Bridging Over Potential Dispute

Bridging Over Potential Dispute
Lessons from Isaac-Rebekah Interactions

Rebekah avoided potential dispute with husband Isaac while getting him to implement a course of action she believed in for their family. In one case, she redirected him to implement God’s instruction regarding relationships among their children by taking advantage of his failing site. In another case, she secured Isaac’s approval of Jacob fleeing to Haran, using a concern they shared to bridge over potential disagreement regarding her immediate concern of fratricide among their children.

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Interactions between Isaac and Rebekah indicate unwavering commitment to their marriage and acceptance of Isaac as leader in family affairs. Evidence for their marital commitment arises from the fact they lived for twenty years without a child but did not seek alternative solutions to childlessness. Instead, they prayed and believed God will give them children through the marriage. He did. Regarding the acceptance of Isaac as family leader, the evidence can be derived from two key events that we discuss in more detail presently.

Sent away to survive and prosper
Sent away to survive and prosper
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However, in contrast with what we learned from the Shunammite couple, where family leadership was shared between the man and his wife through an informal division of responsibilities, Isaac’s leadership of family affairs appears total and unyielding with little if any room for Rebekah’s choice. His style of family leadership, though probably in keeping with customary practice, resulted in the unpleasant situation of his wife Rebekah deceiving him in order to implement an instruction from God regarding important family relationships. Additionally, at least one other significant event in their life shows Rebekah concealing a point of disagreement from her husband in order to arrive at a resolution acceptable to both of them. She bridged over potential dispute by focusing on a concern they shared.

We can learn from Isaac-Rebekah interactions that God may assign to a husband or his wife the responsibility to lead an aspect of family life. For example, as we discuss in more detail presently, God assigned to Rebekah the responsibility to safeguard and see to the implementation of his choice for the propagation of family inheritance.

Collaboration to accomplish goal
Collaboration to accomplish goal
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Irrespective of whether God calls the husband or his wife, the guiding principles are the same. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Right Heart for Strategic Alliance, God expects the husband and wife to work together to accomplish the assigned objectives.

The Shunammite Couple lived according to this principle as we saw in a previous study. They shared family leadership amicably and assisted each other to accomplish family goals. God blessed them abundantly. In contrast, Isaac-Rebekah interactions provide an example of potential dispute due to unyielding family leadership by the husband. However, Rebekah devised ways to bridge over the potential dispute. In one case, she redirected her husband to implement God’s instruction regarding relationships among their children, by taking advantage of his failing site. In another, she secured Isaac’s approval of Jacob fleeing to Haran by presenting a concern they shared, thus bridging over potential disagreement regarding possible fratricide among their children

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Respect Honor and Trust—Interactions Among Shunammite Couple

Shunammite Couple Example
On Respect, Honor, and Trust

Mutual respect and trust among Shunammite couple placed them in position to receive God’s blessing. The woman met Elisha, recognized his needs, and persuaded her husband to do what they could to alleviate the needs. The woman respected and honored her husband as family leader and the man respected and honored his wife as spiritual gateway for the family. They provided food and shelter to Elisha, thus, establishing a long-term relationship with him that brought them abundant blessing. Through the events, the woman showed she respected and honored her husband as family leader. Also, the man showed he respected and honored his wife as spiritual gateway for the family.

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Husband and Wife
Husband and Wife
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We begin a study series on Husband Wife Interactions, whereby we seek understanding of God’s purpose for husband-wife relationships. The study will be based on couples described in the bible. We will examine events from their life to understand how their responses may have contributed to subsequent events. Can we surmise the later events represent a blessing triggered by their responses in earlier events? Or maybe an adversity that could be construed as an unpleasant prelude to subsequent blessing or apparent punishment for earlier misbehavior. Whatever the case, we expect to gain insight into husband-wife interactions: to understand aspects of a couple’s behavior more likely to bring them closer to fulfilling God’s purpose for them, their children, and the broader human community.

Interactions between husband and wife affect how they relate to other people, both outside and within their home, especially, their children. What children learn at home influences how they relate to themselves, other people, and their environment. God created husband and wife at the core of the family unit and gave them the responsibility to direct their children to “keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just” so the children may become vehicles for conveyance of God’s promises [Genesis 18:19]. Interactions between husband and wife are important to their fulfilling the family training responsibility of bringing up children to “keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just.”

Elisha and the Shunammite
Elisha and the Shunammite
wikipedia.org

Our first study in the series focuses on interactions between the Shunammite woman and her husband. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Shunammite Woman Overcomes Adversity, the Shunammite couple developed a lasting close relationship with man of God Elisha and were blessed through their life because of the encounter: the woman gave birth to a son at a time they reasonably would not have expected a child because of the husband’s advanced age, the son was restored to life after sudden and premature death, the family escaped severe famine that ravaged their land for several years, and regained property they lost during sojourn abroad to escape the famine. Our previous study of the Shunammite womand focused on interactions between her and Elisha but also pointed to interactions between her and her husband as the events developed.

