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Jacob loved Rachel.

Not Leah.

Though tricked in to marrying Rachel’s older sister, his feelings never changed toward this woman whose eyes were weak. She was rejected by her husband for her beautiful, younger sister.

But she desired nothing more than to be desired. Leah passionately wanted her husband to look at her with the same gleam as he always did with Rachel. To be tied to a man that had never wanted her, she lived married to him, and yet alone.

So when God opened her womb, and not her sister’s, she believed this would change his feelings toward her. The greatest pride for a woman were children and she was able to give this to Jacob.

Reuben…

then Simeon…

then Levi.file000456350909

Each bore names as an eternal testimony to her inward grief and longing to be loved.

And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, “Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me. She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the LORD has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also. And she called his name Simeon. ~Genesis 29:32-33

When Levi was born she was confident that with these three children, Jacob would be attached to her, thus she named the third Levi, meaning “attached”.

But sadly, it was never meant to be. Jacob only had eyes for the younger, and the older died having never been loved by her husband.

Levi’s descendants would be chosen by God to be the nation’s priests. They would have no inheritance but God and live solely to intercede on the behalf of their brothers. This tribe would live to offer sacrifices, pray, and seek redemption for their people.

In fulfillment of his name, Levi lived to “attach” Israel to God. But their labor would be in vain.

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. ~Romans 3:20

Ancient Israel depended on the Law of Moses to attach them to God, to make them right before their Creator. Our contemporary society does the same thing. Baptism, service, kindness, church attendance and more are highly depended on to grant us passage into Paradise.

But just as Levi failed, so does our vain attempts to please the Holy.

But Jesus…

Jesus is our Great High Priest, not after the order of Levi, but Melchizedek, the King of Righteousness. Jesus’ priesthood reigns forever and will continually intercede for us until our day of redemption. His sacrifice that he offered is once and for all valid and will erase all sins from those who enter in by faith.

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. ~Hebrews 10:12-14

Leah labored in vain. Levi labored in vain. Jesus labored once and for all with eternal victory and success. If we labor so to attach ourselves to our husband, Jesus Christ, we too will fail. The only way to enter in to a relationship with our God is to attach ourselves to Jesus’ satisfying work by believing in His Name.

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Our Self-Made Famines

November 12, 2015 — Leave a comment

During my three years of Bible school, I was saturated with the Word of God. Papers, tests, and assignments kept me delving into the Scriptures. God’s words were soaking into my every being. Slowly I was becoming dependent.

Yet I didn’t realize it until spring break of 2005.

The ensemble group I was a member of toured for a week from church to church. We would sing once or twice a day, sleeping in the houses of the church members as we traveled. In the busyness of it all, I neglected to read. I had reasons: car sickness in the van, exhaustion, and the obligation to talk with the Christians we met on the way.

One afternoon, again in the van for another long stretch of highway, my spiritual stomach began to growl. I knew intellectually that the Bible was our food. Jesus had compared the manna God had provided to the Israelites in the wilderness to his very words. They’d eaten the manna, but were very shortly, hungry again. But Jesus offered Living Bread that would forever quench their hunger.

In that moment, I understood. I suffered through the next performance anticipating getting away somehow from the crowds and the noise, and settle down with my Bible, and partake in a satisfying meal.

Every person is hungry but few find satisfaction. For some, they have no access to the God’s words of life. But many simply refuse to read. Bibles pile up on their shelves but their pages never see the light of day.

The Jews were condemned in Romans 2-3. Paul explains they are without excuse because they’ve been given every advantage. They had the precious privilege of receiving and being entrusted with the oracles of God. God spoke to them and yet they continued to ignore. They turned a deaf ear to the resonating thunder of the Lord’s voice. God was long-suffering but eventually had had enough.

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “when I will send a famine on the land-
not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.”
Amos 8:11

Discontentment and dissatisfaction plague our world in ways natural famines have not. Mainly, because it goes undetected. All people hunger for something, they just can’t find what fills that void that haunts their every day. And as we search in other places, and rely on other things to satisfy, we are creating our own famine. The place that lacks the words of God is a dry and weary land.

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.”

Jesus plainly said that if we want happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment, it can only be found in him. Jesus is the answer to our longings. And his Word is where he is revealed. We need food and water to survive but God has called us to a life of abundance, not one of survival. And it requires God’s words.

And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Deuteronomy 8:3

Is your life satisfying? Truly satisfying? Can you look at where you are and what you are doing and say, “I’m happy. All is well.” If our satisfaction or happiness is resting in people, places, or things, what if they were taken away? Would you still be happy? Would you still have confidence that life is good?

Jesus is the only faithful One. He alone never changes. And if our happiness is founded in him and his words, no matter what life becomes, our contentment remains. We are unshakeable because the Rock we built our life upon never moves.

Let every one of us seek Christ alone until we can honestly repeat the words of Job:

I have not departed from the commandment of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.
Job 23:12

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…” Genesis 1:28a

God, in this verse, echoed a command he’d already given to the birds of the air and fish of the sea. So, is this God simply commanding people to have babies?

pregnant

After the flood, only eight people survived and as they exited the ark, God repeats the command, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Again, is this just a command to populate the planet?

Before we can fully answer this, we need to see God’s purpose in creation.

Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created. And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away. Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and midst, stormy wind fulfilling the word! Mountains and hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds! Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and rulers of the earth! Young men and maidens together, old men and children! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above the earth and heaven. Psalm 148:3-13

God’s creation was to magnify his glory and character. It would praise him and glorify his name, and God loved it and said ‘It was good.’

