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Evangel Tabernacle | February 22, 2019

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The Contradiction Test

The Contradiction Test

| On 26, May 2015

KEY TEXT
Genesis 24:60 (RSV) – And they blessed Rebekah, and said to her, “Our sister, be the mother of thousands of ten thousands; and may your descendants possess the gate of those who hate them.

Genesis 25:21 (RSV)-And Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived.

Charles Greenaway – an American missionary to Africa for 40 years once said in a Missions Convention, “Do not let what you do not understand lead you to hell.”

He uttered this statement after telling us the sad story of the death of his young son in Africa. Then, he was holding his dying son in his arms on the road and waving to his denomination’s superintendent car that passed by to stop to give him a lift to the hospital but the superintendent just bypassed him and his son died in his hand. This is a stumbling, heartbreaking and contradicting situation that offers no answer to our ever questioning mind.

There is a test that those who receive a promise, dream, vision or faith direction can expect to encounter.

It is called the Contradiction Test.

This contradiction test is the way of the cross and no genuine believer can escape from it. It is a test we may never be able to understand. And we can see this test in the lives of many biblical characters as well as in the life of Jesus.

To contradict is “to assert the opposite of what someone has said, to speak in denial; to have someone oppose you.”

A contradiction is when things tend to be contrary to each other, a thing containing contradictory elements.

Our key text introduces us to this Bible character by the name of Rebekah. Before Rebekah became the wife of Isaac, she received a promise of unparalleled growth in Genesis 24:60. With this promise comes the test of contradiction, which is barrenness. The promise of God contradicts Rebekah’s condition to bear children.

This morning I would like to share a topic entitled THE CONTRADICTION TEST.

(I) THE PROMISED BLESSINGS FOR REBEKAH
Genesis 24:60 (RSV) – And they blessed Rebekah, and said to her, “Our sister, be the mother of thousands of ten thousands; and may your descendants possess the gate of those who hate them.

Before Rebekah married Isaac, she received a three-fold promise from God:

• Divine blessing
• Supernatural growth
• Victory in warfare.

Let’s consider the three promises of Genesis 24:60:

1. The Promise of Divine Blessing
Verse 60- And they blessed Rebekah

The Hebrew verb “to bless” (barak) means “to endue with power for success, prosperity, longevity, provision, protection, glory, honor and favor.”

These words speak of SUCCESS IN EVERYTHING YOU PUT YOUR HAND TO DO, TO BE RAISED TO GREAT HONOR AND RECEIVE PROMOTION.

The true blessing of God is received by those who TRUST God and ABIDE by His principles without manipulating those principles. They trust that God will give what is right and leave the timing and measure of success entirely in His hands. Our prayer is for the blessing of the Lord to rest upon us. We have the assurance that “the blessing of the LORD makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22) and that “all blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God (Deuteronomy 28:2).

Rebekah is a symbol of the Church of Christ- the Body of Christ. Like her, we the body of Christ has been endued with power for success, prosperity, longevity, provision, protection, glory, honor and favor. This is the divine blessing God has bestowed upon us as His children and His church. Yet if we want to receive this divine blessing, we must trust God and abide by His principles without manipulating those principles. Do we trust that God will give what is right and leave the timing and the measure of success entirely in His hands or are we trying to manipulate the blessings by running ahead of God?

2. The Promise of Supernatural Growth
Verse 60 -“Our sister, be the mother of thousands of ten thousands……

This is a promise of ENLARGEMENT of all areas of our lives and ministry, a new stretching that opens up windows of opportunity to receive the SUPERNATURAL GROWTH God has for us, our house, our ministry, and place of spiritual service.

We should pray to God to enlarge our:

• Habitation (Isaiah 54:2)
• Vision (1 Chronicles 4:10; Proverbs 29:18)
• Steps (2 Samuel 22:37)
• Heart (Isaiah 60:5)
• Borders (Exodus 34:24)
• Confession (Psalms 32:1-3)
• Chambers (Ezek 41:7; Proverbs 24:3; 2 Cor 4:7)
• Ministry (2 Cor 6:11,13; 10:15).

God wants to enlarge us in all areas of our lives. God has promised to bless our church with supernatural growth. He has also promised to enlarge your lives and undertaking.

3. The Promise of Victory in Warfare
Verse 60 -and may your descendants possess the gate of those who hate them.

“To possess the gates of the enemy” was to “occupy the place of authority, power and ultimate control.

Biblically, gates represent THE ENTRANCES OF THE WAYS LEADING TO LIFE AND TO DESTRUCTION.

The word “gates” then become a synonym for POWER because of the strength and importance of the gates to the city.

Gates also represented those WHO HELD COVENANT AND ADMINISTERED JUSTICE. Proverbs 8:34 says, “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.” And in Proverbs 31:23 we read, “Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.” The elders, the spiritual authority of God’s people, sat at the gates (Deut 21:19; 22:15,24).

