July 4th , July 11th - click here

 

Sunday 18th July 2021

Little Poo!

 

Genesis 28:10-19a

 

We’ve spent a lot of time in the New Testament this year,

…especially the gospels

(Which is important)

 

BUT IT'S ALSO IMPORTANT TO READ IT IN RELATION TO THE OLDER ‘pre Jesus’ SCRIPTURES - 

 

And it’s been on my mind to use these next few summer weeks,

….to take take a closer look at some of our faith roots

 

we are going to look back to a much more ancient time-

 

A time that was literally ANCIENT HISTORY …to Jesus and his contemporaries 

 

This is the family that God chose to build into a nation -

…a nation through which he would introduce himself to the world. 

 

Abraham and Sarah were the founding couple -

They had Issac,

…and Isaac had a couple of sons called ESAU and JACOB

 

it’s the younger son we are going to join -

 

I’d suggest we might get more out of this morning’s text,

… by PLACING OURSELVES,

……………..in JACOBS SHOES,

 

(and seeing in perhaps what we can be like at our most selfish)

 

But NOT as a morality sermon on how we should or shouldn’t behave -

(that’s not where I want to take us tonight)

 

BUT -

...to get a RENEWED APPRECIATION of how GOD relates to us

 

= how AMAZINGLY GRACEFUL our GOD is!

 

My older brother,

...loves to remind me what a LITTLE POO I used to be when I was little -

 

actually he had a surprisingly wide and rather colourful selection of descriptors that he variously drew on,

 

Many are not really fit for Sunday but if the ones that aren’t too bad,

… poo, toe rag and little git were perhaps most used

 

I particularly like GIT - I love that term!! - it’s SOOO expressive

….it has a satisfying hard edge when it comes out of the mouth

 

I thought I’d better look it up in the dictionary B4 using it tonight,

...in case it had a TERRIBLE or OBSCENE meaning that I hadn’t known about,

 

The ONLINE URBAN dictionary say’s =

‘British slang meaning unpleasant, silly, stupid, annoying or childish person -

As a mild oath, it is roughly on a par with prat and marginally less pejorative than berk’

 

And it was my title for a number of years!

...and it’s true - SOMETIMES I WAS!

 

From the day when I pooed on my brothers school tie 

(I can’t remember this but my Mum and Brother assure me it’s true!)

 

To the whiny cries of:

‘Muuum - Martin hurt me’

 

To the many little brotherly intrusions,

...into my BIG BROTHERS bedroom,

…..to mess with his cool stuff BEHIND HIS BACK

 

And he had some really COOL stuff -

Bass guitars, a banjo-lele, Tom toms -

…leather jackets, black widow catapult…

 

LITTLE BROTHERS can be a trial for their older siblings…

 

We meet another LITTLE GIT,

...in today’s text,

 

A devious, self-centred, scheming little git called JACOB

 

= the name literally means URSURPER - and it’s fitting!!

 

BIG BROTHERS have to put up with a lot -

...but even the nicest have their LIMITS

 

I remembered running from the WRATH of my brother,

….legging it to hide in the GARDEN,

 

= after breaking his COOL VINTAGE METAL COMB - think the fonz from ‘happy days’

(I was using it to try and pry open his locked cupboard door)

 

In even more EPIC fashion,

….JACOB’S legging it from HIS furious BIG BROTHER ESAU

 

MY BIG BROTHER may have threatened to kill me..

….But JACOB’S BIG BROTHER really meant it!!!

 

And this is where our passage begins -

….JACOB legging it to his UNCLE LABAN’S 

 

I broke a treasured COMB -

….but JACOB stole his brothers BIRTH RIGHT and BLESSING

 

Q what’s a birth right?

Besically: In JEWISH TRADITION,

...the OLDEST BROTHER gets 2 thirds of his fathers wealth when he dies

 

The other siblings divide the rest

 

So JACOB manipulated a STARVING ESAU,

...into giving up a 3rd of his INHERITANCE for a bowl of stew

 

JACOB - true to his name,

...has URSURPED his OLDER BROTHER

 

Not that ESAU can hold his head up high -

...as scripture say’s: ‘he has despised his birth right’

…….BUT = Jacob’s still a complete and utter GIT!!

