Jentezen Franklin - Alters, Wells, And Encounters
I wanna to talk to you for a few moments today on Altars, Wells, and Encounters. Altars, wells, and encounters. There are three generations that are talked about over and over in the Bible: the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. Three generations. The first generation, Abraham got everything that he received from God. He started out with nothing. He became mightily blessed in amazing ways. But he got everything that he received from God by prayer. By an altar. Isaac, the next generation, received everything that he received from God by inheritance. It was given to him by his father. But he had to learn to re-dig the wells that his father dug.
And then finally, the third generation, Jacob. The generation of Jacob received everything that he got in a different way. He tried to take shortcuts. His name means schemer, and he was using his own intellect. He thought that he knew more through his intellect. He could get to where he was supposed to be by his mind, not by building an altar or digging a well. The first generation, represented by Abraham, was a generation of prayer. The great outpouring in the Book of Acts was not born in a planning committee. The great outpouring of Acts 2 was born out of a prayer meeting where for 50 days, men and women gathered in the Upper Room. They did not plan, and scheme, and come up with visions and marketing. They got in a room, and they prayed, and they sought God in a prayer meeting for 50 days. And they waited on the Lord. They prayed until the heavens were moved. They prayed until the rain began to pour in that Upper Room. And it would move across the earth.
Abraham built seven altars in his lifetime. It would not have been hard to follow Abraham because everywhere that he stayed any amount of time, he built an altar in that place. And then he would move on, and live in another area, and build an altar. And in his life, he left seven altars. Those altars, to me, speak of four things. An altar speaks of four things. First of all, an altar speaks of sacrifice. It was on one of those altars that Abraham laid his son Isaac, and raised the knife, and was willing to sacrifice his boy in obedience to what God was calling him to do. God stopped him from doing it, but he had to reach the point of ultimate sacrifice. That sacrifice was so real in the history of the early church.
And I'm saying to you that at some point, your relationship with God has to go beyond what God can do for you. And you develop an altar, and the altar speaks of sacrifice. Secondly, an altar speaks of cleansing. Abraham came to the altar to make sure everything was clean between him and God. He understood that through the shedding of the blood of an animal, his sins under the old covenant could be rolled over, and they could be removed from his life temporarily.
I heard a story about a man who was feeling job insecurity, and he wanted to check up on his condition of his job and whether or not he was gonna be fired. He felt insecure. He felt like his boss was gonna replace him for whatever reason. So one day he called in, disguised his voice, and asked for the boss. The boss came on the line. And he said in a disguised voice, I'm looking for a job. And the boss said, what kind of job? And he began to describe every detail of the things that he said he was skilled in, and it fit perfectly the job he was presently holding and doing for that boss. And then he ended by saying - his little resume that he gave - he ended by saying, I heard that you weren't happy with the man you've got in that position over there, and I'd love to fill it. And the man said, oh, no. That's not true. I have a good man there, and I wanna keep him. And then he was so excited, he lost his fake voice. And he said, it's me, boss. And I was just wanting to call and check up to see how I was really doing.
That is what prayer is. Prayer is calling up Heaven, and it's saying God, I don't want anything in the relationship, I want you to cleanse me. Prayer is cleansing. Prayer speaks of being cleansed. Of removing anything and everything from the power of God operating in your life. An altar speaks of unity. Did you know that once upon a time, there were no denominations? There were no labels. There were no, you know, moves of God, and camps over here, and this camp, and that church, and this church. But there was - we were, according to the scripture, baptized by one spirit into one body. Men united from different persuasions in America around the 1900s. At the beginning of the 1900s, they united in revival in an altar, and they prayed from different persuasions that God would send revival.
And then lastly, an altar speaks of the place of prayer. When men take time to seek the face of God, they take time and discipline to seek the counsel of God, the will of God, the way of God, it's critical. That early generation, and many of you are the byproduct like me of those who've gone before us who they built an altar. And they understood the power of prayer. Abraham built an altar. And then along came Isaac. And everything that Isaac received, the Bible said in Genesis 25, "And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac". Notice that. It was by inheritance. The problem with inheritance sometimes is this. The person who receives doesn't fully appreciate the sacrifice, the calloused hands, the tremendous price, the sacrifice, the doing without that the previous generation has gone through to get you where you are today. And Isaac just received.
