Abraham passed from earthly things into heavenly things. Isaac dwelt in Canaan by wells of water. Jacob, the spirit of service, is the spiritual fruit of true sonship. In this stage, there is a laying hold to bring forth the first-born (the natural man) into subjection to a higher life. We see Jacob leave the higher ground where he was born to go down to earthly things, to labor among the unclean, to win a bride and flocks to take back with him to heavenly places. The Spirit witnessed to us in 1991 that we were now entering Jacob's portion, so we would do well to observe the lessons he learned in his walk.
Jacob attempts to supplant the flesh by using deceptive, cunning means. He does obtain the desired blessing but has not subdued the flesh man, for even years later he is forced to call him "my lord Esau". In the Joseph stage we will find a more excellent way, through the cross bringing us to a death-to-self so that we may at last rule over all Egypt!
Isaac seeks to bless the first-born, even "that which is natural". Abraham prayed for Ishmael to inherit the blessing and learned that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom. But now, we see in Isaac a strong determination to bless Esau. Rebekah, that form of truth that the spirit of sonship loves, excites us to impatience and so tempts us to obtain by craft and energy what is rightfully our portion by the promise of God. To this end, Jacob puts on Esau's rough, hairy garments to deceive. The flesh's roughness is put on to gain what we think we will lose if we walk on in humble quietness. This "worm Jacob" will one day learn that we only mar God's work when we attempt to do it for Him.
Jacob is blessed: "Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine: Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee.."As soon as Isaac had uttered these words and Jacob had left the room, Esau came in with savory meat in anticipation of his father's blessing. When he declared that he was Esau indeed, Isaac "trembled very exceedingly", for his will struggled with the will of God. In truth he knew that the flesh man cannot inherit the kingdom but has its own blessing best suited to it. He answers, "I have blessed him, and he shall be blessed."
Then he blessed Esau, "Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew from heaven above. And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother..." Observe the order in the two blessings. To the spiritual son, the dew of heaven (the heavenly rain) is given first place, and the good things of the earth are in second place. In Esau's blessing, the order is reversed. Earthly things are placed highest in value (a good way to discern ministries!) Jacob is given plenty of corn (the Word) and wine (the moving of the Spirit), and other realms shall serve him. In Esau's case, this spiritual food is not given, but he shall live by his sword (striving over the word) and will sometimes have dominion over the spirit, but at last will be brought into subjection to it.
Outwardly, this lesson is plain for all to see. Mother Church, that body which is the outward form of spiritual truth, stirs up the heirs of promise to make themselves appear like carnal men. They use rough ways--carnal ways and means to obtain holy ends. The music of the world, the entertainment, the money-making schemes, copying the styles of the world in clothes and in dress, are all part of the Church's effort to gain the blessing of God. In fact, if they are prospered in natural ways, they claim it is the blessing of God, but in truth, the earthly blessings belong to Esau!
At length, the true sons separate from their Mother and endure travail and discipline under God's Hand as they learn His true ways. The Esaus stay behind and put first their blessing, even what is "of the earth"--sacramental forms and programs of men. The "dew of heaven" is to them a lower blessing. By the blessing of the earth they hope to attract the men of the earth to join them and to increase their numbers. This may happen, but they cannot enter into spiritual things, for the inheritance is not given to the carnal mind. It may receive a blessing, but it cannot have the inheritance.
Though Esau, the carnal man, despised his birthright and gave it away for a mess of pottage, yet when it was gone he was so angry that he plotted in his heart to murder his brother. Rebekah heard of this, and exhorted Jacob to flee to her brother Laban to save his life. Then she complained to Isaac about the wives of Esau being such a burden to her. Isaac responded by charging Jacob to go forth to take a wife of his mother's family, in the same vicinity where Abraham had come from, even from Babylon. This is that place where people walk between those two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, which commonly stand for "tradition" and "reason". Is it not strange that the seed of sonship should return to that place to seek a Bride? Has he not been abiding by the well of the life of vision? Is it proper for him to seek a Bride and tend flocks in a servant's position--in Babylon?
