Well, on Sabbath I preached my second sermon, I have not tortured myself by watching the video as yet, so I can’t say for sure how it went, but what I can say is this, although (praise God) I did not suffer nerves once the preaching was underway, I think I bit off perhaps a little more than I could chew with this passage of scripture, distilling it to a usable level for the listeners was harder than I thought.
I believe it is God’s Plan for me to grow this particular skill, therefore I think this experience was necessary, as we often learn more from our mistakes than we do from out victories, aside from that point I still felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and people were moved by it, proving that the Lord does not need perfect instruments to convey his message.
Soon I will attempt to get the video online for you to see, until then I have posted my notes below for you, though I would still encourage you to watch the video as not all the points I made were in the notes.
Welcome/the inspiration for the sermon.
Purpose: To take part in the covenant of Bethel
Background/Context: Jacob acquiring the birthright and blessing through deceit.Escape from Esau, going to find a wife. at this point He was alone, fearing for his life at the mercy of Esau the silent hunter with nothing more than one cold hard rock for a pillow. It was in this state that God Spoke to him. [Gen 28]
10 Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. 12 Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. [John 1:51 tells us that this was Jesus himself, the only mediator between God and Man]
13 And behold, the LORD stood above it and said: “I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. 14 Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”
What is the Covenant of Bethel
In Jacob’s dream God Promised him 5 things
- To give him the Land on which he was lying
- Decendants would as the dust of the earth
- In his seed would all the families of earth be blessed (Jesus)
- God will be with him and keep him
- Bring him back to this land
If your life was in the state Jacob’s was in and God came to you in a dream, promising you the same blessings, how would that effect you?
You would be comforted, at peace, near jubilant, full of love for the Creator… Has God ever turned your sorrow to joy in the same breath? he does this for me often. The course of a believer is one which often visits the valley of the shadow of death and the refiners fire with astounding frequency. This was one of those moments when Jacob was at the end of his own strength and the Savior intervened.
When Jacob awoke, he felt the nearness of God and from his overflowing gratitude, made a solemn vow, the Covenant of Bethel;
20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God.22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”
This was not a works based affirmation this was a statement of faith, as we know that faith will drive us to works, as it says in Matt 12:34 “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Jacob’s heart was overflowing from his encounter with the Author of life, he simply responded outwardly to the changes in his own heart.
It is important for us to understand the principles of the Old testament so we can not only avoid their mistakes but be blessed by their good examples, as it says in 1 Corinthians 10:11 “Now all these things (referring to the OT) happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”
According to scripture have the end of the Ages come upon us?
The covenant of Bethel reveals for us today, what it means to accept the promises of God by faith
How do we take part in it.
I believe the Lord left us clues throughout scripture to reveal this truth to us.
Firstly God Has offered his covenant to the whole human family, (Including you)
God has made the promise, we now must accept it as Jacob did, in faith.
Elsewhere in scripture, God Provided an answer for each point Jacob made, not to be requirements, but Consequences of our walk with him.
- If he will be with me: Matt 28:18-20 Take up the Great Commission
- Keep me in this way: Psalm 119:105 Abide in his word
- Give me bread to eat and clothing to put on: Matt6:25-34 Seek Ye First The Kingdom of God.
- So I come to my Fathers house in peace. Romans 5:1 Accept the Free Gift of Salvation
- Then the Lord shall be my God: Revelation 21:3 Final Reward (where we must look to)
- Of all that I receive I shall give a tenth to you: Mark 12:41-44 Giving measured by Sacrifice
God does not abandon us at this point to figure it out for ourselves, He will call you when the time is at hand, and call us home to the place prepared for us, where, to the Glory of God, our treasures are stored! Gen 35:1-13
1 Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.”
2 And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments. 3 Then let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me in the way which I have gone.” 4 So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree which was by Shechem.
This is where we are as a people, the covenant was made, God has looked after his church, kept us in his way, etc etc and now we are on the journey home, let’s cast off what inhibits us from accepting the covenant of bethel, that is what Jacob did…
5 And they journeyed, and the terror of God was upon the cities that were all around them, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. 6 So Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him. 7 And he built an altar there and called the place El Bethel,[a] because there God appeared to him when he fled from the face of his brother.
9 Then God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Padan Aram, and blessed him. 10 And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name.” So He called his name Israel. 11 Also God said to him: “I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body. 12 The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land.” 13 Then God went up from him in the place where He talked with him.
We often live our lives as is our custom or habit, expecting no more and no less than we get, at home, at work, at church, it is all the same, it is easy to forget the promises of God, and how real they are, we know they are there, but they seem to sit lifeless upon the gilt pages of our Bibles. They were made real to Jacob, they were real to Isaac, they were real to Abraham… they were life to them but lifeless to the great majority of us.
What is the difference?
The difference is they ACCEPTED the promises and lived like they believed in the God who made them.
Remember what Jacob said when he awoke from his dream?
16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”
If you, like Jacob, have been asleep, you have forgotten “the LORD is in this place” you have been living as if the promises of God were made to someone else, I would invite you to now stand as Jacob did and out of the fullness of your heart in response to the grace imparted to you, accept the covenant of Bethel.
We will pause for a few moments of silent prayer then I will pray to close