The promise to all believers is that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church. All the authority, power and evil influence of hell will not and cannot resist a restored Church. Hell’s gates shall pour out its hosts to assault the Church of Christ but the Church shall not be overcome. Hell will fortify itself against the Church. Instead, the Church will batter down the gates of hell.

Rebekeh, the barren woman, received this promise long before its fulfillment. In her barren state, Rebekah’s future was described as blessed beyond her imagination. She would break out of her barren condition to experience divine blessing, supernatural enlargement and victory over her enemies.

(II) THE TEST OF CONTRADICTION
Genesis 25:21 (RSV)-And Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was BARREN;
With these promises, the test of contradiction is certain. And for Rebekah’s case, the test of contradiction comes to her in the form of barrenness.

Application: Like Rebekah, God may have given us great promises and yet times and seasons will arise when all you do is blanketed with barrenness rather than growth and prosperity.

If today you’re undergoing the test of contradiction where the promise of God is contrary to your real life experience, then be of good cheer because most of God’s servants in the Bible who received a promise, a vision, dream or faith direction were also tested, and challenged with contradictions. Let’s look at a few of them:

• Abraham and Sarah received the promise of a miracle son, but she was barren.
• Joseph dreamed of promotion and prosperity but received prison and hatred.
• Moses received a word that he would be a deliverer but was rejected and sent into the wilderness.
• David was anointed to be king but was driven into hiding by the jealousy of King Saul.
• Stephen was stoned and died. Paul was stoned and lived.
• Philip was supernaturally transported but Paul was shipwrecked and snake bitten.
• Peter walked on water. Paul floated in the water for three days.
• James was beheaded while Peter was released.

Contradictions in life and ministry are numerous and it is part of God’s sovereign school of shaping great leaders. Contradictions are OUR CROSSES TO BEAR and we are commanded to bear them (Matthew 16:24).

A cross is made of two pieces of wood meeting and crossing each other, RUNNING CONTRARY TO EACH OTHER.

The cross represents OUR THOUGHTS CROSSING GOD’S THOUGHTS, OUR WILLS CROSSING GOD’S WILL, OUR DESIRED RESULTS OR ANSWERS CROSSING GOD’S GIVEN ANSWERS.

God allows contradiction to enter our perfect worlds to PRESS US, BREAK US AND BRING US TO OUR KNEES.

God sends contradictions to test our RESPONSE or REACTIONS. Will we become broken or bitter? Soft or hard? Our confession changes as we embrace contradictions or the UNCHANGEABLE CIRCUMSTANCES OF LIFE:

• a child born with mental or physical problems
• a disease that refuses to let go of a friend or a loved one
• an accident that takes the innocent godly person into eternity at the height of his or her life and ministry
• a church that splits right after a vision casting
• a church that grows numerically, financially and in other ways while the senior pastor is living in gross sin
• at the same time a pastor with utmost integrity who plods along few people, financial scarcity and no recognition.

CONTRADICTION!!!!

Contradiction is the test of all promises, dreams and vision – this is the way of the cross.

A story is told of pastor who received a great promise of God to have a blessed family. Unfortunately after marrying his wife, she was barren for 12 years. They had fasted, wept, laughed, threatened, bargained and nothing had happened. Then one day the pastor was invited to speak at a church and the Holy Spirit prompted him to move in the realm of faith to pray for the barren women of that church – it is a realm for which he had no apparent success in. The pastor was very tempted to disobey like Jonah but the Holy Spirit won in His way over this pastor and he prayed for the barren women. Months later, when he heard that several women had what they called “miracle babies,” this pastor was murmuring, grumbling and discouraged. He wanted to quit. Contradiction – the word ruminated in his mind. For out of his barrenness others had been blessed with fruitfulness. Out of his brokenness others received wholeness. Out of his weakness others had received strength. Then slowly but surely, this spiritual law of contradiction that had been in the shadows of obscurity was beginning to take on clarity. He began to see it in Scripture that this test of contradiction is a road all true believers must tread on. The pastor and his wife went through this test for 12 years. They finally adopted two kids and just as unexpectedly one day the wife conceived and bore two more kids. Today, according to the promise, God really blesses them with a family of 4. The pastor later testified, “Looking back, Sharon and I realize that we didn’t choose the trial of barrenness nor could we have dictated the time of its ending. God had His perfect way because we had no choice. We wanted God’s best so we submitted to His test. His Word is true.”

The best description of contradictions is given by Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:8-10, “We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything” (2 Corinthians 6:8-10).

As believers of Christ, we will go through the test of contradiction during different seasons of our lives. And when we go through it, what we desire simply does not happen at all or happens so slowly that we become totally discouraged.

Let me assure you, this is a test, ONLY A TEST!

Be encouraged with those unexplainable contradictions that loom over your life and ministry. Reinvite God into a place of fruitful activity in the face of your test for ‘THIS TOO SHALL PASS.”

(III) HOW TO RESPOND IN THE CONTRADICTION TEST?
Our response in the contradiction test must be AN ISAAC RESPONSE.

