“ON EAGLES’ WINGS MINISTRIES”
“Did God Create “A Man’s World”? Part 9…JULY 2010
Here is a quick word of clarification to a statement I made in an earlier chapter, in which I said that both Abraham and Sarah were Iraqis. As of today, that would be correct but Iraq was founded by the British in 1922 and prior to that, it was called Mesopotamia and both Abraham and Sarah were called Sumerians. Today’s Bagdad is located close to the ancient city of Babylon on the banks of the Euphrates River, and Abraham’s city of Ur was located in southern Iraq some 9.9 miles from the city of Nasiriyah. While we observe historical people and events in these series, we are not to ignore the spiritual aspects along the way, because all natural events in our history carry a spiritual reality that points to God’s ultimate intentions over all.
As we have seen in previous lessons, nothing that transpired in the lives of our forefathers was by chance. Some events were full of heartbreak; some were jammed packed with lies and deceit, wars and betrayals. But out of such turmoil, chaos, and constant shifting of fortunes, the scriptures attest to the fact that God was in control all the time, and nothing so far in our history was by chance. I know that educated people in the field of psychology and those who are trained in the study of time, seasons, and human trends will argue endlessly to show that at one time or another human behavior got out of control and ran rampant like an escaped bull from a rodeo. But we have proven from scripture how God ordered events involving people even before they were born.
Such was the case of Cyrus the Great. Some 127 years before his birth, God sent word by the mouth of Isaiah the prophet that this king would release God’s people from bondage and bid them return to their own land to build their city and their temple. “That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.” Isaiah 44:28.
Many years elapsed and 176 years after Isaiah spoke of Cyrus, the king himself spoke on his own behalf. Watch how prophecy unfolds as God intended it to be! “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia (modern day Iran) that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia; The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.” Ezra 1:1,2. Notice that it was the Lord that stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, and it was not by a certain human impulse or notion that he moved to do God’s will.
Some one hundred and seventy three years in B.C.712, God spoke about Cyrus his servant, and even gave details of how he would overthrow Babylon in B.C.539. “Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut. I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron.” Isaiah 45:1,2. Can you picture an anointed sermon on Sunday to a packed sanctuary, detailing what it means to be an anointed vessel in God’s hands? Driving home with great conviction the thought of us being called God’s anointed and being told in the process that he holds us by his own right hand? As born again believers we feel entitled to be called God’s anointed! After all did he not call us to serve in his vineyard? But in the midst of our preaching and delivering a special word from the Lord, did we ever stop to think that Cyrus was not a Jew, brought up in the knowledge of Yahweh. He knew not God and did not hold the ideals of Abraham’s relationship with God, neither was he automatically an heir to the Abrahamic Covenant. We can remember that in a previous study we mentioned how God called Nebuchadnezzar “his servant.” What is the basic lesson embodied in these concepts? It is the fact that God uses whatsoever, whomsoever, whensoever, and whersoever, based on his divine will and purpose. He anointed Nebuchadnezzar to punish Israel for their rebellion against God, and established his kingdom into greatness. But the ancient king did not give God the glory; in fact he took all the power and glory unto himself. His grandson Belshazzar did nothing nobler for he followed the same path of arrogance and self promotion. The very night he decided to publicly embarrass the God of the Hebrews, while he was deep in a drunken stupor, Cyrus came against the city and took it as the Lord had spoken well over a hundred years back. People the world over, from the poorhouse to king’s house, from the dunghill to Capitol Hill, from the palace to the shady corners of Skid Row, the inhabitants have forgotten, ignored, or were never taught of the ultimate dynamics that keep things in order and even what seems to be out of order to us are well under control.
As Daniel got ready to deliver his interpretation of the king’s dream, we read: “Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding.” Daniel 2:20,21. It is customary for us to look to the Church to produce people with the right gifts and probably credentials from reputable bible colleges to be ordained and sent into service for the Lord. By the same token, we look at vile people, leaders who seize power and rule with iron fists, and see the devil at work through them. Which one of us would look across the street on a vile person that is involved in acts we deem to be ungodly, and boldly say, “He/she is the servant of the Lord and is doing God’s bidding?” This brings me back to a scripture I frequently use. “The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.” Proverbs 16:4. (whoops! Did you read that slowly?) Yes God made even the wicked for himself so that there can be a day of evil! Paul joined the refrain by writing: “And all things are of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:18a. Christians who are comfortably seated under the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, are constantly bogged down in “comparison shopping” meaning they spend their religious lives sifting and differentiating between good and evil. What is the result of such mindset? They end up seeing and believing in two supreme beings—one governs all that’s good and the other governs all that is bad. But God declared in accent loud and clear; “Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have I not told thee from that time, and have declared it? Ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? Yea, there is no God; I know not any.” Isaiah 44:8.