The Lord was definitely in it, for once sonship has come, and we have spiritual understanding, it is not for us to glory in. It is now time for a new stage, for sonship will be fruitful through service, through going down to lower realms in order to lift them up and bring them back with them to walk in that blessed realm of the Spirit of God. Not only do we desire to see others blessed, but in our service to them, the Spirit works in us further spiritual graces which have been lacking, such as mercy, compassion, longsuffering, humility and patience. Some have shared with us that they have been led back into the denominational system--not to be a part of it, but to quietly lead a Bride and hungry sheep on to higher ground. Yes, it seems to be the time for that, as the Lord leads. By walking softly in the Spirit, the hungry ones will follow you all the way to the well Lahai-roi, to drink of its refreshing streams.
Let us consider the types shown here. Esau and Laban are both forms of the flesh. Esau is the carnal mind as it grows out of a true son; Laban is our outward natural man. Esau is the loveliest form of the flesh that we have seen so far, yet is profane at heart and loves this present world. Laban is the form of the flesh which is content to dwell in outward things. Esau, the carnal mind, is so strong that Jacob must flee from him to serve Laban, the outward man. But God has His purposes in it all, for in addition to receiving the fruits of his labors, God plans to work something in Jacob as well. He will chasten his spirit, and wean him from his self-will and self-confidence. He must learn that the kingdom is God's and not his own, for not by strength, but in weakness, does God's kingdom come; not in obtaining our will, but in His will.
This lesson I know well, for in my period of missionary service among the Indians I saw that the Lord worked more with me, to bring me to a place of seeing my need of placing all my confidence in Him and of finding in myself nothing that could deliver this people or take them up higher. In all the trials of the way I can truly say with Jacob when God visited him, "How terrible is this place!" Jacob saw heaven opened, and angels of God ascending and descending upon a son of man. The Lord appears "above the ladder", yet in communication with him: "Behold, I am with thee, and will help thee in all places whither thou goest, for I will not leave thee until I have done that which I have spoken unto thee of."
We are set to learn obedience by the things which we suffer. And when we start out, in the darkness, He shows us how near He is and that our spirits may rise to Him and He come down upon us. We learn what the Incarnation means. He Who came down in the flesh was made a Jew to gain the Jews. His servants, too, may leave their high ground of spirit and come down to win earthly souls. We may become as Jews to Jews, and as babes to babes, calling not any man common or unclean, knowing He died for all. We must be prepared to show His Love and mercy to all so that perchance they may see Him in us, and desire to follow on to know Him for themselves!
Let us look first at the inward meaning of Jacob's service. He toils for Laban, first to gain his daughters. Women are certain affections or truths, which are shown here as being subject to our outer man. The flocks and herds are animal faculties and emotions that have been under the power of the outward man, and in due time come to follow the directions of the spirit. This is not done quickly, or easily, for of Jacob's travail it is said: "In the day the drought consumes him, and the frost by night: sleep departs from his eyes, and slumber from his eyelids." Is it not in this same way today that our wayward natures are subdued? How many times have we missed our sleep in prayer and travail over those untamed emotions that still were not subdued unto the spirit? How often did we endure coldness and accusations from the brethren while the Lord was patiently teaching us not to react in like manner, but to forgive and let peace rule in our hearts! If you have wept over "self" and uncontrolled emotions and will that were yet unyielded, then you may understand Jacob's way in service.
Laban, the outward man, had little when Jacob met him: a well, some sheep, and two daughters. These figures are commonly used; note how often wells, and sheep and daughters have passed before us in the scriptures. If we understand the figures, we can learn the spiritual lessons! Jacob's service, as ours, always begins by removing the stone from off the well so that the sheep may drink. The waters of life have been covered over, and the water is only available at set times (evening, at descending light) and through certain men. The thirsty must wait for them to come! ("Have you heard who is coming to hold meetings in our church?") But Jacob, who walked in "high day", the time of the brightest light, opened up that stream of life so that all who were thirsty could drink! This is the first service of Jacob, the fruit of sonship.
Next, Jacob's heart is set to win the daughters (at first just Rachel), for whom he toils for two periods of seven years. (When studying scriptures, always note the numbers.) "Seven" speaks of completeness or fullness, so he had to complete the cycle of what each of these daughters stood for. He longed for Rachel, the more beautiful affection or principle (she who is an extension of more spiritual principles of the new covenant, as Sarah and Rebekah). But Laban says, "It is not so done in that country to give the younger before the first-born."
It is God's order that we take the first and natural before the spiritual. Jacob was given Leah in the dark, and thought he had Rachel, but when light (or understanding) came, he saw that he had embraced the outward principles of the law which must always come before an inward life. (We may still be requiring "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" instead of dealing in mercy.) We can see that the outward principles are much more fruitful and bring forth easily, whereas we must wait long years to be fruitful by a more inward life of spiritual principles of the New Day.
