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And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 28:10~14)
What Do You See?
People’s hearts are all different, but first of all, it is the desires of the flesh that lead the heart. You want to eat when you are hungry; you want to drink when you are thirsty; you want to be warm when you are cold . . . . There are desires such as these that are of the flesh. Then, sequentially, Satan puts other hearts inside of us. For example, just as Satan planted into the heart of Judas Iscariot the thought to sell Jesus, Satan also gives you the heart to follow your desires or the pleasures of the flesh. Then, when the occasion arises, your thoughts emerge dependent upon what you see. You think to eat bread when you see some, and you think, “I would like to eat that,” when a certain dish comes into sight. I’ve heard that this is why television advertising is much more effective than radio advertising in drawing people’s hearts. There are differences depending upon the individual, but for the most part, these kinds of things lead the hearts of people. Therefore, there are those who are able to control their own hearts in the midst of this, but there are those who simply leave themselves to flow according to the desires of their heart. “What do you see?” is very important in spiritual life. In the scriptures we are discussing today, the phrase, “Jacob saw,” is constantly repeated. Towards the beginning of these scriptures, a verse says, “Esau saw . . .”. When Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob, and sent him away to Padan-aram, to take him a wife from thence; and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan; Then it says in verse 8, And Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father. What Esau saw was the humanistic circumstance that, “I took a woman of Canaan as a wife, and my father was not pleased.” However, Jacob looked to God. Jacob saw a ladder reaching to heaven and there were angels ascending and descending upon it. Then God gave him a promise. “Jacob, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and your God. I will give the land you are laying on to you and your seed.”
Depending on Where Your Heart Flows
Regardless of how much you want to live spiritual life well, you can only live a fleshly life if your heart constantly flows toward the flesh. On the contrary, you can only live a spiritual life if your heart flows toward God. Let me speak to you about Abraham. God one day promised Abraham, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee. And I will make of thee a great nation.” Upon hearing this, Abraham had the heart, “God will make me into a great nation. He will give me many children like the stars in the sky and the sands of the sea.” But as time passed, he saw the circumstances and saw that he was in no condition to have a child. He was too old and it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. God then reappeared to Abraham when he was 99 years old. “As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. I will bless her and she shall bear thee a son.” Right then what did Abraham say? “Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? Sarah is ninety . . . .” He was filled with human thoughts rather than the Word of God, and it seemed in the humanly view that he could not have a child. “Sarah could not have a child even in her younger years. How can she have a child at such an old age?” Abraham’s heart simply flowed in a humanly way. As I live spiritual life, sometimes my heart is close to God’s, I long for God, and I pray deeply to God. When I am this way and problems arise, because I am close with God, in my heart I feel, “Is this my problem? It is God’s problem, so He will take care of it blessedly.” Then I am at peace and filled with joy. It is not because there are no problems; there still are, but I can live with thankfulness and joy. On the contrary, I become worried and concerned when confronted with problems when my heart is far from God’s. God dwelling and working in me is always the same. Whether I have faith or not, because God loves me, He works the same in me. However, when I am far from God and then face problems, it feels as though God will not take care of them and I become worried and concerned. I can feel such things very clearly as I minister. When I argue with my wife, I strongly feel, “She is such a big problem!” in my heart when my heart is far from God. On the contrary, when I am close to God and the Word is living inside me, in my heart I feel, “There can be some differences in opinion when we are trying to put forth our good thoughts. How can we think the same? What my wife is saying has merit too. God is leading both my wife and me.” In this manner, such scenarios are the same concerning every problem, whether it is family or church problems.
Satan Is Always at Work
When we search the Bible closely, God always promised us, and Satan always worked after the promise. God told Adam and Eve that they would surely die if they ate from the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. But the serpent said, “No. You will not surely die. If you eat it, your eyes will be opened and you’ll become like God.” These two words are complete opposites. If we continue to hear only the Word of God, we think, “If we eat this we will die!” But if we hear the voice of the serpent, in our hearts, we become people who think, “Die? Why would I die?”.