Down through biblical history and chronology, God has always had “a man” (this does not preclude women and is simply a term we generally use) endowed with special abilities to measure up to the task that God has in his blueprint. He found Abraham who became known as the friend of God, the father of kings, and the central figure of all those who walk by faith in Christ, and finally, if we are Christ’s, we are Abraham’s seed and heir to the promise. But Abraham could not be the man to bring salvation. As touching that issue, he had to stand in line like everyone else, but because he showed up early, he stood at the head of the line. God found Isaac and said of him: “Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.” Genesis 17:19. But Isaac could not be the man to bring eternal salvation! God moved forward to Jacob and as he prevailed with God and man, he became Israel; a name and a nation that are with us up to this day.
Let us step back in time for a moment and take a closer at Jacob, who, even today preachers and bible teachers accuse of being a shifting, conniving, always scheming person. We know how he almost tricked his brother into selling him his birthright. Esau had the option of refusing to sell it to Jacob for a helping of pottage, but he sold it anyway. What character was displayed in this act? Here is an explanation: “Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” Hebrews 12:16,17. I cannot fault Jacob in this case, can you? Esau made a personal choice showing how little value he placed on the birthright. I said Jacob almost tricked his brother into selling him his birthright, because Jacob did not hide his intent. He wanted the inheritance and it was up to his brother to say;”No way, you will not get your hands on my inheritance, but in fact Esau forsook or despised his birthright. Later on Jacob fled to his uncle Laban who lived in Syria (Rebecca was Syrian). There he met a man who was cunning and a real shifter. After serving 7 years for the girl of his choice, he ended up marrying the wrong girl, having to work another 7 years for his first choice. The time came that Jacob got ready to leave his uncle Laban and head back home some time after the birth of Joseph, after God had opened Rachel’s womb so she could have children. Jacob made his request and his plans known to his uncle and I find his uncle’s response most profound, candid, and soul searching, all because of a very small choice of words that spoke volumes. Listen to this! “And Laban said unto him, I pray thee, if I have found favor in thine eyes, tarry: for I have learned by experience that the Lord hath blessed me for thy sake (or because of thee.) Genesis 30:27. My Friend! Laban was not repeating what he read in a book written by a Professor of Psychology at the University of Human Brain Study. Laban did not express a mere “theory” that sounded good to the ear. He talked about a real life experience; something that he watched and measured ever since Jacob his nephew became a member of his household. What is my point? What truth am I attempting to convey to you? It is that whatever we think of Jacob, and however we want to cast him—good, bad, or indifferent, he was a blessing simply by “Being.” He did not have to preach or teach scriptures once a week, or every evening around the dinner table. He went about his daily chores, displaying the frailties and strengths of any ordinary man. But all the time, possibly un-noticed by Jacob himself, he was being a source of immense blessing to Laban, who was no fool to ignore what was happening in his household. But in spite of being a source of blessing enough to be recognized by a man who knew not the God of the Hebrews, Jacob could not be the Messiah!
Let us take a look at Joseph, born to Rachel after God had opened her womb. He was born with the rare gift of interpreting dreams and having meaningful dreams himself. But he had a greater problem that was nothing of his own making. I don’t know if Jacob could have done things differently so as to lessen the problems for Joseph, but here is what transpired. “Now Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they could not speak peaceably unto him.” Genesis 37:3,4. What was behind all of this drama that would unfold into severe hurt, betrayal, bondage and prison? It went back to some 184 years earlier when God spoke to Abram, saying, “Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years.” Genesis 15:13.
God laid his hands on Joseph for him to be the main character in an epic of massive proportion. Unknown to him, and without being given a choice in the matter, this little lad began on his road to stardom by being hated by his brethren, then being thrown in a pit, taken out and sold as a common slave to the Ishmaelites for a measly 20 pieces of silver, who, in turn sold him in Egypt. This must have been traumatic for a mere 17 year boy to cope with. He quickly advanced in Potiphar’s house, but this is where we need to get our arms around the issues in real time. We need to assimilate these truths and cause them to permeate every fiber of our being. “And it came to pass from the time that he (Potiphar) had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favored.” Genesis 39:5,6.