First came Law, and then Grace. After man had embraced the Law and had brought forth by her, the mystery of the Incarnation was made manifest. God "who abhorred not the virgin's womb," said, "I will dwell in you, and walk in you." He took our nature and our infirmities upon Himself, becoming our kinsman-Redeemer, and out of the woman in us (the soul) yet brings forth spiritual fruit. He had to first come into our outward, natural state before He could bring us into His inner, spiritual state that would subdue all trusting in outward things, and all animal emotions and will that were opposed to His higher nature, O, glory to God!
And, all the time we labor to be joined unto Rachel seems "but a few days" for the love we have for her. How many still have Leah, and think they have embraced Rachel! They are still "in the dark" and see not clearly the principles unto which they are united. But if they love Rachel, and continue to serve, she too shall be theirs and she will be well worth all that they have suffered in order to know her! When we are more spiritual, the spiritual shall be within our reach.
When Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said unto Laban, "Send me away, that I may go unto mine own place and to my country." Laban entreated him to stay, and acknowledged that the Lord had blessed him for Jacob's sake. Jacob agreed to stay and tend the flocks upon most unusual terms: He would remove all the speckled and spotted animals from the herd, and they should be his, and Laban would have those of a solid color. Laban agreed, and his sons set a three day's journey between the two flocks.
At first glance, it looked like Jacob, the supplanter, was again up to some cunning trick. In private, he shared with Rachel and Leah that the Lord had shown him in a dream that "all the rams which leap upon the cattle are ringstraked, speckled and grisled: for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee." He was given wisdom to take rods of green poplar, hazel and chestnut trees and to peel white streaks in them. The rods he put before the flocks in the gutters in the watering troughs so that when they came to drink they should conceive before the rods. Jacob laid the rods before only the strong of the flock; if they were weak, he did not put them in, so the stronger were his, and the feeble ones brought forth unspotted and were Laban's. It was by God's wisdom that Jacob "increased exceedingly".
To understand what God is portraying here, we must know what these "rods" signify. A number of early writers agree that they figure the doctrine of the cross. The varied uses of the rod in scripture will make this meaning clear. These "rods" are portions of the Word--when stretched out over the sea, they opened a path for Israel; when dry rods were laid up before the Lord, they budded and blossomed and brought forth almonds. These feeble rods wrought great things, all by the power of "the rod out of the stem of Jesse". These rods were partly peeled and partly unpeeled. "Peeled" is to have the inward sense opened, so that what was covered over is now brought to light of understanding. "Unpeeled" means the letter of the Word alone, with the outward covering unremoved.
Jacob's desire is now for the flocks, how he might change their hue to be more like him than the natural man, Laban, for he would take them with him back to that land of promise. These flocks are animal emotions which have been under the power of our outward man. Only spiritual means can effect a change in what they bring forth. So, where the living streams are opened, these "rods" (portions of the Word) are placed so that, beholding them with their eyes, the flocks bring forth offspring of a different color. The animal in us is only won over by the Word. Men become what they look at!
We look back upon our lives and see how we "have changed color" by the transforming power of the Word. The Word and the moving of the Spirit have changed us so that we do not look at all like we used to. We have been changed and are more like the spiritual man than the outward natural man that we were. Clearly, we belong to Jacob! Thus it is that Laban's flocks, as well as his daughters, come at last into Jacob's hands. We see that the old man, though increased at first when the spirit of service came, yet, in time, he surely is weakened.
Outwardly, we may toil "in a far country" (a realm far from what is home to us), night and day feeding a flock that is not ours, for it obeys and serves the world. Some of the flock are torn by beasts (carnal, bestial natures) and we bear the loss and grieve over their hurt. Yet at last a flock is won, changed by the Word that has been opened before their eyes!
In the dispensations, we see the Spirit come into the outward world to serve. He finds the water scarce and opens the well, feeds the flocks, and seeks union with the seed of the natural man. Leah or law comes first, then Rachel, the gospel dispensation. Leah is fruitful, while Rachel yet has no son. In time, the gospel yields fruit. Then the natural man who had been built up while Jacob had children by Leah (throughout the Jewish age) now loses his wealth. In gospel days, neither the Law nor the outward natural man (as the Jews) can be increased. Sarah and Hagar prefigured law and gospel in connection with the spirit of faith, depicting heavenly things. Now Jacob's wives show the same dispensations in connection with the spirit of service, so in reference to earthly things.
