I will list some sample responses we have heard and include Scripture references:
“I have learned afresh that we were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). God originally created us to be like Jesus Christ. He is the image of God perfectly expressed (2 Cor 4:4, Col 1:15, Heb 1:3). Now that I have been born of the Holy Spirit, He is making me more like Jesus (Romans 8:29).”
“I saw that God’s pattern for marriage (Genesis 2:24), family (Gen 1:28) and the church (Ephesians 5:29-32; John 17:21) is to reflect the community of oneness that exists within the Trinity.”
“I saw that the first woman was originally ‘in the first man’, ‘of the same essence as the first man’, bone of his bone, ‘extracted from the first man’ to be ‘brought alongside the first man’ to be the beloved ‘co-regent of the first man’ (Genesis 2:21-23). As the first woman was to the first man, the church is to ‘the second man’. The first woman foreshadows the church as the bride of Christ, even as the first man foreshadows the second man, Jesus Christ, our heavenly bridegroom (1 Corinthians 15:47). The church is the bride taken out of the wounded side of the second man, purchased by His blood (Acts 20:28). She is bone of His bone, born of His Spirit, a partaker of His nature, ‘for we are members of His body’ (Ephesians 5:30, 2 Peter 1:4). ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.’” (Ephesians 5:29-32)
“I saw that no sooner had mankind fallen into sin then God sprang into action to promise redemption and execute His plan to cover man’s sin and reverse the curse. That plan would ultimately be fulfilled by the Seed of the Woman (Gen 3:15), the virgin born Son of God, of the line of ‘Seth’ (meaning ‘the appointed substitute’; Genesis 4:25). The prophesied Messiah would come through the line of Seth, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and King David. Jesus is the fulfillment of this promise. He comes to finish the work of redemption that the Father set in motion: “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working” (John 5:17). On the cross Jesus would declare that the prophecies concerning the Seed of the Woman had come to completion: “It is finished!” (John 19:30) Our Redeemer was bruised for our iniquities, but Satan’s head was crushed by our Redeemer!”
Today we read in Genesis 49 of Jacob blessing his sons and accurately prophesying that the Messiah would come through the line of Judah, saying, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” (Genesis 49:10)
Jesus truly is ‘the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the root of David.’ (Revelation 5:5).
How much did Jacob and his family understand God’s great redemptive plan? By this time the promise given to Abraham (Gen 12:7) had been renewed (Gen 13:15, 15:7) and sealed with an oath (Genesis 22:15-18) and a covenant (Gen 15:18, 17:4-8). This promise was renewed again as the Lord appeared to Abraham’s son, Isaac, (Genesis 26:2-5) and later to Jacob (Gen 28:12-15). Jacob remembers this promise as he is in his last days and prophesies over his family (Genesis 48:4).
There is an interesting incident recorded in Genesis 48 in which Jacob adopts and blesses his grandsons, Ephraim and Manasseh. The two grandsons are accepted and treated with the full privileges and tribal rights as sons. They are the children of Joseph and were born in Egypt, but are legally decreed as belonging to Jacob by adoption with the full privileges due the ‘sons of Israel’. It reminds us of the full inheritance and covenant blessings won by the chosen firstborn of the new creation, Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15,18, Romans 8:29; Hebrews 1:6), that are freely conferred upon us – the blessings of sonship.
“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” (Romans 8:15-17)
The prophecy that had been given to Rebekah while she was carrying twins in her womb (Genesis 25:23) was that the elder (Esau) would serve the younger (Jacob). You may remember that the first sighting we have of Jacob is when he is born grabbing Esau by the heel! That’s where he gets his name: “Jacob” meaning “Heel-catcher!” This is a fitting picture because Jacob spends the first part of his life taking matters into his own hands and deceiving others. He continually fights for what was already his as a free gift by divine decree. He is continually wrestling in his own strength and getting in the way of God who wants to bless him freely. Then, when Isaac sends him to get a bride, for the rest of his life, Jacob finds that matters are no longer in his hand. He is no longer in control and he is deceived by others, and victimized by his deceiving relatives on all sides! Now at the end of his life he is a picture of a man who has been dealt with by God. He is under control, but not the control of his deceitful flesh that insists on wrestling for a blessing, nor the control of his relatives (he will not even allow himself to be controlled by Joseph’s hands!) but He is under the control of God, the true Blesser. He consciously will bless the younger by grace.
