Michael Youssef - The Overruling Grace of God
Grace. I know and you know that that word grace has been used and abused. Grace is a word that's sometimes bandied about without proper understanding. Grace has become a word that is used to mean whatever the person wants it to mean. Grace is used to justify the lack of spiritual discipline and lack of spiritual alertness. Today I'm starting a whole new series of messages entitled, "Fear Deceives, but Grace Frees," will set you free. Now, the object lesson in the series of messages is no other than Jacob. Jacob, a man who was renamed by God's grace and called Israel, is the same person, to my knowledge, I just want to be safe. To my knowledge, it's the only time that God called an entire race of people by a man's name; the people of Israel, the people of Jacob.
Please hear me out on this. Very important. This series of messages is going to be challenging to every one of us, but it's going to be comforting all at the same time. And the story begins with a tale of four people, Isaac, Abraham's son who is a son of promise, Isaac was a miracle son of Abraham and Sarah at their old age. He's a son of promise. And Rebecca, his distant cousin, wife; supernaturally, in a miraculous way God provided her. Here's the problem. Husband and wife, God brought together Isaac and Rebecca. One favored one son and the other favored the other. And so in this first, in the series of messages, "Fear Deceives, but Grace Sets You Free," we will see how the grace of our loving God overwhelmed and overruled failures every time. You'll see it in their life. You'll see it in your life.
And I hope that this is going to bring those memories of the overwhelming and overruling grace of God in your past so that you can rejoice in thanksgiving for his grace. You will see how the grace of our Lord overrules and overruled even the most blatant and personal sin and failure. Amen? Let's begin at the beginning. Isaac was a miracle son of Abraham and Sarah's old age. Isaac was a miracle baby. At the age of 37, again, through God's intervention and a prayer by Eliezer the Damascus, which was the chief of staff of Abraham's business, God brings about this distant cousin Rebecca to be married to Isaac. Rebecca, like her mother-in-law, Sarah, was barren.
And so, Isaac begins to intercede on her behalf, and he began to intercede in his own behalf, and they began to cry to God. And God answered their prayers, even a little bit late in life, but nonetheless he gave them twin boys. But the turmoil between those two boys began in the womb, started in Rebecca's womb. Two boys were born, and they came out of the womb fighting. As we'll see throughout this series of messages how the grace of God overruled in all four lives, it is more magnified and we'll focus more on Jacob. But the grace of God overruled in all of their lives, all four of them. You'll see how the grace of God brought good and a blessing out of scheming and deceiving and treachery.
You see, when Rebecca experienced the turmoil inside of her, inside of her womb, God graciously, graciously gave her a divine revelation. God revealed to Rebecca what is really happening inside of her womb. Genesis chapter 25, I want you to look at verse 23. "The Lord said to Rebecca, 'Two nations in your womb, and two people from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger". Now, that's what I want you to underline, the older will serve the younger. This is very important because this fighting between the twin boys, Jacob and Esau, is more than just sibling rivalry, which happens at the best of families. Right? Why? Because here the sovereign grace of God reverses the cultural norm. The cultural norm at the time is the older boy, the older sibling rules over his younger siblings.
And when the time came for Rebecca to deliver the twin boys, you'll find that not only they were not identical twins, not only they looked so different like day and night, but they came out fighting. Esau came out first, but Jacob was not going to be outdone. He came out grabbing of his heel immediately. Wasn't even, not a second between them. Beloved, as I said, this is not mere sibling rivalry. The power struggle between those two boys continued for a long time, and I dare say continues to this day. Only Jesus can change lives. Jesus Christ can melt any wall of enmity that there is no matter how bad it may look. Question, where did Isaac and Rebecca fail in their parenting responsibility? Before I answer this question, I want to hasten to say that it was Isaac and Rebecca's parental failure that exacerbated the tension between Esau and Jacob.
I know some of you are saying, "Michael, Michael, are you sure that both parents sinned in the same way? Didn't Isaac sin a little bit more than Rebecca"? Sin is sin. Whether it's a big sin or a small sin, sin is sin. Let me tell you why. They did not feed their children on the Word of God. You say, "How come, Michael"? If you look at verse 23 of chapter 25, Book of Genesis, you see that Isaac and Rebecca both were aware of God's revelation to Rebecca. Isaac and Rebecca were aware of God's supernatural intervention in the life of Abraham and Sarah. Isaac and Rebecca understood that Isaac is the son of promise. Isaac and Rebecca understood that it is through Isaac the Messiah will come.
Why did they not teach and explain and train both boys regarding God's revelation to Rebecca, regarding God's will for their life, regarding God's plan for their life? Why did they not teach Esau that God said the Messiah is going to come through Jacob? Why did they not teach both boys about the promise of God, and the faithfulness of God, and that he kept with grandpa and grandma Abraham and Sarah? Why didn't they train Jacob to be prepared for his role and to wait for God's timing? Why didn't they teach them both that God has different plan for each of them and they need to know it, obey it, and revel in it, and rejoice in it?
Please don't misunderstand me. Don't misunderstand me. I know this is, somebody who's sitting here who says, "Well, you know, what about me"? No, no, this is a special revelation, does not apply to any of us. This was a very special revelation. It was given to Rebecca for those two boys, okay? So don't get yourself under a whole lot of false guilt, please, please. I want to make sure of that. The only application for all of us is this. It is never too late to tell our children about the love of God, about, and the importance of honoring God in their lives, to believe in the promises of God; and yes, to believe in the timing of God. But nonetheless, none of us can be placed in the category of this special revelation that's given to this special family. I just want to be sure because I know and I admit through the years a lot of parents have a lot of guilt and I don't want to add to it, especially when parents have come to the Lord late in life and they did not have the chance to train their children because they did not know the Lord when the kids were small, young.