The current study focuses on the husband-wife interactions to understand their responses to the events. We find that their interactions were based on mutual recognition and respect for each other’s leadership of specific aspects of family life. The wife recognized and respected her husband’s leadership in over-all family affairs, whereas the husband recognized his wife as the family’s spiritual gateway and not only yielded to but relied on her spiritual leadership. We discuss their interactions through specific events in their life to show they trusted, relied on, and supported each other’s judgment in providing leadership according to the divided responsibilities.

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Paul Triumphs Over Adversity—Rome Voyage Ends Persecution

Adversity Appeared to Expand
But Transitioned Toward an End

The persecution of Paul ended in Rome where he was taken to present his appeal but the accusers did not show. Events during the trip threatened to expand his adversity but instead became opportunities for Paul to start his Rome gospel mission. Through the events we learn about a dispute ending because the accuser backs down and an adversity appearing to expand as it transitions toward an end.

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A Rome in every adversity
A Rome in every adversity
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We conclude our current study on Responding to Adversity with a discussion of Paul’s voyage to Rome and the end of his persecution. The persecution started in Jerusalem. Later, he was moved to Caesarea, where he was tried in court; first under Governor Felix and later under Governor Festus. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Submitting to Due Process in Adversity, Paul determined during trial under Festus that he was unlikely to find justice through the trial in Caesarea. Therefore, he appealed to Caesar. The appeal required he be taken to Rome to present his case for judgment by the emperor.

He was taken to Rome. However, his accusers did not follow him and did not arrange for any representation at his appeal hearing. The case appears to have simply fizzled out as the bible provides no information about any hearing of his case in Rome. Instead, after an initial period as a prisoner in Rome, he spent about two years there free to interact with people normally [Acts 28:30–31]: “Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.” Thus, the persecution ended within a short time of his arrival in Rome and became a launch pad for his gospel mission there.

Paul's route to Rome from Caesarea
Paul’s route to Rome from Caesarea
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This discussion of the end of Paul’s adversity of persecution focuses on two lessons. First, we note that his accusers “did not show” and their failure to show may have been the primary reason the persecution just fizzled out. We discuss this aspect of his experience along with other examples of an adversity ending because the accuser backed down. Second, we note that his adversity threatened to expand as its end approached during the trip to Rome. We draw examples from previous studies to understand that an apparent expansion of adversity could at times be the beginning of the end of the adversity. We note that Paul’s adversity was indeed a vehicle that conveyed him to Rome to extend his gospel mission.

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Submitting to Due Process in Adversity—Example from Paul

Benefits of Submitting to Due Process
Based on Paul’s Trials in Caesarea

Submitting to established authority and due process follows from our commitment to worship and serve God in every situation. Paul submitted to due process during his persecution and relied on it to defend himself through hearings and court trials in Jerusalem and Caesarea. One trial opened opportunity for him to appeal to Caesar and thus take a step toward fulfilment of God’s promise that he will go to Rome on a gospel mission.

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Supreme Court of Canada
Inside the Supreme Court of Canada
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Due process refers to a body of rules and regulations that defines the limits of human behavior in terms of lawful interactions among people and between people and authorities. Respect for established authority implies submitting to due process. As we discuss in previous bible studies such as Living to Receive God’s Intervention, respect for established authority is an aspect of God’s mandate that we worship and serve him in all situations: e.g., from Paul’s letter to the Romans, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established…” [Romans 13:1]; and from Peter, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right” [1 Peter 2:13-14].

We discuss Paul’s trials in Caesarea to understand what he did prior to and during the trials that illustrate his submitting to due process and relying on it for protection and defense. We learn based on Paul’s experience that respect for authority and due process is important in Responding to Adversity, because by doing so we uphold and live according to our commitment to worship and serve God in every situation, thus positioning ourselves to receive God’s intervention at his time. Submitting to due process implies a commitment to the applicable rules and regulations and requires a person with appropriate competence and authority. Although Paul was able to represent himself in the trials, submitting to due process in a modern day society often may imply seeking external professional representation such as by a lawyer, accountant, or other professional. Recognizing the need and securing needed assistance could be important to managing adversity.

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Human Responsibility in Adversity—Example from Paul

Perseverance and Diligence through Faith of God

Having received God’s promise of a positive end to his persecution, Paul persevered through subsequent trials and presented his case diligently while showing respect for others, authority, and due process. His interactions during the period reinforce our understanding that faith of God’s intervention motivates human effort and should encourage us to have patience and work diligently while relating to others in accordance with our commitment to worship and serve God in every situation.

