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And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour. And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also. And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin. (Genesis 35:16~18)
Rachel’s Life Versus Leah’s Life
Rachel was a woman with a beautiful face. One look at her could attract any man. Because she lacked nothing, she could always be bold and confident. On the other hand, Leah lacked much and had nothing but shame. She always lived feeling small. From a human perspective Rachel excelled in everything while Leah was lacking. But this made it difficult for Rachel to become close to God, but it allowed Leah to come close to God. During Jesus’ time, people such as scribes, Pharisees, and priests were people who were good from a human perspective. On the contrary, people like the publican, the woman taken in adultery, or harlots were dirty, useless people. The important thing is that the scribes and Pharisees may be better and more righteous than the publicans or harlots, but they cannot stand before God with that. Many people today have their standards of spiritual life set upon man rather than God because they are unable to meet God. People think, “My spiritual life is better than his,” and assume that their spiritual lives are great. However, God said that all of man’s righteousness must crumble down because there is wickedness inside of man. Therefore, human goodness does not help in having faith, but rather deters it. Apostle Paul said that He considered everything he knew to be a loss. He knew knowledge and experience to be good things in the past, but now he saw that those things were distractions keeping him from relying on God. Rachel and Leah lived together with their husband Jacob. Because Jacob loved Rachel, Rachel lacked nothing. However, she could not have a child. Thus, she threw a fit telling her husband to give her a son and used human methods to try to gain a son through her hand maid. There was nothing Leah could hope for herself, thus she relied on God. In the end, ugly Leah had many sons, while the beautiful Rachel ended her life in darkness.
Not the Son of Sadness but the Son of the Right Hand
Today I will talk about Rachel’s death. Rachel wanted a child very badly. She finally had one, and named him Joseph. “Joseph” means, “The Lord shall add to me another son.” Afterwards, Rachel had her second child. How happy she must have been! However, she went into labor as Jacob’s family was moving and was traveling along rough roads. When a woman is badly bleeding in her labor, she will in most cases die if the doctor is unable to control the bleeding. There were no doctors with this knowledge in Rachel’s time and perhaps that was why her bleeding could not be stopped, and she was dying. Fortunately, she gave birth and it was a son. Her midwife said, “Don’t worry. It’s another son.” That was how she had a son, and she should have been very happy. But Rachel began to think. “I did have a son, but I am dying now. How sad he will be without his mother! How painful it will be!” When she thought of her son’s future, it was so miserable so she named her son “Benoni (son of sadness)” and passed away. Jacob saw all of this taking place. Rachel trusted herself so she thought it would be the end with her death. However, in Jacob’s heart was God. God promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that He would give them many children like the stars in the sky and the sands of the sea. Therefore, this son was also part of the process of this promise becoming fulfilled. “If so, then how is he a son of sadness? There are times of sadness and pain in life, but this child is not Benoni.” Jacob changed the child’s name to “Benjamin (the son of the right hand).” From then on the son of sadness changed into the “son of the right hand.” Had the name of the son of sadness remained as Rachel had given, that child would have always carried that title of sadness in his name. “Son of sadness, come and eat.” “Son of sadness, let’s go play.” “Son of sadness, let’s sing a song.” In the eyes of Rachel, it was true that he is the son of sadness. His mother died through his birth, he cannot be breastfed without his mother, and so how will he grow? But from another perspective, why is he the son of sadness when God is with him? Let’s think about Joseph’s case. Joseph was hated by his brothers, was sold, and became a servant to Potiphar, the Egyptian. He could very well say, “I am miserable!” Afterwards he was framed by Potiphar’s wife and went to prison. “Why? Why is this happening to me? This is so painful and I feel miserable!” He may very well say this. However, God was with his life and he had another view that said, “This is not sadness. This is a prelude to a blessing.”
