Ken Rudge, St. Austell, England
‘This heap is a witness between me and thee’, Gen. 31. 44. ‘God is witness between me and thee’, Gen. 31. 50.
The thirty-first chapter of Genesis reveals the deep rift that existed between Laban and Jacob probably for all the while that they had known each other. They come to a resolution of the matters it seems although their ways will part from this point onward.
Laban ever was a man of the world, used only to the wheeling and dealings of his fellows, he is typically the common man. He uses spiritual language but with no reality of heart and no practise in his life. Jacob on the other hand has knowledge of God as the One who had revealed Himself to him in a remarkable way, making with him both covenant and promise. He has all the potential of spirituality but has never managed to separate himself from his worldly ways of scheming and self reliance. In some ways they were a well matched pair.
Their final agreement is realized in a covenant of peace marked by a pillar surrounded by a heap of stones, vv. 44-45. They eat a meal, exchange conditions, call upon God to be their Witness, offer sacrifice, eat again, sleep and part as the sun rises on a new day.
What seems to be a satisfactory outcome on the outside, with all the answers to the past problems, was in fact a massive cover up for mistrust, and nothing had been dealt with in finality. They call upon God Himself to be the Watchman for the possible defaulter in the future! What a travesty this is. Yet it is no wonder really for we are in the ‘borderlands’ of distrust, fleshly arrangements and safeguards against the inevitable failures of men. This is men at their best. Tragically, Jacob is in no condition to rectify the thing and he cannot move forward with an upright heart and an unpolluted faith in God. He has everything to fear both with Laban behind him and with Esau in front of him.
So we too are just as guilty in the way we live and conduct ourselves in spiritual things. We fail so often to cast off our dependence upon schemes and arrangements and constantly leave the Lord and spiritual ways out of the framework of our plans. As with King Saul at the Valley of Elah, he planned and schemed to defeat the enemy yet all to none avail, for forty days and nights it is the enemy that has the upper hand.
Jacob needed his Jabbok, a ‘face to face’ with God, and Saul needed his David, the divinely sent deliverer, so that the victory might be gained and the purposes of God furthered. Self reliance is God defiance. It maintains that the flesh can cope and He is unnecessary. God forbid that we should ever cling to such a false assumption. He will not have it either. The flesh must be crucified for, ‘We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead’, 2 Cor. 1. 9. Let us turn again, individually and collectively, to the simplicity of faith in our God and His ways to find a path to blessing and a walk on a higher plain.
As we turn to the current Precious Seed issue you could well follow up the reading of this editorial by a quick read of Don Norbie’s article called ‘Spiritual Compromise’. This could be followed by ‘Stop being defeatist!’ by Jim Voisey and so on! We are delighted to have in the issue the first part of four articles by John Riddle on the early section of the Book of Nehemiah and a most interesting report on the setting up a new work on one of the largest Council estates in Plymouth, Devon, called Efford. Our ‘Keynote Article’ seeks to provide some helpful advice and record of the experience of those who have adopted children, something many believers contemplate doing. We trust that as a whole the magazine will prove once more a help to many in its teaching and comment. It is sent out to you with our prayers for the Lord’s blessing on it to His people.