Dispensation of Promise.
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Robert McLaughlin Bible Ministries
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Meet an unbeliever with more integrity than a believer.
Before we get ready to conclude the Fourth Dispensation in our study of the Doctrine of Dispensations, which deals with what is known as the Dispensation of Promise, we need to wrap up this dispensation, or period of time, by understanding the life of Jacob as he relates to the title that our Lord claimed to be when He said “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
For example, in Matt 22:23-33, one day when the Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to our Lord and questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies, having no children, his brother as next of kin shall marry his wife, and raise up an offspring to his brother. Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother; so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh. “And last of all, the woman died. In the resurrection therefore whose wife of the seven shall she be For they all had her.’” But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God. “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’ He is not the God of the dead but of the living.’” And when the multitudes heard this they were astonished at His teaching.
Now, slowly but surely our Lord identifies Himself with Jacob as a reminder of what type of individuals He uses in spite of the deceitfulness of others. I truly believe He identified with Jacob to shock those religious Sadducees of what kind of individuals the Lord desires. John 4:23-24, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
As the writer of the book of Hebrews states, that no matter how much we do not meet the self-righteous standards of the legalistic believers, He is not ashamed of us at all. As stated in Heb 2:11, For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren…However, notice what God the Holy Spirit chooses to reveal to us, in Matt 22:34, But when the Pharisees heard that He had put the Sadducees to silence, they gathered themselves together.
Mark 12:26, our Lord also identifies with the fact that all of His people including those who lived like Jacob, if they are truly saved, will be raised from the dead and have resurrection life. “But regarding the fact that the dead rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. This is what the apostle Paul said to us in 1Co 3:11-15, For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.
It’s interesting that when it comes to the doctrine of Resurrection that Jacob is used many times in the Bible as an illustration of the kind of people that God raises from the dead, Luk 20:37; Exo 3. In Acts 7:32, the Lord identified Himself as the Deliverer of the people of God as He used Jacob as an illustrator of the deliverance.
Acts 7:20-32, “And it was at this time that Moses was born; and he was lovely in the sight of God; and he was nurtured three months in his father’s home. And after he had been exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away, and nurtured him as her own son. And Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds. But when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel. And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian. And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him; but they did not understand. And on the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting together, and he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying, ‘Men, you are brethren, why do you injure one another’ But the one who was injuring his neighbor pushed him away, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge over us. ‘You do not mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday, do you’ “And at this remark Moses fled, and became an alien in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons. And after forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning thorn bush. And when Moses saw it, he began to marvel at the sight; and as he approached to look more closely, there came the voice of the Lord:
So, notice what our Lord says in Acts 7:32-34. “I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.’ And Moses shook with fear and would not venture to look. But the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground. I have certainly seen the oppression of My people in Egypt, and have heard their groans, and I have come down to deliver them; come now, and I will send you to Egypt.’
Again, we see our Lord identifying Jacob with Himself as an illustration of how God can take a weak man or woman and make them great spiritually, not because of their ability but because of their availability.
Exo 3:1-6. Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, “I must turn aside now, and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush, and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
Notice next, even though we are reading a lot of the Word….next is the astonishment of what we are noting:
Exo 3:7-16, And the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. So, I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. And now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them. Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt” And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.” Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I shall say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name’ What shall I say to them” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” And God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial name to all generations. Go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying,” I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt.
Notice that over and over again, this man Jacob, who appeared to be filled with so many shortcomings is being used by the mighty hand of God. If he were with us today, I would say to him, though it is not profound to most believers today, I would say something like: “You go Guy, you are THE MAN!”
One day when Moses had to reveal that the power of Jehovah Elohim, the Lord God was with him and For they may say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.’” Then we read in Exo 4:2-5, And the Lord the children of Israel, Moses asked the Lord “What if they will not believe me, or listen to what I say said to him, “What is that in your hand” And he said, “A staff.” Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So, he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. But the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail” so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” Notice here that identification with a person like Jacob was given to Moses by the Lord as proof that Jehovah Elohim, or the Lord God, was with him. Just like He is with us and those who have believed and trusted in His name or His person. Now, before we conclude this dispensation of promise we need to make sure that we complete the place of Jacob in this dispensation and to do so we need the consider the three major failures of Jacob in this chapter.
Let me give them to you as we conclude this point of doctrine in the dispensation we are ready to finish with the final failures of Jacob.
1. The first failure was in his manner of meeting Esau, verses 1-11, which we noted the past week or so.
2. The second failure will be in the deceit to which Jacob resorted to, to free himself from Esau’s company, when Esau offered him the protection of his armed men, 12-16.
3. The third failure was in settling at Shechem, a place which he will totally regret which represents going only half way with the Lord. The first failure which was in his manner of meeting Esau, verses 1-11.
Gen 33:1-3, Then Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids. And he put the maids and their children in front, and Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last. But he himself passed on ahead of them and bowed down to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.
“Bowing down to the ground” was an honor and a tribute that you would do in the ancient world toward a king or someone you would highly respect. Now, Jacob is not doing this because he highly respects his brother Esau, he is doing this because he is living in fear of what he “BELIEVES” or is “PRESUMING” that his brother Esau is about to do to him. In fact, later on, one of his very own favorite sons, a man called Joseph will say to all of his brothers, who are Jacob’s sons who thought that Joseph was going to do evil against them…he will say to them in that very popular passage that most of you are familiar with:
Look at it Gen 50:20, “And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.
So Esau was not coming to beat Jacob but to greet him. Jacob is just in bondage to transference arrogance. Jacob is thinking that Esau is coming to destroy him rather than to enjoy him! Some of you may be dreading a meeting with your Esau tomorrow; Some creditor! Some demand for payment! Some awkward problem! Some difficulty! Some bad financial news or bad news from the doctor or the hospital!
