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And God said unto Jacob, 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. Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. (Genesis 35:103)
Because You Are in God’s Net
When we precisely know the will of God and stand on His path, everything becomes very easy from that point on. From time to time I hear people say, “Spiritual life is difficult, tiring, and miserable.” Spiritual life is difficult because your thoughts collide against the Word of God. If you know that your thoughts are useless before the Word of God, no matter how good your thoughts seem to be, spiritual life is so easy.
As we learned in the last sermon, God wanted Jacob to go to Bethel but Jacob wanted to remain at Succoth and built an altar there. If things were to go well, Jacob would have continued to remain in Succoth; thus, God had to give Jacob a hardship.
This is what people say.
“God, He’s the God of love. He is for us and loves us. Why is He allowing this kind of hardship to befall us? Why is God allowing me to go through this kind of tribulation if He exists? Where is God? I lived so honestly, but why do I have to go through this?”
If we objectively think about this, we see that people think that they are walking God’s path because they read the Bible and give offering, regardless of the fact that they live following their own thoughts without knowing the precise will of God. How could that path be the same as God’s when they do not have ears to hear the voice of God and do not know the deep heart of God? That is why God leads us.
What happens when a fish is caught in a net while it is swimming in the sea? It becomes entangled. “What did I just run into?” It turns around and swims and it is okay. Then again while it is swimming around, it runs into something. Then the space becomes smaller and smaller, and eventually it is captured. God puts us into His net and leads us into His world. That is why we run into things as we go on to do something. When we turn around from the frustration, it seems for a little while that things are okay, but we crash into something again. It is because we are in God’s net. Our lives become much better when we fully understand this.
Through Discovering the Secrets of the Gospel from the Scriptures
I quietly thought one day after receiving salvation, “What can I do to please God?” God forgave all the sins of man through the blood of His son, Jesus. However, as I saw that many people were inside sin because they could not realize this, I had the heart, “God would want me to allow these people to realize that their sins are forgiven. God would be pleased with me preaching the gospel.” When I had assurance that God would be pleased with my preaching the gospel, I did so from that day on. I did not know how to preach the gospel well. However, I wanted to preach the gospel. As I stayed in a small village in the mountains of a town called Apgok-dong, God taught me, as I read the Bible, how to preach the gospel.
I once read the Pentatude of Moses. I was reading Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, and the Scriptures I once thought to be difficult were so much fun. The secrets of redemption were so vividly hidden in the words of the Moses’ Pentatude. When I read Genesis, I read about the aprons of fig leaves and the coats of skins in chapter 3. “Ah! Just like the aprons of fig leaves, my actions may hide my blemishes, but the redemption through Jesus at the cross can cover my blemishes perfectly like the coats of skins!” I was able to clearly see such things.
I read Exodus. The second half of Exodus talks about the tabernacle, and it is complicated, talking about the width being so and so cubits, the length being so and so cubits, and the height being so and so cubits. I then read about the mercy seat.
“What is a mercy seat?”
“Ah, it’s the place where sins are forgiven.”
“They call the top part of the ark the mercy seat. I wonder why they call that the mercy seat.”
I was very curious. When I read further through the Bible, I saw that blood was sprinkled upon the mercy seat when sin offerings were given.
“Ah, this is where the blood is sprinkled. Since the blood is sprinkled here, the mercy seat becomes the place where sin is redeemed! Wherever the blood of Jesus is sprinkled is the mercy seat!”
As I realized this, I thought in my heart, “Sin is redeemed anywhere the blood of Jesus is sprinkled. I should tell people that Jesus shed His blood on the cross for our sins. If they accept this; if the blood of Jesus is sprinkled on their heart, they will be redeemed.”
I read Leviticus. Chapter 4 talked about the sin offering. It also talked about the sin offering for a congregation. I thought about this.
“The whole congregation of Israel sinned. Therefore, the priest presents the sin offering . . . .”
When I thought about this, I could feel that there must have been many people in the congregation of Israel that did not know the priest was presenting the sin offering. There were 600,000 adult males, so how could all these people know? When a priest would present a sin offering for the congregation, there must have been people who were taking naps, out for a drink, taking a bath, or working. They did not know that the priest was presenting a sin offering for them, but their sins were forgiven when the priest presented the sin offering.
