By Faith, Jacob trusted God’s promises

Introduction:

The movie Love’s Unfolding Dream is based upon a series of books by Janet Oke. In this scene Belinda (Scout Taylor-Compton), an aspiring doctor in the little Western town of Anderson’s Corner, is caring for Ms. Stanfordsmythe, a wealthy stroke victim from Boston, Massachusetts. Belinda is unaware that Ms. Stanfordsmythe lost both of her children to death, and Ms. Standfordsmythe is unaware that Belinda lost her mother and father when she was just nine years old. The conversation that ensues shows the stark difference between Belinda’s resilient faith and Ms. Stanfordsmythe’s cynical doubt.

“How ya’ doing today, Ms. Stanfordsmythe?” Belinda asks.

“How do you think I’m feeling—being forced to endure these primitive conditions?” she replies.

“You know, we’re not all uncivilized here,” says Belinda.

“Really? Did I somehow miss seeing the opera house or a good library or even a hat shop with the latest from Europe? No? I thought not!”

“Anderson Corner has other things to offer,” replies Belinda.

“Such as?”

“Good people, and a church that welcomes everybody—including strangers. We take care of each other in difficult times,” says Belinda.

“You’ve never even been outside this small town, have you?” asks Ms. Stanfordsmythe.

“Actually, I was born in New York,” replies Belinda. “I didn’t come here till I was 14. So I do know a few things about the world outside. But I much prefer Anderson Corner.”

“You actually like it here!”

“Compared to New York, it’s heaven on earth!” says Belinda. “I’m gonna miss it terribly when I leave to study to be a doctor.”

“Well, there’s a surprising ambition for a farm girl,” says Ms. Stanfordsmythe.

“I believe it’s what God called me to do,” says Belinda.

“God? Ha! Don’t put your trust in God, young woman. He is unconcerned with your ambitions!”

“You don’t mean that,” Belinda insists.

“The only thing you have to rely on in this world is yourself!” Ms. Stanfordsmythe insists.

“It must be awful lonely believing in nothing but myself,” Belinda replies.

“When you’ve had a little experience with the harsh realities of life, you’ll abandon that naive faith!” Ms. Stanfordsmythe fires back.

“I’ve had a great deal experience of harsh reality. Without my faith, I expect I’d be much like you.”

Ms. Stanfordsmythe looks puzzled: “How’s that?”

“Very unhappy,” Belinda replies.

Elapsed time: DVD, scene 6; 00:26:08–00:27:46

Rated PG

Loves Unfolding Dream (Twentieth Century Fox, 2008), directed by Michael Landon Jr; submitted by Van Morris, Mount Washington, Kentucky

So, how does your faith make you feel? Does trusting in God make you happy? Does God make you happy? Without your faith would you be unhappy? Now, I really do not believe that all Christians are happy and joyful all the time. But I like to believe that being reminded of God’s promises will encourage and equip us for the good times and the bad. I want to believe that coming back to God’s promises, will gives us renewed hope.

Today, I want to get into a passage about that will once again take us back to Genesis. We will look at Jacob and how he blessed his son and two of his grandsons. In this blessing he was prophetic, but in this blessing he was trusting in God’s promises.

My theme and application:

Jacob blesses both of Joseph’s sons relying on the promises of God. We also can have faith, relying on God’s promises.

Recall that we introduced Jacob last Sunday. Then he was not yet married. He was a conniving man and he stole his brother’s birthright. But recall that this showed God’s sovereignty. God was in charge in everything.  God’s will came to pass.

Read with me Hebrews 11:21:

Heb 11:21

By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

Now, years later Jacob is 147 years old and has had a large family. He has 13 children, 12 of them sons.

I heard about a pastor who said:

On one of my pastoral visits, I had just stepped inside a hospital elevator and punched the button for the fifth floor when a young pregnant woman slipped in beside me.

Noticing she glanced at the button panel, but didn’t press a button for another floor, I asked, “Number five?”

“Heavens no!” she gasped. “It’s only my first!”

Preston A. Taylor, Hondo, Texas. Christian Reader, “Lite Fare.”

 

Well, her first but Joseph had 13 children. A lot has happened in the last few years to Jacob. Now, here he is and he is grateful.

