A Community of God’s People

Our Hula Ministry performs a hula about prayer for Easter church service. (Photo by Anna Sanborn.)

Our Hula Ministry performs a hula about prayer for Easter church service. (Photo by Anna Sanborn.)

By Jay Hernandez.

“So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him and commanded him: ‘Do not marry a Canaanite woman. Go at once to Paddan Aram, to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now live as an alien, the land God gave to Abraham.’ Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.” Genesis 28:1-5.

We read here the blessing and the direction that Isaac would give to Jacob and send him off into the world with. Isaac’s desire and the true measure of Jacob’s success would be found in how he would grow from one man to a community of people. God wanted Jacob to increase, to go forth and to be fruitful. As Christians, God wants the same thing for us, to increase the spiritual family. In John 15:8 the bible says: This is to my father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. So how did Jacob do?
On his return to the promised land he was about to face his brother Esau. He was unsure of how he would be received and was actually fearful. In his prayer to God he mentions this: Gen 32:10 I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups. He was dividing his family and possessions into two large groups in the hopes they would be safe. God had indeed blessed Isaac’s prayer for Jacob and he had become a community of people.

I believe God wants us to become a great community of believers as well, and there are a few lessons we can learn from the story of Jacob. What exactly happened between Jacob’s sending him off and his return?

1. The first thing we can learn actually comes from Isaac and Rebekah. Gen 27:46-28:1 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.” So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him and commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman. Both Rebekah and Isaac wanted Jacob to remain separate from the people around him, to be Holy to the Lord. We have to decide that we want to please God only. Esau, Jacob’s older brother, married the women from the local area and thus neglected to follow the expressed desires of God. For us it is not just about who we are seeking in a marriage, but are we seeking to please God only. Satan will tempt us to constantly cut corners, to take the easier path and to not be so hard-line. If we wish to be blessed by God, then we have to be hard-line in our obedience to God.

2. Willingly give back to God: Gen 28:20-22 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “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 so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the LORD will be my God and 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.” Jacob gets the privilege of finding a holy place, and he makes a vow to keep a great relationship to God. Not only that, he vows to be sacrificial to God. He has tough times, but he keeps his vow as God blesses him immensely. With our special missions coming up our hearts will be checked. Are you willing to give back to God?

3. Be a servant: Gen 29:9-15 While he was still talking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of Laban, his mother’s brother, and Laban’s sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s sheep. Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud. He had told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and a son of Rebekah. So she ran and told her father. 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? Tell me what your wages should be.” Jacob from the very start is so happy to meet his family. He has a sense that God has blessed his journey so his gratitude shows in his willingness to serve. The other men there at the time were unwilling to help, but with tears Jacob served his soon to be wife and would continue to work and serve his uncle for nothing for another month. God, truly has blessed your life with great things. Are you a willing and grateful servant? Do you see the blessings of God and take them for granted, or do you give back completely humbled by God’s grace? God blesses a servant.

4. Labor for Love: Gen 29:16-20 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful. 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. Jacob’s labor was nothing because he did it for love. When we have a goal or our heart is set on something the work to get there is not that difficult. Heaven, Jesus, God, being with them for eternity should be why we labor. Sometimes we can labor with the hopes of not going to hell. In the end this motivation will always fail us. The only true and right motivation will be to labor for love. We have to constantly fight to get our hearts in the right place and to keep them there. Why should we share our faith? Because we love God and we want to glorify him and help others to fall in love with him as well. Why serve, give our contribution, give special missions, or do any of the other things we have to do for the church and for our relationship with God? Simply for the same reason; love. The bible calls us to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. The only successful laboring for God will be the labor that is done in love.

One of our goals this year as a church is to grow to a community of over 60 members. If we keep these four keys in mind as we go about our day to day lives, I believe we too will enjoy the blessings of God and will grow to be the community of believers he envisions here in Hilo and throughout the Big Island of Hawaii.