Jacob denied Reuben, his firstborn, his birthright because of his adultery with Jacob’s concubine, Bilhah (Genesis 49:4; 35:22). Instead, Jacob gives the double portion to Joseph, the firstborn of his chosen bride, Rachel. The pattern represents a principle that we discover later in the New Testament – first comes that which is natural, the first man, Adam, then the spiritual, Christ (1 Corinthians 15:46).
First comes that which is born of the flesh. Then comes that which is born of the Spirit. First comes the righteousness of the law, that condemns us all as lawbreakers. Then comes the righteousness of Christ, that fulfills the law and grants us a full pardon and an inheritance available to us by grace (1 Corinthians 15:45-50; John 3:6-7). We will see more of this pattern as we read through the Bible. Jacob had learned by sorrow that God’s will is to be done God’s way, and not through the deceitfulness of taking matters into his own hands according to his deceitful heart.
It is also interesting to note that Jacob had enjoyed 17 years with his son Joseph in Hebron. Now he had the joy of 17 years with his grandsons in Egypt. He had been robbed of 22 years of life with Joseph in between, but was experiencing in his old age, a double portion with Joseph and his grandsons.
During the first miraculous feeding of the multitude there were 5,000 men plus women and children fed with 5 loaves and 2 fish and 12 baskets of leftovers. Here, in the second miraculous feeding, there were 4,000 men plus women and children to be fed with 7 baskets of leftovers. Don’t do the math. There is no formula, just that, with Jesus, there is MORE THAN ENOUGH to meet the need!
These miracles are reminders that the Lord wants to employ His disciples to meet needs. We are to bring all that we have, no matter how meager, and put it in His hands. He knows how to use it and we can trust Him to do miraculous things.
Jesus warns his disciples to be on their guard about the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt 16:6). Once again, he gives the Pharisees and Sadducees the warning that the only sign, he will give them is the sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:39, 16:4). The yeast that Jesus tells his disciples to be on guard against, is the false teaching of religion that deceives people into accepting a religion of adherence to practical principles, precepts, piety or rituals without a relationship with Christ through repentance and faith.
PSALM 20:1-9- AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO PRAYER AND CONTINUED TRUST
The God of Jacob promises salvation. The Lord protected Jacob from getting the punishment he deserved. The Lord protected Jacob from getting his own way, but in the end, He gave him the desire of his heart.
Psalm 20:4 4 May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans! (ESV)
Psalm 20:4 4 May He give you what your heart desires and fulfill your whole purpose. (HCSB)
This Psalm is an encouragement to diligent prayer:
Psalm 20:5c 5 May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.
James 4:2b You do not have because you do not ask.
In the Psalmist’s day, they could say some trust in chariots and some in horses. Today we could say some trust in their bank accounts, their social status, or their good works. Some trust in politics or technology, BUT WE TRUST IN THE NAME (NATURE) OF OUR GOD. (Psalm 20:7)
Proverbs 4:20-27 20 My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. 21 Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart. 22 For they are life to those who find them and health to all their body. 23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. 24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth and put devious speech far from you. 25 Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. 26 Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established. 27 Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil.
PRAYER: God of Jacob, You have shown Yourself faithful in all your dealings. You encourage us to trust You. Forgive us for the times we lean on our own understanding, rely on our own cleverness, and insist on the presumed superiority of our schedules, opinions, and imaginations. Help us to give due attention to Your words. May Your gospel truth and abiding presence keep us forever on track and in perfect peace.