Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Vlog The Path to Wisdom pt. 2

The Path to Wisdom pt. 2. If you missed part 1 you can find it here The Path to Wisdom pt. 1.


Vlog The Path to Wisdom pt. 1

In part 1 of The Path to Wisdom I am talking with you about Fear of the Lord and Knowledge. In part 2 of The Path to Wisdom we will deal with Understanding and Wisdom.


Video Blogs Are Now a Part of Auntie M's Bookshelf.

I have made a decision that since people tend to attribute emotions and motives to my writings that aren't there I need to speak to you instead of just write. Now I do realize that my writing at times can be cold and factual. That's how I like things, frankly. But what has happened is that people have taken their own perceptions adn used them to make a basis for accusation and negativity toward myself and my writings.

So to combat I am going to post video blogs on some of my posts. I promise to work to get better. Please stick with me.

Hopefully, this will help all of us hear my heart on issues and topics I choose to explore. With that being said...




Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Why The Military Explanation of Biblical Male Headship Doesn’t Work.

Often times when someone asks questions about headship for which there are no clear or concrete Biblical answers the military analogy is used to explain the necessity of hierarchy or headship in Christian homes and the church but as we will see in the coming paragraphs this explanation falls short of the mark.  

If you have not heard it before here is what the military analogy sounds like in a nutshell:
The wife is to submit to the husband but submission does not mean inferiority. Men and Women are created equal in worth but different in function. The word “submit” is a military word meaning to arrange under rank. It means to come up under. A sergeant is not inferior to a captain. They are equal in personhood but different in rank. To have order in the military authority must exist in relationships otherwise there will be chaos. It is the same in the husband/wife relationship. Both husband and wife are equal in personhood but different in function. Someone must be in authority and someone must submit to that authority.

Right off the bat it must be addressed that the dangerous thing about much of our religious language or analogies is that they contain just enough truth to pass for legitimate Biblical explanations.

For instance, it is true that both husband and wife; man and woman are indeed equal in personhood. It is also true that both husband and wife; man and woman are created different in function. Let me go on further to state that this difference in function but sameness in personhood should not be attached to gender. It is true that the male and female of the species serve different functions in regard to gender but it should not be understood that one gender’s function is to serve the other gender’s function. In procreation you cannot accomplish the task without both parties. Even if all you have from one party is genetic material alone it is still from the other party. It is also true that the raising of children is the function of both and neither gender serves the other in this function. But in the spiritual realm gender is not a necessary component so things functioning of a being of a spiritual nature should not confined to the operations of the physical. If it is then there will be a huge crisis of identity when we get to Heaven.

Each divinely created human being is equal in personhood and different in function. 
There is no BUT!

We are all created uniquely. We all possess and reflect the image of God. We all have a specific God ordained purpose for our lives. So it necessarily follows that each person while maintaining equality in personhood possesses a different function in the body of Christ because each purpose is unique to the individual. We can accomplish different function and still have equality. We can also accomplish the same roles differently according our functioning.

We are like snowflakes.

Each one created uniquely and beautifully by our Awesome Creator God. Each one simply a configuration of frozen water molecules and each one awe inspiring and serving its God ordained purpose. One falls here while another falls there to accomplish the same function but each accomplishes it uniquely and differently according to their design. Have I mentioned that I love snowflakes!

Each one has the purpose or function of reflecting the image of God in their flakiness and glorifying Him yet each is unique because no other snowflake has the ability to do those things like another snowflake. Each reflection of the Creator is distinct and each act of glorifying Him is also distinct since each is unique.

People are the same; each one unique yet people are different from snowflakes because only human beings reflect the image of the Creator God.

I have often joked with others that I don’t want to change the world someday…I already have.
The day I was born my presence changed the world forever. Before my birth the world had no one else like me but after I was born the world was different simply because I was now a part of it. There was never anyone else like me before me. This may seem like a simplistic viewpoint but there is truth in the joke. I am unique and wonderfully made and the same is true for each of us. The day you entered the world you changed it too!