“That’s right! I didn’t know when Jesus was being crucified, but my sins were all washed away then!”
I read Numbers. In Numbers chapter 21, those who were bitten by the fiery serpents looked to the brass serpent and were healed. But in John chapter 3 Jesus said, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up”
“If that’s so, the brass serpent represents Jesus!”
“Then why do those who were bitten by the fiery serpent live when they look at the brass serpent?”
“Ah, when I, who am bitten by sin, look to the cross, my sins are forgiven at the cross!”
It was very comfortable preaching the gospel as I came to know these things, one by one.
In Any Wise Let the Dam Go
I read Deuteronomy. In chapter 22, it says, If a bird’s nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones, or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young: But thou shalt in any wise let the dam go, and take the young to thee.
“Why is God saying that the dam that sits on the young or the eggs should be released?”
Not just any mother bird, but when a dam is sitting on its young, what does this represent? Sitting on eggs is to gain new life, and sitting on the young also represents caring for the young.
“Ah, I am the dam! I, leading people who are not born again to become born again, am sitting on the eggs. And preaching the Word to born again brothers and sisters is caring for the young. I, who am preaching the gospel, am this dam!”
As I read these words, I thought, “This bird may get caught by someone, but God is telling this person to release it. If I preach the gospel for people to become born again and if I preach the Word for young brothers and sisters to grow, plagues will not be able to hurt me even if I run into them!” I had hope and strength.
I lived very busily preaching the gospel. From last year, friends of mine saw me in the newspapers or on television and started contacting me, and I have been meeting these friends from my hometown. I was so happy to see these friends from childhood at my age of much past sixty. However, I was so shocked to hear about how they had lived as we talked about our lives. My friends became entangled in plagues in their lives. One friend failed in business and agonized about it so much that he became mentally weak. Another friend suffered from sicknesses and lost all of his energy trying to be healed. One friend of mine became bankrupt and was on the run from the police. It was so bad that he could not go to his daughter’s wedding and wept as he looked at his daughter’s wedding from the roof of a building across the street. When I listened to this from them, it felt as though I was living in a different world. My friends were in hardship and their faces seemed very bent. I was different from my friends because, although many plagues and hardships came to me, each time the Lord had me avoid them.
When my heart was in a terrible condition and had no way of getting fixed, God healed it completely. When my stomach was terribly bad, God healed it. He fixed my ear when it was ill . . . . I, too, had many plagues, miseries, difficult circumstances, but God told them to release me, for it was by the Word of God that such plagues could not capture me. They tried to hold me, but released me. This life of being released from plagues, being blessed, and receiving graces is such an amazing life.
After the Word Enters the Heart
I did not know how to preach the gospel, but God made me realize, “Ah, this is how I should preach the gospel.” When I explained to people in detail the gospel of forgiveness of sins, I discovered that people would listen to the Word and say, “My sins are forgiven! I am now righteous!” and believe that their sins were forgiven. Among them, there were many who really wanted to know if their sins were forgiven but could not. They had thus tried to experience speaking in tongues, feeling something burning in their hearts, or other such supernatural things to gain confirmation that their sins were forgiven. I have never spoken in tongues. I have fasted for a few days, but I could never even imagine fasting and praying for 40 days. I have absolutely no confidence that I could do such a thing. I also have never directly heard the voice of God or seen visions. I just read the words of the Bible and simply believed them to be the words of God.
While reading Deuteronomy again, I read, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn. I liked this so much. It was saying to not muzzle the ox that walks on the corn or treads the corn, meaning let it eat freely.
“Ah, God will not block my mouth which is preaching the gospel to lead people to the Lord. He will not have me go hungry.”
The Scriptures, one by one, came upon my heart as hope and faith. I had no idea how I should deal with people or how to lead the church, but the Scriptures taught me about all of these things as I read the Bible.
Before, I had disinclined my ears to the Word of God because I was arrogant. I simply ran forward however I thought and worked. Nothing ever went properly when I did this. However, after the Word of God entered my heart, even if things did not go well, I could be assured, “This will work because this is the promise of God.”
