by Wade E Taylor
“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:6-8
The Son of God, from eternity, had a position of equality with God. Nevertheless, He willingly set this equality aside, that He might take on an identification with mankind in order to pay the penalty for man’s sin. It was through obedience and suffering that He experientially entered into this position as Saviour, though He could have come into it an easier way, as it was rightfully His because of who He was, “The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).
Jesus submitted Himself to the disciplines and the testings of life, so He might qualify through “experience” as well as by His “identity,” as our Savior.
“Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey Him.” Hebrews 5:8-9
Jesus had settled this issue within His being, and His heart was right toward God. Inwardly, He was determined to pay the full price for the outworking of the will of God, though it would cost Him His life.
“For the Lord God will help Me: therefore shall I not be confounded: Therefore have I set My face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.” Isaiah 50:7
Because of His obedience to the will of the Father, Jesus humbled Himself and became the Lamb of God upon Calvary’s cross, and then died in our stead, shedding His blood that our sin might be cleansed. Because of this, the Father brought Him forth in resurrection life and then exalted Him.
“Wherefore, God also has highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow….” Philippians 2:9-10
This name, “Jesus” (Matthew 1:21), identifies Him forever with the redeemed for whom He gave His life. A parallel to this experience can be drawn from the life of David.
“And it came to pass, when they were come, that he (Samuel) looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him. But the Lord said to Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” I Samuel 16:6-7
Samuel would have chosen the one who outwardly appeared to meet every qualification. However, the Lord revealed a different method of qualification: “The Intent of the Heart.” This principle is exemplified in God’s rejection of Eliab and in the selection of David for the throne of Israel.
Later, David was severely tested when Saul turned against him; but under extreme pressure David chose the Lord and His ways. His experience during this time of testing is recorded in Psalm 27:1-4.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear…? Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear…. One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after….”
God saw that David would choose Him in the difficulties that he would face, and later declared him to be “a man after His own heart.” (I Samuel 13:14).
Another example of this principle is revealed in the choosing of Jacob, a deceiver, over Esau. “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Romans 9:13). At first glance, this Scripture seems to indicate that “divine approval” is an arbitrary choice made by God. However, the Lord’s choice is based upon a divine principle.
Outwardly, it appears that Esau should have been the right choice. He was the firstborn, and when his father requested meat, he willingly went to get it for him (Genesis 27:1-4). Jesus said that His meat was to do the will of the Father (John 4:34).
When under the pressure of intense hunger, Esau despised the blessing of God and sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup, and received a present, temporal satisfaction (Genesis 25:29-33). Jesus faced this same test of hunger in the wilderness, but refused to turn stones into bread, in order to feed His hunger.
“…Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4
While Esau was seeking meat for his father, Jacob deceived his father into imparting the blessing to him, rather than to his brother. But later, when Jacob was under intense pressure, the true quality of his character came forth. Jacob had fled from Esau and was now returning home with all of his possessions. In Genesis 32:6-8 he was told that everything that he owned was in jeopardy, as Esau was coming with 400 men toward him. Then Jacob humbled his heart before the Lord and asked for His help (Genesis 32:9-12).
“And he took them and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had. And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.” Genesis 32:23-24
He sent all of his possessions toward Esau in two separate companies, and then remained alone to see what would happen when the first group came to Esau. His plan was that if Esau destroyed the first group, he could take the second group and escape. Then, an angel came and wrestled with, or detained him during this time of extreme stress (Genesis 32:24-26).
Jacob could have thrust off the angel in order to leave and protect his possessions, but he did not do this. Instead, he detained the angel until he received a blessing from the Lord. Because Jacob’s heart was set toward the Lord, he put the Lord first when under intense pressure. Therefore, he was changed by the Lord.
“And He (the Lord) said to him, what is your name? And he said, Jacob (deceiver). And He (the Lord) said, Your name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince have you power with God and with men and have prevailed.” Genesis 32:27-28 (comments added)
Jacob received a change of his nature, along with position and power. Esau, who had sought rather to satisfy the present hunger of his stomach, lost out.
God deals with us according to the “Intent of our Heart.” That is, according to what we truly desire to be.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6
The present state or condition in which we find ourselves will be changed by the Lord, if we truly put Him first and then trust Him.
“For the Lord God helps Me, therefore I am not disgraced; Therefore, I have set My face like flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.” Isaiah 50:7 NAS