So, when God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, he was just telling them to have babies. BECAUSE they were blameless and holy. They walked and talked with God in harmony and unity. If they had never sinned, their children would have automatically worshiped and enjoyed God as well.

But they disobeyed the Lord.

Now having children just brought sinners into the world. People that were separated from Himself and having no desire to serve Him. (Psalm 14 & Romans 3:10-18) Sin became so grotesque and violent, God destroyed the whole world with a flood. HIs grace was still evident and his plan unchanged as he saved Noah and his family. He repeats his command, “Be fruitful and multiply.” But God wasn’t interested in them simply making babies for each child would be born as a self-worshipper.

Sin had to be dealt with. Death, the consequence for iniquity, had to be paid. God chose to create Israel from whom the Savior of the world would be born. Through this nation, blessing for the nations could be restored. (Genesis 12:3) They were to be a light for the nations, that God’s salvation may reach to the end of the earth. (Isaiah 49:6)

And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply.” Genesis 35:10-11a

Jesus, the Messiah, comes. God Himself in flesh. He lives without sin but dies sin’s death on the cross. The God-Man raises from the grave defeating sin and death once and for all. Through his sacrifice and believing in Christ, sinners now have an opportunity to be born again, recreated to be how God initially intended. Holy and blameless, able to enjoy a relationship with their Creator.

Because God’s intentions hadn’t changed from Eden.

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. John 4:23

worship

Each redeemed life, now able to do what they were created to do. And to each saved person (the church) he gives a command.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20a

These disciples were to bear fruit (John 15:16 & Galatians 5:22) and as more disciples were made, the church multiplied. (Acts 2:47, 6:7)

God never desired just a populated planet, but a world of worshipers. Genesis 1:28, because of sin, is replaced by the Great Commission. No longer can we create worshipers from mere procreation. But we must evangelize and disciple a fallen and depraved world. And that’s something everybody can do; male and female, old and young, married and single.

Vicky BeechingJoining Ray Boltz and Jennifer Knapp, Vicky Beeching is the latest Christian music artist that has come out as gay. Her story starts in childhood, 12-years-old and fighting feelings for other girls. Confused and ashamed, she reached out to the church for help. Her testimony involves confessing to a Catholic priest and even an “exorcism” where a group of tongue-speaking radicals demanded that Satan leave her.

These futile attempts made no difference for the obvious reason that they had no power. That priest simply recited a memorized prayer and bid her adieu. These others rambled but didn’t pray in Christ’s name or for His will.

The heartbreaking part of her story is the moment she’s face down sobbing before the Lord to take her life or take away her attraction for girls because she couldn’t handle it any longer. But God didn’t. So she believes God made her that way and loves her. Now a leading advocate for same-sex marriage in the church, her testimony has inspired others to be comfortable in their sexual orientation as well.

My question is, “Why didn’t God remove her attraction for the same gender?”

Simply put, it wasn’t the right request.

She prayed that God would remove this attraction as if it was a tumor or a headache. Although as a believer we have power over sin and its temptations, they are not removed. It is a constant battle for purity with the world and our flesh combating us from every angle.

I’ve read numerous testimonies of people who struggled with homosexuality but realized its sinfulness when they believed in Christ. Although they are God’s child and striving for purity, those old feelings still surface at times. God never removed the attraction, but have given them the ability to withstand the temptations.

Alan Chambers, for example, said this, “As far as my life goes, I am married,” he said. “I am happily married. There’s not been one day in the course of our nearly 16 years of being married that I’ve been tempted to be unfaithful to my wife. I would say I have an orientation towards her. I do have same-sex attractions. But to say I have same-sex attractions would be the same as saying I was a married man with opposite-sex attractions.” *

Sixteen years! Even after sixteen years of a heterosexual marriage, those old sins are still haunting him, teasing him, tempting him to fall again.

A man addicted to porn will still feel the pull to those websites after coming to Christ. An alcoholic will still be beckoned by the bottle after giving his life to Jesus. A formerly promiscuous woman will still struggle with her identity even after becoming a child of God.

But, as a Christian, we’ve been given the Spirit of God to overcome these temptations.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)

Our past isn’t obliterated at the moment of salvation, it simply loses its control and power. The presence of sinful temptations is not evidence of God’s stamp of approval but that we are still wrapped in flesh that opposes the truth of God. Even the Apostle Paul struggled in his flesh. He writes this in Romans 7.

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

The problem inflates when Christians equate the presence of evil desires as God’s will because they were not removed when they were newly created in Christ Jesus. Yes, God loves Vicky Beeching. Yes, Christians ought also to love her. But no, God did not create her this way or approve of her homosexual lifestyle.

We need to beware of twisting Scripture based on feelings or experience. Truth is truth no matter what. Just because we are convinced that our worldview, mindset, or orientation is natural or born to us, doesn’t make it Biblical.

As believers in Christ, we are commanded to work out our salvation. This requires running away from temptation, praying for purity and sanctification, and trusting that God’s laws are for our benefit. I can’t relate to the homosexual struggle. I’ve never experience same-sex attractions. But other sins torment me and mercilessly disrupt my Christian life. In our love and devotion to Christ, we must flee these desires and cling to the holiness given to us by God.

 

*http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/04/alan-chambers-exodus-international-_n_3696750.html