The military (and I might also add complementarian) explanation falls short when it uses the word “BUT” in the analogy when referring to the differences in men and women.  You see we each have the function of procreation yet men and women accomplish it differently, uniquely and neither accomplishes it without the other. The same is true in every realm of human existence; the home, the church, the world. We were meant to work together. One piece of a puzzle is not more authoritative than the other. No matter which piece is placed on the table first in completion of the puzzle all pieces are equal. The first piece laid down is not naturally in a position of authority over the other pieces simply because it was laid down first.  In contrast all puzzle pieces are equal in puzzlehood. They all represent the picture that the puzzle reflects and they all have a different function in the completion of that puzzle. Men and women are the same. If you have to use the word “but” to explain how a person is equal to you yet not equal to you then you have removed equality all together.

There are several phrases where the word “but” simply does not belong. 

                In an apology, “I am sorry…but.”
                In a declaration of love, “I love you…but.”
                Concerning a person’s honesty or validity of their statements, “I believe you…but.”
                And when speaking of the equality of mankind, “you are equal in personhood…but.” 

The “but” in each of the statements automatically negates the phrase previous to it. A more honest and direct way of presenting this information should read like this.

                In an apology, “I would be sorry…but.”
                In a declaration of love, “I would love you…but.”
                Concerning a person’s honesty or validity of their statements, “I would believe you…but.”
                When speaking of the equality of mankind, “you would be equal in personhood…but.” 

It is nothing more than a passive aggressive way of stating things so that the hearer only hears the positive words in the statement and hopefully overlooks the “but.”

You can’t be “equal…but” just like you can’t be “sorry …but.”

And if you think there’s nothing wrong with the phrase “I am sorry but” it’s probably because you are the one giving the statement instead of receiving it. Ask yourself if you are willing to accept an apology that contains a “but” or any of the above phrases that contain a “but” for that matter.
 If they aren’t acceptable to you then they shouldn’t be acceptable for anyone.

The second problem with the military hierarchy analogy seems to be the most obvious yet no one ever addresses it. In the military there is always the opportunity for promotion within the ranks. This promotion ability is based upon respect earned in exemplary service and self-sacrifice, dedication, ability, and education.

In this the analogy completely falls apart because in the male headship model the ability for promotion for the woman does not exist no matter how much respect she may be able to garner for herself as a woman in such a marriage or in religious institutions. Her abilities are limited because she is only allowed or encouraged to have abilities that pertain to her womanly rank. If she is encouraged to increase in ability she is only allowed to use whatever abilities she possesses in the same rank she already occupies. This as a natural course will inhibit or stunt her abilities because she will never be pushed beyond what she already knows, has experienced, or her “rank” in order to increase in understanding, ability, strength or stamina.

 Concerning education, she need only be educated in ways that will benefit her current rank. Since she is not to be a biblical source of teaching or authority in the church or home she need not desire to increase too much in her biblical ability. After all that is her husband’s responsibility. Such education may threaten the male headship of the home if she were to surpass her husband’s knowledge if indeed that is possible for a woman to accomplish.

If a woman gains too much Biblical education or training she may be tempted to threaten or question the male authority in the body of Christ. Her ignorance is for her protection. No, to be educated for a rank you cannot fulfill is simply a waste of your time and breeds discontentment.

Now of course in most circles this isn’t said outright. Instead phrases like “well now you’ve shot yourself in the foot” upon a woman’s gaining a religious degree are used to imply that your particular set of skills while they may surpass the male’s ability and may be desperately needed simply cannot be utilized past your “rank”. So in most religious settings unless the biblical knowledge you gained and the areas you excel in can be used within what is known as the God approved woman’s realm they really are a waste of time and effort.
Anyone remember the old joke of the man sitting on the roof of his house in a flood waiting to be rescued. A row boat comes by and the rescue worker in the boat asks if the man needs to be rescued. The man on the house yells out, “No thank you, God will provide.”
Perhaps we in the church have been saying no thank you to the means by which God desires to provide for his body…simply because it is a row boat.

In the Christian military hierarchy analogy for male headship promotion for women simply does not exist and to seek it is a sign of a rebellious heart. Meanwhile for a man to seek a higher rank is considered a sign of devotion to the body of Christ and self- sacrifice. It is to be commended and respected. The analogy falls short.
A third way this military analogy fails is in the description of duties for the ranks.

You see…there are none.

Nowhere in scripture are we told that the rank of wife fulfills such and such duty while the rank of husband fulfills this and that. There are no clear guidelines. Yet in the military the clear cut duty roster is unmistakable. Biblical headship as explained through the military hierarchy model leaves this description of duties up to…you guessed it… the husband as leader or the male church leader.

