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WHAT’S IN A NAME?

“ISRAEL / BENONI / BENJAMIN”

“And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, for she died, that she called his name Ben-o-ni but his father called him Benjamin” (Gen. 35:18).

The record is given concerning the state of affairs in the house of Jacob upon hearing of the alleged death of Joseph, and there can be no doubt that the family was in a sorrowful lamentation. His brothers had become so enraged that they well intended to kill him because he told them his dream but, though in their hearts they devised mischief against him, yet the power was not given to them to consummate their anger. This situation, even though not unto death, still presented a serious dilemma as to how to explain to their father what had become of his son. When Reuben returned unto the pit where Joseph was incarcerated, he intended to deliver him from the murderous resolve of the others and send him back home to Jacob. His ways were not according to the predestined path for Joseph as the hand of God had already caused the young man to commence his geographic relocation for the furtherance of his education in Egypt.

The conversation that ensued must have been most perplexing as the remaining brothers tried to explain, to Reuben, how and why they had sold Joseph. Judah, as the self proclaimed financial adviser of the family, had to explain where the twenty pieces of silver came from, where the caravan was heading and why they had kept the special coat that Jacob had made for Joseph. If they said that he had taken a trip of his own accord, Jacob would wonder why he did not take his coat. The money could have been divided amongst the ten brothers, gaining each two pieces, but eight wanted to kill him, one wanted to make a profit and the tenth wanted to save him. Two pieces of silver would have to guarantee the cooperation of all ten brothers in the matter, for their entire lives, as well as a comprehensive and convincing explanation as to what had become of Jacob’s beloved son.

The initial response of the brothers to the dreams of Joseph was that they should kill him, cast him into a pit and fabricate a lie that a beast had eaten him. This was to be the outlet for their wrath and a full proof remedy of ensuring that his dreams would never come to pass. Thus the end is justified by the means for if Joseph be dead then they would not be able to bow down before him and if they never bowed before him, then the dream would be a false and Joseph would be proven a liar; this would then justify the actions of the brothers. Yet no amount of logic or reasoning of the natural mind can comprehend the magnificent purpose of the ways of God. He sent Reuben, with the authority of the first-born, as a protective hand to stay the anger and detain Joseph as he awaited his ride to Egypt. The brothers were given respect for him as the eldest and their blood-lust was averted. God also had given Judah a mind for avarice. He prepared his heart for the appropriate moment and then loosed his tongue to make the suggestion which was deemed more palatable than blood shed. All of these significant elements were absolutely necessary as the ordained and interwoven means whereby Joseph would live, serve and reign in the foreign land where he would save the family in the years to come. “When you pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth” (Luke 11:2).

Now that he was safely on his way to Egypt, protected in the caravan of ‘whom God will hear’ of the ‘witness’ (Ishmaelites of Gilead) who purchased Joseph out of the hands of the ‘men who sell strife’ (Midian merchantmen), the remaining siblings still had a problem. This angry band of brothers had neither vented their spleens upon the young upstart nor had they ensured that the dream would never come true; instead all they had was his special coat and were in need of an explanation. A situation with so many variables and contingencies could never be properly managed by a finite, carnal creature that cannot control the thoughts of his heart, the steps of his feet or the words of his tongue. Management of affairs such as this require the expertise of a Sovereign Almighty God who rules and commands absolutely everything so that all things come to pass according to the good pleasure of His will, without the interference of the actors on the stage.

There is no possible way that Adam can know the ways of God, except by the faith of the Son of God who is One (Deut. 6:4). He does not know the path he walks upon, he cannot find out the works which God has made from the beginning and he is ignorant of the part he performs in the eternal purpose of Yehovah. So to intimate that these ten brothers, full of fury, greed and sorrow, could have meticulously planned the events as they unfolded is utter foolishness. To insinuate that they could, of their own accord, devise a story that could convince Jacob of the events that had transpired with complete confidence that the truth would never be revealed is inconceivable. The minds and hearts of these were fashioned in agreement as to a course of action (to kill Joseph) which was not according to the Will of God. His Will was manifested when the events unfolded which were afore-ordained to come to pass. The One who is the discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Heb. 4:12) gave these men to reason in this fashion in the beginning as their hearts were filled with rage. He also decreed that their designs should not come to pass as He worked His wonders to perform.

“And they took Joseph’s coat and killed a kid of a goat and dipped the coat in the blood” (37:31).

The singular will of God, which is purposed by, in and of Himself, at the same time when his sons were conspiring to commit murder, prepared Jacob and Rachel to receive the horrific news. The report was not straight forward, as one might expect to receive news of this nature, but rather was presented in a most perplexing inquisition of his sons. Nothing is indicated as to whom the spokesman of the group was but, whoever it was was given boldness to speak, clarity of thought and liberty of tongue to present this doleful testimony as the remaining conspirators stood by and feigned their grief

Jacob had freely, according to the conditions and circumstances which were all about him, without reservations, sent Joseph to find his brothers. He had no premonitions or anxiety about the trip. He well expected all to fall out peaceably and for his beloved son to return home with a good report about the welfare of the family. His intentions were those of a caring father who desired to know the conditions of things with his sons. He thought they were in Shechem, about 50 miles to the north over mountainous terrain, attending to his flocks and so he sent forth his youngest son, instructing him to, “see whether it be well with your brethren and well with the flock” (37:14).

