened. Then Gideon said to God, please don't be angry with me, Lord.
Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with this fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground be covered with dew, and that night God did so.
Only the fleece was dry while the ground was covered with dew. Then Gideon and his men rose, what's the next word? Early that morning. Early they got up, and notice immediately they obeyed God.
They rose early that morning, and they camped by the spring of Harad, and the camp of the Midianites was just north of them in the valley. And if you read the rest of chapter 7 of the book of Judges, you'll find that God did just what he said. He gave a great victory to Gideon and his army.
So let's summarize. Here we see Gideon making a deal with God just like Jacob did, but the important thing that I want you to make sure you see, please notice, is that in both cases once God used that fleece to make his will clear, Jacob and Gideon obeyed right away. Do you see that? Immediately Jacob gave his life to Christ, and immediately Gideon mustered his troops and went out to fight.
Do we see that? Okay. Now you say well Lon, you know I've always heard that throwing out a fleece like this is really not a very good way to discern God's will, and it's really not a very good way to come to a salvation decision. I mean I've always heard that doing this is an act of unbelief.
Well friends, that's not true. If you are totally committed to obeying God once he answers that fleece and shows you his will, this is not an act of unbelief. And you say well I've also always heard that God won't answer or honor these fleece things.
Well obviously that's not true. He answered it once for Jacob, he answered it twice for Gideon, and I want to show you somebody else he answered it for. Remember Abraham's servant?
We studied this Genesis chapter 24. Abraham sent him to Haran, Rebecca City, to look for a wife for his son Isaac, a godly woman. Now the servant, when he gets there, he says this, Oh Lord, I'm standing by this spring of water in Haran. May it be that when I say to a girl, please let down your jar that I may have a drink, and she says drink, and I will water your camels also. Let her be the woman that you have chosen for your servant Isaac. Do you see what the servant here is doing? He's throwing out a fleece. He's saying all right I want the first girl who offers me a drink and says I'll water your camels, and by the way remember we talked about how much water a camel can drink and he had ten of them.
It's a big deal to water these camels, remember? He said let that girl be the one you've chosen for Isaac. Well look at the next verse, and before he had even finished praying, gosh I love that, Rebecca came along with her jar and the servant hurried to meet her and said please give me a little water to drink from your jar, and after she had given him a drink she said I'll draw water for your camels too.
Bada-bing bada-boom, right? Yeah, and Rebecca after this took him to her house to meet her father Bethuel to meet her brother Laban, and the servant told them the story of how he had thrown out this fleece and how God had answered it exactly. Watch what her brother Laban and her father Bethuel said.
They said say the next five words with me, this is from the Lord. Hey they had enough sense to see God had answered this fleece, and then they turned to her her brother and her father and said to Rebecca, will you go with this man Abraham's servant? And she said I will go. Could I remind you she hasn't even known this man for 24 hours. She's never met this guy before. She doesn't know where he's from. She doesn't know Abraham. She doesn't know Isaac. She's never been away from home. She's traveling halfway across the Middle East with a stranger, and yet she said I'll go.
Why? Because she looked at that fleece and she said this is obviously God's will for me, and I will obey God's will. Praise the Lord for her.
And just like Jacob and just like Gideon she obeyed God right away as soon as he made his will clear. Now you say well Lon have you ever used the fleece before in your life? Well yeah I have lots of times. I mean I used a fleece when I was coming to Christ. I remember I was reading the Bible that this man had given me and I was in my room, and I didn't know for sure. I mean I was almost convinced Jesus was who he said he was, but I wasn't 100. I didn't know.
I was confused. So I got on my knees and I had my dog Noah next to me, and he had the mange. You know what the mange is? When the hair falls off the dog, and I'd been putting salve all over it. The vet had given me, and it wasn't getting any better. In fact it was getting worse, and I got on my knees and I said okay God if you are real and if Jesus is really who he says he is, then I want you to heal my dog. I'm gonna stop using the medicine, and I want you to heal my dog. If you're God you are big enough to heal my dog. And then I thought later well you know maybe I should have asked God like to levitate the bed or something, because I was putting my dog's life in danger, but I said nope a deal's a deal. I said heal my dog.
Well you can believe what you want to believe, but I'm here to tell you I stopped using that medicine, and three days later my dog's hair was all back. He was completely healed, and that dog that dog lived for ten more years. Now you say well Lon I'm very sorry, but my theology does not allow me to believe God heals dogs. Well then I don't know what to tell you about your theology.
That's your problem. I'm telling you God healed my dog. You do what you want with that, and I saw it with my own eyes, and that very week I got on my knees and gave my life to Jesus, because he'd made his will clear, and for me not to do that would be disobedience to God. And I remember when I was trying to decide about marrying Brenda I used a fleece. I asked her to marry me, and I said but before we get married to really know this is God's will, I want us to make a trip and meet all my relatives. They're all Jewish. You're not. Ding. So let's go see, and if they have problems, if they don't agree that we should get married, if they don't like you, then we're not gonna do it.
This is my fleece before God. My parents, my grandparents, everybody, they've got to agree, and we went to see them. We went to see my parents, went to see my grandparents, and after we met them every time I said what do you think of me marrying Brenda? What do you think of Brenda? My grandfather said to me, he said honestly I like her more than I like you.
It's true. He said if I had my way I'd adopt her and get rid of you. I'm not lying to you. And so I knew I needed to marry this woman. Friends that was 40 years ago, praise the Lord, and I got the right one. And finally I used a fleece and trying to decide whether to come be the pastor of this church. In April 1980 I was teaching Hebrew and Greek over at Capital Bible Seminary, but I knew God wanted me to be a pastor.
