Participants: Shelley Quinn (Host), Paul Ratsara
Series Code: IAA
Program Code: IAA000483A
00:01 Is your past dark, is your present uncertain?
00:04 And maybe you feel that your future is hopeless.
00:07 If you are feeling alone and abandoned by family
00:11 and maybe even by God, please join us on Issues and Answers
00:15 today, because you will find God has an answer.
00:50 Hello, I'm Shelley Quinn, welcome again to
00:53 Issues and Answers. I am so excited about todays
00:56 program because our special guest is also a special friend,
01:00 a personal friend, and we are so excited to have
01:04 Dr. Paul Ratsara, who is a pastor and the president
01:08 of the Southern Africa Indian Ocean Division of the
01:12 Seventh-day Adventist Church.
01:14 Paul, thank you so much for joining us.
01:17 I am so happy to be here. Oh, and I am so glad
01:22 that you've come such a long distance to share with us.
01:25 Yes, it is long. Let me ask you just a couple of questions
01:28 because some people may not know you.
01:33 You've been on 3ABN quite a lot, but we had so many
01:36 new viewers month to month. Ok, yeah.
01:37 How many years did you pastor?
01:40 Ok, I started actually to work for the church in 1980.
01:47 Ah! That would be 36 as a teacher, and then, and also as a
01:54 Bible Teacher and pastoring starting in 1984.
01:59 Eight four...And that is now... will soon to be 32.
02:04 And how many years have you served as the president
02:09 of the Southern Africa Indian Ocean Division?
02:12 I started in 2005, to be 11 years soon.
02:19 Wonderful. How many conferences are in your division?
02:26 Actually we will start with the churches and congregations.
02:30 We have 23,000, more than 23,000 congregations.
02:38 That means organized churches and organized companies
02:42 and those companies are groups and many of them are
02:46 big like full fledge churches.
02:50 Amen! Yes, and we have now more than 40 conferences.
02:58 Four zero, 40. Yes. Yes. And they knew this is what
03:01 keeps you on the road all the time. That's true.
03:03 I know that you and Joanne, your lovely wife,
03:05 my precious friend travel, just seems like non-stop.
03:10 Yes. But praise the Lord, He's tapped you on the shoulder
03:15 and called you into service. And I believe He has done so
03:18 because you are a man of integrity and a man of prayer.
03:22 You once told me, I think the first time I met you,
03:26 you shared how, you learned that if you waited until
03:31 you went into the office, which is quite early
03:33 each morning, if he is in. If you waited till then to pray,
03:37 that something would always interrupt that prayer time.
03:40 Yes! So you started getting up quite early in the morning
03:42 to pray. What hour do you arise to pray?
03:45 Ah, my habit is to actually asking God to wake me up
03:50 when I go to bed. I say Lord, I am your child,
03:55 you know how much time I need so, would you wake me up
04:00 like you did with Jesus Christ and Isaiah?
04:03 It is said that God woke him up. So that is my plan,
04:09 I don't use an alarm clock, I don't condemn alarm clock,
04:13 but that is my decision. So generally it is between
04:19 three to four o'clock in the morning.
04:22 And then you spend a couple of hours in prayer
04:24 before you go into the office. That's the plan.
04:28 Well, today we are going to be studying,
04:31 doing a little study in Genesis and we are going to be
04:36 talking about someone who felt alone and abandoned
04:40 by family and God. Paul, would you like to begin?
04:44 Yes, you know I've been thinking a lot about
04:49 our relationship with the Lord. Because to me
04:53 that is the most important thing, that we are in Christ.
04:58 We are in God. So I studied this in the Bible,
05:04 and I studied the characters in the Bible.
05:08 And I tried to learn from them maybe things to be
05:13 avoided and things to be followed.
05:16 Yes. And today I just want to learn from the life
05:21 of Jacob...Very rich experience indeed.
05:27 And we can turn in our Bibles, and that is in Genesis chapter
05:33 27 and 28, and we are going to learn from the life of this man.
05:39 The beginning was not that good, and I believe that
05:45 we can learn from that as well, and through this we can know
05:50 even better, the character of God, and we can have hope
05:55 because the life of Jacob, we can think of his past.
06:01 We can think of his present and we can think of his future,
06:05 how God dealt with that.
06:08 So right in Genesis chapter 27 and verse 41, it is the summary
06:17 of the problem of Jacob in his home, the home of his parents.
06:47 That is very serious, can you imagine having two children,
06:52 two sons, and one hates the other one.