But the sons of Jacob were not in Shechem. They had continued about twenty miles farther north over the mountain paths into the land of the “two wells” (Dothan) where they pitched camp and tended the flock. Dothan was a trade route area with passage through the mountain range. Had the ten sons stayed in Shechem to be about their father’s business, there would have been no Midianite merchantmen traveling through the area to buy Joseph out of the pit and transport him to Egypt. Had they spotted or known of a lush pasture land in a safe valley nearby, they may have, should the intimation that it is of the man that walks to direct his own steps be inferred, set their hearts and minds upon that region for the good of the flock. So if free will be inferred here, may it be asked; Did they choose the right place or the wrong place to tend to their flocks? What motivational force was there that caused them to pull up stakes and break camp from good pasture land only to move to an area that would seemingly be less conducive to grazing? And who was that ‘certain man’ whom Joseph found which instructed him that his brothers had gone north and intended to make camp in Dothan? Had the family of Jacob discussed travel arrangements with this stranger so that if ‘perchance’ any should come looking for them he might properly direct them? Indeed it was the messenger of Yehovah who was sent to lead, guide and direct the footsteps of Joseph to the pit where he would be delivered.

“Yehovah I know that the way of man is not in himself; not in man that walks to direct his steps” (Jer.10:23).

The Spirit of the Most high made the ten of one accord to travel to this specific town for this momentous occasion and empowered them as one man to go. He also caused the young lad, Joseph, to find that intelligent stranger who just happened to be ease dropping when he heard the brothers say; “Let us go to Dothan”. This all inclusive intent of the heart of God moved all the elements of creation ‘to both will and do His good pleasure”. Everyone was in place in the exact order and at the precise time for the events to come to pass as ordained. Even Jacob was not given to panic because the son of his old age was delayed in his return home. Can this be regarded as ‘normal’ for any parent? How would you feel if a child of yours whose journey should have been of maybe a week or so was overdue? The emotions would be high as the conjectures and suppositions mounted in the thoughts and heart as the ‘unknown and greatly feared’ would become suspect. Now in walks the family with the flock in tow and all they have is a ‘cunningly devised fable’ and a blood soaked coat.

Indeed the will of God was that this coat remain, intact and blood soaked, as both a false, yet convincing, evidence of the demise of Joseph and as a testimony of things to come. He ordained that all ten brothers walk the proverbial ‘extra mile’ and pay specific attention to this pertinent piece of evidence. The power of His purpose effectually moved and directed the steps they took upon the path assigned unto them to act in such a manner that brought the garment from Joseph’s back to its present condition, ready to be presented to Jacob. When they sent and brought the coat to Jacob, they denied any knowledge of the whereabouts of Joseph and claimed that they had simply ‘found’ the coat in this condition. They even feigned knowledge of the ownership of this exquisite apparel and asked their father if it was, not their younger brother’s but, Jacob’s other son’s. They gave no explanation of the matter. They did not identify which of the ten ‘found’ the garment or the location where it was found. They were simply walking home with their flocks from Dothan when they came across this blood soaked garment and thought to bring it with them to show Jacob. It was Jacob who concluded that an “evil beast devoured him”.

When Joseph came to his brothers and their anger was stirred to conspire to kill him, he was stripped of his coat. The eyes of all were drawn to this coat, which, when dipped in blood was to be used as supporting evidence of the final disposition of Joseph. They could have left the garment on him when they killed him and then buried the coat with his remains. The story of the beast of the field attacking him did not need the verification of the coat since the coat could not prove that indeed the event had come to pass. They could have left the coat on him with the intention of demanding more than the twenty pieces of silver because of the unique nature of the garment. They could have sold the coat separately to the Ishmaelites or traded it with other tradesman traveling this common route. They could have simply discarded the coat in the wilderness where, conceivably, no one would ever find it or they could have simply denied all knowledge of the matter and told Jacob that they never saw him and did not know what became of him. These are some of the so called possibilities that the mind of Adam may speculate upon and even conclude but reality is not based upon supposition and conjecture. The speculation of what could have been done and how the final outcome would have then been altered is the day dream of Adam who is not content with the careful and particular providence of God.

The news from his sons did not result in what would be thought of as a proper parental response. He did not organize a search party to find the boy who might not be dead and may be lying in some secluded place badly wounded. He did not ask where the coat was found for certainly there must be a blood trail if there was such an altercation that the coat was soaked with blood. He did not ask if his sons had searched the area for him; he did not inquire for any of the particulars of the event or even question the indigenous inhabitants of the region. This apparent apathy was because Jacob had been prepared for this erroneous testimony. God had given him to believe the circumstantial nature of the evidence, the inconclusive testimony of his sons and make the assumptive conclusion that Joseph was indeed dead. These thoughts, words, actions and ultimate errant conclusion were absolutely necessary elements in the designed means to get Joseph to Egypt and deliver Israel.