The Bible said Abraham, his father, gave him everything that he had. He just handed it to him. And he didn't really understand personally how that dream had become a tangible reality that he was standing in. He took it for granted. Isaac had a lot going for him. He had a great father. He had a religious upbringing. In spite of it all, in spite of all that he would inherit, listen to me carefully: He had to meet God for himself. There came a time when it was not enough to hear about Mother's touch, and Daddy's experience, or even the fact that I was brought up in a Christian home. All of that is good. All of that is fine. But you hear me.
The Lamb's Book of Life is listed in individual names, not family names. There's no family names in the Lamb's Book of Life. It doesn't say Franklin. It says Jentezen Franklin. Cherise Franklin. And if my children don't encounter the same God we encountered, their names will not go in that book. It's an individual thing. And just because you've been raised in it, and just because you've been around greatness, and just because you have a grandmother whose godly, it does not mean you have encountered God for yourself. Isaac learned that he had to re-dig the wells of ancient revival. That his father had left him a well, but the Philistines had plugged it up.
And I like the fact, I was reading it again this week as I was traveling, and the Bible said that he actually, Isaac, actually dug two new wells before he re-dug his dad's old well. In other words, he thought, "Well, that old-fashioned stuff. I don't need that. Oh, they're silly. I don't need church. I don't have to go to. I can worship at home. I don't need this. I don't need that. I don't believe in tithing. I don't, oh, I just don't. Mom and Dad, that was for you, but I'm digging me some new wells". But the Bible said those two new wells dried up.
And I wanna preach just a minute to the young people here. You go off to university, and you let em tell you what a joke this book is, and you let em laugh at your old-fashioned Bible clinging and calling on the name of Jesus. But any new well you dig, it's a matter of time before it dries up. But we've left you one. That if you'll re-dig it, there's living water there. We've left you one. That I don't care how many people make fun of it. When you get in the crisis, when it's your baby that needs a miracle, or it's your family that's in a crisis, the only thing that's going to stand is the Word of God. I know what the professor said, but he's miserable. I know what Smarty Pants said, but they can't hold a marriage together. Their lives are a mess. They're all jacked up, drunk and high all the time. There's an old well where there's living water, and it makes you feel alive again. Hallelujah. Somebody give God praise if you believe it. Glory. We need an Isaac generation. Ours is a rich spiritual heritage. Men and women of bygone days dug wells. Spiritual wells at deep cost.
Lastly, Abraham built altars. Isaac came along, and encountered God, and re-dug wells. But Jacob, the third generation, his name means deceiver. He took shortcuts to every blessing. Do you remember what he did to his brother? His brother was hunting. He was the oldest. Therefore the firstborn. Therefore would receive the blessing of Abraham and Isaac. And now it would come on Esau. But he came home from a hunting trip, exhausted and starving. And he smelled the aroma of the meal that his brother Jacob had fixed. The tantalizing aroma of that bean soup. He was starving. And he said, give me some. And if that'd been me, and that was my brother, I'd a given him some soup.
That's just the kinda guy I am. But not, listen to this, not Jacob. Jacob said, I want the blessing, but I don't wanna get it the way that others have got it. I want the shortcut. I've intellectually figured this thing out. Scheming. You give me the birthright, I'll give you the beans. And in a moment of weakness, Esau gave him the birthright. He didn't just want the birthright. He didn't just deceive and treat his brother wrong. Then he turned around. And his father, Isaac, who was on his death bed, had lost his vision. And the Bible said while he was eating the meal and distracted, he went in and took goat's hair and put it on his arms. Because his brother was hairy.
And he went in, and he disguised his voice, and he said, "Father, Father. Bless me, Father. I have the birthright in my hand. Bless me. It's your son, Esau". And his dad said something interesting. His dad said, "You sound like Jacob, but you feel like Esau". There's a huge little lesson right here. And the Bible said he went by his, what he felt instead of what he heard. Any time you start letting your feelings go above what God is saying, your feelings will always deceive you and take you in the wrong direction over what God is telling you. We don't walk by our feelings. If it feels right but the Word says it's wrong, your feelings are wrong, and the Word is right. What you hear is right. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God".
Can't trust your feelings, but you can trust the voice. Listen. So think about it. And then he goes to his father-in-law, and his father-in-law ripped him off for 14 years. Cause you reap what you sow. But then he turns around, and rips his father off, and takes the choice breeding animals, and steals em, and goes away. So he's ripped off and deceived his brother. Burned that bridge. He's ripped off and deceived his father. Don't you know his father was heartbroken when he found out the truth? Burned that bridge. His father-in-law. Burned that bridge. I'm sure his wife was upset with him cause of that. Burned that bridge. And now he finds himself at a place called Jabbok. And the word Jabbok means the place of breaking. And he's all by himself. He's got stuff. He's got wealth.