06:58 Not just a simple hatred, actually Esau wanted to kill
07:03 Jacob. These were fraternal twins. Definitely! Definitely!
07:08 Just think of a family, they just had two children,
07:13 and Jacob and Esau they... I mean Esau hated him
07:19 and he wanted to kill because of what has happened.
07:23 Jacob actually cheated Esau and Esau was not amused
07:29 and he decided to kill him.
07:31 And this is not an empty threat, because knowing Esau,
07:34 he was used to blood, he was a hunter and for him to kill
07:41 was not something very difficult.
07:44 So the parents knew that this was a serious matter
07:49 and they tried to find a solution.
07:51 What should be done to avoid this?
07:55 Shall we reconcile them? And they found out that
08:00 maybe that would not be the solution because Esau
08:03 will not knowing himself. So the only solution found
08:08 is to separate them, to separate them.
08:11 So they said well Jacob, you must leave,
08:17 you must leave, you cannot be here,
08:19 otherwise we will lose you, or both of you.
08:22 So that is the solution, that was the condition of the family,
08:27 the situation of the family, it was quite dysfunctional.
08:30 There are two camps actually, the camp of Esau,
08:35 of Isaac the father, and Esau, and the camp of Jacob and
08:41 Rebecca, which is very bad, it is not good to have two camps
08:46 at home. We must be united in discipline and love,
08:51 otherwise we may encounter such a problem.
08:54 If I could just interject this comment.
08:56 It shows us, when parents have a favorite,
09:00 as Isaac favored Esau, Rebecca favored Jacob.
09:05 It puts a strain on the relationship of the children.
09:09 So this is something that you know, we know that God
09:13 loves unconditionally, we need to learn as parents,
09:18 we need to learn not to show favoritism to their children.
09:21 I think that is the first lesson that we can learn here.
09:25 As parents, we need to not to show favoritism,
09:29 it does not help the children, it does not help us,
09:33 and we need to ask God to help us to avoid this.
09:37 We need to love all the children alike.
09:41 Sometimes you know as human beings, you have some
09:45 inclination toward one, but we should never yield to that
09:48 temptation. We need to ask God to be fair and to love
09:53 everybody unconditionally. Amen!
09:55 And because of that mistake in a way, that actually worsened
10:01 the situation here. Yes. And the house was divided,
10:06 and because of that, Jacob had to leave.
10:10 And now they remained with Esau, and Esau had a plan
10:16 and his plan was not good.
10:18 Going back to verse 41, he said the days of mourning
10:22 for my father are at hand, then I will kill my brother Jacob.
10:29 So, that was a decision for Jacob to leave.
10:36 It was a very difficult moment for the parents,
10:40 especially for the mother.
10:42 We know that Jacob was very close to the mother...
10:45 Well, and here she is loosing her husband in death.
10:48 Isaac, and now she is going to lose her favorite son,
10:52 and be left with Esau. Yeah, that was very hard
10:57 but under the circumstance, they decided that that was
11:01 the only solution. And in chapter 28, in chapter 28,
11:08 now verse 10 and verse 11, we read this journey.
11:16 Actually the running away of Jacob from the paternal home.
11:25 And we read this:
11:49 This passage is so rich. Jacob then started his journey,
11:56 and it was a long journey, it was a long trip and it was hard
12:01 in the wilderness and it was dangerous.
12:05 So he walked and walked, and walked and finally the sun
12:09 started to set and I would suggest that the sun
12:16 that is talked about here is... yes, it was literal,
12:19 but it kind of sort of present the life, the darkness that
12:24 start to come...Represents the darkness in the life of Jacob
12:31 because at that moment, his life was dark.
12:36 Darkened by discouragement. His past was so dark,
12:41 thinking of what he did, he cheated his father, he cheated
12:49 his brother, and he did all these things so it was so heavy
12:53 on him, his past...So he was tired physically, yes,
12:57 but he was also tired mentally and especially spiritually.
13:02 So he felt alone, he felt tired, he was so down.
13:07 And you know, when you thing about having to use a stone
13:11 for your pillow, that's not much rest for your head,
13:14 so that's two, this kind of compares, he couldn't rest
13:18 in his head because of all these thoughts that were
13:21 churning and physically he had to lay on a stone. So definitely
13:26 you see, Jacob was a son of a millionaire,
13:32 or even billionaire, Isaac. If you go to chapter 26
13:36 that describes the wealth of Isaac, and for him,
13:42 the son of a millionaire, just to use a stone to be a pillow,
13:47 that means he went really down and down, and down.