This presentation of a blood soaked garment was a foretaste of the types given in the law at Mt. Sinai. These men presumed that this ‘evidence’ as proof of their innocence was sufficient to exonerate them of any wrong doing but in fact it stood as a glaring testimony of their guilt. The necessity of bringing the coat is confusing. Without the coat or Joseph these men could have simply said that they left Shechem for Dothan and never saw him. If Joseph had never arrived at Dothan, some evil befalling him along the way, Jacob would never have suspected anything and his conclusion would have been more plausible. Jacob thought his son had gone to Shechem. He did not know that the flock had moved and the record does not indicate why the flock was moved. He had no way of knowing that Joseph knew where the flock, that he had met that ‘certain man’ or that he had decided to venture north to find them. He knew nothing of the events. So if Joseph had indeed lost his coat and the brothers found the garment on their way back home, Jacob would have nothing wherewith to refute their story. Now in through the door walks the 10 shepherds who have traveled about 70 miles over the mountain paths and they have the coat stained with dried blood with no explanation.

They made an open showing of their guilt in their attempt to manifest their righteousness. This is the same evidence as the pattern given of God to Moses in the Mount. In the same manner in which the blood of bulls and goats was assumed to purge away the sin of the nation of Israel in the sacrifices of the law, so the ministration of condemnation demonstrates the guilt of the obedient keeper of the law in his acts of righteousness. A man who is a sinner is condemned under the law. The law then demanded that there be the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of the sin and the transgression. When the sinner brought forth his sacrifice, he openly declared that he was a sinner by his obedience to the law and in that he must return daily with the sacrifice for sin, he manifests that the keeping of the law could not do away with the sin. The blood of the animals could neither “make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining the conscience” (9:9) nor justify the flesh, “for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rms. 3:20).

The handwriting of ordinances is a pattern of the heavenly reality of the shed blood of the Lamb of God. His is the one and only perfect sacrifice. He stands as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world for sin and His blood has cleansed His people from all unrighteousness. There remains therefore no more blood for no more sacrifice is required. The adherence to the weak and beggarly elements of the types and foreshadows is the admission of guilt. This band of deceivers held onto that which was the proof of their guilt and presented it to the judge as their evidence of innocence. Of a certainty, Jacob did not discard the coat for it was now the only memento of the son of his old age whom he dearly loved. The testimony to the guilt and shame of the children of Jacob was ever before their faces and though dad concluded that Joseph was dead the bloody rag cried out that he lived.

“...For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning...” (35).

The magnitude of the grief felt by Jacob permeated the entire household. The daily routines of chores and upkeep were forever tainted by the absence of Joseph. The brothers returned to tending the flock with everything round about them giving testimony to their heinous deed. Neither the children, Leah, the concubines nor even Rachel could console Jacob as he wept bitterly. The first-born, Reuben is, at this time, about 37 years of age. Some of his children were born about the same time as Joseph and they knew him well. They saw and understood, as best a child is given to understand, the affection that ‘grandpa’ had for their uncle Joseph. Each of these ten men had more than just Jacob to answer to as to the particulars of this peculiar event. This only added to the convictions that they felt over what they had done but they could not reveal the truth. And so it was that as the years passed no one broke down and told the truth.

The truth about the whereabouts of Joseph was not decreed of God as the proper course of action and this would last for enough years for Benjamin to be born, Rachel to die and the famine to come upon the land. How often must the thought have lingered in Jacob’s heart as he remembered the son of his old age? The days turned into months and the months vanished into years and as the time elapsed the brothers were given to forget about the matter. Then in the fullness of time, as the famine grew in the land and Jacob had heard that there was corn in Egypt (42:1), these same people were confronted with the accusation of theft by Joseph in Egypt; “And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us” (Gen. 42:21).

There is a very interesting revelation made in the courts of Egypt by Reuben. Now after all these years, when confronted with the famine in the land, the long trip to Egypt to buy corn (after all these were farmers who all their lives have grown and reaped what they needed to survive off the land where they lived), the false accusations of theft and the imprisonment of his brother Simeon, Reuben maintains his innocence concerning Joseph. His mind was apparently given to conclude that none of these things would have come to pass and therefore they would not be in this situation IF they had listened to him back in Dothan. This is a prime example of the ‘cause and effect’ philosophy of the flawed logic of Adam. Joseph was cast into the pit where there was no water in the land of two wells as a type of the fact that the purpose, will and ways of the Almighty Sovereign God (well #1) are not dependent upon the actions and mindset of man (well #2). Yet the fact that these two wells had the same underground source is the demonstration that the ‘two rivers’, the ‘two paths’ and the ‘two manner of people’ all proceed from the singular purpose of the will of God. Every thought, word and deed falls out in direct and complete compliance with the eternal immutable will of the Sovereign of the Universe. Adam makes an open show of his ignorance and rebellion against God when he speculates upon those things that ‘might have been’. “I Yehovah have spoken, it shall come to pass. I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I repent. According to thy ways and according to thy doings shall they judge thee, saith the Lord God” (Ezek. 224:14).

Reuben’s comments are in defiance to the absolute predestination of all things from the foundation of the world by the King of the Universe who; “declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not done saying, My counsel shall stand and I will do all My pleasure” (Is. 46:10). This contrary opinion is the nature of Adam which God created in him for His good pleasure. There is nothing in the exchange of activity in Egypt that gives any indication, reference or hint to a connection between them and Joseph, his abduction and his being sold into slavery. What was it then in the circumstantial situation of that moment that prompted this response from the first born? Was it the critical nature of the social climate, what with the famine and everything, or was there something in the verbal exchange between the buyers and the seller that produced this wave of guilt in the brothers and the need for personal exoneration of Reuben? Or was it the eternal will of Almighty God which causes all things to come to pass according to the power of the good pleasure of His will?

