The Hosting the presence course – a lot to take in. Today the NSV – Nicks simplified version.
A lot to take in. A lot to process. We are not alone! My experience is that I don’t always get it all in one go. I get a glimpse of something and I go with that. One of the benefits of the discussion groups.
For instance the hand in the glove picture. We struggle if we think it means the holy spirit adapts to our shape. But when we think about it more that’s not so extraordinary– Jesus (God) adapted entirely to our shape in the incarnation – when the word became flesh. Even our familiar jars of clay picture the “treasure” is limited to and has to fit the jar. The wine fits the wineskin. The wineskin needs to be flexible, the glove needs to be flexible. The glove idea is only an illustration – but a helpful one. Have you ever put on an old muddy pair of gardening gloves. Stiff and inflexible. Lets not be like the stiff inflexible gardening gloves but like gloves that move to every movement of the hand inside. Remember every picture is a representation of the truth – don’t push it to far.
This week’s session started with Jacob – not one of my favourites!
Sometimes as we read the story we might ask is he doing the right thing or not I can’t even work it out. Sometimes he does things that I don’t think are right but God works it to his purposes. His name – supplanter/deceiver/trickster does not inspire confidence. God is exceedingly gracious to him. There is a massive amount of grace in the OT
Anyway, in Genesis 27 and 28 he has stolen his brother Esau’s birthright by deception and trickery in collusion with his mother Rebekah who seems to be a bit of a manipulator … and he’s on the run.
At this stage I might want to step in and say “No this isn’t right – this isn’t godly”. You should be a good submitted son at home, honour your older brother. What does God do – gives him a dream. An amazing revelation of heaven and the house of God and an amazing promise. In a way he gives him a bigger revelation than anyone in our bibles who has come before.
When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13There above itc stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.d 15I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
This is Abraham’s promise – so Jacob who had stolen the birthright of firstborn actually has it confirmed by God. There may be a firstborn principle that usually applies but God is not limited to that.
His response “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”
Back to Bill Johnson – he focused us on what jacob’s response was – the house of god and the gate of heaven. I’ve caught a glimpse.
First mention of house of God.
Difficult for us as two different concepts.
The house of God – the place where he dwells
Gate of heaven – on the boundary the entrance and exit.
Maybe we could see it as a gatehouse. (It’s just a picture) It’s a house but it’s a gateway. It’s on the border of the property. It’s the way in and out of the property.
3 things that Bill mentioned that Jacob observed:
- God speaks
- Open heaven. Do we live as though we have an open heaven? Do we pray as if we have an open heaven. The curtain of the temple is torn in two.
- A ladder or stairway between heaven and earth with angels ascending and descending – why? To do God’s will. Not aimlessly going up and down – the word is also translated messenger. Most angelic visitations were to bring a message. I’ve never really thought about this before. I’ve just thought of this as these ethereal beings mystically moving up and down. Maybe it’s a picture that tells us that god sends his messenger angels into the world.
John 1:51 Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man
Angels at work in the ministry of Jesus.
Lets think about these angels 2 kings 6 Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. There was an angelic situation occurring that the servant couldn’t see.
Open heaven We have an open heaven – straight access to God. The curtain has been torn in two.
The church as the people of God is the place that is on the boundary between heaven and earth.
What does it mean – God’s activity on earth flows through the church, the house of God.
Heaven is close, we’re at the gateway
We need to understand – we are at the gateway of heaven. That’s where we live.
There are angels active in gods purposes.
Finish a warning – Jacobs response “if god does this for me then I will…”
Verse 20 -If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord[f] will be my God 22 and[g] this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”
You can have great experience of god and not let your heart be changed. An unchanged heart does not invalidate the experience.
It was part of Jacob’s journey. Whatever revelation we receive, what ever powerful works God may use us in – they are not there to validate or our character, our theology, our lifestyle.
Let’s expect – open heaven, angelic activity, advance of kingdom of heaven, God’s voice