Battles :: By Nathele Graham

We all have battles. We might fight with a neighbor over a barking dog, fight against temptation, or argue with a spouse over finances. The most futile battle is wrestling with God.

Jacob was one of the more interesting people of ancient times, and his battles began before he was born. Isaac and his wife Rebekah had no children. They turned to the Lord in prayer, and their prayers were answered. Not only did Rebekah become pregnant, but she was carrying twins.

“And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD” (Genesis 25:22).

She had the right idea. When things don’t seem quite right, go to God and ask Him for answers.

“And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23). 

Esau was born first, then Jacob. Esau grew to be a hunter, which pleased Isaac. On the other hand, Rebekah favored Jacob. God had told Rebekah that Esau, the older brother, would serve Jacob, the younger brother.

We all try to “help” God in making His plans work out, and Jacob was good at “helping.” One day, Esau had been in the field and was hungry. As it happened, Jacob had been cooking and told Esau he could have some food if he sold his birthright to Jacob. Esau was hungry and agreed. Later, their father Isaac was on his death bed and needed to give his blessing to Esau. Rebekah came up with a plan to have Isaac give the blessing to Jacob instead of Esau. The plan worked and Jacob received the blessing. God had said that Esau would serve Jacob, but had Rebekah and Jacob waited for God to work things out instead of using trickery, maybe there wouldn’t have been the continuing strife and anger between the brothers. Esau was very bitter.

“And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob” (Genesis 27:41).

Rebekah was made aware of Esau’s plan and sent Jacob away. It’s a shame that she and Jacob had taken things into their own hands instead of trusting God to do things in His time in His way. Jacob left, but his battles didn’t end.

“Before Jacob left, Isaac blessed him. “And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother’s father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother’s brother. And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; and give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham” Abraham” (Genesis 28:1-4).

Jacob’s battles should have been over, but he would face much more strife. Who was he really fighting against? He was fighting God. That battle would come to a head many years later.

Jacob did travel to Padanaram where he married two sisters. He loved Rachel, but had been tricked into marrying Leah. God’s example for marriage is one man/one woman, but Leah and Rachel were raised in a pagan household, and this created new battles for Jacob. There was jealousy between the sisters over Leah having children and Rachel having none. Jacob had left his father’s house where Isaac and Rebekah had prayed for children, and Jacob should have also prayed. In this pagan surrounding, Jacob eventually had children with both of his wives and their two maids. Instead of seeking God in prayer, paganism won the battle. Eventually Jacob felt the need to leave this pagan life and return to his own country.

“And it came to pass, when Rachel had born Joseph, that Jacob said unto Laban, Send me away, that I may go unto mine own place, and to my country. Give me my wives and my children, for whom I have served thee, and let me go: for thou knowest my service which I have done thee” (Genesis 30:25-26).

When you’re unequally yoked to a pagan culture, it isn’t easy to break free. Laban wouldn’t agree to Jacob leaving. Laban didn’t serve God Almighty, but understood gods in general. He knew that he received blessings from God Almighty because of Jacob. It’s possible to know God, but not serve Him. Jacob was in two battles: one was to serve God Almighty, and the other was the pagan bondage of Laban.

Jacob was becoming battle-weary. He was ready to begin listening to God. “And the LORD said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee” (Genesis 31:3).

Christians forget that we have to leave the world behind when we give our life to Christ; otherwise, we will always be in a battle.

Jacob left Laban. He took his wives, their handmaids, and his children. Satan will always put stumbling blocks in the way of anyone who turns to the Lord. Remember, though, that God will fight our battles if we trust Him. Jacob was returning to a closer walk with God, but the battles weren’t over. Laban was angry and chased after Jacob, but even a pagan such as Laban can receive a dream from God.

“And God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad” (Genesis 31:24).

God was fighting for Jacob, and Laban heeded the warning. God won that battle. Instead of fighting, Jacob and Laban talked it out, and Jacob went his way with all his household.

More battles were ahead. Jacob was returning to his home and had to face Esau. Messengers were sent who returned with the news that Esau was coming with 400 men to meet Jacob. Jacob divided all he had and sent them each in different directions, so at least some might escape Esau’s anger at Jacob. Finally, Jacob submitted his battle to God.

“And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children. And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude” (Genesis 32:9-12).

Jacob had come to understand that God had made promises, and it wasn’t his battle to win, but God’s. Instead of figuring out a way to trick Esau or fight him, Jacob turned the battle over to God. He sent his servants with gifts for Esau.

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

Sometimes the most important battles of life are fought when we’re alone. Notice that it wasn’t Jacob who was doing the wrestling, but the man wrestled with Jacob. This “man” wanted Jacob to give up his pride and self-reliance. Jacob needed to give up the schemes and the lies and worldly lifestyle. The “man” wasn’t a common man, but this was an Old Testament appearance of Jesus. Jacob was no match for a battle with God, but just as Jesus does with each of us, He lets us fight until we see our own need for Him. God will use whatever means necessary to draw us to Him; and in Jacob’s case, it took a physical disability.