“And Jacob was left alone, and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day” (Gen. 32:24).

Jacob dwelt in the house of his father until the fullness of time had come and he was compelled to leave; conditions and circumstances all inclusive. He dwelt in the house of Laban for the appointed period of time and when everything had been completed that was ordained to be needful to be performed in that environment, he was again compelled to move on to the next location. He went out, as grand-father Abraham, not knowing where he was to go and with no indication of the impending events that would transpire in his life. He departed from the house of Laban, traveling to the place of the “two camps” (Ma-ha-na-im) under the name of and identity of Jacob. Now the fullness of time had come when the ‘heel holding supplanter’ was no longer needed. He had walked every step of his journey and finished the labours assigned unto him as Jacob. It was not that he was to lose his personal identity as a man or the patriarch of the nation but as the next chapter of his life began, Jacob must give way to Israel. Many steps lay ahead of him, many trials and tribulations, heart-aches, pain and sufferings but from henceforth the path and the labours were those assigned to the man called Israel.

The ‘supplanter’ did not possess the abilities necessary to experience the work set before Israel yet he was essential for their proper execution. The wives taken by Jacob, the children born unto him, the wealth that he accrued through those twenty years, every experience that Jacob had endured and all the lessons learned were absolutely necessary ingredients in the make-up of Israel. When he first met Rachel at the well and drove off the intruders, he was not yet mature enough to be Israel. His covenant with Laban had not yet been made, let alone violated, amended or fulfilled. His four wives, in their proper order, bore the exact number of children, each in his/her order, for Jacob; these were not to be the sons of Israel.

Esau was not ready yet either. He had not completed the assignments laid upon him that were needful to bring him to this critical meeting after so many years. He was so angry with Jacob, at home, when the blessing of his dying father was stolen from him, that he desired to kill his younger brother. When Rebekah heard these tidings, she sent Jacob away to her brother’s house, but she only intended the stay to be “a few days until thy brother’s fury turn away” (27:44). These ‘few days’ became twenty or more years as both men were properly conditioned for their ultimate meeting. Esau had to be made ready for this ‘family reunion’ as through those twenty years, he married many wives and bore many children. He had become a wealthy man of great might as he “went into the country from the face of his brother Jacob” (36:6). God had blessed Esau in this separation and isolation, though he knew it not, as his pathway meandered toward this meeting in the wilderness.

Jacob was oblivious to the path which his brother Esau had walked in these many years apart. He did not know of his wives or his children. He knew nothing about his business performance, his trials, successes or his difficulties yet when he heard that his brother was coming to meet him with four hundred men, he was “greatly afraid and distressed and he divided the people that were with him and the flocks and the herds and the camels into two bands, and said, If Esau come to the one company and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape” (32:7). He sought the Lord in prayers and supplications fearing for his life and that of his family and even tried to bribe Esau for mercy. He sent a substantial present by the hand of his servant to his brother and rehearsed with them exactly what they were to say when they met this inveterate enemy. In this state of mind, with the countenance of his soul deeply disturbed, Jacob sent the peace envoy of his family ‘over the brook’ to intercept Esau while he was left alone.

Yehovah God has decreed, before the foundation of the world, the time and habitation of each and every descendant of Adam upon this globe. He afore prepared certain earthen vessels for the habitation of the seed of the serpent which are “fitted for destruction” (Rms. 9:22). These are the wicked whom He has created and “reserved to the day of destruction, they shall be brought forth in the day of wrath” (Job 21:30). They have been predestinated to perform the works of their father, the Devil, by the Creator (John 8:44). Every thought, word and deed is in perfect accord and complete harmony with His Most Holy and perfect will even though they “were before ordained of old to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness and denying the only Lord God, our lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). Each and every one of these “vessels unto dishonour” are brought into their time of existence in this world in prompt orderly fashion,

He has also afore-prepared vessels unto glory as the dwelling place of the incorruptible seed, born from above. These “vessels of honour” have the designations of being the clay pots wherein dwells the light of Yehovah (Judges 7:16). They are the flesh and blood that the children of light should be made partakers of as they sojourn in this habitation. These earthen vessels and the nature of Adam are the vanity that the creature has been made subject to and the bondage of corruption that they earnestly wait to be delivered from when this tabernacle is dissolved (Rms. 8:19f).

Like the birth of Jacob and Esau, the manifestation of the natural Adam first but the two are present from the beginning. While for a time, Adam appears to be the power and authority of the existence, as he grows and matures, yet, at the time appointed when it pleases the Father, He reveals Himself, dwelling within. This time of deliverance is not a fixed time when the mystical ‘age of accountability’ has arrived nor is it after a candidate has completed a ritualistic ceremonial convocation and taken some oath of allegiance. However this does happen to each of the elect during their lifetime at the time appointed.