13:51 So he was tired, he was discouraged, he felt lonely,
13:58 alone in the middle of nowhere. And there as well, we can think
14:06 of him thinking of being separated with God
14:12 because of his sins, because of what he did,
14:18 he felt, that well, there is no hope for me.
14:22 I'm not only far from my family, the earthly family,
14:29 but also, the heavenly family. So, in that condition,
14:34 he was tired and then he fell asleep. Discouraged, tired,
14:40 lonely. For him, the chance was God, so he went to this place.
14:47 For him, the past was dark and also definitely his present
14:53 was very uncertain, and his future was kind of hopeless.
14:58 And let's see, what was the response of God to this
15:04 loneliness. You know that you are talking to someone,
15:08 I know that there is someone who is listening right now...
15:10 I felt this myself, in the past, where you feel that you are
15:17 separated from God and it's a... It's bad enough to be separated
15:22 from your family, but if you feel that there is a barrier
15:24 between you and God, it's such a hopeless type of feeling so...
15:28 And actually my favorite author, Ellen White comments on this,
15:35 and said that even he prayed... He didn't have first the courage
15:42 to pray in the first place, and then he tried to pray
15:45 but he did not find peace. Actually he could not forgive
15:50 himself. He was so down, he thought that it was too far
15:56 and he slept with that condition.
16:01 And maybe those of us who are watching this television,
16:05 this program, who may be in that circumstance,
16:08 that situation now. We may feel lonely, we may feel
16:12 discouraged, and when you think of the past, it is dark.
16:17 Things that we have done in the past,
16:20 we think of the present, we have a lot of uncertainties,
16:25 of the future, we don't see light,
16:28 and that was the situation of Jacob.
16:33 But I have good news for us. Amen!
16:35 And the good news is that God reacted, actually acted,
16:40 to address the condition, the condition of Jacob.
16:46 So we read in verse 12, the response of God,
16:57 and it is amazing Shelley, this is verse 12.
17:02 "Then he dreamt and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth
17:10 and it's top reached to heaven, and there the angels of God
17:17 were ascending and descending on it."
17:20 Let's analyze this verse.
17:23 This is so encouraging, "Then he dreamt".
17:27 So in his dream, he looked and he saw a ladder,
17:34 a ladder, probably the longest ladder ever existed because
17:41 the length of this is the distance between the earth
17:46 and heaven. What was the problem of Jacob?
17:52 In his mind, he was separated from God.
17:56 Yes. So the first thing God showed him is a ladder.
18:01 Just to link him with heaven. And this ladder, Jesus Christ
18:08 said, that is himself.
18:10 This is Jesus Christ the mediator who came here
18:15 on earth and committed just to be the ladder.
18:21 Just to be the bridge between God and us.
18:27 So God showed him Jesus Christ. That is the solution,
18:34 our solution is Jesus Christ.
18:37 So Jacob look at the ladder, you are not alone.
18:43 You are not separated. Yes, you have done this,
18:46 you have done this but I'm still here.
18:48 I would like to give you another chance.
18:51 So the ladder represented Jesus Christ in the book of
18:56 John, the gospel of John. Jesus Christ talked about this
19:01 when He talked to Nathaniel. He said, you will see,
19:04 this is ladder, Jesus Christ. So Jacob looked at this
19:11 important ladder, and the ladder was not empty.
19:16 Yes! It was not empty. You see a ladder would be
19:21 enough just to show that he is linked now to heaven.
19:27 But on top of that, you know when God wants to talk to us,
19:31 sometimes he even over does it to make a point.
19:36 He said, you are not alone. So we read this...
19:40 The company of Angels. Yes! He said, and it's top
19:43 reached to heaven and there the angels, not one angel.
19:50 Angels of God, not just standing there, but ascending
19:56 and descending on it. So a lot of movement up and down,
20:02 and up and down on this ladder just to show that the angels
20:09 were present. He was not alone, he thought that he was alone,
20:15 but God said no, you are not alone. The angels are here.
20:21 That's wonderful. Sometimes when we feel discouraged,
20:25 when we feel that we are alone, we should never forget
20:29 that we are not alone. Amen!
20:32 Jesus Christ is there, the angels are there.
20:37 And Jacob continued to look, and not only he saw the angels,
20:45 there in verse 13. "And behold, the Lord stood
20:53 above it and said, the Lord."
20:56 You see, a ladder would be good enough, the angels,
21:02 that is even better. but God did not stop there,
21:08 God himself showed up and He was there,
21:13 on top of the ladder, and He was not quiet, He was not
21:19 silent. Our God talked and He introduced Himself.