Do not fill your mind with condemnation and guilt. Remember this. Satan will heap guilt on you, but God says, "Trust in my sovereign timing and pray for your children". Can I get an amen? Even among the godliest of families, tension and conflict happen. I don't care how godly your family is. Tension and conflict happen because we're still living in this flesh. We're not in heaven yet. We don't have the glorified body. It is how you deal with that tension, it's how you deal with that conflict that really matters. In the case of Isaac and Rebecca, instead of training their children to know and trust God's revelation and God's will and God's plan, they chose instead to follow their own emotions, their own feelings, and their own preferences.
So one loved one, the other loved the other. Isaac favored this rugged individualist in Esau. Esau was a guy with a ruddy complexion and the sun and the outdoor turned his red skin into leathery appearance. Now, Rebecca on the other hand favored Jacob. He was a mama's boy. He was a thinker and a planner. He was a strategist and a schemer. He was a good cook, and he spent a lot of time in mama's kitchen. Jacob always stayed home. He didn't go out and hunt and fish and do all those kinds of good things. He stayed home, and that is why he found himself at the right place at the right time as we will see later on. See, the vast difference between those two boys could have led to the sin of favoritism on the part of Isaac and Rebecca, and I keep saying it is a sin and I'm going to explain in a minute. Verse 28. Beloved, this verse is a warning to all of us. It's a warning to all of us. "Isaac, who had a taste for wild game," favored Esau, "loved Esau, but Rebecca loved Jacob".
Now, I'm aware of the fact and that I see not only in my life and life of other parents that there are times in the life of parents when they are relating more to one than the other in growing up and different stages, too, because that relating changes with the stages of life, but this is very different from blatant favoritism. You heard me say it for the second time, third time. Favoritism, blatant favoritism is a sin and needs to be repented of, but even so, there are times, because of that relating situation, that you find one sibling might feel that you're favoring the other and they may accuse you of it. But you do that business with you and God in your heart. But I also believe that this is why parents need to really work hard at doubling their effort to show evenhandedness. They need to double their energy in showing evenhandedness, they need to double their affections in order to show evenhandedness; and yes, they need to double their time investment in order to show evenhandedness.
But let me venture to say, again, that blatant favoritism is a sin that needs to be repented of and be repented of today. But there's a deeper problem here. I'm taking you slowly into this. There is a deeper problem between Isaac and Rebecca. There is an element of distrust between the husband and the wife, and you see it there clearly. You'll say, "Well, why else"? Rebecca was listening through the keyhole to the conversation that Isaac was having with Esau. Hear me right please because on a deeper level this is a spiritual problem. Rebecca was right in clinging to the promise of God by focusing on Jacob, but she went about it in a deceitful way. Isaac's willful rejection of God's revelation brought him a lot of heartache. You'll see later on that he trembled when he realized that he was going against God's revelation. Beloved, the trust between Isaac and his wife Rebecca spilled over on the children and brought distrust between the twin boys.
Fear will always deceive, but grace will set you free. It'll free you up. Grace will free your soul, grace will free your spirit, grace will free your mind; and yes, grace will free your heart. You'll see this in this series again and again and again and again. And to make things worse, Esau's impetuousness led him to devalue his birthright, and so he sold it, sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for about a buck worth of soup. Let me ask you this. How many of you know an Esau, those who have created shipwreck of their lives and of their reputation all for the sake of instant gratification? But listen carefully. But for the grace of God there go I. For a momentary satisfaction, Esau's life become a shipwreck. Jacob on the other hand was not blameless. He was not blameless. Had he trusted God, had he trusted in God's promise to his mommy, had he trusted God's timing, I keep repeating this, the results would have been very different. But once again, thank God for his overruling grace. Let's say it again. Thank God for his overruling grace.
Listen, there are very, very, very few of us who can really have the long view of things. Very few. We often jump to conclusions based on current circumstances and make the wrong decisions, but once again thank... (God for his overruling grace.) The thing about our God is this. You see, he sees the beginning and he sees the end all at the same time. He sees the unseen. He sees what's around the corner, which we can't see. He sees what's in our blind side. And that is why my daily cry to the Lord, several times a day, and you can join me in that prayer if the Lord lays it on your heart, is my daily, several times a day, "Lord, permit me not to make a choice that is inconsistent with your perfect will in my life". Beloved, taking matters into our own hands may make us feel that we're doing something, you know, we're just busy, we're doing something, we're busy doing something, but it causes a whole lot of pain in the long run.
Grace sets you free from sin and leads you to obedience. How? Grace will cause you to see obedience not as a duty, not as a obligation, not as something you're going to grit your teeth and say, "I got to obey God. I got to obey God". And you keep failing and you say, "Oh, I got to obey God. I'm sorry, God, I didn't obey you". It's not supposed to be that way. That's an error. But obedience comes naturally out of gratitude, out of thanksgiving for the sovereign grace of God. At that moment, obedience becomes a delight and a joy. It becomes natural. It becomes second nature. Who could not be moved by such love? Who would not want to love and obey such a loving God who out of sovereign grace brought us to himself and sustains us until we see him? And maybe actually from all this stuff, that's going on maybe sooner than we think. Everyone, whether you're here or watching around the world, I am praying that this begin to develop such gratitude, such thankfulness to God that you could not help it but want to obey him.