There is the recognition of the presence and working of God, in some, at a very early age; “But Samuel ministered before Yehovah a child girded with a linen ephod” “and Samuel grew before Yehovah” (I Sam. 2: 18 & 21), Samson was moved by the Spirit of Yehovah as a child, “and Yehovah blessed him and the spirit of Yehovah began to move him at times in the camp of Dan (the judge) between Zorah ( place of the hornets) and Esh-ta-ol (petition or request) (Jud. 13:24) and John leaped in the womb of his mother, Elizabeth, when she heard the voice of Mary (Luke 1:44) for he was “filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb” (1:15).

This same revelation is not made known to others until the last day/hours of their earthly habitation. A malefactor who had received his “due reward of our deeds” confessed that Jesus was Lord while hanging to die upon the cross (24:43). Yet in the time appointed as necessary and good by the eternal decree of God, all who have been separated from the womb of mother Jerusalem, are revealed as they dwell in the flesh. Before Jeremiah was formed in the belly and before he came forth from his mother’s womb, God had sanctified him and ordained him a prophet yet the Word came not unto him until many years later (Jer. 1:5). Saul of Tarsus was a child of grace who walked the path of a zealot, a Pharisee and a persecutor of the church of Jesus Christ until the Father revealed Himself in him on the Damascin road and his name was changed to Paul.

And so it was that God brought Jacob to this isolated place, being between 60 and 77 years of age, without a home, wandering in the land of ‘two camps’ and in a state of fear and anxiety to reveal Himself to him. Just like Saul of Tarsus, there was no man present who could help Jacob as he found himself in a very peculiar predicament. His family was gone, he assumed his brother was advancing to avenge himself and a man appeared unto him, whom he did not know. Saul of Tarsus was struck down blind and devoid of any physical ability as he inquired, “Who are thou Lord?” (Acts 9:5); Jacob was locked in a struggle with a man who desired to ‘pound into small parts like dust’ (Heb. ‘avak’ – to wrestle) as he asks, “Tell me thy name” (Gen. 32:29).

“Thy name shall be called no more, Jacob, but Israel;” (32:27)

Jacob had a son, by Leah who was the first born called Reuben. He had a first born son by Bilhah whose name was Dan and he had a first born son by Zilpah and his name was Gad. Then Jacob and his first wife, Rachel, had a son who was their first born called Joseph, but he was believed to be no more. Now this man was no more to be called Jacob so that there might be a first born son of Israel and Rachel named Benjamin. This may appear as a mere technicality but as Jacob stands as a type of Christ, he had with him, as the first born of his generation, his building, the troop, the judge and the other or next son (those who are the sheep, not of this fold (John 10:16) which represent the mystery of the gospel (Eph. 3:6)). Then, being manifested as the prince of God who has prevailed with God and man, the son of my right hand is revealed.

Messiah came into this world having His Bride with Him in all His righteousness. He walked the path, bore the burdens, drank the cup of the fury of God and performed all that was assigned unto Him for the joy that was set before Him. This, being finished before the foundation of the world, was accomplished for His “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people” (I Pt. 2:9), which is His church, His Temple, His body, that is, His Beloved upon whom all His desire rests (Song 7:10). He created all things for Her, He fulfilled the law in righteousness for Her and His reward is Her glorification in Him as He stands before the throne of the Ancient of Days and declares His generation.

The type of Christ in Israel is not in that the man Jacob, by a simple change of his name, has in any way improved or altered his Adamic nature but in type he is “as a prince thou hast power with God and man and thou hast endured” (32:27). He did not prevail over God, for no man can be greater than his Creator, nor could God have created an equal to Himself and then declare, “I am God and there is none else; I am God and there is none like Me” (Is. 46:9). He could not create one greater than Himself and call Himself ‘Almighty’ unto whom He should give an account of His ways or explain His will, His purpose or the desire of His heart (which all are one). Therefore this ‘prince’ must be equal with God in order for him to endure unto the end; “Look unto the Rock from whence ye are hewn” (Is. 51:1). Since the Rock is the God of our salvation and that Rock is Christ (I Cor. 10:4), then all who are hewn from that Rock must be the same as that Rock. Since He thought it not robbery to be equal with God, because “I and My Father are One” (John 10:30) so then are the sons of God One in Him and thus equal with God.

Jacob wrestled with this unknown man until daybreak. He could not overcome him and gain the victory because Jacob was not greater than this man, but Jacob endured the ordeal. Was this of the power of the arm of the flesh? If so then Jacob has somewhat to glory in the flesh, but not before God. God is not a respecter of persons nor is He persuaded of man in any way to divert, augment or amend His ways; “MY counsel shall stand”. He does not share His glory with another because He alone inhabits eternity. The created universe and all that is within declares the glory of the Lord but “His glory is above the earth and heaven” (Ps. 148:13) and He is a jealous God. He has glorified the Son with the same glory that He had with Him before the world was, when He manifestly “declared to Be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rms. 1:4).

This manifest declaration is that the Father and the Son are inseparably ONE. The Son took on Himself the form of a servant and was begotten of the Father to be the Son of God. He did not stand among the nation of Israel and proclaim that He was God for He knew that He would be justly condemned by the Law when He made such a claim. He came as the Son to do the will of the Father. He came as the Elect Servant of God in fulfillment of the words of the prophet (Is. 42:1). He came as the fulfillment of the prophesy of Moses: “Yehovah thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me, unto Him ye shall hearken” (Deut. 18:15). He was “brought as the Lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth” (Is. 53:7). He was made in the likeness of man that He might fulfill the law by “becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”. Wherefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things in earth and under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:6-12).

