This is our third week looking at this lengthy passage about Jacob leaving Laban’s house. We have heard Jacob’s argument that he gave to his wives as to why they should leave. We also heard Rachel’s and Leah’s description of how they had been mistreated by their father and their agreement with Jacob that he should do what God has said. While Laban was away shearing his sheep, Jacob left with his family and headed for Gilead. But Laban found out what happened and chased Jacob down. Laban confronted Jacob and accused him of trickery and of theft. Laban searched through all the tents of Jacob but did not find his stolen idols which Rachel had hidden. After watching Laban go through all of his stuff, Jacob became angry and unloaded his anger in a short tirade against Laban. Jacob complained of the years of mistreatment at the hands of Laban and cited examples. In verses 43-55, we get to see what happens next. Will these two men settle their disagreements? Will there be peace between these two? We’ll see the answers today. In verses 43-44, we find a proposal for a covenant agreement between Laban and Jacob. In verses, 45-54 we read of the different elements of the covenant. And finally, in verse 55 is the departure of Laban.
3. Holiness and Sin a. Holiness does not destroy the presence of indwelling sin. But it does cause hatred toward it and a desire to be free from it. b. Sanctification is a progressive work and does not come to perfection all at once. c. Sanctification is an imperfect work. The best of men is a man at best. d. True holiness is a reality. It is something that can be seen, known and pointed out. If it exists it will be seen. e. We need to make allowances for backsliding. Every road has some twists and turns. But a person who willfully and unashamedly sins and willfully neglects what God says to do cannot be called holy. John Owen said, “I do not understand how a man can be a true believer unto whom sin is not the greatest burden, sorrow and trouble.” Why True, Practical Holiness Is So Important 1. Can holiness save us? Holiness cannot put away sin, cover iniquities, make satisfaction for transgression, or pay our debt to God. “Our best things are stained and tainted with imperfection. They are all more or less incomplete, wrong in the motive or defective in the performance. By the deeds of the law shall no child of Adam ever be justified.” 2. We must be holy because God commands it. 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” 1 Peter 1:15-16, “but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” Matthew 5:48, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” 3. We must be holy because it is the end and purpose for which Christ came into the world. Jesus is a complete savior in that he not only to away the guilt of sin but the power. 2 Corinthians 5:15, “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” Ephesians 5:25-26, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.”
When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling; he was exalted in Israel, but he incurred guilt through Baal and died. 2 And now they sin more and more, and make for themselves metal images, idols skillfully made of their silver, all of them the work of craftsmen. It is said of them, “Those who offer human sacrifice kiss calves!” 3 Therefore they shall be like the morning mist or like the dew that goes early away, like the chaff that swirls from the threshing floor or like smoke from a window. 4 But I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior. 5 It was I who knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought; 6 but when they had grazed,[a] they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me. 7 So I am to them like a lion; like a leopard I will lurk beside the way. 8 I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs; I will tear open their breast, and there I will devour them like a lion, as a wild beast would rip them open. 9 He destroys[b] you, O Israel, for you are against me, against your helper. 10 Where now is your king, to save you in all your cities? Where are all your rulers— those of whom you said, “Give me a king and princes”? 11 I gave you a king in my anger, and I took him away in my wrath. 12 The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is kept in store. 13 The pangs of childbirth come for him, but he is an unwise son, for at the right time he does not present himself at the opening of the womb. 14 I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol; I shall redeem them from Death.[c] O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion is hidden from my eyes. 15 Though he may flourish among his brothers, the east wind, the wind of the Lord, shall come, rising from the wilderness, and his fountain shall dry up; his spring shall be parched; it shall strip his treasury of every precious thing. 16 [d] Samaria shall bear her guilt, because she has rebelled against her God; they shall fall by the sword; their little ones shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women ripped open.
Last time we looked at Jacob’s preparation and flight from Haran back to Canaan. He had been 20 years as a sojourner in the land from which his grandfather Abraham had come. But Jacob’s homeland was Canaan. That was where he belonged. For twenty years he has lived with his uncle/father-in-law. These were years filled with hard work, pain, suffering, and trials. Though Jacob was a man of many years he had to go to school. Hanah More said, “Affliction is the school in which great virtues are acquired, in which holy characters are formed.” Charles Spurgeon said, “I bear my willing testimony to the blessing that affliction and trial have been to me. I owe more to God’s furnace and the file, than I can ever describe!” William Ward commented, “We are only scholars. It rests with the Great Teacher to decide which lesson shall come next — a hard one or an easy one.” Hebrews 12:10, “God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness!” These trials are hard but Jacob will learn what the Holy Spirit will reiterate many years later through the writing of Paul. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” We’ll see today, that this what Jacob has come to learn about God, and what we must learn as well.