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Transferred to Caesarea under high security
Transferred to Caesarea under high security
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Our study series on Responding to Adversity continues with a discussion of Paul’s response to events in Jerusalem and Caesarea following Christ’s promise that the persecution will take him to a positive end in Rome. The events began with a conspiracy in Jerusalem against Paul’s life, his transfer to the governor’s custody in Caesarea, and subsequent trials before the governor. Paul persevered through the events with patience and showed respect for authority and due process through his interactions with Roman commander Claudius Lysias, Governor Felix, and Jewish representatives constituted to make a case against him in Caesarea. He responded to relentless persecution by defending himself diligently while respectful of other persons, authority, and due process (i.e., in a way to uphold the meaning of his commitment to worship and serve God in every situation).

Paul’s interactions in these events convey a special meaning because he had received a promise from God that the persecution will take him to a positive end in Rome: “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome” [Acts 23:11]. His interactions following the promise show a motivation to do what he could to defend himself against his accusers, convince relevant authority that he did nothing wrong, and do these while showing respect for authority and due process. His actions provide a message that faith of God’s intervention motivates perseverance and diligence. That is, the promise of God’s intervention should make a person evaluate every situation to determine what needs to be done and apply best effort toward doing it, because God may often fulfill his promise through what we do.

Angel releases Peter from prison
Angel releases Peter from prison but leaves him to flee from Harod by himself
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As we discuss in a previous bible study under Peter Escapes from Herod’s Prison, God provides input to solving our problems but expects us to apply human effort in order to be prepared and positioned to accept his input. Because the nature and timing of his intervention are generally not known a priori, we have to seek solutions by doing what we can with faith of God intervening at his chosen time and in his chosen way.

Paul received God’s promise that his persecution will take him to a positive end in Rome, but did not know how or when he would go to Rome. However, he knew he had a promise from God and will get to its fulfillment by applying his human effort and relating to people with humility and respect.

In jail despite postponed judgment
In jail despite postponed judgment
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Therefore, he persevered through the crisis, worked diligently through the trials, and did so while respectful of others in a way to uphold the meaning of his commitment to worship and serve God in every situation. Also, we have encountered similar response in adversity through previous bible studies such as under Living to Receive God’s Intervention and Mordecai Triumphs Over Adversity. Each of the examples illustrate a person persevering through adversity by working diligently to resolve problems, relating to others in accordance with the principles of living in the image of God, and arriving at a glorious fulfillment of God’s promise.

We discuss the relentless persecution of Paul and his interactions with the authorities and his accusers during the period following his encounter with Christ while in detention in Jerusalem.

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Comfort in Adversity—Jesus Appears to Paul in Jerusalem Jail

Message of Comfort through Courage in Adversity

The Lord Jesus appeared to Paul with a message of comfort during persecution in Jerusalem. He encouraged Paul to proceed through the persecution in good spirit knowing that God was with him and will guide him to extend his gospel mission to Rome. The encounter provides a message to all through Paul to recognize a “Rome” at the end of every adversity and proceed through with courage and faith based on living in the image of God.

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We continue the study series on Responding to Adversity with a discussion of Paul’s interaction with Christ in Jerusalem following a day that showed him potentially vulnerable to the on-going persecution. During the day, Paul faced a council of chief priests and the Sanhedrin in a judicial hearing to determine why he was being accused. The hearing showed him as maybe anxious to end the persecution as he engaged in an angry altercation with the high priest and apparently sought to exploit doctrinal differences between Pharisees and Sadducees.

Be of good cheer, Paul
Be of good cheer, Paul
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God appeared to Paul that night, physically as the Lord Jesus. He encouraged Paul and revealed to him a purpose of the persecution [Acts 23:11]: “… Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” This was a message of comfort through courage in adversity, not only to Paul, but also through Paul to every Christian. God is aware and with you as you confront adversity. Look beyond the circumstantial details of the adversity and focus on believing that God has a purpose for your experience and will intervene as he chooses to lift you beyond the current bitterness and onto greater and pleasant fulfillment. Jesus did not discuss the persecution with Paul except that he should respond with “good cheer” knowing he will go to Rome on his mission of testifying to the gospel. The message was an assurance that the persecution will not get the better of him: he should focus on the ultimate purpose as he confronts the day to day occurrences of the persecution. He gives the same message to every Christian today.

To understand the message better, we examine Paul’s interactions at the judicial hearing, first with the high priest and second, the Sanhedrin.

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New Year Greetings and Prayers 2018

Banking Blessings Ministry welcomes you to 2018. Thank you for participating in our programs as we seek and share understanding of God’s purpose for human interactions and relationships. We thank God for the opportunity to understand his message more and better this year and steer closer to his purpose for each of us individually and as member of a community.


Herald for New Year in Sydney
Herald for New Year in Sydney
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The year 2017 ended while we were in the middle of a series on Responding to Adversity, focused on studying events and personalities in the bible to gain insight into the nature and meaning of adversity and what a Christian should do when facing adversity. The series has taken us through examinations of the experience of Job, Mordecai, Shunammite woman, and midway through Paul’s ordeal in Jerusalem and Caesarea.

 

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