This was also true at the time of Noah’s flood. God said that He would judge the world with water, but Satan put another thought into the people’s hearts. “Why would the God of love destroy us? Since we are living sinfully these days, He is only telling us to stop sinning. Now all we have to do is return to God and live as good people.” God judges when He says that He will judge. However, Satan puts a thought into people and the people follow that thought. Noah, who received the Word of God, had the judgment come upon his heart, but the judgment did not come upon the other people’s hearts. Thus, they had no need to make an ark although Noah was making one, and they felt no need to enter the ark when Noah entered in. Not only is God in the world, but Satan is at work as well, and these things will only continue. One day, God anointed David and said that He would make him the king of Israel. How thankful do you think David was when he heard that? Satan afterwards gave him circumstances that were completely opposite. King Saul tried to kill David and he could no longer stay in the country. He had to run away to the Philistines. There is no time period for his return to Israel; his wife married another man . . . . In this way the circumstances were all full of despair and it seemed unlikely that David would become king. God gives promises so that you can believe, and Satan works through circumstances to make it seem that that promise would not be achieved. Therefore, ultimately all things are decided by where we place our hearts, to which words we incline our ears, and to what we look towards.
What Esau Saw and What Jacob Saw
Esau saw the humanistic aspects. “Father is not pleased of me taking a Canaan woman to wife.” Therefore, to please his father, he took another woman to wife. Jacob, Esau’s twin, was different. Jacob saw God. “…behold a ladder set up on the earth, and on it the angels of God were ascending and descending.” The Bible also says, “and behold . . . .” When he first saw things, all he saw was that. But when he beheld again, God was there. I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed: He received the promise: I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; Jacob could act boldly upon receiving the promise: “God is with me! God is with me no matter where I go!”
The Bible does not only contain stories of Jacob. God also, one day, showed a dream to Joseph. Joseph was binding sheaves and Joseph’s sheaf stood up while his brothers’ sheaves all bowed down to his. God had shown Joseph the promise that he would become a governor. God then had Joseph dream a second dream and it was one where the sun, moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to him. “God wants to make me into a governor!” Joseph believed the promise God showed him. But afterwards, what kind of things did Satan do to Joseph? Did everything go well according to the dream? Not at all. One day, Joseph was sold away as a slave. “What? I am supposed to become the governor, but I am becoming a slave.” Satan continually put thoughts into Joseph’s heart. “What do you mean you are going to become a governor? Not you. You are a slave.” Joseph was working as a servant in the house of Potiphar, but as if this were not bad enough, one day, he refuses the temptations of Potiphar’s wife’s and is taken as a rapist, thrown into prison. “God, is this the way to become the governor? I truly lived honestly and clean, but I am in prison. How could this be?” When we turn just a single page from this scene, it talks about Joseph becoming the governor, doesn’t it? However, since Joseph cannot see the next page, he could only see the scene of himself being in prison. Satan continually stirred up thoughts in Joseph’s heart. “How can you become a governor? That is impossible. Your life is continually turning for the worse. Why didn’t God protect you when you were being sold as a slave? God does not love you. You served as a slave, and then you were ensnared by Potiphar’s wife and ended up in prison. If you lived so truthfully, why would God keep you in prison? God has abandoned you. Now give up on everything, drink, eat, and live however you want and end your life!”