 

His mum - REBEKAH,

...caught wind of ESAU’S murderous intent 

 

= and arranged for JACOB to live with her brother until ESAU ‘cooled down’

 

Actually -

....it was she who colluded in JACOB stealing another of ESAU’S possessions -

= by helping him to trick his DAD into giving JACOB the blessing,

…...that was Esau’s by right

 

Once given (even mistakenly) -

...custom said it couldn’t be rescinded

 

GENESIS 27:32-35

 

The BLESSING was a general ‘may things go well with you and may you prosper’

…...BUT NOT YET

 

For now: he’s travelling alone - he’s vulnerable,

….and he’s sleeping under the stars

 

GENESIS 27:42-45

 

The phrase translated as - ‘go away for a while’ - 

...means ‘for a short time’

 

REBEKAH seems to have been under the impression,

...that she’d only be LOSING HER SON for a few years….

 

But their SNEAKY ACTIONS -

… = meant that he wouldn’t return for 20 YEARS,

……...and she would never see him again

 

She paid a high price her complicity in the deceit 

 

BUT THATS IN THE FUTURE…

 

For now: he’s RUNNING AWAY,

….UNCERTAIN of what lies B4 him,

…….and into this pickle he’d got himself into -

………..GOD SPOKE - 

 

= he introduces himself

 

GENESIS 28:13a

 

Vulnerable JACOB listens,

….but would he have been ready to HEAR GOD,

…….. in his previous self-satisfied, overconfident state??

 

When JACOB the GO-GETTER - 

….felt secure in his own plans?

 

In the CHURCH SERVICES  i’ve attended,

...and conversations I’ve had,

 

= I’ve heard a number of people CHRISTIAN TESTIMONIES

 

They usually start with something along the lines of:

“I was in a bad place in my life”

OR “every thing was going wrong - all my hopes and dreams dashed”

 

AND THEN:

“GOD spoke,

...DID,

…..APPEARED,

…….CAME INTO MY LIFE”

 

When you feel comfortable and secure in life -

….everything is rosy in the garden,

 

= how good are you at turning to GOD,

….DEPENDING ON HIM

…...REALLY MAKING AN EFFORT to LISTEN TO HIM?

 

It’s a sad reality of human nature,

...that we are often the MOST RECEPTIVE to God,

 

= when something happens to remind us,

….that we are not so secure and incontrol - as we’d like to believe

 

NOTHING opens my SPIRITUAL EARS more effectively,

….than a GOOD DOSE OF HUMILITY

 

It’s a shame that I can’t I can’t do it more consistently,

...WITHOUT having to wait for CIRCUMSTANCES TO ASSIST ME

 

SO - God introduces himself -

...in effect -

……’I KNEW your grandad, I KNOW your Dad - 

……….and now i’m INTRODUCING myself to you’

 

Then GOD goes on to REINFORCE the promise-blessing,

…... that JACOB- the little git,

…………... had tricked out of  his DAD

 

The PROMISE of LAND, OFFSPRING etc, etc….

……….BUT God takes the PROMISE further

 

GENESIS 28:15

 

One of the things I FELT,

...when I first SENSED GOD calling me,

 

= was WOW - you are SO GRACEFUL

(you know me  --  and yet you still want me)

 

When I finished BACKSLIDING in my early 20’s-

(Shortly after I met Emma - no coincidence there!)

…..I had a redoubled sense of his GRACE

 

Q - I wonder if JACOB felt that?

 

JACOB had CHEATED his brother,

….TRICKED his Dad,

…….he was HORRIBLE

 

And yet - KNOWING ALL THAT,

….GOD’S still promising to be with JACOB,

…….to keep him from harm,

………..and bring him back home one day

 

JACOBS REACTION TO GOD’S GRACE is mixed -

 

(I suppose ROME wasn’t built in a day,

…..and LITTLE GITS are rarely transformed over night!)

 

He DOES acknowledge the holiness of the moment and the place

GENESIS 28:17

 

He ALSO set’s up a PILLAR OF ROCK,

...and names the place BETH-EL (the house of God)

 

BUT READ A LITTLE FARTHER to see what he does next…

 

After GOD’S gracious, unconditional promise to him,

….JACOB - ever the schemer,

……. = ACTUALLY BARGAINS with GOD

GENESIS 28:20-22

 

Why can’t he simply ACCEPT or TRUST God’s promises?