Now that Jacob has won the daughters and the flocks of Laban, we are shown the attempts of the outward, natural man to hinder our progress as we press into a higher realm and leave behind earthly things. In this scene portrayed before our wondering eyes we see all the seductions and hindrances and reasoning that are put in the way of those who would gain a better land. I recall when, after I was healed of leukemia, all the things of this earth lost their value for me, for I had received my life back from God. The desire to leave serving outward things and to do some service for God was so strong that I was led to accept an invitation to go to Northern Canada to labor among the Indians. My family came; preachers came; all putting forth their strong reasons why this was "a foolish thing" to do, and God was certainly not in it!
Laban said, "...thou hast now done foolishly." He was saying, "Why didn't you tell me and I would have given you a suitable send-off. Why did you flee from me secretly?" Such are the old man's arguments. But it is not possible for the outward man to assist an inward man toward heavenly things. His pipes, and harps and festivities would only serve to keep him where he is. Jacob can seek his true home without Laban's aid. Once on the mission-field, the Holy Spirit worked tirelessly with us to teach us how to be led of the Spirit. At one point He led us out of our isolated post to a city, promising that all of our needs would be met as we walked in obedience to Him. For some time we simply sought the Lord diligently with friends who lived right next to their Pentecostal Church.
One day the pastor called us and told us we fitted exactly his description of "wolves in sheep's clothing" and asked us what we were doing there, anyway! We told him that the Lord had promised to make provision for us if we obeyed Him. He snorted and said, "Why didn't you come to me? I would have set up some meetings for you and taken offerings."
We had to say, "No. The Lord didn't tell us to go to you for help. We are looking to Him!" "Mr. Laban" couldn't understand this at all, and curtly dismissed us, his worst fears about us confirmed in his mind. The conclusion of the matter was that the Lord used us in a revival among the bearded Mennonites, baptising a number with the Spirit and healing all who came. And, yes, our needs were all met when His work had been done!
Rachel further angers Laban because she stole "her father's images". These were household gods, forms of departed forefathers who had been turned into guides to be followed rather than the true God. Even though we are on our way to higher things, we may still carry with us household idols of pride of birth, past greatness, custom, tradition, and such like. These are some of the things that belong to the outward man that still need to be purged from us, even pride of race, place and face. These must all be uncovered from where they have been hidden and put away before we can worship at Lahai-roi.
Looking outwardly, as men labor in the world, Laban is a figure of those in whom the outward man rules. Jacob speaks of those in whom the spirit of service rules. When the Jacobs have won a Bride for the Lord, and flocks and herds of lower natures seeking after heavenly things, the Labans are angry, as our "Mr. Laban" was with us when the spirit started moving among the Mennonite people. The "sheep-shearing" was the occasion which Jacob chose to flee with all that he had won. "And Laban went to shear his sheep." Outward men like the Labans and Nabals and Absaloms enjoy shearing sheep. Men like Jacob and David feed the flock, for they care for the flock. The Labans care only for the fleece and count it pleasant work to be shearing flock.
If ever we could hear this message, it is in our day, for there is much more fleecing of the flock of God going on than there is feeding! And, while this is happening in large gatherings, the Jacobs are quietly leading to higher ground those whom they have won from serving outward things to seeking a walk in the Spirit with the great Shepherd and Bishop of their souls!
We come now to the stage where we are leaving outward things to possess heavenly things. Many there are who have left the world but are not yet come unto that land promised to them as their possession. "He brought them out, to bring them in" is still true. We have observed some who have obeyed the Lord by coming out of religiosity, but they think because they have left, that they have possessed the new. This thinking keeps them from pressing onward, and in time, they find themselves engulfed in a new set of "traditions and reasonings".
Laban, the outward mind hinders our leaving outward things. But when they are left, and we have set our minds on things above, we find we have to deal with Esau, the carnal mind, once again. This picture is painted upon Jacob's life with the skilful brush of the Holy Spirit. If we will dare to press into heavenly things, we will not go alone. The Lord whom we serve will send bands of angels to watch over us and prepare us for the opposition we will face. "Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him, and Jacob said, This is God's host."