This same Jesus, the Anointed Servant of God, has also glorified each and everyone that the Father had given unto Him “that they may be one even as we are one” (John 17:22). Therefore the children are the same as the Son (“Beloved now are we the sons of God” – I John 3:2) and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, the promise, and joint heirs with Christ (Rms. 8:17). They are all of the generation of the general assembly of the house of the first-born (Heb. 12:23); “for as the body is one and has many members and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ” (I Cor. 12:12). This is the blessing which Yehovah has commanded, life evermore (Ps. 133:3).

Jacob prevailed (endured) with God as Michael (he who is like God), “the great prince which stands for the children of thy people” (Dan. 12:1), as the type of Christ Jesus the Lord of glory, because he had the power of God. Yet his endurance did not gain him accolades in the flesh. He did not know the name of the one he struggled with yet he desired a blessing from him. He was given a sign as a thorn in the flesh, whereby he was shown the weakness and imperfections of the creature when the Messenger of Yehovah “touched the hollow of his thigh and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint as he wrestled with him” (32:25). As Jacob departed from this magnificent encounter, he halted upon his thigh, yet while he was wrestling he was not hindered by the loss of strength, balance or stability as a demonstration that this was “not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit saith Yehovah of hosts” (Zech. 4:6).

“And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram and blessed him” (Gen. 35:9).

The testimony of God is confirmed as He appears to Jacob a second time. The principle of the confirmation of the truth is that in the mouth of two or three witnesses all matters are to be established (Deut. 19:15) and so, as the second witness of His own word, God comes to Jacob. The first encounter was with a man whom Jacob did not know and who did not reveal his name; in the second meeting, Jacob knew with whom he spoke as God revealed His name as “El Shaddai”, Almighty God. This is the same name He revealed Himself to Abraham and Isaac and how He should be known until the time of the deliverance under Moses; “I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac and unto Jacob by God Almighty, but by My name Yehovah was I not known unto them” (Ex. 6:3). It is the name which denotes His Sovereign rule over all things so that nothing comes to pass but by the power of His will, according to the good pleasure of the intent of His heart and for good to them that love Him, the called of God (Rms. 8:28)

In the beginning, Jacob was alone and afraid as he waited for the impending aggression from Esau. This is where he met and struggled with the unknown assailant. The second meeting brought him forth from Luz, as he came out Padanaram. Here he built an altar and called the name of the place El-Beth-el; ‘the mighty house of God’.

Luz means the ‘almond tree’. It is referenced because it is the first plant to come to life after the winter sleep. This is the type of the resurrection wherein Christ is the first-born from the dead. His body is the Temple of God which He raised up in three days (John 2:19) and so it is befitting that Luz is renamed Bethel; ‘the house of God’. Padanaram is the field which represents the world and all that is therein (Matt. 13:18). Messiah came forth out of the confusion of the religion of the world (Zerub-babel), which confusion is the inherent inability of man to know, keep and obey the Law of God and his proclivity toward amalgamations and mixing (Babylon). Messiah was born under the Law that He might redeem them that were under the law, that they might be made like the Son of God, that is the adoption (Gal. 4:5). He came forth out of the wilderness with His Beloved reclined in Him (Song 8:5), out of Edom (which is Adam) stained with the blood of the sacrifice (Is. 63:1) and out of the corruption and condemnation of the flesh, when He who knew no sin became the sin of His people (II Cor. 5:12). He, being the author and finisher of the faith of His people, has called unto Her saying; “Come ye out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not her plagues” (Rev. 18:4). She has heard His voice and, being quickened together with Him, has come forth. She was awakened when the ‘Arm of the Yehovah’ awoke and put on His strength. She has stood up in the Word of His power and shaken the dust off of her (Is. 52:1). The marriage of the Lamb has come and His wife has made herself ready for it has been granted unto Her to be “arrayed in fine linen, clean and white for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints” (Rev. 19:8). She has descended out of heaven as a Bride adorned for Her Husband where “the tabernacle of God is with men, and He shall dwell with them and they shall be His people and God Himself shall be with them and be their God” (Rev. 21:2f). She is now seated together with Him in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:6) yet, because each member of the body has been assigned a time of their habitation as they have been made partakers of flesh and blood and subject to the vanity thereof, He has spoken to each member in particular, every man in his order, saying; “Wherefore come ye out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean and I will receive you” (II Cor. 6:17). And so Jacob (the child of promise), whose name was already called Israel, in type of the Anointed One who should come, has come forth after the resurrection (‘almond tree’) out of the world and is now seated at the right hand of the Father (Heb. 1:3). His name has been changed (but not discarded or forgotten) from Jesus, ‘the salvation of Yehovah’ as He is now and forever revealed to ‘the Word of God’ (Rev. 19:13); “and He has on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (19:16).

