Life-Study of Genesisby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Before we consider further Jacob's dealings at Hebron, we need to point out the difference between transformation and maturity. The last stage of transformation is maturity. Maturity means the fullness of life. When one is mature, he has no shortage of life. The more life we have, the more mature we are. An infant is obviously not mature, but a grown man is mature. For a human being to be mature means that his life has come into fullness.
Transformation is a metabolic change in life. Thus, transformation is not a matter of fullness; it is a matter of change. Plants do not require transformation, because they are simply plants. But we, the children of God, need transformation. Only through transformation can we reach maturity. We have a natural life, but this life is not good for God's economy. Although our natural life does not need to be replaced, it does need to be metabolically changed. We must not only have an outward change in appearance, but also an inward change in nature. Although our human life is necessary for God's economy, it should not remain a natural human life; it should be a human life that has been transformed in nature so that the divine life may be mingled with the transformed human life to become one. This is a deep matter.
At least two verses in the New Testament unveil the matter of transformation. Romans 12:2 says, "Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind." The Greek word translated "transformed" in this verse also appears in 2 Corinthians 3:18. According to the Greek, this verse should be rendered, "And we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit." The word "transformed" in these verses indicates that in our Christian life we need a metabolic change. We do not need outward correction and alteration; rather, we need an inward change in nature and in life.
This metabolic change begins with regeneration. When we were saved, we were not only justified and our sins forgiven; we were also regenerated. At regeneration a new life, the divine life, was put into our spirit. From the time of our regeneration, this life has been transforming our natural life. As the divine life changes our natural life, it imparts more and more of the divine life into our being. Therefore, transformation is the change of our natural life. When this change reaches the point of fullness, the time of maturity has come. To repeat, the last stage of transformation is maturity. Maturity is not a matter of our being changed; it is a matter of having the divine life imparted to us again and again until we have the fullness of life.
Let us now apply this matter to Jacob. Although Jacob underwent many changes between chapters twenty-five and thirty-seven, we do not see any further change in him after chapter thirty-seven. In chapter twenty-five Jacob was a supplanter, a heel-holder. As we read from chapter twenty-six to thirty-six, which covers a period of approximately twenty-five years, we see how Jacob changed. Everything that happened to him during these years was for his transformation. When in chapter thirty-seven Jacob lost his beloved son, Joseph, he was absolutely different from the person he was in chapter twenty-seven. In a spiritual sense, the Jacob in chapter twenty-seven had several hands to use in grasping whatever he wanted. He grasped what belonged to his father, to Esau, and, later on, to Laban. However, in chapter thirty-seven Jacob did not even use his own two hands. The Jacob in this chapter seems to have no skill or ability; instead, it seems that he is not able to do anything. This indicates that he has absolutely changed. From chapter thirty-seven until the end of this book, we do not see any further change in this man. In these chapters we see a person who has not only been changed; we see a person who is full of life. In chapter thirty-seven we see neither change nor the fullness of life. The change took place before this chapter, and the fullness of life was reached after it.
I would ask you to read chapters twenty-seven, thirtyseven, and forty-seven once again. In chapter twenty-seven we see a supplanter. He had many hands, he was able to do everything, and no one could defeat him. Whoever came in contact with Jacobhis father, his brother, or his unclewas the loser. Jacob, on the contrary, always came out ahead. He made a gain from his brother, from his father, and from his uncle. He even made a gain from Rachel, Leah, and their two maids. However, at the time of Rachel's death, Jacob began to suffer loss. But even this loss produced a gain, and that gain was Benjamin. In chapter thirty-seven Jacob underwent another loss, the loss of Joseph. In this chapter Jacob did not gain anything. From this point onward, Jacob lost one thing after another. Eventually, in chapter forty-seven, he gained the fullness of life. The fullness of life is blessing, which is the overflow of life. When you are filled past the brim with life, this life will overflow into others. This overflow is the blessing. Therefore, in chapter twenty-seven we see a supplanter; in chapter thirty-seven, a transformed man; and in chapter forty-seven, a mature person. Jacob's transformation began at the time God came in to touch him (32:25), and it continued until chapter thirty-seven, when the process of transformation was relatively complete. However, in this chapter Jacob did not yet have maturity, the fullness of life. In order to gain this, he had to experience the dealings in the last stage, the dealings at Hebron.
Now we must consider how Jacob, a transformed person, could be filled with life. Human beings are vessels. However, unlike jars and bottles, we are not vessels without feeling, sense, or will. If you want to fill a bottle with a certain liquid, the bottle has no opinion or feeling about it. There is no need to have the consent of the bottle before we fill it. But it is difficult to put something in us living vessels because we are filled with opinions, desires, and intentions. Parents know how difficult it is to put medicine into their children. Likewise, it is not an easy matter for God to put His life into us.
Now I want to point out a hidden matter in this book. Jacob's first dealing in the last stage was the loss of Joseph. Joseph was seventeen years old when he was sold (37:2), and he was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh (41:46). Following this, there were the seven plenteous years. It was probably one or two years later that Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy grain. Therefore, from the selling of Joseph to the sending of Jacob's sons to Egypt was a period of at least twenty years. The Bible does not afford us any record of what Jacob did during these years. It only gives us an account of what Joseph experienced. As far as the record of Jacob is concerned, this period of twenty years was a time of silence.
What do you think Jacob was doing during this time? If you had been Jacob, what would you have done? I have considered this matter very much, and I think I have discovered something. During these years Jacob had nothing to do. He had no lack and he had no ambition. Jacob had cared only for Rachel, not for Leah and the two maids. After Rachel died, Jacob's heart was set on Joseph, who was taken away from him about a year later. After Joseph was taken away, Jacob had virtually nothing left. Therefore, during these silent years he was a person without any ambitions, interests, or things to do. This must have been the time God imparted Himself into Jacob more and more. How different were these twenty years from the twenty years with Laban! During the twenty years with Laban (31:41), Jacob had struggled against Laban and had been concerned about dealing with Rachel, Leah, the maids, and all his children. But in these twenty years at Hebron Jacob was released from any bondage or occupation. He was not only retiredhe was free.
The only thing that could not be taken away from Jacob was God's presence. At Hebron Jacob constantly lived in fellowship with God. Through the loss of Joseph, Jacob became a jar that was absolutely open to God. Joseph's presence might have been a hindrance to Jacob's openness to God. But now, after the loss of Joseph, Jacob was free from every frustration and was completely open to the Lord. Undoubtedly, Jacob thought about Joseph day after day. He had concluded that Joseph had been devoured by an evil beast, but this had not been confirmed. Hence, Jacob might have thought that perhaps he would see Joseph again. This pressed Jacob to God and opened him up to God. The more he thought about Joseph, the more open he was. During all these years, Jacob was a jar open to the heavens, and the heavenly rain was continuously falling into him. In this period of time Jacob was daily in the presence of God, being filled with the divine life.
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