….(why can’t we for that matter sometimes?)

 

SO - (slowly)

GOD PROMISES,

…..WITHOUT CONDITION,

 

= that he WILL be with JACOB

= that he WILL bring him back home again

 

And JACOB responds by saying -

“IF you are with me AND bring me back home again,

...THEN you will be my GOD”

 

JACOB responds to GODS grace,

...by laying down a set of conditions

 

We’ve all heard the phrase - ‘making God in their own image’

…..assuming things of GOD,

…….assuming he THINKS and BEHAVES like us

 

(or at least in ways that fit a nice simple -  easily definable world view)

 

JACOB knows that HE - would never make an unconditional promise to anyone,

….he’s nobody's fool,

 

JACOB’S in it for himself - 

….LOOK AFTER NUMBER 1,

 

= and he cannot comprehend a God,

…. who would promise something for nothing

 

Sooooo….

He schemes and bargains with this GOD OF MY FATHERS

 

He maybe DAD and GRANDADS God,

…..but I’ll only CLAIM HIM if he protects and prospers me

 

Or as the wonderful ARTHUR DALEY would have put it,

...no deal until I see the readies!

 

JACOB wrestles and bargains with GOD,

….just like he bargains with everybody else he’s ever met

 

Why????

  • Because he just can’t get his head around the sheer MAGNITUDE of God’s grace

 

This text isn’t so much about what Jacob does (I said earlier it’s not a morality sermon)

.. = BUT - WHAT GOD IS DOING

 

JACOB is currently at the centre of his little universe,

…..but GODS GRACE is at the centre of this story

 

And the BIG NEWS for us,

...is that GOD relates to US,

…..in the same way as he relates to JACOB

 

It’s OUTRAGEOUS - or as JOHN NEWTON PUT IT,

…. = it’s AMAZING (wait) - …..  GRACE.

 

JACOB didn’t earn or deserve,

...any of the PROMISES God gave him,

 

No hint of the -

…’you made your bed, now lie in it’

 

**here’s the next point -

….. = GOD’S PROMISES (GRACE) - started a change in Jacobs life (set ball rolling)

 

You may not give SWEETIES to a naughty child,

...it will make them worse,

 

But GRACE is no CELESTIAL SWEETIE!

 

GOD’S PROMISES DON’T SPOIL US -

….they heal and transform

 

It’s a process -

….and GOD set the process going from the moment he BEGAN SPEAKING to JACOB

 

Change takes time -

… = LET’S FAST FORWARD 20 YEARS

 

He’s coming home -

….travelling from his UNCLE LABAN,

…….with his FAMILY, FLOCKS and HERDS

 

When we heard him speaking to God in today's text,

…. he prayed ON HIS OWN TERMS

 

NOW - listen to how he speaks to God now,

 

And note the absence of bargaining,

….and how he acknowledges GOD’S faithfulness,

…….and his own unworthiness…

 

GENESIS 32:9-12

 

There's no IF ---- THEN,    in his prayer

(unlike his previous one)

Instead it’s BECAUSE --- THEREFORE

 

BECAUSE you are faithful

...BECAUSE you have made these promises

…..THEREFORE I am trusting you to help me now

 

These contrasting prayers show = JACOB CHANGED

 

And the point is -

...THE CHANGE WAS GOD’S DOING,

…...NOT JACOB’S

 

GOD’S grace,

...has transformed a callow youth - 

……..into a man who founds a nation

 

...a man who ‘own’s’ GOD on his death bed

GENESIS 48:15

 

This is OUR GOD.

...the GOD whose GRACE-FILLED PROMISES =

….. fill these pages

 

THESE ARE OUR PROMISES,

….and they are literally LIFE CHANGING!

 

Pray_

Help us to take you at your word,

...on your terms NOT ours

….help us to absorb the amazing truth of your GRACE,

…...and let it free us from the shackles of childishness or legalism.

…….let it fill our hearts with praise and gratitude,

……….as you draw us ever nearer in your loving arms