PARTNERS WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT: PART IX

Mark Twain was asked what the world would be like without women and he replied with one word: “Scares.” An absurd question does not require an explanation, neither does it grant man the right to blame women for man’s failure to resist temptation. God, deliberately made women beautiful so that they can attract their men for life! And also teach man to resist temptation. However, more significantly, the women were needed to redeem their men, like the mother of Moses and the mother of Jesus. Paul was unfair to Eve! And Paul was too generous and too dramatic with Sarah, who persecuted Hagar; yet, Sarah’s words became Scriptures for Paul (Genesis 21:11-13). The editor of Genesis believed that Sarah acted under Yahweh’s direction when she demanded that Abraham dismiss Hagar. Paul writes about women:

I desire then in every place that men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or quarreling; also that women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly as seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire but by good deeds, as befits women who profess religion. Let a women learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty (I Timothy 2:8-15).

Now we, brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now. But what does the scripture say? “Cast out the slave and her son; for the son of he slave shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” So brethren, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman (Galatians 4:28-31).

So she (Sarah) said to Abraham, “Cast out the slave women with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.” And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the lad and because of the slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your descendants be named. And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring. So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And des departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba (Genesis 21:10-14).

WOMEN HAVE HAD A HAND IN CHANGING THEIR MEN AND THEIR WORLD; GOD HAS GIVEN MAN A FREE CHOICE

Sarah was not the first woman who sacrificed Ishmael for Isaac. Eve, actually, prefered Abel to Cain and jealousy ended in tragedy. And therefore, the human bond of the family was broken. The flood was caused by a “race issue” when the sons of God married the daughters of men. Sarah, with her obsession for her son Isaac, splintered Abraham’s family even more. Rebekah, the mother of Esau and Jacob, betrayed her husband Isaac and her son Esau to steal the blessing of the first born for Jacob. Rebekah broke the tradition of the legal heir and made the press of the day believe that it was God’s will to cheat if it was convenient. However, this is puzzling because God made Hagar’s son into a king and kingdoms, and so God did with Keturah’s sons. Later on, Midian, Keturah’s son, one of Midian’s descendants, Reuel priest of the Most High God, gave his daughter to Moses in marriage. And Reuel also assisted Moses, who was an uncircumcised Levite, in the deliverance of Jacob’s offspring from Egypt.   

To human beings, with moral perceptions, the behavior of these people was very questionable. However, God’s Spirit moved in ways not comprehensible or visible to the human mind. These men, according to Jesus, did allow the Spirit of God to assist them in qualifying for the final kingdom of God (Matthew 8:5-12). Meanwhile, they had to be surrounded by people who did allow and who did support their growing up into a nation, which God did train and did equip to be his people in the world. However, that time did take four and one half centuries before Jacob and his descendants were ready to leave the fleshpots of Egypt. During that time, Jacob became Israel. And Israel grew in numbers and wealth, but not spiritually. The Lord God appeared to Jacob in a dream when he fled from his brother Esau and when he fled from his father-in- law Laban with his two daughters and their maids, his children, and more that half of Laban’s flocks and herds. Jacob was also facing an angry Esau, who had long forgiven him for swindling his birthright. Even then, it still was the old Jacob who bargained with God for what Jacob would do for God if God would help him make things right with Laban his father-in-law and with Esau his brother (Genesis 31-32).

Jacob left Beersheba, and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place, and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your descendants; and your descendants shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and by you and your descendants shall all the families of the earth bless themselves. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done that of which I have spoken to you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place; and I did not know it.” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone which he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and all that thou givest me I will give the tenth to thee” (Genesis 28:10-22).

The same night he (Jacob) arose and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. And Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and Jacob’s thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with im. Then he said, “Let me go for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh on the sinew of the hip (Genesis 32:22-32).

