LESSONS FROM A PATRIARCH.
As I get older time seems to move exceedingly fast. I look back and I realize it’s been nine months since my last newsletter. A lot has happened to and in the Hunter family and I will go into those events through much of this newsletter.
This article is about as candid as I know how to write. It has to do with sin, troubles, and new beginnings. Sometimes honesty hurts - I pray this won’t!
Approximately two years ago, as the ministry began to slide, so did I. The delays in my writing have been compounded not just by my own sin but sins of my children. For some time I have felt akin to David as far as his relationship with his children went. I have learned and still am learning the gravity of what is meant by “the sins of the father” Divorce can not only destroy children but reputations which in some cases never can be restored. I know first- hand two times over. I thank God Barb has put up with me almost eleven years and we are still together.
I am seldom prone to confessing personal sins of others, especially my own family members but I have sensed a strong and profound unction from the Holy Spirit of God that I should at least touch on what has been going on with my family. I have four children whom I love. My oldest son, the first born, has had his challenges. He has just returned from a 60-day stay in a drug and alcohol facility in East Texas. For years he has battled drugs and alcohol, especially alcohol. It’s my prayer he will continue to take the necessary steps to make a full recovery. It’s also my prayer he will come to the full knowledge of just who God is and how He can restore lives. My youngest daughter has certainly sinned and made some immense mistakes but has recovered some of ground the enemy has taken. As a single mom her struggles are many but my prayer is that she will come to the full knowledge of the Lord in complete honesty and live for Him as she should. I am thankful to say my relationships with my son and youngest daughter are good.
At the time of this newsletter my relationship with my oldest daughter is strained to the point where there is no relationship. Of all my children she is need of your prayers more than the rest, including my son who has just returned from rehab. I believe my oldest daughter is in a type of cult and if I am not mistaken it’s called “United Ministries of Maxia” I may be wrong on the name but it is based in Tennessee. Our adopted daughter who will soon turn eighteen is beginning some new and dangerous struggles. It has been difficult for her living with us because she was basically court appointed. Turning eighteen can be an exciting but also a very devastating age.
Many of you have had problems with your children and with every child there’s a new blessing but also with each child your heart can be ripped out anew many time over. Satan takes great pleasure in using one’s own family to destroy them. Guilt, regrets, confusion, things one did or did not do, can be a never ending nightmare. When one is driven by self and plays with the pleasures of the moment one may come to find out instead of playing with pleasures, he is playing with a viper. That viper can continue to thrust its deadly fangs into its victims and these victims give birth to children who grow up with some of that poison flowing through their blood. . And the history goes on, unless there is an encounter with Yeshua. But children do grow up and they must accept responsibility for their own behavior. We all will stand before a Holy God.
Whether it’s children or a thousand others things, too many Christians are being torpedoed by the enemy.
Recently I was talking to a 21 year old single mom over the phone and during the conversation I asked her what she thought about the war in the Middle East. She replied: “I have enough war in my own life to know or worry about any kind of war over there!” There are a number of you reading this newsletter that can identify with this single mom. There are millions who have surrendered their lives to the Lord but are bombarded with what seems like everything satan has to fire at them.
For two yeas I have battled appetites, porn over the internet, laziness, pride, bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, fear, and on and on. For two years I had an on again, off again walk with the Lord, mostly off. I was in fellowship long enough to get a couple of newsletters out but that was it. Why it has taken me so long to learn basic spiritual truths is beyond me. Far too well have I learned about “the sins of the father”
But now I want to make a parenthetical shift. When Moses had his encounter with God why did God introduce Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Why three? Why these three? Why didn’t he say I am the God of Adam, or Noah, and by all means Enoch? I am not entirely sure, for His triune choice was determined long ago. Other than a type of trinity, we can look even closer. Abraham was and is considered a father figure to not only Israel but also to those of us who are grafted in, the followers of Yeshua. Abraham was one of the prime examples of a man of faith via, venturing into unknown territory through step by step obedience. The theme of his life is about the role of the father and the promised blessing. Now the LORD said to Abram, go forth from your country, and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation. And I will bless those who bless you, And the ones who curses you I will curse.
Isaac was a type of Messiah (Christ) who was to be sacrificed on an altar. He was the promised son. Then there’s Jacob. How did he get in this triune of Patriarchs?
Will you look with me at the life of Jacob and how by his example we can be better equipped to be all God wants us to be. I have entitled this article: Lessons From A Patriarch.
Jacob is representative of one who struggles. With all his wrongdoing and trials; we can see The Holy Spirit of God working in his life.
Jacob’s struggles began in his mother Rebekah’s womb. Genesis: 25:22-23.
By the way this struggle is still going on today and is being played out in the Middle East.
Forty centuries have failed to wipe out the effects of this deep-rooted enmity between Esau and Jacob! The two peoples have continued in their hostility up to this present day! Throughout history the Edomites - especially the Amalekites, the chief tribe of the Edomites - have been bitter foes of Israel.