I preach the gospel of the forgiveness of sins to people. When we read the Bible, we see that it is filled with the words of the forgiveness of sins. When I speak to some people about the forgiveness of sins from Genesis, they receive the forgiveness of sins and rejoice. However, some say that they are not able to understand. Then I speak to them of the gospel from Exodus. If this does not work, I speak from Leviticus, and if this still does not work then I speak from Romans, then Hebrews . . . . Then people receive salvation one by one. They receive salvation because they do not believe their thoughts but believe the Word of God which clearly records that our sins are washed away. I am so thankful. Then they change. They seek the Word, preach the gospel . . . . It is so wonderful. We then gather every evening to share testimonies and the Word and we are so joyful.
Story of Two People
My life, after getting married, was very difficult. We once ran out of food and my wife and I went to an orphanage. We said to the orphanage director, “We are people who preach the gospel to children and we want to plant the heart of God in the children here. If you would give us the opportunity to, we will teach the Bible to the children for an entire week for free.” The director gave us permission to do so. We then preached the gospel to the orphans there. When it was lunch time, they gave us food. We ate so thankfully. We preached the gospel in the afternoon, had dinner, and preached the gospel in the evening as well. It became night and we were on our way home. It was a two and a half mile walk, but it did not feel tiring, but rather we felt extremely happy.
A few years later, we held Bible studies at the currency press in Gyeongsan. I went there every Thursday, and I so enjoyed the two mile walk I would take after the Bible study through the dark woods behind Youngnam University. Thinking, “Okhee got saved today! Soyoung will be the next one to be saved!” I saw the stars sparkling in the dark night alone as I walked, and it filled me with happiness.
I am so happy that I can preach the Word at the podium; I am so joyful to be reading the Bible; and I am so peaceful that I can pray. All of these things are not through me, but it is Jesus Christ leading me this way. I had not known this kind of a world before and for a very long time I lived in my thoughts, in my plans, and in the faith to believe myself. I had no idea how things could go well and tried to use my own intelligence and methods, but after some time, they all ended in failure.
The book of Luke always talks about two kinds of people. There is Jesus who came wearing the body of man, and there is man. On the surface, they are both human, but everything Jesus did succeeded. However, everything that man did without Jesus, with his own wisdom and his own ways, all ended in failure.
Luke chapter 10 talks about a certain man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, falling among thieves, and failing. He had plans to make money, buy a good house, get married, and live happily, but God was missing from his plans. Chapter 15 talks about the younger son taking the great wealth he received from the father, going to a far away country, and failing. He never thought this would happen to him if he leaves the father’s house and goes to a far away country. But things did not go according to his heart, but failed. Chapter 16 talks about how the rich man wearing coats of fine purple linen fared sumptuously every day. It seemed that he succeeded in his life, but we see him dying and suffering in hell. Ultimately, his life was a failure.
The image of man seen in the book of Luke is a complete failure. There is one clear result. “Everything I do is a failure. Everything Jesus does is a success.” When this result is clear, from then on, you can no longer live following your thoughts or methods. It is not that I am spiritually keen that I am led by the Holy Spirit. However, because I came to know clearly that my methods will not do, I was able to incline my ears to the Lord, look to God, and go forth relying on Him.
If You Hear the Voice of God
Jacob heard the voice of God he had not heard before. In chapter 33, Jacob builds booths and an altar at Succoth and he seeks God. In chapter 35, when he realized that what he did was a failure, God spoke to Jacob. People without faith do not try to hear the voice of God, but only speak their thoughts to God. However, people who listen to the voice of God do not make only their own prayers, but open the Bible and hear the voice of God.
As I read the Pentatude of Moses, read Judges, read First and Second Samuel, discovered God, and heard the voice of God, I saw how foolish and stupid I had lived.
Loving folks, spiritual life is believing in God. To have faith, we have to first realize that our methods are wrong. When you become freed from your ways, you are able to have the faith to believe in God. Right then God works with power inside of us. Regardless of how your thoughts have been until now, empty all of those thoughts and listen to the Word God speaks to you. Incline your ears to the voice of God. If you hear the voice of God, it is no longer the path you go. It is the path God takes. Through hearing the voice of God, Noah started to build the ark, Abraham gained a son, and Moses went before Pharaoh. They were not paths of their own, but paths God showed them. I hope that you will not take your own paths, but walk the path of God.