Now at this point many who hold the complementarian view would argue that the husband and wife should discuss such things mutually. The problem is that if the wife disagrees the decision rests solely within the husband’s discretion. She must submit or be in disobedience. There is no mutuality in such a scenario.  

What results is that each wife has a different description based upon the desire or understanding of her husband. Should her husband change his mind or desires her duties change as can her “rank”.

This is evidenced in the fact that of all of the literature that is available today both in print, and in electronic form, in all of the conversation you will have on this topic you will never see so much squirming or fence riding as you will when you ask someone to Biblically define the duties of each role or rank within the marriage and for scriptural proof to back it up without taking that scripture out of context.

If the military operated this way it would lead to confusion, chaos and defeat. God is the author of none of these yet He left out some very vital pieces of information with regard to this headship issue as we understand it.

Now at this point many will cite 1 Timothy 5:8 for an explanation of part of the husband’s responsibility. You know the one,
 “Men if you don’t provide for your family the Bible says you are worse than in infidel.”

The problem with this is that the focus of this passage in 1 Timothy is on taking care of widows. The “husband” is dead so the text cannot be addressing him. If we take a closer look at the text we see that it is addressed to the children of the widow. Not male children…all children.
“…if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God.[1]
“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.[2]

The male pronouns in this passage because English like Hebrew and Greek regularly use masculine forms when making general statements have been added for ease of reading in the English language but were not there in the Greek.

This is known as male representative case.

What does this mean for the English reader? This means that the Bible you are reading quite often has male pronouns added that are not there in the literal Greek. We add them in because Greek as a male representative case language has word endings like Spanish that are gendered.
For instance, in Spanish the object “paper” may be noted as male but that doesn’t mean that paper is actually male.

In Greek when a word refers to a group of people, unless that group is explicitly and exclusively female, it is noted as male even though females are included in the group.

The same is true in a passage that isn’t explicitly indicated as speaking only to females. The words in the Greek are male as a matter of course even though the passage is referring to females as well as males.

The mixed audience is always referred to as male.

So when the English translators translate words as male when they are a mixed group or add male pronouns for ease of reading and understanding it misleads the modern day English reader into thinking that the text is written to males or speaks specifically to or about males.

This simply is not true.

A reading of the literal Greek will show you that the pronouns are not there in 1 Timothy 5, that the text can and should be read without them and the point is that the immediate family of a widow is responsible to take care of her so the church will not have to bear that burden.

In this way the church can take care of the widows who truly have no one else to take care of them. Nowhere does the text state that this is the responsibility of the male alone. It is the responsibility of the entire family male or female.

If the widow has no children but has extended family of another sort then those members both male and female are required to take care of her.

                Anyone who does not take care of their family is worse than an infidel.

This text is not proof that men alone are ordained by God to be the providers for their family. Yet in statements of belief everywhere in various denominations you will find this verse tucked in amidst a myriad of other verses that have been plucked out of context and continuity to force a point that was never intended.  You will find this to be the case with every proof text used to support male/female gender roles.

So once again we are left with roles to fill but no gender specific or husband/wife marching orders to follow with respect to those roles or ranks. If you believe you know of such role descriptions in the Bible please be cautious to check context within context within context. Scripture was not meant to be plug and play. It must be read within the context of surrounding verse, surrounding chapters, and within the context and confines of the entire Bible.

Lastly, this military analogy leaves us with the understanding that God’s kingdom is one of a military government or regime but human military control leaves us severely wanting.

Since in scripture we are told that men as the husbands are the head of the wife and we interpret this to mean a military rank and order we are left to discover what this military looks like and how it acts.
Military regimes tend to portray themselves as non-partisan, as a "neutral" party that can provide interim leadership in times of turmoil, and also tend to portray civilian politicians as corrupt and ineffective.
There are two basic types of institutional military regimes: Bureaucratic (conservative) authoritarian regimes and revolutionary military regimes.
Military bureaucratic regimes tend to build one-party rule, though all citizens of the state are involved. A result of such a strategy would be a close cooperation with the institutions of civil society. During time, the military regimes are able to control the civil society (especially the labor unions). Like all authoritarian regimes, military bureaucratic regimes are repressive, and they attempt to eliminate all possible rivals.
In Revolutionary military regimes, the power belongs to a selected elite group. The rest of the population does not have many chances to promote their interests if they have any at all, or to participate in the political processes of the state. 
Truth is that God’s kingdom is not a military regime. It is not a human government of any kind. It is a Theocracy meaning that God alone is in control; above all.