As we look into the life of Jacob we find hope. Jacob is certainly pictured as our human nature, but in spite of that, in spite of his difficulties, his trials, and in spite of his own self, Jacob never let go of God. I want to take a small portion of his life and demonstrate how we can find encouragement.
Let’s examine three truths.
1. Even though one is obedient, trials still come.
2. Through all the trials and tribulations we can still be overcomes.
3. In spite of tribulations blessing can still be received and given.
Though One Is Obedient, Trials Still Come.
I want to begin with Jacob going back to Bethel.
And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up
to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto
thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.
“Go back to Bethel.” Jacob was obedient. Bethel is important for Jacob, he had been their before. He had laid down and used a rock as a pillow and dreamed a dream. We commonly refer to this event as Jacob’s ladder. This was a mighty encounter Jacob had with God. Genesis 28:11-19 I do not see how Torah teachers miss this. Yeshua was that Ladder.
And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. John 1:51
He was afraid and said,” How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gateway to heaven Genesis 28:17
Now he is returning to Bethel again. However, before he even leaves for Bethel, Jacob wanted a clean break with idolatry. He wanted to go in complete obedience. There were foreign gods in the family of Jacob. Who had these foreign gods? It was his beloved, beautiful-eyed wife Rachel for one. She had stolen them from her father Laban’s house years before. There were apparently others who had them but we know Rachael was one. So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him “Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves and change your garments.” Genesis. 35:1
So they gave Jacob all foreign gods they had and the rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them under an oak at Shechem. Genesis 35:4
Ah, I can hear the echoes of Jacob’s call perhaps in even a stronger voice when Joshua challenges the children of Israel years later.
Now fear the LORD and serve Him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshipped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD …Choose for yourselves this day who you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:14-15
Do you need to get rid of some false gods? I did! Do you need to clean house? I did!
While at Bethel, God appears to Jacob and blesses him. What an encounter it was. The LORD reminds Jacob his name is Israel. He says to him, be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will come from your body. The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you,
God identifies Himself to Jacob as El Shaddai. Later Moses would be introduced to God as the YHVH.
I had to return to my Bethel. That place where I first met the LORD. I had left my first love. Revelation 2:4
I had to repent of things previously mentioned. I had to refocus on where I was and, in part, I am still doing that. While at Bethel I found a suit of armor. It was dusty and had not been worn for two years. It’s called the armor of God. I found my Bible - the sword of the Spirit, I found an excitement in the LORD I had not known for almost two years and I found forgiveness and grace - a lot of grace. Have you returned to your Bethel? Many return in despair, at the furthest periphery of sanity. There they find peace for they find themselves in the presence of God.
But guess what? Nothing has necessarily changed in my circumstances. Circumstances may or may not change. It is I who must change and must continue to change whether circumstances change or not. While my life was certainly discomfited by family, it was me, not my circumstances, who was responsible for my sins. You and I are responsible for our reactions to our circumstances and not necessarily for the circumstances themselves.
Jacob was obedient to the call but although Jacob immediately arose and went to Bethel the circumstances did not get better for Jacob, in fact they got worse. The events that surrounded him just prior to his visit to Bethel and just after leaving are staggering.
Just before Jacob’s arrival at Bethel, Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse died, and was buried under an oak tree just below Bethel.
Just after leaving Bethel, Rachel, his cherished wife also died during child birth. This must have been shattering for Jacob. Just as she breathed her last she named the child Ben-Oni (“son of my trouble”), but Jacob named him Benjamin (“son of my right hand”) Remember how much he loved her. The first time he saw her he kissed her and then began to weep.
Later on, after leaving Bethel Reuben, Jacob’s first born son was found sleeping with Jacob’s concubine Bilhah. Genesis (35:22)
That was more than youthful lust; that was a direct insult to Jacob. We are not told what Jacob did; maybe he remained silent as in the situation of his daughter Dinah who was brutally raped just before Jacob went to Bethel. But later Jacob was quite clear about what he thought about that event with Reuben for one of the last things he did was to pronounce a prophecy of his children. Here is Reuben’s.
Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honor, excelling in power. Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father’s bed, onto my couch and defiled it. Genesis 49:3-4
Not long after that Isaac, Jacob’s father died. He died at his family home in Hebron at the ripe old age of 180.
Jacob was obedient. Bethel was a new beginning. But trials still came! Having a mountain top experience may only change you, not your circumstances. Have you tried to make a change for the better and it seems your circumstances grew worse? So it was with Jacob.
