Beginning in chapter 32, we open a new chapter in the life of Jacob. The first seven decades were summarized in a few stories about his lying, deception, and preying on weaknesses. Then came the second chapter that began with the vision at Bethel of the ladder going up to heaven. For the next twenty years, Jacob was in the school of hard knocks as he struggled under the thumb of his uncle Laban. In this chapter of Jacob’s story, we see some great highs but some equally deep lows for his family. Such is the life of a follower of God. We have seen throughout Jacob’s life God’s presence and work in this man. And that continues in chapter 32. In the first two verses of the story, we read of an angelic visitation as Jacob begins to make his way back to his homeland. Before Jacob enters Canaan he sends a delegation to Esau which we find in verses 3 through 8. Esau’s reply is not what Jacob wanted. This drives Jacob to pray in verses 9 through 12 as he asks for help. Finally, Jacob sends a gift in an attempt to appease Esau. At the end of our story, we find Jacob the same as how he started out this whole journey 20 years prior: alone.
The Question: Are You Holy? 1. Objections a. “I feel much, and think much about these things: far more than many suppose.” The question is not what you think or feel but what you do. b. “It was never meant that all Christians should be holy, and holiness is only for great saints and people of uncommon gifts.” I cannot see that in Scripture. “Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.” c. “It is impossible to be so holy and to do our duty in this life at the same time: It cannot be done.” People like Daniel and those in Caesar’s house did it. d. “If I were so holy I would be unlike other people.” That’s the point. We are a separate nation set apart by God for salvation. e. “At this rate very few will be saved.” Straight is the gate and narrow the path. Heaven is not “easy” to get in. f. “These are hard sayings: the way is very narrow.” “That which costs nothing is worth nothing.” 2. Do you think you feel the importance of holiness as much as you should? a. A person can go very far in a profession of faith without growth in holiness. When Jesus said that one would betray him they didn’t all just turn and point to Judas. b. We cannot replace the work of Christ with our personal holiness but God has linked them together. We cannot boast of Christ’s work for us if we cannot show the Spirit’s work in us. c. Samuel Rutherford said, “The way that crieth down duties and sanctification, is not the way of grace. Believing and doing are blood-friends.” d. John Owen spoke of people whose whole religion was complaining of their corruptions and telling everyone that they could do nothing of themselves. Ryle says that this is just a cover for spiritual laziness. Paul complained that he was a wretched man but he also said he was pressing toward the mark. e. We should not think of ourselves as better than others. But we should have a desire to see many believers become more spiritual, more holy, more heavenly-minded, and more wholehearted toward God. f. “Is it not true that we need a higher standard of personal holiness in this day? Where is the unmistakable tone which used to distinguish the saints of old, and shake the world? Oh, where is the spirit of him, who by the cross of Christ was crucified to the world, and the world to him!” Advice to All Who Desire to Be Holy 1. You must begin with Christ. You will make no progress until you feel your sin and weakness and flee to Him. You cannot make yourself holy and then come to Christ. It is like the woman who had the flow of blood who tried everything to be better but only got worse until she touched the hem of Jesus’ robe. 2. If you want holiness then begin with these words, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling; Naked, flee to Thee for dress; Helpless, look to Thee for grace.” 3. Say to Christ, “Lord, not only save me from the guilt of sin, but send the Spirit, whom you promised, and save me from sin’s power. Make me holy. Teach me to do your will.” 4. Do you want to continue to be holy? Then abide in Christ. John 15:4-5 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” “Paul was a man of God indeed, a holy man, a growing, thriving Christ – and what was the secret of it all? He was one to whom Christ was “all in all”. He was ever “looking unto Jesus.” “I can do all things,” he says, “through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
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.