Notice in the parable of the good steward it was their work and return on that good work or lack of it that promoted or demoted each steward. Their promotion/demotion was not once based upon their physical nature, marital status, socio-economic status, nationality or any such human activity. No, their promotion was based solely upon their ability and this was seen through the proof of their good work.

But we instinctively read the story of the good steward as though each one of the stewards were male. The text however never provides such information. It is an inference that we draw from our own experiences and understanding which are based upon our teaching and culture. Now if you are inclined to argue with this point I just want you to take a good honest look at your imagination for a second when recalling this story of the good steward and tell me quickly…is the steward a male or a female?  

Scripture calls each of God’s children a steward. Scripture calls each of God’s children a son. We each have the opportunity to gain promotion, rank, position, and opportunity in the Heavenly kingdom equally without the “but” just as we gain inheritance.

So then if the home is a picture of the church and the church is a picture of Heaven (as I have been taught) or if marriage is the picture of the relationship between Christ and the church then how are we lining up with the Biblical text we have been given about the nature and environment of our home, Heaven or of Christ’s relationship to the church?

Christ was given “to” the church not put “over” the church. Christ empowers the church with the authority and power that He has been empowered with by God so that the church could accomplish the same things Christ did on earth and greater.

If husbands and wives reflect Christ and the church are wives being empowered by the husband’s authority and power given to him by Christ so that she is able to do the same as things as her husband in this world and greater like Christ and the church?

If we are currently citizens of Heaven yet some citizens are being instructed to live as though they were citizens of this world in the body of Christ how does this line up with our Biblical text?  Does the phrase polar opposites come to mind at all?

Folks, this military analogy has been used for ages and because it contains bits and pieces of truth while distorting the truth it is easily swallowed. In reality this analogy is a danger to the body of Christ. It promotes a regime mentality; one of oppression not one of freedom or healthy relationships.
God created us for relationship not business, not war, not government. He desired someone to love Him. He desires intimacy with us His Creation. He wants us to know Him and He to know us unhindered. God created Adam and said it wasn’t good for him to be alone; that word literally means isolated.

God never said it wasn’t good for Adam not to be in charge He said it wasn’t good for him to be isolated.

We are designed for relationships; intimacy with God and each other.

True intimacy doesn’t require someone to be in charge.
But someone being in charge in intimacy negates freedom and true intimacy itself.



[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (1 Ti 5:4). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
[2] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (1 Ti 5:8). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.


[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (1 Ti 5:4). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
[2] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (1 Ti 5:8). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Correcting the Cultural Mandate (Creation Mandate) Part 1: (a multi-part series)

I want to begin by explaining what this Cultural Mandate, Dominion Mandate or Creation Mandate is for those who have not heard the term. Though you may not know the technical name I assure you that you have indeed been taught this Creation Mandate.
First things first, the term Creation Mandate or Cultural Mandate or Dominion Mandate are not found anywhere in scripture. These terms have been created by people to define what God said to mankind in Genesis 1:28

God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”[1]
This is considered a divine set of commands given to mankind for how to operate as God’s image bearers in the world. So we see from Genesis 1:28 that the Creation Mandate can be simplified as:
  •     Be fruitful and multiply
  •     Fill the earth
  •     Subdue the earth
  •     Rule over the fish, birds and every living thing that moves on the earth.

It is important to note that many evangelical Christians today indicate that these directions were given to Adam and that he was to assign to Eve the tasks that he either deemed her capable of or that he could not accomplish himself. This is how many understand the meaning of Eve being created as a helpmeet for Adam.

It is also important to note that the bullet points above are the common threads you will see in any explanation of the Creation Mandate.

In order to understand why the Creation Mandate needs correcting we must break it down into sections of [man to man] and [man to creation]. It must also be noted that man in this writing will be understood as mankind or human beings not specifically as male human beings.

Man to Man:

The first correction that needs to be made deals with the first set of instructions in the phrase from Genesis 1:28. 

Be fruitful and multiply and fill...