We Can Still Be Overcomers
We now find Jacob back home in Canaan where his father had sojourned. His twelve boys were getting older but he had a favorite son named Joseph who was 17 years of age when the story unfolds. Jacob had made him a coat of many colors. You know the story. That coat was brought back stained with blood. Jacob’s heart broke in two. As far as he was concerned he had lost a son. No one can describe the sorrow of losing a child and to Jacob Joseph was dead and part of Jacob died also. What else would happen? While Jacob was probably still grieving over Joseph a terrible famine came to the land. All of his tears and prayers could not bring back Joseph or wet the parched grounds from lack of rain. Jacob was not doing well. He had lost a wife, the wife he dearly loved. He thought his favorite son Joseph was dead. And as he watched every living thing around him die for lack of rain and he too was dying. In desperation he sent his sons to Egypt to try to buy food. I wonder how Israel felt when he finally decided to let his youngest son Benjamin go with his brothers. If Benjamin had died it may have been too much for the grizzled old Patriarch to take. Yet his brothers returned with the most startling news. Joseph was alive, and ruler over all of Egypt.
Near the close of Jacob’s life we find him in Pharaoh’s Court. Joseph had just introduced his brothers and his father, Jacob, to Pharaoh. Pharaoh asked Jacob how old he was. Here is his answer. …”Ya’akov (Jacob) replied, the time of my stay on earth has been 130 years; they have been few and difficult, fewer than my ancestors lived.” The Hebrew reads this way: “Few and sorrowful have been my days.” In others words his life had been a struggle and he was not as old as his father and Grandfather. Abraham was 175 when he died and Isaac was 180. Although Jacob’s life had many more struggles than I mentioned in this article, Jacob was an overcomer! What a climax unfolded for Jacob. After all the trials, Jacob and his family were safe – right in the middle of a terrible famine. The famine was still going on but Jacob and his family were secure. All seventy members of his family had survived and were secure in the boundaries of Egypt. We will be in the great tribulation but like Jacob many will get through safe and alive. But perhaps the more profound event is yet to come in Jacob’s life. Jacob and his house is actually a picture for the kingdom of God. While Jacob’s name is associated with trials and tribulation; His new name Israel is the name of the Kingdom of God. Remember near the start of this article I wrote “What happens to the fathers will happen to the descendants” This has been true in my own life but it goes far beyond that. Many know the phrase “In the time of Jacob’s trouble”
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book. For, lo, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the LORD: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it. And these are the words that the LORD spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah. For thus saith the LORD; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him: But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them. Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the LORD; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid. For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished. Jeremiah 30:2-11
This is a prophecy of the last generation. We are to trust in the Lord for Him to deliver us in the final day of testing. Like Jacob we can be overcomers.
But many are facing tribulation at this time. I know an overcomer. His name is Greg. In some circles Greg might not be considered very much of a man. Greg could not win too many fights nor could he win a foot race; he won’t excel at football or really any sport, you see Greg has Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Greg is confined to a wheelchair and sometimes the bed. Yet Greg is ten times more a man of God than I will probably ever be. I first met Greg at a local park where I was walking. I had let myself get out of shape again; I was back on my exercise program. That is when I first met him. Greg has a ministry of going to the park, meeting people, sharing his faith and giving away Bibles when he can. At the time I am writing this article Greg’s M.S. has exacerbated again. He has had this disease for seventeen years. Is Greg perfect? No. He has his down days, but all in all he is a giant of a man and it’s my prayer I will be half the man he is. I have seldom seen such faith. You see Greg has become my prayer partner as of late. I still remember on one occasion Greg prayed for me that I would lose weight and get back in shape. There he was with M.S. praying that I would get back in shape. I hope you will pray for Greg - if he knew you he would be praying for you. Greg certainly is going through his own tribulation.
In Spite of Tribulations Blessing Can Still Be Received and Given
Through it all Jacob was blessed. Through all his missteps, mistakes, and trials the God-ordered family continues. Joseph who Jacob thought was dead became a conduit for the survival of the entire house of Israel - Jacob was indeed blessed.
Near the very end of Jacob’s life, when he was 147 years old; God was gracious to him and let him bless his two grandchildren who he had never met until he went to Egypt. They were the children of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh. So much can be taught here but that is for another newsletter. The point I wish to make, is that Jacob gave a blessing; he got to bless his grandchildren. After all his trials he got to pronounce a blessing. I have grandchildren and one of my biggest joys is spending time with them! Today on Sabbath many dad’s will use this same blessing upon their sons when they say “May you be like Ephraim and Manasseh”
Now, I wish to bless my children. I say to each one of them: Jack Jr., Rebekah Joy, Kim, and our adopted daughter Jo-Hanna: “The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; The LORD life His countenance on you, And give you peace” I pray you will all bow before Him in complete obedience. And on a personal note I ask your forgiveness for not being the dad I should have been. Grow strong in the LORD and His might and serve Him all the days of your life.
And to each one of you reading this I pray you will be greatly blessed and seek God while there is time. In future newsletters I will be writing about many dark days ahead. I wish to thank each on of you for putting up with me as I try to seek Him.
Now may the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob bless you through His Son Yeshua.
In His Service,
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem