“Gold is the best and most wonderful thing in the world,” was Midas’ opinion. In order to challenge his conclusion, he was given the gift of the golden touch. He was not able to wield such a gift. It was beyond Midas’ discretion to possess such power. When his daughter ran to embrace him, she immediately was frozen in gold.
God’s touch is not unwieldy, though. His work with you is careful and compassionate. He has plotted and planned every detail to produce something far greater than gold. The process is the trial. The very thing you fear most is the passageway that proves our complete trust in Him. Job knew he was tried, but he sought court proceedings against God. He believed he would come forth as gold.
Is that all? Gold is such a trivial thing compared to God’s grace. Gold is used as the pavement in heaven. There is something grander than gold. David’s prayer recognized the process of God in his life also (Psalm 17:3), but the end result was much different. Would David be satisfied to come forth as gold? Not nearly enough. His vision was much more enlightened. He would not settle for precious pavement. “I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness” (Psalm 17:15).
What a profound purpose God has for you, believer! You are not simply a desired trinket in his possession. You are to be graced with the dignity of His divine character and perfection. “We know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). Before we are caught up in the divine imagination, pause and consider how great a transformation is necessary for God to do this. What skill and detail, what pain and purpose He must exercise in order to fashion you as such. We are all fascinated with the product of becoming God’s masterpiece, but the value is attained only by the process.
What comfort can be our companion then? “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; And lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, And he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Hide under the shadow of the wing of the Almighty (Psalm 17:8). Even though everything may appear to be in ruin, understand His way is perfect. Rejoice in the Lord and joy in the God of your salvation (Habakkuk 3:18). Come boldly to the throne of grace to help you in your time of need (Hebrews 4:16), for we know His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Last week one of the most educated people in the world left this planet. He was a highly regarded individual and had quite a following. He dedicated his life to things I cannot pretend to understand. As my mother used to say, “He’s too smart for his britches.” Being smart, in and of itself, is not a sin, but it is what a person does with the knowledge that counts. This scientist gave us many scientific theories and knew more about “black holes” than any living being (other than the God who created them). I believe the motive for his research was to disprove God. It seems like a terrible waste of talent. Moreover, I think of the woman that spent most of her life living with apes. When I pass from this world, I want to be known for more than ape-whispering!
Webster defines “theory” with words such as an interpretation, abstract thought, concession and tentative assumption. These words do not provide a sense of assurance, but Ps.34:7-8 does, “The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” That, my friends, is palpable security.
In Acts 26:24, ”Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.” Paul was not spewing some unproven theory. He was preaching the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ! Paul was a very learned man in the Jewish faith, and Festus had mistakenly believed that this knowledge put Paul over the top and did not consider his born-again experience on the Damascus Road. All of Paul’s pre-Christ knowledge was laid aside for the truth of the Gospel. He states in 1 Co. 2:2, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” Our quest on earth should be likewise. Our objective should be, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Php. 3:10).
Possessing knowledge can be a good or bad thing. Knowledge (and pure unbelief) led this scientist to conclude that “the concept of an afterlife is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.” I admit I was afraid of the dark as a child, but God enlightened me. “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (1 Co 13:11). I never had to worry about learning making me mad, but running with the world did. I praise God that He supplied a way through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the Cross so when I die I will spend eternity with Him. I have learned to flee the dark and run to the Light (John 14:6)!
Would you like some advice? Do you think a 130-year-old man (who has seen his share of blessing and betrayal; terror and triumph; wonder and worry) would have advice for you?
The last few chapters of Genesis focus on Jacob in a unique way. He has a lot of wisdom to offer, but the most important tip he has is in Genesis 47:9, “The days of the years of my pilgrimage…”
You probably were not expecting that to be the best tip from Jacob, but listen to what the old man is saying.
The children of Israel are about to experience privilege and blessing in the land of Egypt for more than a century because of Joseph’s wisdom. You can see the contrast between the Egyptians and the Israelites in Genesis 47. While the Egyptians run out of money, herds, lands, and freedom, the children of Israel are given food, herds, land, and freedom. While the Egyptians are becoming slaves of Pharaoh, the Israelites are earning favor. Yet, Jacob says it is all a pilgrimage. Do not grow attached!
It is a subtle insight into the mindset of this old man and he must have taught it to his children. It was not caught though. The children of Israel obviously enjoyed their choice position in Egypt too much for too long. It took a couple hundred years of slavery for God to eradicate the pleasure of Egypt from His people. Even with all the slavery and persecution, once God delivered His people from Egypt, it has been said, “God got his people out of Egypt, but getting Egypt out of his people was another story.” If only they had lived life as a pilgrimage! They would have been better for it.