This one phrase has done more damage in my opinion to man’s relationship to his fellow man than any other in this mandate. By including this phrase in what we have defined as a command from God for man to fulfill as those who bear His image in the world we have made part of our purpose for existing and personal fulfillment about sex and procreation. 

This elevates sex and procreation to a status of obedience and honoring God. This phrase has also simultaneous been used to reduce the role of Eve to the level of all other animals in creation but this will be explained further in later posts.

It has also been argued by some that in giving man this command to be fruitful and multiply God was indicating that through procreation man exhibits the Creator side of the image of God that he bears. God created man and man as the one who bears His image continues to create life through sexual relationship within the confines of marriage.

There is just one major problem that needs resolution if this is true. Man is the only part of creation that bears the image of God so the Creation Mandate as the definition of man’s purpose and method of fulfillment should only have been given to man as the part of creation that bears His image right?

Doug Kelly in Creation and Change states, “Traditionally Christian theologians have understood Genesis 1:28 as mankind’s purpose and permission for engaging the world. The Cultural Mandate not only gives us purpose in our vocation, it’s connected to our fulfillment in work.”[2]
            
In his book All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes, Kenneth Myers writes “Man was fit for the cultural mandate. As the bearer of his Creator-God’s image, he could not be satisfied apart from cultural activity.”[3]

So we understand this Cultural Mandate to be the divine instruction from God for man to obtain fulfillment and purpose as the bearer of the Creator’s image.  You would be hard pressed to find a religious leader who would not agree that the cultural mandate defines man’s purpose and that man cannot be fulfilled apart from accomplishing it.

So since, it is the common belief among religious leadership that this mandate gives man purpose and fulfillment we must recognize that no other part of creation can have any part of the cultural mandate as its purpose or method of fulfillment because man is set apart from the rest of creation as the only one who bears the image of the Creator.

It follows that if any part of the Creation Mandate is found to have been given to any part of creation other than man it must necessarily be removed as part of the divine mandate from God given specifically to man in order to help man understand his purpose, find fulfillment and reflect the image of his Creator.

Well, Houston, we have a problem. In looking at the fifth day of creation we see this phrase “be fruitful and multiply and fill…” given to a part of creation. If, right now you’re thinking (and I pray you are) but man wasn’t created until day six you would be correct. So then who was this divine command given to?

Genesis 1:21-23  
Then God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”  There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.[4]
You read that correctly. God gave part of the Creation Mandate to the birds and the creatures of the seas and waters.  

But how can this be? 

Birds and creatures in the waters are not created in the image of God. 

Why would God give them a command that He gave to man in relation to man’s purpose, fulfillment and responsibility to bear the Creator’s image in the world?

The short answer would be that He didn’t.

God didn’t give man this command of “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” in order to represent the image of God in creation, understand his purpose or find fulfillment. 

He couldn’t have because He also gave this command to the birds and creatures of the water.  

Now does man find fulfillment and purpose in being fruitful and multiplying some would say yes while others would argue no. What about those who don’t get married or can’t have children? Do they possess any less purpose than those who can? Was man’s job of bearing the image of His creator lost in the fall? Was it lost to only some while others still possess it?

Christ as man was the ultimate image bearer of God on earth yet he was not married and he had no physical children. Was His ability to represent His Father on the earth hindered in any way? NO.

In fact, Christ tells us in scripture that "if you have seen me you have seen the Father" in John 14:9. Christ was the clearest representation on earth of the image of God in man of anyone who ever lived or will ever live yet he was not “fruitful” he did not physically “multiply and fill the earth.”

What was God doing then when He pronounced that man along with the birds and fish should procreate if that is indeed what be fruitful and multiply means? 

I argue He was doing the same thing that He was doing when He pronounced that each plant should bear fruit and seed after its kind. He was setting up the natural order of life on earth.

Could it be that God in speaking creation into existence also spoke into existence the ability for creation to continue through the means of biology? I cannot tell you for sure but I can tell you that the phrase be fruitful and multiply and fill… is not a divine command given only to man as the one part of creation that bears His image.

So it must be removed from this Creation Mandate that we have created. As long as we continue to teach, preach, and speak about "be fruitful and multiply and fill…” as a divine command given to man so that he will find purpose and fulfillment we are leading people astray. We are elevating things in the natural order to a level they were never intended to be on.