I just didn't know where. And on a Monday morning in April of 1980 someone walked into the seminary and said hey did you hear the pastor of McLean Bible Church resigned yesterday? And I went oh my gosh. And so I prayed and I said all right Lord I would love to go to that church but I need to know for sure you want me to. Bill Poston was one of the elders here at that time and was for many many years. He just passed away I believe last year, but he was working there at Capital with me and I said I'm gonna go by wander by Bill's office and I'm gonna tell him I heard that the pastor had resigned and if he says to me, Lon would you have any interest in being the pastor? I'm gonna take that from you God that this is the church I'm supposed to go to. Well I walked by his office peeked my head in the door went in and sat down told him I had heard this and the first words out of his mouth were Lon would you have any interest in coming to McLean Bible Church as the pastor?
I got goosebumps up and down my back sitting there and I said I would. And then as I was in the process I think I've told you a pastor friend from Northern Virginia called me and he said Lon I heard you think about going to McLean Bible Church and I said I am and he said oh man he said that church has more problems and you can shake a stick at. He said I I've been in the past for 20 years and I wouldn't touch that church with a 10-foot pole. And friend can I tell you something he didn't know the half of it. Not the half of it, but I said to him I called him by name and I said you know what if I don't go to that church I am going to be out of the will of God.
And I'm going I don't care what the problems are. How did I get that assurance? How did I have that surety? Well I'm telling you a key part of it was that fleece I threw out where Bill Poston said to me would you like to come to this church? Once that happened I knew God wanted me here and praise the Lord.
Been here 35 years. Praise the Lord. Listen to me you say so the message today is about throwing out fleeces. No that is not what the message is about. The message today is about obeying God.
That's what the message is about. When God answered Jacob's fleas in Genesis 28 Jacob obeyed God and gave his life to him. When God answered Gideon's fleas and Judges 6 Gideon obeyed God and mustered his troops. When God answered Abraham's servants fleas in Genesis 24 Rebecca obeyed God and left home to go marry Isaac. And when God answered my fleeces about my dog and about my marriage and about my Christian service I obeyed God. That's what the message is about. If I had to conclude and give you a one-sentence summary of what I'm saying to you today it's this no matter how God shows us his will I don't care if it's a fleece or prayer or through the Bible or through circumstances or through the advice of godly friends or through the inner conviction of the Holy Spirit I don't care how God shows you his will once he does the critical issue is that we obey God instantly and fully that's the point you got it amen alright listen to what God said in Jeremiah thus says the Lord of hosts the God of Israel he says I did not speak to your fathers Jeremiah or command them on the day that I brought them out of Egypt concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices that all came as part of the Mosaic covenant a year later at Mount Sinai look but God says this is what I commanded them say the next two words out loud obey me obey me and I will be your God and you will be my people but they did not obey they followed their stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts and went backwards instead of forwards folks the most important thing in your life is not attending church put money in the offering plate being a church member being a nice person trying to serve the Lord teaching Sunday school these are all great things to do but those are not the most important thing in your life or my life and the most important thing in your life and my life is to obey God pure and simple and this is why he said to Samuel the Lord did to obey is better than sacrifice 1st Samuel 15 to obey is better than church membership to obey is better than put money in the offering plate to obey is better than to serve the Lord by teaching Sunday school to obey is better nothing wrong with these other things but God said the thing I want the most is I want obedience Malachi chapter 1 if I am a father then where is my obedience God said and so folks don't kid yourself into thinking that you can disobey God and that everything's gonna go great and that God's just gonna overlook it and that it really doesn't matter all that much to it please don't think that because that is not true you want God's blessing on your life you want to see God's power in your life you want to go forwards instead of backwards in your Christian life we've got to obey God let's pray together dear Lord Jesus with our heads bowed and our eyes closed I want to ask that each of us allow the Holy Spirit to search our hearts and the question I want us to ask is Lord where am I not obeying you fully and completely and you can be sure folks wherever that is you've not surrendered your life to him in that area because a hundred percent surrender leads to a hundred percent obedience and if God shows you something folks I want you to deal with it right here and now in Jeremiah God says now therefore amend your ways and obey the voice of the Lord amend your ways repent some of us here are sleeping with our boyfriend and our girlfriend some of us here are committing adultery some of us here are involved in pornography some of us here are lusting over people and we know we're doing it and we're incorrigible some of us here have dirty mouths at work at home some of us here refuse to forgive people even though the Lord's told us to we're not gonna do it some of us here have malice in our heart towards people some of us here have damaged people through gossip some of us here have been prayerless and hard-hearted towards the Lord I mean I could go on I Charles Finney the great evangelist said you can't preach against sin in the abstract so I'm naming them out for you folks whatever it is that God shows you amend your ways he said let's repent today let's take a moment do that Lord you know this week you showed me something significant in my life that I needed to amend my ways you were telling me to do something and I just flat didn't want to do it but I did and the reason is because I told you you were Lord of my life one day and I still mean that my surrender to you Lord I want to be a hundred percent and if you're not Lord of all you're not Lord at all and so was because of that surrender that I gave you obedience and I pray father today that you would help us here to understand that the core of the problem is our surrender to Christ is it full is it complete the obedience is an outgrowth of our surrender so God bring us to that point of full surrender that we might have full obedience that we might have full blessing Oh God for people who have prayed about things and said Lord I'm willing to repent give them your help today Lord if they need to make a call to a boyfriend or a girlfriend if they need to knock off a relationship if they need to go get some help with a pornography addiction if they need to go to someone and say I'm God forgive you whatever it is Lord help us and we pray these things in Jesus name and God's people said amen you
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-09 05:42:32 / 2023-03-09 05:52:19 / 10