21:26 He introduced Himself. You know God has many names...
21:30 Yes He has. And it is just like Him...I am thinking of God as a
21:36 business person, business woman or business man
21:40 who has more than one business Card.
21:42 And I have seen them, they choose which one to give to
21:49 a typical individual according to the message that they
21:54 want to convey, and the same thing with the name of God.
21:58 God has many names, and He decides to choose a name
22:04 according to the circumstance, and according to the message
22:07 that He wants to convey. So here God decided to
22:13 introduce Himself. He said I am the Lord God of Abraham
22:19 your father, and the God of Isaac.
22:23 What is the meaning of this name?
22:27 When you go to Exodus chapter 3:15, the meaning of this name
22:35 is clear, that this means God is the God of history.
22:41 God controls history. That means God of the past,
22:48 God of the present, and God of the future.
22:51 So He's telling Jacob, Jacob, I know your past,
22:57 I know your present, and even your future.
23:01 I'm the God of the past, I'm the God of the present,
23:07 I'm the God of the future, if you just come to me
23:12 I know how to deal with the past,
23:14 I can delete the past if you just come to me.
23:20 I know how to deal with the present and even the future.
23:25 As long as you are with me you should not be afraid.
23:30 Because not only I can control the future,
23:34 but I can make the future, I am a future maker.
23:39 Amen! Halleluiah! I am a future maker!
23:42 That's right! So Jacob understood that through the name
23:51 of God. So God said, I am the Lord God of Abraham
23:57 you father, and the God of Isaac, that means I am the God
24:03 of the past, I'm the God of the present,
24:06 I'm the God of the future. Let's pause for a moment here
24:10 and apply this into our lives.
24:15 You see, our God is the God of the past, God, with God,
24:23 it's beyond time, it's not limited by time, but many times
24:27 we see God through our human eyes.
24:31 Since we are limited by time, we think that God is also
24:36 limited by time, but He's beyond time even though
24:40 through Jesus Christ we decided to be in time
24:44 for incarnation, but it's beyond time.
24:47 And time for Him, He can control time, He is everlasting
24:53 God, the past, the present, the future, it is our human
24:58 language. But for Him, He is an everlasting God,
25:04 He is an eternal God.
25:06 On top of that, through Jesus Christ, God has given us the
25:14 remedy of the past. Amen! Full Forgiveness.
25:18 You see, if you feel that you have done something wrong
25:24 and in your mind, you said no that is too bad,
25:28 there is no way that God can accept me,
25:32 maybe you have done too much things in my life,
25:36 there's no hope for me.
25:38 Let me tell you, with God there's no such thing
25:46 that He cannot repair, and actually God is specialist
25:53 in mending broken things. Amen!
25:57 Broken things. He has done that many times and even He can
26:03 create out of nothing. So broken things He knows
26:09 how to mend. So if we have a broken life,
26:12 that is the time to come to God, to hand ourselves
26:17 in the hands of a specialist. He's expert in mending
26:21 broken things. How we are you going to do this?
26:23 It is through repentance, asking God for forgiveness.
26:29 You know God can push the delete button when we
26:35 confess our sins. Ha, ha, push the delete button.
26:37 I love it. He can push that one and He is going to erase
26:42 and He said He is going to drop that in the deep of the sea.
26:47 Yes. Yes. So, we don't need to be discouraged,
26:53 we need to come to God, ask for forgiveness
26:56 and through the blood of Jesus, we will be washed,
27:01 we will be forgiven and we will be given the strength
27:10 to carry on, to carry on. So that is the past,
27:15 and the present, we can elaborate more on that but
27:19 let me just summarize on this. As long as we are with God,
27:24 our present is sure. Not that we will not have
27:27 troubles, but He is bigger than all the troubles.
27:31 Absolutely. And put together, in the future, we have no worry
27:35 because God is with us.
27:36 Paul, thank you so much, this is gone by too fast
27:39 but we are going to ask you to come back again next week
27:41 and we just so appreciate you being here.
27:44 For those of you at home, remember,
27:47 He is the God of past, the God of the present,
27:51 the God of the future.
27:52 Nothing that you have ever done, that you could confess
27:56 to the Lord is going to catch Him by surprise.
27:58 He knows the end from the beginning,
28:00 He know what you've done but He wants to shine His light
28:04 into your darkness.
28:05 Join us next time so that you can see how He took
28:07 a broken man Jacob, who felt alone and abandoned
28:15 and He gave him a rich life.
28:18 God has a plan for your life as well.
28:21 We'll see you next time.