The first meeting was in a place which Jacob called Peniel, for he had “seen God face to face and my life is preserved” (32:30) while the second was in ‘the house of God’, Beth-el. After the former, Jacob walked with a limp as proof of his encounter and in the latter he “set up a pillar in the place where he talked with Him, a pillar of stone and he poured out a drink offering, thereon, and he poured oil thereon” (35:14).

The Word of God, which became flesh and dwelt among us, is singularly the same for it is of the mouth of the Lord God who cannot change. The glory of Yehovah has been revealed in the Anointed Salvation of Yehovah and all flesh has seen it together because the mouth of Yehovah has spoken it (Is. 40:5). This Word is the same word which came unto Abraham and Isaac which Word is confirmed by an oath and promises. This Word was not unto Abram, ‘the exalted father’, but unto Abraham, ‘the exalted father of many’. It is the Word which was manifested in the child of promise when, by faith, Abraham was faithful for he neither considered his age nor the deadness of Sarah’s womb. They were made obedient in the day of His power when Almighty God had returned unto them the way of youth. This blessing was not unto Sarai, ‘my princess’ but unto Sarah, ‘the noblewoman’ and although it was represented in types and foreshadows of lands and people, yet it was an everlasting covenant; “And I will bless her and give thee a son also of her, yea, I will bless her and she shall be the mother of nations, kings of people shall be of her” (Gen. 17:16).

Now, the Almighty Yehovah God has come to confirm His oath and His promises, not with Jacob, but with Israel. Jacob had the birthright of the house of Isaac and was entitled to all the lands and possessions thereof; herein he is the type of the natural man. Israel was the heir of the kingdom not of this world and the inhabitant of that city whose builder and maker is God. Herein he is the type of those born from above. Jacob’s brother, Esau, was a “cunning hunter, a man of the field” (Gen. 25:27) who hated his brother for what he had done. God had separated these two from the womb as “two manner of people” and while Esau prospered in the field, God met Jacob as he came out of the field (Padan-aram). Here the name of Israel is announced and proclaimed by the mouth of God.

The two witnesses of God are His promise and His oath; “that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us” (Heb. 6:18). These witnesses, whose testimony is one, are the law and the prophets whereby the witness of the ministration of condemnation testifies against Adam and all those who would live by the works of righteousness of the flesh. It is also a testimony of the blessing of Messiah who should come and fulfill the Law in all righteousness. These are the two mountains, Gerizim and Ebal, whereon the house of Israel stood and proclaimed the blessing and curse of God. Upon the mountain of separation, Gerizim (cut off) was the blessing and upon the mountain of an uncovered head, Ebal (bald) was the curse (Deut. 27:12f). This was and is the Word of God which states plainly that no flesh shall ever be justified in His sight while His people have the testimony of the finished work of the Christ and keep His commandments (Rev. 12:17). These are the two olive trees which stand by the Lord of the whole earth (Zech. 4:14), the apostles and prophets of the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20) and the two witnesses which prophesied for three and a half years in sackcloth until the manifestation of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God (Rev. 11:3). These are the two witnesses whereby all prophesy must be confirmed for there is no private interpretation of prophesy (II Pt. 1:20) and so, God sent forth His messenger to announce the change of Jacob’s name and then He confirmed it by His presence that it may be sure.

“And they journeyed from Beth-el and there was but a little way to come to E-phrath and Rachel travailed and she had hard labour” (Gen. 35:16).

Many things had come to pass between the times of the birth of Joseph to the birth of Benjamin and most of these were unpleasant. There are few particulars of the first seventeen years but there must have been great joy and anticipation for both Jacob and Rachel. The joy in the birth of their first born and anticipation for the next child, occupied the time and emotions of these as the years past.

Then came the news of the return of Esau with four hundred of his men. This resulted in the false supposition of impending danger as Jacob anticipated a violent vengeance at the hand of his older brother. He divided his children in order with their mothers; the handmaids and their children, foremost, then Leah and her sons and finally Rachel and Joseph, hindermost, as he passed over before them to present himself to Esau. Jacob, before any dialogue had begun, before intentions were made known and even before any gestures of aggression on the part of the aggrieved were manifested, abased himself before Esau by bowing himself down seven times as his brother approached.

Jacob’s heart was filled with anxiety, fear and trepidation’s as he prepared to encounter his inveterate foe. He did not know that the hand of Almighty God, during their more than twenty year hiatus, had fashioned the heart of Esau away from his desire to kill Jacob unto a passion that was openly expressed; “And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him: and they both wept” (Gen. 33:4). Being ignorant of this work of God, which no man can know, Jacob prostrated himself before Esau. At this point in time, with all the distractions of the flesh swirling about before Jacob, he is not given to remember the promise of God to his mother (namely that the elder shall serve the younger). He does not ‘lay hold of the promise’ and ‘name it and claim it’ as the labourers of the religious work camps are taught by the carnal task masters. Jacob abases himself before the one whom Almighty God said was his servant yet just a short while hence, he rebukes his son for his presumptuous dream; “What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?” (Gen. 37:10). The Adamic weakness of Jacob was manifested as he fell before the servant who stood for all time as his adversary and his Adamic pride stood bold and arrogant before the man, who would save Israel in Egypt. “Now therefore be not grieved nor angry with yourselves that ye sold me hither for God did send me before you to preserve your life. For these two years the famine in the land and there are yet five years in which there shall be neither earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now you did not send me hither, but God and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his house and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt” (Gen. 45:5ff).

