Tracking a Pilgrimage

Genesis 29:1-13

1Then Jacob continued on his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples. 2There he saw a well in the open country, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large. 3When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well’s mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well.

4Jacob asked the shepherds, “My brothers, where are you from?” “We’re from Harran,” they replied. 5He said to them, “Do you know Laban, Nahor’s grandson?” “Yes, we know him,” they answered. 6Then Jacob asked them, “Is he well?” “Yes, he is,” they said, “and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.” 7“Look,” he said, “the sun is still high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep and take them back to pasture.” 8“We can’t,” they replied, “until all the flocks are gathered and the stone has been rolled away from the mouth of the well. Then we will water the sheep.”

9While he was still talking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherd. 10When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of his uncle Laban, and Laban’s sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s sheep. 11Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud. 12He had told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and a son of Rebekah. So she ran and told her father. 13As 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.

Dwight Lyman Moody

The life story of evangelist Dwight Lyman Moody is an inspiring pilgrimage that many believers can relate with. He was not an eloquent speaker but God used him effectively in the ministry. He reached out to many people for Christ in his generation. His ministry success was a solid proof that God does not require us to be expert in the ministry before He could use us effectively in the ministry.

Dependence upon Christ as Lord is more valuable factor than all human efforts combined for productive ministry. Experience or expertise follows later on. We all appreciate singers with great voice. We want expert cooks for our food. We admire skilled handymen for our building maintenance but in God’s kingdom, the Lord supplies all necessary skill and ability for His glory.

Skilled Worker

When the Lord commanded Moses to build the Tabernacle, God did not ask for volunteers to help Moses. He told Moses that He gave skill and ability to those He had chosen to make all integral parts of the Tabernacle.

It says in Exodus 31:1-6, 1Then the Lord said to Moses, 2“See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—4to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. 6Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you.

When God chooses a person to be involved in His kingdom, He supplies all necessary talent, skill, or ability to accomplish His purposes. We normally choose experts and talented individuals. Expert or not, there’s frustration and disappointment in the ministry. But when one is empowered by God, if ability or skill comes from God, joyful ministry involvement prevails in the heart.

In my early years in the ministry, I wish to have the talent of others.

I told myself, “I wish, I can sing or speak like television preachers!”

I’m not alone. Many believers hesitate to participate in the ministry because they compare themselves to competent ministry leaders.

Listen: When God chooses a person for a particular ministry, He surely gives that person the necessary skill or talent suitable for that ministry. The Lord wants us to give glory back to Him so that we won’t boast of our ability or expertise.

If we trace our spiritual path, if we track our pilgrimage, if we look back on our spiritual journey, can we honestly claim that our lifestyle has been inspired or empowered by the Spirit of Christ? When we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord, it is proper that we also seek His guidance and empowerment in all things we do.

Earlier, the Lord appeared and promised to bless, watch and provide for Jacob’s needs until he returns safely to Canaan. Jacob acknowledged the Lord as his personal God. He trusted God to watch and supply the things he needed on his journey. He was on his way to his mother’s relatives to find a wife.

Esau and Jacob were twin brothers. Esau was the first born son. He wasn’t totally forgotten but the Bible narrative follows through or tracks the life of Jacob and less of Esau’s. Why Jacob’s life story was given more attention than Esau?

Moses wrote the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament. He could be biased toward his ancestor Jacob but the Holy Spirit inspired him to write them down. So, it’s God’s design to track Jacob’s pilgrimage, not Esau’s.

Giving more attention to the life of Jacob and less of Esau, God wants us to learn how Jacob practiced his faith in God during his pilgrimage in this world.

By faith in God, Jacob traveled and reached his destination eventually.

1. Destination

1Then Jacob continued on his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples. 2There he saw a well in the open country, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large. 3When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well’s mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well.

It’s instinctive to find a well of water, if one travels in the Middle East. Jacob may have traveled on foot for a distance. He was tired and thirsty, for sure. When he saw a well, he did not rush and dive into the water to drink. He was mindful. First, he observed if the water was potable or suitable for drinking.

Spiritually, we find the right direction to reach our spiritual destination if we come to the well of Living Water. Jesus invites us in John 7:37-39, 37“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.

Practically, as pilgrims in this world, we don’t know what lies ahead of us. We are concerned about economy, government, culture and natural calamity. When Jacob traveled, he may have been scared and tired but it’s not recorded. Did he reach his destination safely? Did he ever have struggles along the way?

We all have concerns. But by faith, we expect to reach heaven eventually.

It says in Philippians 4:6-9, 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Paul wrote this advisory letter. He has personally proven its authenticity.

He also had his share of troubles during his missionary journey. He said in 2 Corinthians 11:26, 26I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.

With all those seemingly horrible experiences, Paul continued in the mission God gave him. The peace of God that surpasses understanding is God’s grace, and it was sufficient enough for him to keep on his journey.

Faith in God becomes practically active through Christ’s empowerment.