“And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him” (Genesis 32:25).

Not every disability is to bring us to Jesus, but that’s what God used to cause Jacob to surrender to Him. Jacob knew who this Man was and desired a blessing from Him.

“And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed” (Genesis 32:27-28).

Finally, Jacob was worthy of the inheritance which God promised to Abraham. “And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved” (Genesis 32:30).

God changed Jacob’s name from Jacob, meaning supplanter, to Israel, which means God prevails. God will always prevail.

Just a side note: The land which God gave to Abraham is known as Israel, and no matter how hard the satanic powers fight against Israel, God will prevail.

What does this have to do with Christians? A lot! Jacob had choices and had many influences in his life. His choices weren’t always the best, but when it came to the crisis point, God prevailed. If we stop fighting God and submit to His will, we will avoid many problems.

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:7-8).

Instead of battling God, we should draw closer to Him. Study Scripture in order to know Him better. Begin battling the sin in your life, but give the fight to God. Turn from temptation and turn to God.

At any time during that all-night struggle, Jesus could have forced Jacob into submission. He let Jacob fight until he was ready to submit, then simply touched his thigh and dislocated it. He won’t force anyone into submission, but He gives us every opportunity to stop fighting Him and submit our will to His.

If you’ve asked Him to forgive your sins, then it’s time to move away from them. Take a lesson from Rebekah. She was raised in a pagan family that worshipped many gods, but she had come to know the one true God when she married Isaac. When she was barren, she prayed. She didn’t turn to a false god, but to the God of her husband Isaac. When the babies were fighting in her womb, she prayed to God Almighty and received an answer.

The question has to be asked: how would things have been different if she and Isaac had continued to pray for their sons. What would have happened if Rebekah had allowed God to work things out instead of encouraging Jacob to gain the blessing by deceit? How different would it have been if Jacob hadn’t been sent to the pagan culture of Rebekah’s family in order to avoid a battle with Esau. Brothers and sisters, when we come to Jesus, we need to leave the worldly ways behind.

Our battle is spiritual. Human weapons won’t win this battle.

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:10-12).

Jesus won the war at the cross, but there are battles still to fight. Let Him win the battles for you.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

www.straitandnarrowministry.com

ron@straitandnarrowministry.com

Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at https://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html

All original scripture is “theopneustos” – God breathed.

If you’d like to be on my mailing list to receive the commentaries, just drop me an email and let me know.

 

Comfort In Scripture :: By Nathele Graham 

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Either you believe Scripture or you don’t. I do. Prophecy is a big part of Scripture, and should be diligently studied. Things that are making headlines today cause me much concern, and I do get scared. The violence and hatred that our news media thrives on reporting is out of control. The hatred towards our President, Mr. Trump, is lunacy. The evil that permeates the Middle East and comes against Israel and Christians is satanic. Oddly, the liberal left sees this evil as good.

“Woe to them who call evil good, and good evil: that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20). 

Fortunately, God has given us Scripture to comfort us, and prophecy to let us know where we are on the prophetic timeline. Evil will not win. If you’re a Christian and feeling the stress of this day and age, then you aren’t studying Scripture. Psalm 46 is very applicable for today.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth” (Psalm 46:1-7). 

This describes the situation today. There is nothing new in the troubling events we see happening all around us. The evil we see is the same evil that beguiled Eve, and has tried to destroy God’s creation ever since. God’s hand has guided all who love Him throughout the years. Psalm 46 doesn’t stop with the troubles, but gives us hope.

“Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah” (Psalm 46:8-11).

There you have it. Troubling times will come, but God will overcome all evil. Be still in these troubling times and know that God can be trusted no matter what the future holds. Through Him there is victory.

A mistake that many Christians make is not studying prophecy. Most of it is given in the Old Testament, and too many pastors will only teach from the New Testament. It’s been said the “The New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed. The Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed.” Think about that.

The Old Testament is full of prophecy about Jesus, about sin and death, about the end times. The New Testament reveals that Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection fulfilled hundreds of prophecies. There’s more yet to be fulfilled when He comes again.

The Old Testament tells us where sin and death began. God placed Adam and Eve in a perfect place, but told them the consequences of eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. They ate, and thus began sin and death, misery and woe.

Prophecy reveals that God’s plan to save His creation was to enter it as a man and shed His own blood for our salvation. He did this, and now faith in Him brings everlasting life.

Old Testament prophecy gives a good look at the events of today and tells us there will be an end to all of this one day. It’s comforting to know that God, who isn’t constrained by the limits of time, has seen the future and told us what will transpire. It isn’t that He is making people hate each other, but He looked forward and saw that the hatred would intensify. He saw that Israel would be dispersed, then regathered. He saw the events of the Great Tribulation, which will cause the nation of Israel to turn back to Him in faith and finally come to recognize Jesus Christ as their Messiah.