So if we were to removed “be fruitful and multiply and fill…” from the teaching of the Creation Mandate given specifically to man it would leave us with two specific statements. This is proper because these are the only two parts of the Creation Mandate that are spoken specifically to mankind and only mankind:

  • ·         Subdue the earth
  • ·         Rule over the fish, birds and every living thing that moves on the earth.


In the next part of this series we will deal with man’s relationship to creation in conjunction with the Creation Mandate.


Works Cited:
Darek Isaacs, Beth Hallel. "Is There A Creatin Mandate?" Answers Research Journal 6 (Answers in Genesis), 2013: 1-16.
Kelly, Doug. Creation and Change. Mentor publishing, 2017.
Myers, Kenneth. All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes. Crossway, 2012.
New American Standard Bible. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation., 1995: Update.





[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Ge 1:28). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
[2] Doug Kelly, Creation and Change (Mentor publishing, 2017).
[3] Kenneth Myers,  All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes (Crossway, 2012).
[4] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Ge 1:20–23). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

How To Pick a Fight With God and Win! Part 2

The last time I wrote to you I told you that I was in the middle of my fight with God. I am determined to strive with God until I receive the blessing that He spoke to me. Jacob is not our only example of Biblical characters fighting with God but the story of his all night struggle with the angel is a great example of what it takes to win a fight with God. So, while it is my desire in this blog post to inspire you to fight there are a few things you need to know before you go picking fights with God.

First, you must remember who God is and what He has told you. In order to strive with God concerning the blessings and promises He has made to and for you there must be an understanding that He is able to fulfill those promises and what they are.  The struggles of this world and our tendency to withdraw from Him when in the middle of our earthly struggles can overshadow the knowledge we have of Him causing us to see Him and His desires for us incorrectly. We must remember that He is God and we are not. We must remember that He is for us…You must remember that He is for you!

Once you remind yourself of who you, who He is and whose you are it is imperative that you know the blessing He has promised to you. Otherwise, you will begin to believe the lies of Satan that says He is against us or that we have misheard His promises. This is the same method the serpent used on Eve. The lie told to Eve in the garden was that God was for Himself and that she misunderstood. This lie implied God withholds something of Himself from us in an effort to remain above us; separate from us. This is the lie Satan still uses today.  If we adopt this concept it won’t matter what He tells us or does we will interpret His motives and desires incorrectly.  

The next part of Satan’s lie is that we either have misunderstood or cannot understand. If we adopt this part of the lie then we will always live a life on shifting sand. To say that God never changes but not know who He is leads us to instability. To say God gave us His Word so that we can know and be sure of Him and then say we cannot understand His word is to build a house on shifting sand. Jacob knew God and the promises of blessing God had spoken to Him. He was not afraid to call God out.

Is God far above us? Yes.

Are His ways like our ways? No.

Is God far beyond mere human comprehension? Absolutely.

Is it arrogant to say I can know God and understand His Word? No!

To say that I as a child of God cannot know Him or understand His Word is arrogance.

Why?  

We have been given the Holy Spirit. We have been given the mind of Christ. We have been given everything necessary for life and health and peace. We have been given the spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind. Through the death and resurrection of Christ we have been reborn. Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we have been given the ability to know and understand God and His Word. 

To say that I cannot know these things makes us more powerful than God because we are claiming that our fallen limited human state is more powerful than the ability of the Holy Spirit to overcome it. We have become more powerful than God.

We also make God a liar we when claim these things. Look at all the scripture that talks about our ability to know God and His Word.

1 Chronicles 28:9, Jeremiah 29:13, James 4:8-10, Matthew 7:7-8, Jeremiah 24:7, Proverbs 2:1-6, 2 Chronicles 15:2, Jeremiah 17:10, Psalm 9:10, Jeremiah 9:24, Isaiah 45:19, John 17:3,
2 Corinthians 4:6, John 14:26, John 16:13, 1 John 2:27, Luke 12:12, 1 Corinthians 2:10, 12-13,
Isaiah 30:21, 1 Corinthians 2:14, Ephesians 1:16-17, Proverbs 1:23, Hebrews 10:14-16

We see in scripture example upon example of God’s desire to be known by us both personally and for us to know His Word. We see countless examples of those who did understand and know Him both on a personal level as well as His Word.