So, when we feel discouraged, disappointed or frustrated, we experience spiritual thirst. We used or exerted human effort. We’ve got to have joy and peace to sustain us in our pilgrimage. How can we have joy and peace?

We come to our Lord Jesus, the Living Water. When Christ empowers us, He washes away discouragement, disappointment and frustration. Christ’s Spirit refreshes us with joy and peace, just as water refreshes us from thirst.

When Jacob came to the well, he observed that it was covered with stone, and flocks of sheep were waiting to be watered. He may have been amazed that the shepherds did not rush to water their flocks but waited for other shepherds. Their behavior may have made Jacob assumed or considered that those shepherds were not a threat to his safety in that foreign land.

Jacob’s thirsty feeling led him to a well, and he found the right people who may help him know the right direction to his destination.    When he approached the shepherds, Jacob did not waste a single moment. He was very intentional of what he wanted to know. Their discussion was relevant to his mission purpose.

2. Discussion

4Jacob asked the shepherds, “My brothers, where are you from?” “We’re from Harran,” they replied. 5He said to them, “Do you know Laban, Nahor’s grandson?” “Yes, we know him,” they answered. 6Then Jacob asked them, “Is he well?” “Yes, he is,” they said, “and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.” 7“Look,” he said, “the sun is still high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep and take them back to pasture.” 8“We can’t,” they replied, “until all the flocks are gathered and the stone has been rolled away from the mouth of the well. Then we will water the sheep.”

Jacob cut the chase, so to speak. He got to the point. He expected that the shepherds would give him the right direction to the relatives of his mother. When he asked, the shepherds readily answered that they knew Laban. It implies that in that land, Laban was not a “nobody.” And, they knew Rachel as his daughter.

In our pilgrimage as Christians, the Lord has given us a specific mission assignment. As we travel in this world, we may feel tiredness and thirst when we chase pretty rainbows. May the song “Give Them All to Jesus” inspire us all!

Are you tired of chasing pretty rainbows,
are you tired of spinning round and round,
wrap up all the shattered dreams of your life,
At the feet of Jesus lay them down.

CHORUS:   Give them all, Give them all, Give them all to Jesus

Shattered dreams, Wounded hearts, Broken toys
Give them all, Give them all, Give them all to Jesus
And he will turn your sorrow into joy

He never said you’d only see sunshine, He never said there’d be no rain, He only promised a heart full of singing, ‘bout the very things that once brought pain

Many times we lose our spiritual focus because of the pains caused by shattered dreams or failure in chasing pretty rainbows. When we come to Jesus, He promised a river of Living Water to flow from within us.  He washes spiritual thirst and tiredness away, and refreshes us with joy and peace through His Spirit.

After the shepherds told Jacob that Rachel was a daughter of Laban, he told them to water their sheep then take them back to pasture. It was a very smart suggestion for him to have private conversation with Rachel.

The shepherd waited for other shepherds to come. It implies that the stone that covered the mouth of the well may have been so huge that it required more people to roll it. Jacob was tired and thirsty but had enough strength when he decided to remove the stone away from the mouth of the well.

3. Decision

9While he was still talking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherd. 10When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of his uncle Laban, and Laban’s sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s sheep. 11Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud. 12He had told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and a son of Rebekah. So she ran and told her father. 13As 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.

After Jacob rolled away the stone from the mouth of the well, he fetched water for the sheep of Laban, the brother of his mother. Rachel may have been very thankful, and Jacob kissed her. It was not mentioned if Jacob kissed the cheek of Rachel or her forehead before he introduced himself as a relative.

Rachel may have been surprised by his kiss, or maybe, it’s acceptable in their culture as way of greeting a relative, or expression of gratitude. I’m not sure.

The shepherds waited for others before they can remove the stone from the mouth of the well but Jacob rolled the stone alone. Jacob must have been strong and Rachel may have been impressed with his strength. Can you imagine how Rachel may have described Jacob to his father? She may have said like, “Father! Come and see the man who claims to be a son of Aunt Rebekah, your sister. He was impressively strong. It requires many shepherds to roll the stone away from the mouth of the well, right? But you know what, father? That man rolled it away by himself. He even watered our sheep. Wow! How about that?”

When Laban heard about Jacob, he wasted no time to inquire more from Rachel. It may have intrigued him how Rachel described Jacob. And as soon as he saw Jacob, he may have seen some features or resemblance to Rebekah, or even himself. Without hesitation, he embraced, kissed and brought him home.

Wow! Jacob reached his destination so easily. Do you agree that every event of Jacob’s pilgrimage was arranged supernaturally, and it was not just a coincidence? The Lord promised Jacob in Genesis 28:15, 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.

The Lord in Genesis who promised to be with Jacob, watch over him wherever he goes, and not leave him until He has done what He promised is the same Lord who instructed and promised in Matthew 28:19-20, 19Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Making disciple is a privilege in which we can prove Christ’s promise of His presence. And as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we’re reminded of such privilege. Our personal experience with Christ, how He change our life is our practical proof that we personally experienced His presence in our life.

It says in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, 23The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

<‘)))>< ltsii/2018 ><(((‘>

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