Jacob sent messengers ahead to tell Esau of his coming, and when they returned with word that he was coming to meet him, "Jacob was greatly distressed." Over and over we hear these bitter words from his lips, "My lord Esau". When Jacob was young and full of zeal for the Lord, he did not fear the flesh. He felt if he could but get the blessing, it would be smooth sailing from then on. It never occurred to him that there needed to be a certain preparation of spirit for entering into what God had promised. No thought had he of Esau all these years, and now, when he would return to higher ground with Bride and flocks, he is forced to confess that Esau is still lord. As yet, the elder does not serve the younger. He has subdued Laban, the outward man; he no longer is attracted to outward things. But the carnal mind, in spite of his fruitfulness, still rules and opposes his entrance into spiritual things.
This is a life-and-death confrontation. Jacob realizes that all he has gained in his years to toil could be wiped out at one stroke by the strength of the carnal mind. What Jacob did, shows us what we must do. When he felt the power of the flesh so strongly against him and confessed that his spirit was not able to control it, he came, in his weakness, to the only One Who could help him. "Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of Esau...for I fear him..." In addition, he divided the flocks and sent gifts on ahead to appease the flesh, hoping to be safe from its wrath.
Jacob is only transformed into an Israel by wrestling in persevering, travailing prayer in the darkness of the soul. He must learn that to have God's power we must first admit ourselves to be powerless. To have God's strength, he must lose his own strength. It is only when we are weak that we are strong. It is at this stage that we agonize those words that Paul prayed, "O who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" If you have never prayed thus, you have never seen that the carnal mind was still "my lord Esau" and had not yet been subdued by your hand.
"...and there wrestled a Man with him until the breaking of the day (until light and understanding broke forth). Jacob asked his name but was given no answer. "Name" signifies "nature" and he could not know the Lord's nature until he first learned his own! The Angel asked him what his name was, and when he answered "Jacob", he saw his nature as "cunning, deceiver, supplanter". He had to fully face the self-nature in which he walked, thinking to possess heavenly things. He suddenly saw himself in the light of heaven and was filled with self-despair. He kept on struggling, refusing to let go of his hold until he was blessed of God.
The blessing came when the Angel touched the hollow of his thigh and weakened the strongest muscle in his body, even the strength of self. Then, in his weakness, the Man changed his name (nature) to Israel, "a prince with God". Jacob walked away from this encounter "Halting upon his thigh--limping into a New Day with new light and understanding, trusting no longer in his own ways, nor in the strength of self, but only in the One through whom the weak are made strong!
At this new stage we are considering, we find Jacob, "a prince with God," free from Laban and Esau after many labors and prayers. He stands in "the land of promise". Here we would expect that he should meet with no more enemies, for has not Laban, the outward man been left behind, and Esau, the carnal mind, been subdued by prayer? But even at this stage we find that there are new foes in the land that we didn't know about at earlier stages. The Hivite who yet lives in this land seduces Dinah, the virgin daughter of Jacob. Little has been written or spoken about this incident, for its lessons belong to a certain realm of maturity. In fact, its lessons appear to be kingdom principles, so we would do well to learn what they are for our own walk.
The background here is that Jacob, arriving in "the promised land", the place of his nativity, heaves a big sigh and settles down to enjoy his victory. He rests now in the sense of attainment, rejoicing in all the battles won and the spiritual progress made. In modern terms he could have said, "I have arrived! I've made it! I'm a true son who has been manifested at last!" He "buys a field" and "builds a house" and settles down, signifying that he is no longer pressing on. There is a vast land before him to be possessed, and new nations to be dispossessed; new mountains to scale; new rivers to cross! But Jacob does not concern himself with such thoughts. He settles down and yields to the temptation of resting in his attainments instead of pressing on in God.
This settling down leads to Dinah's fall, for she went to see the daughters of the land. In doing so, "Shechem, the son of Hamor, the Hivite, saw her; and he took and lay with her, and defiled her." Dinah, Leah's daughter, represents those affections of the elect which spring from outward principles. The Hivite springs from Canaan's seed and is the spirit of religious formalism, which is mere external worship. This spirit always appears when we come to spiritual things. If we rest in attainments, formalism creeps in and our purest affections become defiled. We have observed this in those groups who try to keep a previous revival alive instead of pressing in to the next stage the revival was sent to prepare them for. When people live in the glory of a former move of God, they are, as Jacob, resting in attainments and will find that religious formalism, the Hivite, will come in.