People of faith do not only look through their own eyes. Our view is crooked because it was formed through our ancestors Adam and Eve eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Even if we clearly see and confirm through our own eyes, it is completely different from seeing through the eyes of God. Therefore, it does not mean that just because you have clearly seen and known it that it is accurate. But there are many people who with eyes different from God’s boast aloud that what they have seen is right. When I read the Bible, God’s eyes were completely different from mine. When the son of God, Jesus, went to the wedding at Cana of Galilee and they were in need of wine, He told the servants of the house to fill some water pots with water, and they did so. It was water in the eyes of the servants, but it was wine in Jesus’ eyes. The eyes of Jesus and the eyes of the servants differed while looking at the same thing. Whose eyes are right? Lazarus died. Facing these circumstances, the eyes Martha and Mary saw through completely differed from those of Jesus. Martha said, “Lazarus is dead. He is rotting and stinking.” Jesus said, “No. Your brother will live.” That is how the whole Bible goes. When God told Abraham that He would give him a son, Abraham thought, “How can a one hundred-year-old man have a son? Sarah is ninety nine . . . . This is impossible.” But God said, “Your wife Sarah will bear you a son.”
When We See a New World
As we have lived in this world, Satan has planted distrust in us. As we were deceived many times by people around us, we have lived believing only in ourselves. We believe our experience, our knowledge, and believe what we have seen. We think whatever fits those things are accurate. However, this is different from the viewpoint of God. We established alternative schools within our mission. I went to the opening of one of them to preach the word. Forty students were starting school there and they were deviant students who could not adapt to regular schools. Some of them had long, dyed hair, and none of them looked like students. The students were so ashamed they had their heads down. Most of them smoked and some female students were even pregnant, and didn’t even know it at the time. I thought, “Why do these students live like this?” I felt that they lived like this because they wanted to live this way. I told Pastor Wook Yong Kim, the principal, “Leave the students as they are and show them something better than what they have now. Show them something brighter in Jesus.” Afterwards, there were many problems. Once, some students ran away, stole a woman’s purse, were arrested, and put in jail. The principal had to go there and beg to get them out. That was how the time passed. About 10% of them left the school, but all those who remained changed. These students saw a new world. Before attending this school, they liked the life without discretion so they lived without wanting to throw it away. That was how in darkness they lived, but as they saw a new world, their hearts changed. It is difficult for us to try to change ourselves because we try while trusting our own thoughts. The eyes we see through must be changed. We must distrust what we see, hear, and experience. We must trust Jesus. In my eyes I cannot walk when I am a paralytic, but I can walk if Jesus tells me to walk. In my eyes, someone may be a leper, but he is clean if Jesus says he is. In my eyes it is water, but it is wine if Jesus calls it wine. That is not believing in yourself but in Jesus. People believe themselves rather than Jesus. Because people believe in their own experience, knowledge, and methods, they do not follow the Word of God when it does not fit their heart and when it seems that a loss will come about. That is why God becomes small and powerless in their lives. When we accept Jesus in our hearts as savior, as Lord, when Jesus is higher than our thoughts God begins to work in our lives. He works when we accept through faith into our heart the fact that Jesus’ thoughts are right rather than how I see things to be. When God works, amazing things we could never have imagined start to be accomplished. Many people today live having fallen into the pit of believing in themselves. Because they have been deceived so much by the people around them, they trust no one and try to only trust themselves. The more hardhearted a person’s heart becomes, the more he is unable to trust others. Drug addicts never listen to anyone. The mentally ill have weak hearts and do not listen to others, but only exert their own words. People who have enough space in their heart have the heart to listen and understand the words of people with opinions different from their own. But people who have shallow and hardened hearts continually exert only themselves.