Can you imagine that a mere 17 year old lad walks into a situation, making no waves, not throwing his weight about, not bragging and being self-serving. He enters a man’s house and everything begins to change, yet he has no local Body of saints to meet with where he can hold hands and flow in the Spirit. He has no well known evangelist coming to town with a vibrant word of prophecy to share in every meeting. I believe that for 17 years of listening to his father Jacob, this lad had a foundation that could withstand the onslaught of hell itself. The man’s wife grabbed him one day and tried to pull him into her bed. He is young, she is beautiful, and it seemed that the stars were well aligned for a little love fest behind the scene. After all, there is no need to worry about Potiphar! He knows nothing except for the bread he puts in his mouth, so Joseph, come over here and let us have a little love session. Is Joseph going to pull this off? Is he going to glance over his shoulder a couple of times and say, why not? The man’s wife was explicit! Lie with me, she said!
“But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth (knows) not what is with me in this house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand. There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back anything from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Genesis 39:7-9. It does not matter who else is involved, all sin is against God, and to him we make restitution. Where did Joseph get such moral fortitude? How well did he rationalize between right and wrong in the absence of a religious mentor, or rabbinical teaching? We could follow the story of this great man who became second to Pharaoh, who made it clear that nothing, or nobody moved in all of Egypt except be Joseph’s word. The blessings of God flowed where it was intended because of a blessed person who went about tending to his every day chores like everyone else, yet he possessed something that nobody else around him possessed. What was it? God’s hand upon his life! I want to raise an important point at this juncture that pertains to us who believe and teach Jesus Christ on a regular basis. I intend to be critical so as to drive home my point. Some years ago, I was in Palm Beach County, Florida, attending a low keyed convention. As we normally do, the meetings were open to anyone who felt they had a word to share. In the afternoon, one day of the meetings, a visiting brother got very upset and decided to leave for another part of Florida where he said his gift would find room to operate, because in this meeting there was no room for him to operate his gift. For me, personally, I do not believe that we were given spiritual gifts that we can turn on and off like the engine of a car. It is not like going to a coffee machine at break time on the job, and drop in your 50c for a cup of hot brew.
I believe that when there is a special need in the congregation that has to be dealt with, the Holy Spirit will stir up that gift that has already been designed to minister to that specific need. Life in Egypt went on as usual, and the young man, Joseph, tended to his daily chores as master of the house. The bible did not say that each night, on his knees, Joseph prayed for God’s blessings upon all that Potiphar possessed. The blessing came because of Joseph but without his help or promptings. I do not know how much of this Joseph knew when he was thrown in a pit by his brothers, or as he traveled along the path to Egypt in the custody of the Ishmaelites who bought him as a common slave, but listen to his current understand of the entire episode. “Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.” Genesis 45:5,7,8.
Notice that by seeing with a “single eye” Joseph gave no place to a devil who craftily made his life a misery. Not once did he mention a contradicting force of evil that was bent on getting him, and he survives only as we say, “by the skin of his teeth.” With a single eye—as Jesus encouraged us to possess—Joseph did not see his hateful brothers as the culprits. But here is a question that just popped in my mind; “How many of us today, based on our religious upbringing can look at grievous adversities, and look folks in the eye who were architects in scheming and planning your hurt or your downfall and say, it was not you but, God, so you are still my brother, my friend, my neighbor? Can you see how important it is to see with a single eye? By so doing, you will understand that there is but One God who is in control of all movements, events, and circumstances in and around you. It does not mean that I enjoy all that God does, because no chastening seems pleasant at the time, but I reach out to Paul and heard him say, “Though my other man is perishing, my inner man is being renewed day by day. Joseph indeed was sent ahead to be a savior to many people, but still God sought for a man, and of the people there was none to help. (Isaiah 63:5.) This brilliant man of unique character, who shot up from a mud pit to become second on the throne of Egypt only to the Pharaoh, could not qualify to become the Messiah, for he was cut from the same mold as the rest of us-prone to decay and futility.