JOSEPH WAS PROTECTED AND HE BECAME FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT OF GOD

Joseph’s parents were Jacob and Rachel. Rachel was a spoiled child, very demanding, and equally very lovable. Jacob served fourteen years for Rachel’s love. However, Jacob had to live with her sister Leah and two maids to keep Rachel loving Jacob. Rached was also very jealous of her sister Leah and the two maids Bilhah and Zilpah, who gave Jacob ten sons and one daughter. When at last God let Rachel have a son she said, “God has taken away my reproach”; and she called his name “Joseph”, saying, “May the Lord add to me another son!” (Genesis 3:22-24). Naturally, both parents abused love and spoiled the boy with gifts and special treatments. Young Joseph took advantage of his privilege and spied on his brothers. Joseph enjoyed having dreams that had his brothers and even his parent bow to him. His brothers did not bow to Joseph. His brothers even tried to kill Joseph. Therefore, when some Ishmaelite merchants passed by, they sold Joseph to them. And the Ishmaelite merchants sold Joseph to Potiphar, a high ranking official in Pharaoh’s court (Genesis 37).

The fear of death does impact man! It did me, just as it did Joseph fifty centuries ago. But when man perceives it to be his end, God, many times, steps in and uses a bad situation to save the man, or the woman and with them their families and many others in trouble. Joseph soon learned that God had turned the evil intentions of his brothers into saving his family and the whole nation of Egypt from starvation. And it was Joseph’s steadfast decency and morality, which helped him resist temptation. However, the resistance of temptation, also landed him in Pharaoh’s dungeon where Joseph accurately interpreted the baker’s and the cupbearer’s dreams. Their dreams were brought to Pharaoh’s attention when two dreams disturbed him and no one could interpret them. For Joseph hearing Pharaoh’s dreams how seven fat cows were devoured by seven lean cows, and equally seven full ears of grain were swallowed up by seven very empty ears of grain, spelled seven year of prosperity and seven years of drought. Joseph also was ready with a suggestion how to prepare for the famine. Pharaoh could not help but be impressed and saw the Spirit of God in Joseph and trusted him with his whole kingdom (Genesis 39-41).

Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dream of Pharaoh is one; God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven good cows are seven years; the dream is one. The seven lean and gaunt cows that came up after them are seven years, and the seven empty ears blighted by the east wind are also seven years of famine. It is as I told Pharaoh, God has shown to Pharaoh what he is about to do. There will come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt, but after them there will arise seven years of famine, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; the famine will consume the land, and the plant will be unknown in the land by reason of that famine which will follow, for it will be very grievous. And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. Now therefore let Pharaoh select a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land, and take the fifth part of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plenteous years. And let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and lay up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine which are to befall the land of Egypt, so that the land many not perish through the famine.”

This proposal seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his servants. And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find such a man as this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none as discreet and wise as you are; you shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command; only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Behold, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put is on Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in garments of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; and he made him to ride in his second chariot; and they cried before him, “Bow the knee!” Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt. Moreover Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no man shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphenath-paneah; and he gave him in marriage Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On. So Joseph went out over the land of Egypt (Genesis 41:25-45).

BREAD HAS THE POWER OVER LIFE AND DEATH

Man does need bread to live on. However, man also needs those who can provide and distribute the bread. One never knows when one must bow to some one whom one despised and hated. Hunger and starvation will make the proudest bow and beg. The brothers of Joseph learned that lesson the humiliating way, and thanks to God, that their brother Joseph had God’s merciful and forgiving spirit in his heart, and who regarded his brother’s evil deed as God’s redemptive purpose. Joseph had his family move in with him, he forgave his brothers and requested that they take his bones back to Canaan when they would return to occupy it (Genesis 42-50).

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil which we did to him.” So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died, ‘Say to Joseph, Forgive, I pray you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.’ And now, we pray you, forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him, and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Fear not, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little one.” Thus he reassured them and comforted them.

So Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he and his father’s house; and Joseph lived a hundred and ten years. And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation; the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were born upon Joseph’s knees. And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die; but God will visit you, and bring you up out of this land to the land which he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then Joseph took an oath of the sons of Israel, saying, “God will visit you and you shall carry up my bones from here.” So Joseph did being a hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt (Genesis 50:15-26).

The children of Jacob were tolerated and respected for Joseph’s sake. But, their earthly growth in numbers and their material riches raised envy and suspicion among the Egyptians. Also their prosperity distanced them from God. They became slaves to the Pharaohs, who needed workers to build their castles (pyramids) for their hereater life. Then, the Israelites began to cry out to God. And God sent them Moses, just as God also has sent us Jesus the Christ. From time to time, God raises up a prophet, or a person, with some form of godliness to halt the fast train of destruction and sanity of a dying system, before it can be reborn into a more godly one; for that is the way God gets things done on earth, and His Grace bears witness to it.