Prov 25:25, Like cold water to a weary soul, So is good news from a distant land.
Jer 49:23, For they have heard bad news; They are disheartened. There is anxiety by the sea, It cannot be calmed.
Now, today you may be like a Jacob, worrying, planning, scheming, and contriving, as Jacob did, in arranging his wives and children, and servants, and then tomorrow you will go cringing and creeping trying to solve your problems. Listen to a more excellent way. Do not lift up your eyes and look for the Esau’s, the bad news of life. Those who look for troubles will find it! The Lord said in Matt 6:34, Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
If you’re going to look for something in life, do what Heb 12:2 says, Heb 12:2, looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Look at the solution and not the problem! Those who have seen the face of God, as believers in the church-age do through the intake of doctrine, they do not need not fear the face of man. And as with Jacob so with us, To have power with God is to have power over all the evils that threaten us. So back in Gen 33:4, Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.
Isn’t this interesting! As I mentioned on Friday evening, t our Lord might have even had this passage in mind when He told the parable of the prodigal son where we see the father’s forgiveness toward his son, Luk 15:20, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him, and kissed him.
And so in Gen 33:5-7, And he [Esau] lifted his eyes and saw the women and the children, and said, “Who are these with you” So he [Jacob] said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” Then the maids [concubines] came near with their children, and they bowed down. And Leah likewise came near with her children, and they bowed down; and afterward Joseph came near with Rachel, and they bowed down.
Notice that the trial and the tribulation turned out to be much less than anticipated.
Gen 33:8, And he [Esau] said, “What do you mean by all this company which I have met” And he said, “To find favor in the sight of my lord.”
Esau desired to know the meaning of those flocks of cattle which had been sent on to him earlier as a present. And Jacob’s answer is quite straightforward, but it shows where Jacob was placing his confidence in. He was depending on his gifts and his presents to Esau rather than upon God, to try over his brother Esau.
So, in Gen 33:9, But Esau said, “I have plenty, my brother; let what you have be your own.”
Notice the plain implication of Esau’s words, and in them we are shown the futility and needlessness of Jacob’s conniving and his scheming. Jacob had devoted so much of his time and energy to the problem of how he could satisfy his brother Esau whose anger he lived in fear of and he had gone to much expense and trouble to do so! And if he could speak to us today from headquarters in Heaven, he would tell us that his thoughts and schemes and plans accomplished absolutely nothing.
It was all vanity and needless energy as this passage shows. He had wasted his time in unprofitable labor!
Ps 127:1, Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.
Solomon said in, Ecc 2:11,Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.
The point being is that not only are all of our fleshly planning and efforts dishonoring to God, but they are uncalled for and unnecessary.
Gen 33:10, And Jacob said, “No, please, if now I have found favor in your sight, then take my present from my hand, for I see your face as one sees the face of God, and you have received me favorably.
Now, the reason why Jacob is begging Esau to take the gift is because of a custom in the ancient world at the time in which they lived! The acceptance of the gift of the person giving it was considered to be the absolute proof that all was well.
So in Gen 33:11-14, Jacob says, “Please take my gift which has been brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have plenty.” Thus he urged him and he took it. Then Esau said, “Let us take our journey and go, and I will go before you.” But Jacob said to Esau, “My lord knows that the children are frail and that the flocks and herds which are nursing are a care to me. And if they are driven hard one day, all the flocks will die. “Please let my lord pass on before his servant; and I will proceed at my leisure, according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my lord at Seir.”
It’s incredible that Jacob practiced a deception on his generous brother in order to get rid of him by promising what he never meant to fulfill which was to visit him at Seir. Jacob, at once, begins to devise excuses as to why they should journey separately. And this brings out that second failure of Esau in this passage.
1. The first failure was in his manner of meeting Esau, verses 1-11.
2. The second failure was in the deceit to which Jacob resorted, to free himself from Esau’s company, when Esau offered him the protection of his armed men, 12-16.
Do not think for a single moment that Jacob really meant to go to Seir; for as soon as he had seen the rear of Esau’s retiring forces, he journeyed in the contrary direction to Succoth. All such deceitfulness and lying were utterly unworthy of the man who had seen God’s angels face to face and then God Himself. Gen 33:15, And Esau said, “Please let me leave with you some of the people who are with me.” But he said, “What need is there Let me find favor in the sight of my lord.” Esau suggested that some of his own army should stay behind with Jacob to afford protection for Jacob and his herds while passing, through a wild and dangerous country. But Jacob seems to have suspected some un¬friendly design which was behind Esau’s offer, and so he declined it!
Jacob politely refuses to travel with Esau, but he does say that he will follow at a slower pace behind him until he meets him in Seir. So Esau sets out for his homeland to the south, and we hear of him no more. But Jacob, contrary to his word, moves westward toward the Jordan Valley and stops at Succoth and never goes to Seir. Gen 33:16, So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir. Note that Esau kindly accepted the presents of Jacob to make Jacob feel better about his wronging Esau. And I have said before, sometimes the unbeliever has a lot more integrity then the believer. Esau kindly received the wives and children of Jacob. Thirdly, Esau goes on the way before Jacob to make the way clear. Fourth, Esau acts as his brother’s guide and vanguard. A vanguard is someone who takes the leading position in an army for the purpose of protecting those who are behind! Fifthly, Esau shows his forgiveness by deeds as well as by words. Six, the point is that Esau is pictured in this chapter as a noble and with a chivalrous character.
He forgives and forgets his brother’s past wrongdoings. Jacob, however, is still mistrustful of the one whom he had betrayed and he gives Esau the slip by going toward Canaan instead of following him to Seir as he had promised. And yet again, for whatever reason, the Lord says “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Here is another passage where an unbeliever has more character and integrity then a believer!