Word Alive! Bible Study ©2023
Fall /Early Winter Series: God Never Gives Up On You!
Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton
Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tues., 5 & 12 Dec. 2023 Lesson 5, Parts 1 & 2
Max Lucado, God Never Gives Up On You © 2023
Quiet Time: Max Lucado, God Never Gives Up, Pages 51-65
God Comes, In Spite Of Us – The way we are at times, cannot be an impenetrable barrier, forcing God’s love away. While our behavior is not always condoned by God, we are still loved unconditionally. When we encounter some difficult situations, it may well be the result of our own making. Unfortunately, a person can become the architect of their own undoing (Read, Proverbs 11:5, NIV). Jacob’s sudden departure from their home in Canaan was at the urging of his mother Rebekah (See, Genesis 27:41-45, NLT) However, it was Jacob’s deception toward his brother Essau, that hastened his journey. In following Jacob’s trail; just when it is thought he was on the right path, some deception is exhibited. The Scriptures provide wise counsel in citing the consequences of behavior that falls short of God’s standards. Doing what is right is not complicated; doing what is wrong, brings consequence which can harm one’s self. (Read, Proverbs 11:17, NIV). Schemes and devices which are intended to harm others, can only have a negative effect on the person who perpetrates the wrong, (Read, Proverbs 11:3, NIV). The story of Jacob provides us with the background for the fulfillment of the promised Messiah- who is Jesus Christ our Lord. However, we see the actors in this grand narrative, are imperfect at best. We look at their lives, and can receive a cautionary tale about our own human strivings. We get a glimpse of people, the way they were, at every stage of their journey; but not as we would like them to have been. This is intended in the Word; otherwise, we would neither understand nor come to appreciate the meaning of “redemption.” Often in the Scriptures, the consequences of human behaviors are summed up in prophetic warnings. Obadiah, who prophesied during the period when Israel was under Babylonian captivity, spoke out against the Edomites. The Edomites were descendants of Essau; they held animosity toward their Israelite relatives, and tacitly supported the enemies of Israel. The prophet warned, they would have to pay for such actions and attitudes. (Read, Obadiah 1:15b, NIV). The pendulum of life does swing back and forth. When Jacon reached his uncle Laban’s home in Haran, he had no idea that his relative’s behavior mirrored his own. In his book, God Never Gives Up On You, describing Rebeka’s brother, Laban, Max Lucado says: “He could at once, put his arm around your shoulders and his hand on your wallet. He gave Jacob a squeeze. “Oh, Rebekah’s boy! You will come to my tent You will live in my house! You will want for nothing as long as you are here.” Laban had two daughter, Leah and Rachel. From the appearance of Rachel at the well, Jacob wanted to marry her. Laban’s deception became apparent when he reneged on the agreement he made with Jacob, (Read, Gen. 29:16 18-21, NIV).
God Comes, In Spite Of Us - Part 2, - Jacob was livid with Laban for breaching their agreement. The deception of Laban is realized when he tells Jacob after seven years of hard work, that the people of Haran had a custom, which required the elder daughter be given in marriage first. When Laban conceded to Jacob’s wish to marry Rachel, Laban conveniently forgot to mention the ‘right of the first-born daughter.’ Although angry, Jacob loved Rachel so much, he agreed to work for Laban an additional seven years (Read, Genesis 29:25-28, NIV). While Jacob’s love for Rachel and his perseverance are admirable, his character is far from changed. Jacob was always thinking of ways to out wit and deceive others for his personal advantage. In confronting Laban, Jacob was partly looking at a mirror image of himself. Dominant aspects of his character, were very much like those of his uncle. Perhaps Jacob’s journey to Haran, was also about him coming to terms with his own self. With every act of deception, we chip away at ourselves. However, when we’re confronted with the truth about our short-comings, we can choose to acknowledge our wrongs, and become better. Nathan the prophet came to David and shared with him the parable of the rich man; who confiscated the only sheep of a poor man. Rather than take a sheep from his own flock, he used the poor man’s sheep. The story was a reference to David taking Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba; and having him sent to the frontline of battle to be killed. David voiced disgust with the rich man’s behavior in the parable. He said that man should be punished severely. (Read, 2 Samuel 12:5-6, NIV). The prophet Nathan reminded David; as the man in the parable was guilty, so was he in having Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah killed, to cover his sin of adultery. It was at that moment, David saw the rich man in the parable as a mirror image of himself (Read, 2 Samuel 12:7-10, NIV) David repented and was forgiven by God; although he suffered the consequences of his behavior. (Read, 2 Samuel 12: 13-14, NIV). Jacob spent a great deal of his life dealing with the consequences of his deceit, which never seemed to cease. Unlike David who acknowledged his sin and repented; Jacob showed no remorse for his errant ways. However, God did not abandon Jacob, but tested him along his journey. When Jacob received news that his brother Esau was near his location; he devised a scheme to use his cattle and family, including the young children, to be placed in alternate groups, to confront Esau and his men first. Jacob remained out of sight. Jacob thought this gesture could appease this brother. When Jacon was finally face to face with his brother; it was Esau who reached out to Jacob and displayed a spirit of reconciliation. Although Jacob was relieved of the outcome; he still didn’t trust Esau, and wanted Esau’s back to face him, when they decided to journey together. Jacob used his family and herds as an excuse, to allow Esau to go ahead of him. (Read, Genesis 33:12; 14, NIV). Esau’s genuine attempt at reconciliation, was somewhat nixed by Jacob’s reticence to cooperate with Esau as they journeyed forward. They each went their separate ways. The Scripture says, “So that day Esau started on his way back to Seir. Jacob, however went to Sukkoth, where he built a place for himself and made shelters for his livestock.” (Genesis 33:16, NIV).
What We Believe!
“God’s grace never quits.” – Max Lucado
Proverbs 11:5, NIV
“The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight, but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness.”
Proverbs 11:17, NIV
Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin to themselves.”
Proverbs 11:3, NIV
“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their own duplicity.”
Obadiah 1:15b, NIV
“As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your head.”
Genesis 29:13-15, NIV
“As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he hurried to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his home, and there Jacob told him all these things. Then Laban said to him, “You are my own flesh and blood.” After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, Laban said to him, “Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing?
Genesis 29:16;18-21, NIV
“Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel… Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.” Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her. Then Jacob said, “Give me my wife, so I can sleep with her.”
Genesis 29:25-28 NLT
“When morning came, there was Leah! So, Jacon said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me?” “I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? “Why have you deceive me?” Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also in return for another seven years of work.” And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife.”
2 Samuel 12:5-6, NIV
“David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”
2 Samuel 12:7-10, NIV
“Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in His eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.”
2 Samuel 12: 13-14, NIV
“Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sins. You are not going to die. But because by doing this, you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.”
Genesis 33:12;14 NIV
“Then Esau said, “Let us be on our way. I’ll accompany you… [But Jacob said to him] so let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I move along slowly at the pace of the flocks and herds before me and the pace of the children…”