Hear this, O priests! Pay attention, O house of Israel! Give ear, O house of the king! For the judgment is for you; for you have been a snare at Mizpah and a net spread upon Tabor. And the revolters have gone deep into slaughter, but I will discipline all of them.
This week we begin a new series on the life of Jacob. Just like with Abraham, Isaac is still alive and plays a role, but the focus begins to shift to the next generation. We saw back in Genesis chapter 25 a preview of what we are about to encounter in the ensuing stories. We saw Esau, the firstborn, a wild man that had no interest in his birthright. As the firstborn, he stood to be the inheritor of all that Abraham and Isaac had accumulated over the years. Esau willingly trades his birthright for a lentil stew. We were also introduced to Jacob, the deceiver. Jacob, the younger brother, had the desire to take Esau’s place. When Esau had a felt need Jacob was quick to take advantage of the situation. This aspect of Jacob’s personality, the desire to get ahead at the expense of others, will show up again in later stories. The story we have before us today is probably one of the more well-known events in the life of Jacob and it is a disappointing one. Everyone in this story is a failure. The sins of Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Esau are all on display here. The great patriarchs of our faith are shown to us, just as they are, just as we are, sinners. We also have before us a demonstration of the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. I remember as a young Bible college student trying to grapple with these concepts. How can and how does God use the sinful and rebellious acts of people to accomplish His will and eternal decrees? How can people committing acts against the will of God be at the same time the will of God? Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will? In some ways, I still grapple with these ideas because my mind is finite, bound by our reality and time. These things spring out of the infinite and eternal mind of God. And though I still ponder these thoughts, I have learned to be content with the answer that Scripture gives us, “Who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”
Zechariah’s Visions: Part 2. Zechariah has more to say about the coming kingdom than any other minor prophecy. The last three chapters of Zechariah describe in vivid detail the final days of the great tribulation and the first days of the millennial reign of Christ. Zechariah’s vision is of a future kingdom where everything, from the temple altar to the cooking pots to the bells on horses’ bridles, is holy.
A year ago, we started working our way through the book of Genesis. The first book is full of themes and doctrines that each subsequent book expands and develops. If you are wanting to learn about any area of theology, the study of God, you must consult Genesis to get a complete understanding. Most recently we have looked at the life of Abraham. Much of what we know about the salvation that God has given to us is rooted in the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Today, on Resurrection Sunday, we are going to break from Genesis and take a detour into a book about a man who was probably a contemporary of Abraham, Job. Like Abraham, Job had an understanding of the ways of God that probably exceeds what we give him credit for. Job chapter 19 begins with Job defending himself against his so-called friends. Job has experienced the loss of children, the loss of prosperity, and the loss of his health. He is experiencing the greatest pain and suffering of his life. You would expect his friends to come and encourage him, however, they level accusations against him claiming that it is because of his sin that he is experiencing all his trouble. Of course, we know that this is not true because at the beginning of the book we were allowed to see that this is a test of Job’s faith from God and an occasion of temptation from Satan. While Job is in the test, he feels that God has come against him like an army sieging a city. His family want nothing to do with him. He has sunk to the bottom.
In verse 23-24 Job announces that he wishes his words to be written, engraved in the rock forever. Some commentators suggest that he is about to relay the epitaph that he desires to be inscribed on his tomb. We can’t be sure this is true, but what comes after would be a very fitting inscription. What Job said all those many years ago stands today. In his words we hear the reality of death and its destruction. He speaks of the reality of the Redeemer. And he introduces us to the reality of the Resurrection.
If you were to ask anyone that has even the smallest familiarity with Christianity what are its main teachings, they would probably, eventually, say something about Jesus dying for sin. If you ask a child that is growing up in the church, they will say that Jesus died for my sins. It is a phrase that people can easily say. Ray Comfort has many videos where he asks people whether they think they are a good person or not. Invariably they all say yes, they’re a good person. Then he begins to ask them about the 10 Commandments. “Have you ever lied.” “Yes, more times than I can count.” “Have you ever stolen anything, no matter how small?” “Yes, I have.” And so on. Sometimes he’ll ask them what did Jesus do about sin? And most have the answer; Jesus died for sin.
Jesus died for sin all those many Fridays ago. This is why we have gathered together this night, to remember that Jesus died for sin. 1 Peter 2:24 says that, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” So we must not just recognize the historical event that is Jesus’ death. We must also grapple with the idea of sin. What is sin? If Jesus died for it, we should know what it is. What is the meaning of sin? I will argue that sin has one definition, but it means one thing for an unbeliever and another for a believer. Then we must look at what God did about sin.