I do not think any of us will be willing to quickly admit that when we minister, whether in songs, or teaching the word of God, or laying hands and praying for the sick, or bringing a word of prophecy, or any other action that involves our person, any kind of personal involvement tends to give us the feeling that we are making a contribution. This need to make a contribution is capable of enticing one to try and make a greater contribution than the other. Competition among members of the clergy is a well known fact. Ministers compete in fund raising, membership building, and putting up modern edifices, because the more we feel that we are contributing, the more we feel entitled to be compensated for our efforts; (Compensations that reflect ON US, rather than giving God the glory.) Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Caleb, Othniel, and others did not consciously determine to make the sort of contribution that would cause blessings to “spill over” on to others. They did not set out to establish themselves as conduits through which God could flow. Because they were blessed and because God’s hands were upon them, they were not required to lend God a helping hand. I think most of our problems today, is that too many of us consciously try to help God, by “doing more” of what we think he is demanding of us. If God is doing it, what part do you think you really need to play? Let me be the first to tell you that I did not always know this. As a young Christian and a young minister, I was constantly being told that “what you get out—is based upon what you put in.” But for me, it always seemed as if I could never put in enough, and since others always seemed to be getting much more out, I finally threw up my hands and told God that I quit trying and I am not going to worry about it. This hangs heavily on my heart so I want to try and drive this point home. God works on the basis of who we are, not on how much we contribute. I don’t go to a meeting determined to be a blessing by the gifts imparted to me some time ago. During the meeting if there is a need to be met and God has a mind to involve me in meeting that need, he will act accordingly. Please excuse me, because I really don’t want to offend; but far too many of us have magnified preaching, or even prophesying, or praying for the sick, as the main source for God’s blessing. We do not belittle these aspects of the ministry, but my point is that we need to learn what it means “to BE.” It means an accomplished process! It means a completed task! “And ye are complete in him” (Colossians 2:10) means just that. It means that I need not go from pillar to post, trying potions, chants, mantras, deliberations with members of the clergy to devise the quickest and easiest way to become complete. “You are complete in him” means just that in spite of you. I am complete in him, not because I feel like it, or the preacher last Sunday told me so, but because God’s Word affirmed that truth to me.
Jesus walked into a good man’s house and was not intimidated in saying, “Today is salvation come to this house.” On what basis did Jesus utter those profound words? On the basis of who he IS. He was not just a messenger—he was the message. It is like the woman with whom Jesus spoke, who hinted that Moses had said that Messiah would come and when he does come, he will tell us all things. Without hesitation or boasting, Jesus spoke truth in saying, “I that speak unto thee am he.” John 4:25. Laban’s house was not blessed because Jacob introduced early morning prayer meetings, lunchtime scripture reading, and bedtime worship. Like I said, these people went about their daily chores, not tugging at God for him to do something. God moved in sharing his blessings because of who these men were; not because they made special requests of him. Can you grasp the fact that you are not like everybody else? But even if you do, there is no reason for you to bring it to everyone’s attention. Just “BE” what you are, and let God “DO” what he does best by his Spirit.
God found Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Caleb, Samson, and many others. Yet everyone failed to meet the requirements of being the Savior, because they were all cut and chiseled out of the same lowered and decaying material that had become the fate of the whole creation. The task contained in his blueprint was so enormous and the qualification so righteous and holy, that God suddenly came to what seemed like a dead end street. What was the task for which God needed a man? Salvation! The redemption of fallen man! Listen to what the prophet said of Jesus Christ! “I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me, and my fury, it upheld me.” Isaiah 63:3a,5. As a matter of practice, I never write my sermons in advance. I usually collect a number of scripture texts dealing with the subject I have in mind. More often than not, I seldom use all of the listed scriptures. I remember that sometimes I’d say this: “In the Garden, God promised that the seed of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head, but when the time came for the Seed to come forth, God could not find a single person worthy of the task, for all we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way. Since God could not find a man for the task, he made a man out of himself, and sent him to do the job.” Indeed, this was one task that no earthly fashioned person could accomplish, so God made his son to be sin who knew no sin; and in the process determined that we should become be the righteousness of God in him. 2nd Corinthians 5:21. The task of redemption was so colossal and so close to the heart of God, that instead of sending an angel to do it, he took on flesh and blood and came himself. If an angel had redeemed us, we would be obligated to worship and honor that angel, and our God who is a jealous God, declared that his glory would he not give to another, and that is why the angel announced that his name should be called Emmanuel, meaning God with us. He came and did the heavy lifting, laid the foundation, and brought us in to finish the building to be adorned as a bride on her wedding day. He, the Christ has made us acceptable in the beloved, having predestinated us unto the adoption of children to himself. Ephesians 1:5,6. It is not that we can help him, but as the songs says: “He is my every thing he is my all; he is my every thing both great and small; he gave his life for me, made every thing new, he is my every thing so how about you.” We owe it all to Jesus of whom we ask, “What manner of man is this?”
Royce O. Kennedy