Hebrews 12:14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. The Definition of True, Practical Holiness 1. What a holy person is not. a. Not just knowledge b. Not just a great profession c. Not just doing a lot of things d. Not just morality and outward respectability e. Not just taking pleasure in listening to preachers f. Not just keeping company with godly people 2. What a holy person is. a. They have the habit of being of one mind with God as described in Scripture. Loving what God loves and hating what God hates. b. They endeavor to shun every known sin and to keep every known commandment. c. They strive to be like Jesus. 1 John 2:6 “whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” 1 Peter 2:21 “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” d. They strive to be meek, longsuffering, gentle, patient, kind and control their tongue. e. They strive to be self-controlled and self-denying. 1 Corinthians 9:27 “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” f. They strive to be forgiving and to show brotherly kindness. They desire to practice the golden rule and to show the love toward the church mentioned 1 Corinthians 13. g. They strive to be merciful and benevolent towards others. They seek to do good to others not being content with doing no harm. Acts 9:36 “Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity.” h. They strive for purity of heart. They dread their sin and anything that would draw them into it. The heart is like tinder and a holy person keeps the sparks of temptation away. i. They desire the fear of God. Not the fear of a slave that fears punishment but that of a child who acts out of love toward their father. j. They will desire humility. They will see others better than themselves. Abraham said, “I am dust and ashes.” Jacob said, “I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant.” Job said, “Behold, I am of small account.” Paul says out of sinners he was “the foremost.” k. They strive to be faithful in all duties and relationships. Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Paul in his letters describes the duties and nature of relationships on many levels including social, economic, gender, familial, ethnic and church. l. They desire to be spiritually minded. They hold the things of this earth with a very loose hand. They understand that they are just pilgrims and strangers in this world. Ryle says, “To commune with God in prayer, in the Bible, and in the assembly of His people – these things will be the holy man’s chiefest enjoyments.” They will place a value on everything in relation to how it draws them closer to God.
We’ve been in Hosea for a while now and it is easy to forget that Hosea is a man that has been called to preach to a bunch of stiff-necked, self-righteous, and just plain wicked people. They have heard the warnings of God and God has given them many prophets over the years. Can you imagine the task that Hosea has? Hosea has must call out these warnings to a people that have rejected God. One might be tempted to despair. Why keep calling out to these people when they are so far gone? Why have mercy on a people that are so wicked? Why would God rescue any of these people? It is tempting to look at our own nation and think: God, why would you save any of this? I’ve seen some give up on people and have grown calloused toward others. Those who call themselves Christians have labeled others as racists or phobics, etc and then write others off. As Christians, are we a people of no hope? Are we to look at others and say “there’s no hope,”? I think Hosea would say otherwise. He knew with God there is always hope. We saw in chapter 11 this growing idea of restoration and hope and it will continue until the end of the book. In chapter 12 we see Hosea explain the state of the nation and then he uses Jacob, the originator of the nation of Israel, as a hope restoring picture.
At the end of Genesis 30, we saw that Jacob “increased greatly and had large flocks, female servants and male servants, and camels and donkeys.” In other words, Jacob was a rich man. He went from homelessness to upper class in twenty years. However, as we have seen before when God blesses his children, people get envious. They get angry and they want a piece. In our text today, we see this happening to Jacob just like we saw it happen with his father Isaac. Jacob’s prosperity was not his own doing but was because God chose to bless him. Sadly, many in the Christian world have fallen into the prosperity trap. They do what Jacob did in the story before this one and put out their magic sticks or their anointed prayer shawls, or they give their seeds money thinking that the false teachers are right and that God will bless them because of it. But these false teachers are like Labans who are just in it for the money. They promise the moon but all they want is your money. And so in this story, we see what happens as God blesses Jacob and then tells Jacob to head home. In verses 1-3 we find Jacob’s motivation to move. In 4-16, we find Jacob’s case for moving that he explains to his wives. And finally, we’ll see Jacob escape in verses 17-21 and some of the interesting questions that arise from this. So let’s begin.
The Distinction Between Justification and Sanctification How are they alike? 1. Both proceed from the free grace of God. They are a gift. 2. Both are part of the work of salvation of Jesus. 3. Both are to be found in a person. One who is justified is sanctified and one who is sanctified is justified. 4. Both begin at the same time. At the moment of justification and person has begun sanctification, though they may not see it fully. 5. Both are necessary for salvation. How are they different? 1. Justification is God counting a person righteous on the account of the work of Jesus. Sanctification is God making a person inwardly righteous. 2. The righteousness we have through justification is not our own and is imputed to us by faith in Christ. The righteousness we have in sanctification is our own righteousness worked in us by the Holy Spirit but mingled with our own imperfection. 3. In justification, our works play no part. In sanctification, our own works are very important. God bids us to fight, watch, pray, strive, take pains, and work. 4. Justification is a finished and complete work and a person is perfectly justified the moment they believe. Sanctification is a process that will not be finished until we are in heaven. 5. Justification does not grow or increase. Sanctification will continue to grow and increase as long as a person lives. 6. Justification deals with our standing in God’s sight our guiltiness. Sanctification deals with our nature and the renewal of our hearts. 7. Justification is the act of God about us and not discerned by others. Sanctification is the work of God within us and cannot be hidden from others.
We finally made it to chapter 11. This chapter is like coming up for a breath of air when you’ve been under the water for a while. We have heard the repeated warnings. The descriptions of all the sins of the nation of Israel. And in this chapter, we have some good news. It’s like seeing the first rays of the morning light after a very dark night. The answer to all these problems all of this sin is on the horizon, but it is coming. In this passage, we have a verse that is quoted in the New Testament and so we must go there to see the significance of what Hosea is doing writing these words. So let’s dive in.
As we have studied the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob I hope that you have been struck by the loving care and provision of God for these men. We have repeatedly talked about the providence of God and for good reason. It is one of the main threads that God has woven throughout these stories. You can’t escape it. God shows us how he is putting together all of these people (good and bad) and events (advantageous and destructive) together to bring about his promises. We often think of the promise of God in Romans chapter 8, as we should. “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” But how does that play out in real-time? What does that look like in the life of a normal God-fearing person? If God is working does it matter what you do then? In Genesis 30 we find the story of how God prospers Jacob. Jacob does his best to work alongside his uncle while at the same time his uncle is taking advantage of him. Jacob does what he thinks will help him. But behind this story and the actions of Laban and Jacob, God is working another story.