The key verses from the list above that should end this debate of whether or not we as born again believers can know and understand God and His Word for me are found in 1 Corinthians 2:10-16

For TO US  God revealed them THROUGH THE SPIRIT; for the Spirit searches all things, EVEN THE DEPTHS OF GOD. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that WE MAY KNOW the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But WE HAVE THE MIND OF CHRIST.

Jacob knew this and was confident in it. He let God know that he understood he had a knowledge of and history with God. He also reminds God of the blessings He has spoken over his life and in this confirms the he himself knows what has been spoken over his life by God.

Jacob then finished with an acknowledgement of his understanding of who he is on his own. Through Jacob’s own confession he acknowledges that God is loving and faithful and that he is not. He acknowledges the provision that God has already provided for him and that he would not be where he was without the power of God on his side. He then goes on further to acknowledge his fear and complete dependence upon God for deliverance.

These things are the essentials in picking a fight with God. If you don’t know who God is, who you are both with him and without him, the blessings He has already spoken over your life and your inability to deliver yourself in any situation I don’t suggest you pick a fight with God just yet. After all, can you really know what you are fighting for if you don’t know these things? I’m not saying you can’t strive with God if you don’t know these things but I am telling you that your fight will be considerably longer without them. 

The next, essential component in a fight with God is honesty. Jacob was completely transparent with God. He admitted that he was afraid. He admitted that he desired his own personal safety as well as the safety of his family. Jacob wasn’t trying to sound spiritual in order to get God’s attention or gain His approval. Jacob got down to the nitty gritty and God respected it. 

If you are going to win your fight with God you must have honesty. You have to admit to God what it is that you are truly after.

Once again, I feel I must warn you that if you don’ t know what you are after in your fight with God or if you insist on putting on airs with God in an attempt to impress Him with your religion your fight will last a lot longer than you want and possibly can endure. 

You cannot win a fight with God without complete gut wrenching honesty. So God will wrestle with you until He gets you to the point where gut wrenching honesty is all you have left.

The next component in winning a fight with God is probably one of the most overlooked yet most important for endurance. Are you ready for it? Get ready to have your mind blown!

God doesn’t fight fair so neither should you.

This is essential to understand or you may quit the fight believing that what happens next in your fight should be interpreted as punishment for engaging in the fight in the first place. 

Now, I feel like this part needs a bit more explanation than the rest so I want to give you two examples of what I mean. 

The first comes from the lessons Europeans learned concerning warfare from the Native Americans. Europeans fought battles in a way that frankly I have never understood. They would stand in infantry lines at close quarters with their enemy who did the same and fire shots. 

I remember as a child thinking how completely stupid this way of fighting was. 

Native Americans on the other hand used the resources their surroundings gave them to their advantage in warfare. They used trees as shields and hiding places, they would fire off arrows and guns from whatever vantage point best lent itself to their success. They used poison from native plants and animals to inhibit their enemies ability to fight and so on. This makes sense to me. Europeans learned quickly in their battles with the Native American tribes that they had to adjust their fighting style or become accustom to losing. 

One of Washington’s generals, General Forbes is quoted as saying, “We must comply and learn the art of war from enemy Indians.” 

My second example comes from the term street fighting. There is a vast difference between the rules of fighting in a boxing ring versus street fighting. In a boxing ring there are referees to make sure everyone complies with the rules and plays “fair.” On the street however, you do what it takes to win, everyone knows it and no one complains.

God is a street fighter.

Notice in the story of Jacob and the angel they were wrestling and when the angel realized that He was not winning He employed street fighting tactics or Indian warfare. He used the weakness of his opponent to his advantage.

Genesis 32:24-25
When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him.[1]

So then what is the exact significance of God’s touching Jacob upon the socket of his thigh?

“The sinew of the thigh is the strongest in the human body. A horse could scarcely tear it apart.” God had to break us down at the strongest part of our self-life before He can have His own way of blessing with us.
—J. H. McConkey[2]

God when He saw that Jacob was not going to give up in this fight touches him on the strongest part of his body and dislocates it! 

That’s street fighting at its finest!

McConkey had it right in his statement above. God was testing Jacob to see just how much he was invested in this fight he had picked before he would bless him. God wanted to prove Jacob’s commitment. It is said that Jacob limped from that day on but I don’t that that this can be proven. This event did make such an impact on Jacob and his people that the sinew of the thigh is not eaten to this day in Israel.