God had purposed that there should be no alliance between Jacob and Esau for they are “two manner of people” who, although they grew up together as equals, could not walk together for they were not agreed (Amos 3:3). Jacob represents the child of grace, born from above and formed together in the womb yet separate from the beginning. Esau represents the natural man, that earthen vessel afore prepared as the habitation of the incorruptible seed, who cannot receive the things of the Spirit, neither can he know them, who, all his life, desires that which Jacob has. He lusts after the peace of the assurance of the hope that is within the child of promise but he is of the earth, earthly. He craves the love and blessing of his father but none remains. He is strong and a mighty family yet with all his numbers, power and worth he cannot regain that which he has forfeited; “For you know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it with tears” (Heb. 12:17).

There can never be any confederacy, alliance or agreement between the flesh and the Spirit. The Spirit cannot be polluted by the corruption of the flesh because the seed of God remains in them. Esau/Edom/Adam is formed of the dust of the earth. He does not have the Spirit of God and therefore he is none of His (Rms. 8:9). He cannot approach or worship God for “God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship in Spirit and truth” (John. 4:24). This man Jacob displays both the attributes of both parties. He is fearful, conniving and unscrupulous in his manifestation of the natural man, yet he is blessed as the Beloved of God because he is one of His. He does obeisance before his servant and spurns his deliverer. “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me; for I delight in the law of God after the inward man, but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into the captivity of the law of sin in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (Rms. 7:21ff)”

“And Esau said; Let me now leave with thee some of the folks that are with me. And he said; What need is it? Let me find grace in the sight of my lord. So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir” (Gen. 33:15)

All of the trials and tribulations that Jacob had encountered along his assigned path did not change the Adamic nature in him one bit. He deprived his elder brother of his birthright by an act of tyranny when there should have been compassion. He conspired with his mother to deceive Isaac with an elaborate lie and willful fraud instead of being content with his station and now he feigns an obsequious posture before the outstretched hand of his brother as he knowingly embellishes his situation and true feelings. Esau came, making overtures of peace and cooperation as he greeted his long lost brother and offered to help him on his journey. Jacob despised his gestures, spurned his offers and shunned his love.

After more lies and deception to his brother, Jacob journeyed to Succoth where he built an house and made booths for his cattle; “And Jacob came to Shalem, a city on Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram and he pitched his tent before the city”. Here he experienced the shame and agony of the horrific rape of his daughter, Dinah. This was exacerbated by the villainy of his sons and the slaughter of the men of Shechem as they proposed peace through compromise. During this time, the deep concern over the dreams that Joseph had and the hatred of the other sons for him came to light as Joseph boasted of the prophetic light he had been given. This drama finally culminated in his apparent death and the lies, deception and cover-ups to conceal the truth.

Now after the two encounters with Yehovah God and a name change for her husband, Rachel conceives the much anticipated ‘next’ child. In the midst of all of the sorrow of the year in which many trials and tribulations had beset the house of Jacob, Rachel calls the name of this son, Ben-oni, ‘the son of my sorrow’. She has traveled from the house of God (Beth-el), wherein remained the sacrifice of the drink offering before Yehovah, and has came nigh unto the fruitful place (E-phrath – also known as Bethlehem-Ephrathah – Micah 5:1). Here her labour became hard and severe. The encouragement from the midwife to “fear not for you shalt have this son also”, was to no avail for her life breath departed from her as she died giving birth to Benjamin.

“And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day” (Gen. 35:20)

The life of Israel began with the death of his beloved wife and the orphaning of his last son. The eldest son of Jacob, Reuben, defiled his father’s house when he went in unto his father’s concubine, Bilhah, and discovered her nakedness. Next Jacob’s father, Isaac, dies and is buried in the cave at Machpelah. Then his son, Judah, consorted with the people of the land and entered into a relationship with a woman named Shuah. Judah, whose mind had been drawn out after greed in the matter with Joseph, was again turned to the ‘wealth’ (Shuah) of the people ‘easily humbled’ (Canaan) and was himself ‘brought low’ (Shuahk). Three sons were sired as a result of this elicit affair, Er (awake), Shelah (strong) and Onan (a request); these were born unto Judah while he was in the land of Chezib (false, vain, lie). The shame of this must have been great upon Israel but he was surely further aggrieved when Judah sired yet two more sons through fornication with his daughter-in-law Tamar (palm tree). The result of his unrighteousness (Gen. 38:26) was the births of Pharez (the breach) and Zerah (rising).

The new name of Israel and the revelation of God unto His child did not improve the circumstances wherein he found himself. It neither diminished the pain and heartache that this man was given to endure nor gave him victory over the sin which did so easily beset him. And there yet loomed the death of Leah and the matter of a famine on the horizon which would further abase this family. Speculation could do no justice as to the magnitude of the agony in the heart and mind of Israel when news came, in the midst of his attempts to feed his family, from a foreign potentate that he must relinquish the son of his right hand in order for the family to live.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations, knowing that the trying of your faith works patience; but let patience have perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:2f).

Your servant in Christ,
(Elder) Chet Dirkes

The Banner of Hope
Volume 8, No. 2
July 2014