Genesis 25:21 (NLT)-And Isaac pleaded with the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was unable to have children. The LORD answered Isaac prayer and Rebekah became pregnant with twins.

Hold your promise before the Lord for your particular ministry, flock, congregation or life.

“Holding up the promise” speaks of INTERCESSORY PRAYER.

One of the keys to facing the test of contradiction victoriously is the ISAAC RESPONSE: “Isaac pleaded with the Lord (verse 21)”.

The verb “pleaded” (athar) in this verse is one of the Hebrew words used for INTERCESSION in Scripture.

One of the bible translations renders verse 21 as, “And Isaac interceded with Yahweh in behalf of his wife, for she was childless, and Yahweh granted his entreaty and Rebekah his wife conceived.”

It is interesting to note that Isaac is the only Patriarch whose intercession is recorded up to that point in Scripture. His prayer was for this unusual moment. He was concerned with the Promised Seed.

It is INTERCESSORY PRAYER, Isaac standing in the gap for his barren wife that broke the bands of barrenness.

Intercessory prayer is INTENSIFIED PRAYER, which involves 3 special ingredients:

• IDENTIFICATION of the intercessor with the one who is interceded for.

• AGONY to feel the burden, the pain, the suffering, the need.

• AUTHORITY which is the gained position of the intercessor to speak with authority that sees results.

Isaac moved into gap-standing, intercessory prayer for his barren wife.

This is the Ezekiel 22:30 intercession, “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.”

In Luke 1:13 Zacharias also interceded for his barren wife, and God answered his prayers: “But the angel said to him, “do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.”

Application: God is calling today for more leaders of the church with authority to stand in the gap to pray for the barren ministries of our church. Today, God is laying a burden in many hearts to identify with the suffering and barrenness of believers who have received so many promises and yet are being contradicted in real life experience. God wants you to plead on their behalf so that the barren spiritual womb can be made fertile again.

The Isaac response to discouraging test of contradiction could be a model example for all of us going through this test.

It is the “stop, seek and see” model:

Stop
Busyness is not the answer

Seek
Seek His face. Focus not on the barrenness or the contradiction but on the God who can break the bands or give you insight and grace to handle it. Wait upon His timing.

See
See His answers. He alone is able to fulfill His promises.

WHO IS OUR ISSAC, OUR INTERCESSOR?
Isaac in our text is the husband of Rebekah. He is her authority and covering and as such he was able to stand in the gap for her in her test of contradiction.

When a person in authority intercedes for those whom he identifies and agonizes with, the law of contradiction is reversed, the curse of barrenness is broken and blessings will be released upon the person he intercedes for.

Our Isaac today should be one who has authority over our lives. It could be our spouse or spiritual leaders.

But let’s face it – our own Isaacs fail many times in interceding for us when we are going through our test of contradiction.

But there is one better Isaac who has gone through the contradictions himself and yet emerged victorious.

His name is Jesus.
Hebrews 12:3 (KJV)- For consider him that endured such CONTRADICTION of sinners against himself.

Jesus had his share of contradictions too. How we have failed in our own test, Jesus succeeded on our behalf with his own test of contradiction. The cross is the greatest contradiction for Jesus. Yet with that, Jesus…..

Endured the contradictions with joy

Stayed on course

Finished His race

If there is one INTERCESSOR we need, it is Jesus as our PERPETUAL INTERCESSOR IN HEAVEN.

Hebrews 7:23-25- The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues for ever. Consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he ALWAYS LIVES TO MAKE INTERCESSION FOR THEM.

Jesus fulfills all the marks of an intercessor like Isaac- identification, agony and authority.

Because Jesus IDENTIFIED Himself with our suffering and sins on the cross; because He AGONIZED for us at the cross; because he has AUTHORITY over our lives as our Savior and Lord, he therefore is our Best Isaac to plead on our behalf to God the Father to open our spiritual womb to conceive all the promised blessing God has intended for us.

You don’t have to worry if there is no man interceding for your test of contradictions perpetually because Jesus always lives to make intercession for us. He is that SOMEONE WHO IS ALWAYS PRAYING FOR US.

Those who receive a promise, dream, vision or faith direction can expect to encounter the contradiction test.

God sends contradictions to test our responses and reactions. Will we become broken or bitter?

Even in our test of contradiction, we are promised divine blessing, supernatural growth and victory in warfare.

If we want to be faith giants, we must do so without manipulating His principles and we must leave the timing and measure of success entirely to Him.

Intercessory prayer requires IDENTIFICATION with the one who is interceded for, AGONY to feel the burden and AUTHORITY in Christ.

Christ is our best INTERCESSOR as he always lives to intercede for us. He is that SOMEONE WHO IS ALWAYS PRAYING FOR US.

We must stop our busyness in order to seek His face so we can see His answers.

END OF SERMON
PREACHED AT ETAB 1ST ENGLISH SV ON 24 MAY 2015

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