God’s blessing in this life is not designed so you can anchor yourself to this terra firma. The more you indulge yourself with the blessing of this life, the more indelibly its impression upon your identity. The more comfortable you become, the less delight you have for eternal things. Keep your eyes looking ahead for the greatest blessing. Like Jacob, see this life as a pilgrimage. “These…confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on this earth. For they…seek a country…a better country, that is, an heavenly” (Hebrews 11:13-16). This was the signature of those champions listed in Hebrews 11. They did not settle for the pleasantries of this life. They saw it as God’s blessing to accomplish His will through their lives. The promise given to Abraham was still echoing through their minds.
“I will bless thee, and make thy name great…and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3).
Take the advice of an old man. Live this life as a pilgrimage. Use God’s blessing now as a tool to bless others. Keep looking forward to the eternal blessing.
Jacob lived on the edge. He struck when the opportunity was ripe without considering anyone else’s interest or welfare. His deception forced others to step between him and the blood-thirsty victim of his trickery. Even God came to Laban in a dream and warned him not to touch Jacob!
It’s encouraging to see someone like Jacob, whose relationship with God seemed to be overcast, suddenly transform as if the sunlight of faith burned through the mist. Think about the examples of his grandfather and father whenever there was a famine. Abraham and Isaac immediately descended into Egypt and lied about their wives. You see the sunbeams of good judgment peak through the clouds for Jacob because, unlike his predecessors, he avoided going down to Egypt personally. Only his sons were permitted to go down to buy food so their families would not starve to death. Does Jacob lose his senses when he hears Joseph has invited him to live in Egypt? Think about how much Jacob wanted to see his son, yet he showed restraint. Jacob journeyed through Beersheba “and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac” (Genesis 46:1). He actually desired to know God’s will in this matter! Is this the same Jacob?
At the end of Genesis 47, Jacob acknowledged God’s sovereignty with a simple gesture. After giving his last wishes to Joseph, “Israel bowed himself upon the bed’s head” (Genesis 47:31). Decades earlier, a young Joseph intimated a recent dream to his family where the stars, moon, and sun made obeisance to him. The family sneered at such insolence! Now, at the end of his life, Jacob realizes it was God’s plan and humbly accepts the handiwork of God.
Even after his death, Jacob directed his children and grandchildren to look forward to the day they would return to Canaan. Jacob definitely learned in the school of hard knocks, and he eventually graduated from such adolescent foolishness. He began to discern God’s mighty provision and masterful direction in his life.
How about your life? Has it been a little like a bumper car? You’ve arrived where you are but you have many bumps and bruises to show for it. It’s never too late to change the way you rely on God. If someone like Jacob could change then there is hope for us all.
There are many subjects and issues in Scripture which are explicitly spelled out for us, giving us little if any room for argument or discussion. For example, the Lord is very clear in His Word how he feels about issues such as homosexuality, theft, idolatry and laziness. That said, there are many other issues that are not nearly as “cut and dry” in the Bible but often instead God gives us principles to live by without giving specific details. Our passage this morning discusses how our spirit and attitude should be towards others with whom we have a difference of opinion.
In 1 Corinthians 8, we come across the subject of eating food that had at one point been offered to idols. Some found that food to be implicitly tainted by the fact that at one point it had been offered to an idol as part of false worship. Others in the church; however, had the attitude that since the idol is obviously just a man-made invention, who cares if that food had at one point been offered to an idol- that’s good food! Paul apparently could eat that food with a clear conscience. However, he also made it clear in verse 13, “Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh (meat) while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.”
Let’s swing this principle over to 2018 in America. The issue of eating meat that had once been offered to an idol is not something we face. However, there are many such issues that I think would fall into this category. In my time in fundamental circles, I’ve seen many disagreements among good godly people on things like celebrating (or not) certain holidays, differing music standards, dress standards, public vs. Christian vs. homeschool, and the list goes on. The point of this passage and lesson is not to determine who is right or wrong, but instead what our attitude should be toward others with whom we disagree.
Paul is very clear that if his eating meat that had once been offered to an idol would offend a brother, he would not eat the meat. His attitude was one of submission towards other believers. He was not going to parade around his Christian liberty but was instead going to do whatever was necessary not to offend another believer with his personal standard. Should we study these previously mentioned issues to come to our own personal convictions? Absolutely. Should we compromise our personal standards for the sake of unity? Absolutely not. But while we may be convinced we have the correct stand or understanding on an issue, we need to make sure our attitude is equally as Biblical. As 1 Corinthians 13: 4 reminds us, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.”