  1. God made a promise to Abraham and that promise was still being fulfilled. The promise is called the Abrahamic covenant and that was first in Genesis 12:1-3, let’s turn there.
    1. Gen 12:1-3: The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
    2. Now, turn over to Genesis 13:14-18: The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.” So Abram moved his tents and went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar to the LORD.
    3. Now, this covenant is again repeated in Genesis 15: 18-21: On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates–the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”
    4. Once again, now turn over to Genesis 17:6: I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.
    5. These are the promises of God to Abraham and his descendants, understand that Christians are grafted into these promises. (Romans 11:17-24; Galatians 3:15-29 (especially 29); 4:1-6; 21-31 (especially 28))
    6. Jacob knew these promises and God, who is sovereign and in control, was going to fulfill the Abrahamic covenant even through conniving, Jacob. God fulfills his promises even through you and me.
    7. So, we come to Genesis 48 and Jacob is about to die and he is going to bless his children and grandchildren.
  2. Let’s look at the blessing:
    1. Turn to Genesis 48:15-16: Then he blessed Joseph and said, “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm –may he bless these boys. May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly upon the earth.”
    2. This blessing predicts the future similarly to the blessing that Isaac gave upon Jacob and Esau in Genesis 27.
    3. How can anyone predict the future?
    4. In 1995, an American scientist named Clifford Stoll boldly predicted that the Internet would be just another passing fad. He wrote an article forNewsweek titled “The Internet? Bah!” Here’s what Stoll said in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio:
    5. I expect the value of the Internet for communications in general isn’t very high. I don’t think it will ever replace face to face meetings and real rallies—things that get commitment and involvement from people. Rather, it induces a very shallow … involvement and as such, I think it’s grossly over-promoted and there’s a great deal of hyperbole surrounding it.
    6. I think it’s grossly oversold and within two or three years people will shrug and say, ‘”Uh yep, it was a fad of the early 90’s and now, oh yeah, it still exists but hey, I’ve got a life to lead and work to do. I don’t have time to waste online.” Or, “I’ll collect my email, I’ll read it, why should I bother prowling around the Worldwide Web …” simply because there’s so little of value there.
    7. Ten years later, in a 2006 TED talk, Stoll reflected on his failed predictions and said, “If you really want to know about the future, don’t ask a technologist, a scientist, a physicist. No! Don’t ask somebody who’s writing code. No, if you want to know what society’s going to be like in 20 years, ask a kindergarten teacher.”[1]
    8. I like the last line, ask a kindergarten teacher!
    9. Or, God. God knows the future and God had already given future promises to Jacob. Jacob, personally heard God’s promise. Turn over to Genesis 28:13: here above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
    10. Jacob knew God’s promise and he clung to God’s promise as he blessed. Next he blessed two of his grandsons. He blessed the younger one first.
    11. Turn back to Genesis 48:17-22: When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.” But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.” He blessed them that day and said,
    12. “In your name will Israel pronounce this blessing: ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.'” So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh. Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and take you back to the land of your fathers. And to you, as one who is over your brothers, I give the ridge of land I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.”
    13. Jacob knew God’s promises and blessed accordingly. This was faith, for this was trusting in God.
  • Okay, now is for us to also trust in the promises of God. Have faith like Jacob.
    1. God has promises found in Scripture and we must trust in these promises.
      1. We must trust as the Lord being our Light and our Salvation, whom shall we fear. (Psalm 27:1)
      2. We must trust that we can look our eyes unto the hills our help comes from the Lord. (Psalm 121)
      3. We must trust the Lord is our Shepherd. (Psalm 23)
      4. We must trust Phil. 4:4-13: We are to pray with prayer and petition with thanksgiving and then there is peace that passes understanding. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
      5. We must trust James 4:7 that when we submit to God, we can resist the devil and he will flee from us.
      6. We must take security and trust in John 3:16-17: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
      7. We must cling to the promise of Rev. 21 and the new Jerusalem.
      8. We must cling to the promise that absent from the body is present with the Lord. (2 Cor. 5:8)
      9. As Jacob held true to the promises when giving out this prophetic blessing, so we must cling to the promises of Scripture.

Close:

Saharan Run Shows Amazing Endurance

Charlie Engle, Ray Zahab, and Kevin Lin know endurance better than most. For 111 days, they ran the equivalent of two marathons a day in order to cross the entire Sahara Desert on foot. They touched the waters at Senegal and then made their way through Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya, and Egypt to touch the waters of the Red Sea. Along the way, the trio faced blazing afternoons of over 100 degrees, jarring, freezing nights, sandstorms, tendonitis, violent sickness, and the usual aches, pains, and blisters. But the biggest challenge they faced can be summed up in one word: water. Finding it in its purest, cleanest form gets to be a bit of a chore while in the middle of nowhere!

Crossing the Saharan Desert on foot is an amazing accomplishment. But just as commendable are these marathon finishers:

  • Christians who finish their lives still growing, still serving.
    • Husbands and wives who stay faithful to each other “until death do us part.”
    • Young people who preserve their virginity until marriage, in spite of crushing peer pressure.
    • Pastors who stay passionate about ministry until their last breath.
    • Church members who weather the rougher patches and remain joyful, loving, and faithful.

Jon R. Mutchler, Ferndale, Washington; source: Anna Johnson, “3 ultra-athletes run across Sahara,” USA Today (2-20-07)

Let’s pray

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

[1] Molly Bloom, “The Internet will be a fad, claimed scientist in ’95,” MPR News (2-16-12)

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