When the church has been seduced and has fallen (like Dinah), how can she be restored? Instead of asking at the Lord's mouth, there are those Simeons and Levis who act deceitfully and with wrath and the sword do they judge the evil. They feign peace with the Hivites and require them to be circumcised so that they could freely intermarry with the daughters of Israel. The Hivites consent to these terms and are circumcised. On the third day, when they were sore, ...Simeon and Levi...took each man his sword, ...and slew all the males...and spoiled the city." Upon hearing this, Jacob said, "Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land..." Of their actions, God says, "Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel..."
Instead of confession before God that the church has fallen, that its affections are no longer pure, we hasten in wrath to judge those whom we deem responsible for her fall. Yet, all their anger could not restore her purity, nor can rage ever purify any wrong. In our day, the rage against abortions has reached a ferverpitch and few acknowledge that this slaughter of innocents must be dealt with on our knees, in confession and repentance before God.
In a recent anti-abortion rally, a doctor was shot and killed, so Jacob's name once again shall "stink among the people" and the problem has not been solved. When shall we learn that Pharisaic judging helps no one! (The media placed the blame for this shooting upon the fundamental groups of believers.) The Spirit has shown that it shall not be by demonstrations or campaigns or worldly efforts of any kind, that the social ills shall be healed, but by a people who shall come forth with His nature inworked in them, a new virgin who has not been defiled in any way!
We are always ashamed when we fail to keep our spiritual affections pure, and we fall in some degree because we have rested in our attainments instead of continuing to press on in God. Yet, the One Who turns all things to good can cause our falls and mistakes to further our progress and to free us in areas in which we have been bound--such is His mercy. So, Dinah's fall helped Jacob, who got a fresh word from God. "Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother."
I see here the returning unto "the simplicity that is in Christ". We have received many mighty revelations during our walk; we have subdued Esau and Laban and have won a Bride and flocks to bring into this realm of Spirit with us. This is a place where spiritual pride could enter in. We must recognize that the Canaanite still dwells in this realm, even false spirituality, and is ready to smite us in the way. For this reason the Lord appears and directs us to go back to that place where He first came to us and promised to be with us and to keep us in the way that we would take. In a way it is like returning to your first love except that now we have "a tried and proven love" which must acknowledge that our progress has been ALL OF HIM--His keeping, His provision, and His enabling.
After returning to worship at Bethel, Jacob understands that there are strange gods in the midst that must be judged. When His Voice speaks, all idols must be put away. And "all their earrings which were in their ears" must also be given to Jacob to be disposed of: That is, any tendency of curiosity or inclination to hear the things from the realm of the occult, or soul power, or the unclean, or that which would make itself a god. These must all be confess and put away! And what a wonderful thing happened when their hearts were set to serve God alone! "And they journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob." I daresay we have not seen this happen as yet to His Own, but we shall when we have pure hearts before Him.
When Jacob had wrestled with the Lord and asked to know His Name, the Lord would not divulge it, but asked Jacob's name. It was a time when Jacob had to acknowledge what his nature--SELF--was truly like. He had to know this before he could ever understand or appreciate the nature of God. But now, we find that God, in His fresh appearing, reaffirms that Jacob's nature is changed to Israel, and now God's name may be known. When God said, "I am God Almighty," Jacob realized that he need not try to subdue the flesh by his own hand, so his hand ceased to lay hold, and he allows the Almighty to order all his ways for him.
At this stage, three women are removed from Jacob's life. Deborah, the nurse, dies first. She cared for the babes, such as had need of milk. Rachel passes away in childbearing, and Bilah is defied by Reuben. These affections or principles of truth pass away as outward forms to be replaced by higher, more spiritual forms. For instance, Rachel brings forth another form of life, which is to be "a son of the right hand" even though it seemed to her as "a son of my sorrow".
"And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour." Benjamin was the second son from the same source of life (spiritual principles). He was born after Bethel, the old system of thinking, was left behind, but they were still a little way from Bethlehem. Bethlehem means: house of bread, fruitfulness, to grow. Rachel lost her life in bringing forth this son, because she spoke of the spiritual principles of an in-part realm that must pass away.
Benjamin speaks of that many-membered body of sons who are to "be added" to Joseph, their Elder Brother. The Church Age passes away as the sons are being birthed. What marvellous mysteries are hidden in this Word!
Lastly we shall search out Joseph.