Genesis 32:32
Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because he touched the socket of Jacob's thigh in the sinew of the hip.

If you going to pick a fight with God then there will be pain; God will make sure of it. Why, because it is in the pain that we are purified. Just as McConkey stated God will have to break you down at your strongest part so that He can have His own way of blessing you. So be prepared for it. If you aren’t willing to endure excruciating pain and keep fighting, if the blessing isn't worth the price you have to pay then I suggest you don’t engage God in battle. 

But if you are and if God is going to employ street fighting tactics then so must you.

Street fighters have something that ring fighters don’t; Desperation. Street fighters are fighting from something deep within themselves. They are willing to pay any price for the victory because they know they need it for survival. Ring fighters rest in the safety of the referees call for fairness. Street fights aren’t about fairness they are about who needs the victory more. Jacob had been street fighting since before he was born. He was conceived as a soul desperate for the blessing.  From the grabbing of his brothers heal, to the stolen birthright, to wrestling with an angel and telling him,

Genesis 32:26
“I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

Hosea 12:3-4 tells us that Jacob wept and sought the blessing in the fight.

In the womb he took his brother by the heel, and in his maturity he contended with God. Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed; He wept and sought His favor.
He found Him at Bethel and there He spoke with us,

There was something in Jacob that knew the only way to get ahead in life was to obtain the blessing and he was not going to quit until he got it.

What about you? Do you desire the blessing more than life like Jacob? 

Do you understand that the only, and I can’t stress this enough…the ONLY way to get ahead in this life or the next is to obtain the blessing?

Are you desperate for it?

If you aren’t’ then you certainly won’t win because it is precisely this desperation that inspires the determination to see the fight through to the end even in the midst of excruciating pain. It is this desperation along with the understanding of who God is and who you are that will see you through to the end in victory.

There is a price to be paid in picking a fight with God and it will hurt. Consider the cost or you may just come out of your fight with nothing more than a limp. 

The word yaqa that we find in verse Genesis 32:25 means to dislocate but it also means to alienate.

3363.   יָקַע yaqa (429b); a prim. root; to be dislocated or alienated:—

We see that both happened to Jacob in his striving with God. 

First God, alienated Jacob from his brother then he was alienated from his wealth and his family which is how he ended up alone on this side of the river where God began the wrestling match.

Next, God brings the pain by making the alienation very real and personal for Jacob. He alienated Jacob from his own health, personal strength and comfort.  Jacob endured great pain as a result of picking this fight with God and you will too. Jacob on the other hand gained a victory that far outweighed the pain. We can too if we are willing to endure.

Lastly, if you are going to pick a fight with God and win you must be completely committed to the fight. No matter what don’t quit until something changes; exert yourself, persevere; commit to the struggle.

Look again at the conversation between Jacob and the angel in the middle of their wrestling match. 

Use your imagination.

Jacob has the angel pinned to the ground maybe with his hand on his chin forcing his face into the dirt. 

The angel manages to mumble in a strained breathless voice, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.”

Jacob loudly fires back with a determined yet pain filled, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

The angel replies, “What is your name?” and he hears a determinedly defiant response from his opponent, “it’s Jacob.”

Then something amazing happens. Jacob wins!

Genesis 32:28
“Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.”

From that point on Jacob would be known as the one who strives with God. Not just Jacob but an entire nation of people would be known as the ones who strive with God. 

This is what the name Israel means: he who strives with God; God strives. 

We as believers, Children of God, are to be known as a people who strive. Scripture tells us to contend for the faith. Paul tells us to fight the good fight. We are to be a picture of Christ to the world and Christ was a fighter.

If we look at the progression of Jacob’s fight with God we see the same things in the life of Christ. Christ was alienated from all of these things. He was alienated from His wealth, His family, His brothers and sisters, and lastly from His physical health, strength, and comfort. He didn’t let go until He obtained the victory. We should fight just as hard.

What you will learn in your fight with God, what I have learned so far is that I am not fighting against what I thought from the beginning. I am not fighting for what I thought form the beginning. 

But God knew. He knew what my heart needed and wanted. He knew what I was fighting for and so He was happy and excited to engage in the battle with me because God not only loves a good fight…He loves a good fighter. 

So go ahead, pick a fight with God. 

STRIVE

Do it right and see if you don’t come out blessed!


[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Ge 32:24–25). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
[2] Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (p. 1404). Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.