Look to the Heart of Jesus
Clearly this was a son of sadness to Rachel. But he, like the name Jacob had given him, became Benjamin (the son of the right hand) and served as the son of the right hand to free his brothers when they were captured by Joseph. Faith is not trusting yourself, but Jesus. God said, “My thoughts are different from your thoughts.” If you trust yourself, you are living your life. People who trust God do not live their lives but God’s life. If you live the life of yourself, it seems that your goodness and your efforts to live righteously will go well, but not long afterwards all those things fail and end in emptiness. You may try tithing and keeping the Ten Commandments to establish yourself. If you truly try these things, you will realize how vain this is. Then you become able to follow the Lord’s thoughts rather than your own. A lady was making kimchi, and her mother-in-law came to her and said, “Honey, don’t do it like that. Try it like this,” and taught her how to make it. The daughter-in-law wanted to do it her own way, but when she followed her mother-in-law’s advice, the kimchi was indeed very delicious. From then on, the daughter-in-law’s methods began to resemble the methods of the mother-in-law. We should also not just live with our methods, but for once look to Jesus’ heart. Surely Benjamin was a son of sadness in Rachel’s eyes, but he was the son of the right hand in the eyes of Jacob. The circumstances were pain, sadness, and suffering when Paul was locked in prison at Philippi. However, Paul had new eyes and thus praised and thanked God. Then that place changed into a glittering place of glory.
Receiving the Forgiveness of Sins
This is also true with you receiving the forgiveness of sins. It is not that you have to check with your eyes that your sins have been forgiven. It is not that you have to feel that your sins are forgiven in your heart. You have to see whether your sins were forgiven or not from God’s eyes. Suppose you were a filthy, dirty sinner with many flaws. Then, open the Bible to see, “How is it in God’s eyes?” Isaiah chapter 53 records: But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. God says that He has laid all our sins upon Jesus. God says this in Hebrews chapter 10, verse 17. And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Isaiah chapter 44, verse 22 records: I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee. Romans chapter 3, verses 23 through 24 record: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Rachel named her son as she died, “You are Benoni,” meaning the son of sadness. But Jacob changed his name to Benjamin, saying, “No, you are the son of the right hand.” Was he the son of sadness? No. According to Jacob’s faith, he became the son of the right hand. In our eyes it is true that we are sinners. We have sinned, committed evil, and have lived filthy, lustful, deceitful lives. We have also sinned every day. But how are we in God’s eyes? The blood Jesus shed on the cross washed our sins away and in God’s eyes we are whiter than snow. Therefore, God says that He does not remember our sins. He called us righteous. Therefore, now, is our judgment of what we’ve seen correct, or is God’s judgment correct? Many people do not incline their ears to the Word of God, but instead follow their thoughts and call themselves sinners. They think that doing so and praying for forgiveness and doing good deeds is being truthful. It may seem so, but objectively put, such things come about from distrusting the Word of God.
Now Let Us Become People Who Believe God
You must throw your thoughts away to live true spiritual life. When you stand with sadness or misery, think, “God, is this the case in your eyes also?” Go to God and ask, “God, is this misery? Is this sadness? Is this pain?” Then if God does say that it is sadness, it is. But even though it looks like misery in your eyes, if God calls it joy, do not believe yourself and believe that it is joy. This is believing God. Because God’s heart is different from your own, you cannot believe God if you follow your own heart. Many people go to church and are agonizing over sin. It is because they cannot believe that Jesus took care of their sin. Jesus shed His blood on the cross to free us from sin so that we may not agonize over it. The blood of Jesus lacks nothing in washing our sins away. No matter what dirty sin it is, He washed all the sin of mankind clean at the cross. Satan deceives our hearts to make us think that Jesus could not forgive our sins. That is why there are many people who, with darkness in their hearts, live tied down to sin. Now I hope that you will change your heart. In your eyes surely you are a sinner, but the Bible says that you are righteous. It says that He does not remember your sins anymore. It says that your sins have been blotted like the clouds that disappear and the fog that disappears. If so, your sins truly are blotted out. When you do not believe in yourself, but believe in the Word of God and live freed from sin, the Holy Spirit will work with power in you. Loving folks, until now you have believed in yourself, but now I hope you will become people who can believe in God. Deny yourself and accept the Word of God. So regardless of what your thoughts are, say, “If God says that I am righteous, I am righteous. God has called me clean. My sins are washed as white as snow. God does not remember my sins anymore.” Throw away the many thoughts that follow along. I hope that you can establish this heart in you to be able to live the blessed life through faith.