And then the thought hits him. I'm here, and I have never encountered and I do not have what my grandfather Abraham had. I do not have what my father Isaac had. I don't have an altar. I don't have a well. I have nothing. And suddenly, he cries out to God. And he says, I wanna have a fresh encounter with you for myself. I thank you for what you did in other generations, but I want you to touch me. My generation. Me. I need to know you, not up here, but in here. And the Bible said God dispatched an angel, and the angel came. And Jacob grabbed that angel and wrestled with him until that angel touched the hollow of his thigh and disjointed his leg. He was wrestling with that angel. He's having his own encounter with God at the place of breaking. He's broken. Every relationship in his life is broken. All of his dreams are broken. Everything at Jabbok is messed up, but it's there. The very place of breaking becomes the very place of blessing. That any time God allows you to end up at the River Jabbok: broken, alone, disillusioned, "what has happened in my life? How did this happen? What is going on"?
I'll tell you what is going on. It's a Bible pattern. Moses, go to the desert for 40 years and lose everything. Broken. Job, you're gonna go through the trial of your life, and you'll lose everything. Broken. Joseph, you're gonna be thrown into a prison for 14 years for a crime you didn't commit. Broken. Paul, I'm gonna knock you off your high horse, and you're gonna fall in the dirt. And for three days, you'll go blind, and you won't even know who you are anymore. Broken. But if you read the last chapter of all four of those illustrations I just gave you, you'll see this fact. That the breaking was where the blessing always came.
And I close with this. There are three great lessons that I want you to get, and I can give em to ya in three sentences. Sometimes you have to hold on to God. This is what Jacob teaches us in wrestling with that angel for his own encounter with God. Sometimes you have to hold on to God longer than your flesh wants to if you're going to get an answer from the throne. Notice that he's crippled now. But the thing about a cripple is, all he can do is cling. And if God has crippled you in some area, it wasn't to hurt you. It was to make you cling to Him. And I can't get there on my own, but I'm gonna hold tight to you now. I've learned in the place of breaking that I'm crippled in this area now, but it'll cause me to cling to you, Jesus. Secondly, victory in Jacob's life came by a touch.
And y'all know me. I feel like I'm surrounded with angels right now. I'm keenly aware the presence of God is in this room. You listen to me. You listen to me. Victory came by a touch. What kind of touch? An exhilarating touch? An exciting touch? A fun, happy, hallelujah touch? No. A touch of breaking. A touch of crippling. Lastly, this story teaches us that after you have your encounter with Jesus, Jacob never walked the same again. And every friend who knew him before, when they saw him after this encounter, they all recognize one thing: he has a different walk. It changed his walk. Before if they saw the shape of someone coming, they knew. That's old, proud, arrogant, deceiving, self-centered Jacob. He would walk in, and you could see him coming. But now his walk has changed. He's got a limp. Because when you truly encounter Jesus, He changes your walk.
And I'm praying some of you will have such an encounter with Jesus today that you leave here with some spiritual swag. This is spiritual swag. I'm clinging to Jesus, and I can't even make it. I don't wanna go anywhere that He doesn't want me to go. I'll only go where He goes with me. And if Jesus can't go, you can have it. I'd rather cling to Him. I have a new walk. I have a new talk. And I wonder. I know when it happened to me. I know when I had a Jacob encounter when I was 16 years old that I left that building and that service changed. I didn't know what the future held, but I knew one thing: I was clinging on to Him, and nothing would ever separate me again.
And that's the truth. Nothing can separate me from the love of God. I've failed the Lord many times, but my lameness, my crippled place causes me to cling, not run. And there's a whole new generation of Jacobs that know about Him up here. And you've set for years, and years, and years. I see all these people. But you need a well, you need an altar, and you need an encounter. And I close with this. Sometimes victory means defeat. Sometimes you have to lose physically to win spiritually. In the natural world you lose, it looks like. But in the spiritual world, you just stepped up into God's holy spotlight. And it happened not at a happy place, but at a Jabbok. Brokenness. Weeping. Loneliness. Crying. Wondering, will I ever see the light again? I know you can't avoid the altar of Abraham. You can't avoid the well of Isaac. And you can't avoid the encounter of Jacob in a personal way in your life.