Looking at news headlines today through the lens of prophecy can be comforting. The study of prophecy won’t change what will happen, but it just might give you two advantages. First, knowing that life will become increasingly troublesome as we draw closer to the last days, you can prepare for the worst. Wars and violence will increase, so you need to protect yourself as best you can. Jesus talked about earthquakes in various places. They have always happened, but they will grow stronger and happen where they aren’t expected. If roads are damaged, no food can reach the stores. You would be wise to have plenty of canned goods on hand.

The Old Testament tells about Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers. By chance (or was it by God’s hand over him?), Joseph ended up in Egypt in Pharaoh’s household. Joseph loved God and had the gift of interpreting dreams. Pharaoh had two dreams which were very troubling to him. One was of 7 fat cows and 7 scrawny cows, and the other was about 7 good grains and 7 bad grains. In both dreams the weaker overpowered the stronger. Joseph was asked to interpret them.

“And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the ream is one. And the seven thin and ill favoured kine that came up after them are seven years; and the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind shall be seven years of famine” (Genesis 41:25-27).

Preparations were made and food was stored. Because of that, Israel was saved. Jacob (who was re-named Israel by God) led his family to Egypt where they survived the famine and were reunited with Joseph.

Today we need to heed the signs and prepare. There will be a final 7-year time that will be the worst trouble that has ever been, and there’s no way to store enough food to survive what is to come. The only preparation you can do is to turn to Jesus now. Give your life to Him; and when all Christians are taken Home in the Rapture, you will escape the horrors that prophecy says will come in the final 7 years.

The other thing that studying prophecy can do is give us a witnessing tool to bring someone we know to salvation through Jesus.

News headlines are disturbing, but prophecy has revealed what’s ahead. Much prophecy has been fulfilled, and because it was accurate, we can know that the prophecy yet to be fulfilled will occur exactly as God said.

Peter saw many wonders as he traveled with Jesus and learned from Him. Jesus had said He would be arrested and crucified because Scripture had to be fulfilled, and Peter heard His words and saw it fulfilled. Jesus also said that Peter would deny Him. If Peter had paid attention, he may have changed a few things he did that night. Jesus knew what would happen and loved Peter anyway. Peter was repentant and was forgiven. His life is a testimony to what God can do. Peter saw miracles, but he wrote that there is even more sure evidence that Scripture is true.

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but by holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:19-21).

A man held the pen, but the Holy Spirit gave the words. Prophecy tells what will happen, and it will happen just as God says. If we believe what is written we will find comfort and hope.

Many prophecies are about the end times. Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Daniel are just three of the men whom the Holy Spirit inspired. The disciples asked Jesus about the end of the age, and He told them what signs to look for. If you study Scripture, you’ll see that the Old Testament signs and the ones Jesus described are happening quickly. We live in the times of the signs, and can either be upset by what’s happening, or we can find comfort in Scripture. Christians will live through very troubling times, but we won’t face the final seven years of Tribulation. That time period is directly associated with bringing the nation of Israel back to obedience to God.

Daniel was Jewish and much beloved by God. He was given prophecy regarding 70 weeks. In this context, each week represents seven years.

“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy” (Daniel 9:24).

We know that “thy people” are Jewish because Daniel was Jewish and “thy holy city” is Jerusalem. Study the full prophecy, and you’ll understand that 69 weeks have been fulfilled, but there is one final 7-year period left.

Today we’re living in the age of Grace. The door of salvation is open to anybody who admits they are a sinner and asks Jesus to forgive them. The door will soon be closed and God’s wrath will be poured out. If you want to get an idea of the horrors, read Revelation beginning in chapter 6. That describes events in Daniel’s 70th week. In the end, Israel will acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Messiah.

When reading the Book of Revelation, you need to be aware that chapters 1-5 aren’t about Israel, but about Christians.

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter” (Revelation 4:1).

Then a description of Christians in Heaven is given. Oh, how I yearn to be there. Chapter 6 and the following chapters aren’t about Christians but about Israel and God’s wrath.

“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10).

There are many, many Scriptures that support the pre-Tribulation Rapture. Christians will not face God’s wrath during Daniel’s 70th week. Sadly, God’s wrath is about to be poured out upon the unbelieving people who rejected Christ. Christians need to get busy and preach the Gospel to the lost.

“Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

There’s hope in Scripture. There’s comfort in Scripture. You won’t find that comfort by letting your Bible gather dust on a shelf.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

www.straitandnarrowministry.com

ron@straitandnarrowministry.com

Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at https://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html

All original scripture is “theopneustos” – God breathed.

If you’d like to be on my mailing list to receive the commentaries, just drop me an email and let me know.