You Hear the Voice of God, But the Voice of Satan as Well
It is not that many people do not hear the voice of God. They do hear the voice of God, but they also listen to the voice of Satan at the same time. Satan continually shows us the circumstances that make it seem like it will not work, and tells us that things will not work. Since we listen to Satan’s voice, it even appears to our eyes that it will not work. I once met a lady who had a morbid suspicion of her husband’s fidelity. She claimed that her husband slept with another woman. I asked her, “How did you find this out?” “Pastor, when I’m asleep, I’m no different than a dead body.” “Then how did you find this out?” This lady, one day, opened her eyes in the morning and suddenly had the heart that her husband spent the night with a single woman who lived in an apartment building across the street, although she had not actually seen anything and it didn’t happen. I explained this to her in detail. “There is no proof and you have no basis for what you are saying. Where do you think that heart came from? Satan put that heart in you to destroy your family.” Too many people today are led by thoughts that Satan put into them. We, too, are this way. Although something is not true, Satan leads our hearts to make it feel as if it were true. Thus, when we do not have faith, we read the Bible and listen to the Words of God, but so many people live having believed the voices Satan put into them. They cannot commit to one side or the other, but they simply wander about before they end their lives. People who believe God should not listen to the voices of their own heart, but to the Word of God. Joseph closed his eyes to see the humanly things and did not listen to his human thoughts. No matter the circumstances; no matter the sounds that arose in him; he looked up to the promise of God.
If You Now Remain in the Promise of God like Jacob
Jacob looked to God, but Esau heard humanistic sounds and placed his heart there. This is what distinguishes people with faith from people without faith in spiritual life. If you only think about your spirit; only about sin; you would close your ears to everything else and would open the Bible to heed the Word of God. The Bible tells us that Jesus bore all of our sins, was crucified, and died on the cross. The Bible clearly records that our sins have been washed as white as snow and that God will no longer condemn us of our sins. Just as Jacob heard the promise of God, when we open the Scriptures and listen to the Word of God, faith arises in us. “I committed many sins; I am a deceitful, filthy human being; I am a lustful, riotous human, but Jesus received all the punishment in my place, for a person like me. Thus, my sins are washed away. I am as white as snow. Jesus truly loved me and did not spare His own life. Jesus is truly a precious person.” When God recorded the Scriptures through His servants, He did so in order for the heart, “Ah, that’s right. My sins are surely washed away. I do not have sins,” would naturally arise inside of us. Therefore, if you do not listen to the voice of Satan, do not follow your thoughts, and most carefully listen to the voice of God in the Scriptures, faith becomes clearly developed in your heart. But just as what Esau saw differed from what Jacob saw, another heart arises in us when we listen to the humanistic voice of Satan. “I committed so many sins, and Jesus was crucified, but my sins probably are not all washed away. How could I dare say I don’t have sins? I have my conscience. I cannot say that I am righteous.” That is where our hearts are constantly inclined to when we listen to Satan’s voice. I can truly feel this deeply as I give spiritual counseling and preach the Word. “Ah, this person has deeper humanistic thoughts than the Word of God. He listens to the sounds of his conscience more than the voice of God.” Loving folks, just as Adam and Eve heard the Word of God in Eden, but also heard the words of the serpent, there are always two voices you hear when you are living spiritual life. The people who followed the voice of Satan were all destroyed and cursed. Even now, Satan says many things inside of us. Sometimes he even speaks to us through our conscience. There are many who think that the conscience is a good thing. In some ways the conscience appears to be good, but if the conscience deviates from the Word of God, it, too, is something that is not good. Even though we believe that Jesus died for our sins, if we do not simply listen to the voice of God but to our own voice as well, it seems that our sins remain as they were even though Jesus was crucified. That is why people cannot say they have no sin and can only say humanistic things, like, “I am a sinner who has committed sins.” What did the Word of God say? For all have sinned, and have come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; (Romans 3:23-24) The Word of God says that we are righteous. Within Abraham; within Joseph; and within David, Satan put thoughts that were completely opposite of the promise after they had received the promise. In you, as well, the Word of God and the thoughts planted in you by Satan are both at work. Now listen to the Word and voice of God like Jacob, and remove the parts that are not of the Word of God from your heart. If your heart dwells in the promise of God, you become people of faith, and God will work in you greatly through the power of the Holy Spirit.