Ken Johnson - Williams, Western Australia Convention - 2018

Hymn 243 

The first verses I will speak of are from the Old Testament; the second lot of verses from the New Testament and the third lot of verses refer to us. Genesis 22:7, “And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father and said, 'My Father,' and he said, 'Here am I, my son.' And he said, 'Behold the fire and the wood but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?' And Abraham said, 'My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering.' So, they went both of them together.” It wasn’t a long conversation, a lot of words said but Abraham was firm in his belief that God would provide. You know the story how he built the altar and bound his son and reaching out for the knife when the Lord said, “Abraham, Abraham.” The Lord was to provide a lamb, but it was a ram and it wasn’t a young ram because it was caught by its horns. That ram represented the sacrifice. When Abraham answered Isaac, he said that God would provide Himself a lamb. Jesus said, “Abraham saw My day.” God was going to provide a lamb and the ram was the sacrifice; but God was going to provide a lamb for Himself and I believe that was Jesus. When the Lord first called him from his nation to the promised land - then the birth of Isaac – God will provide.

At the beginning of this chapter, “And it came to pass after these things.” Which things? There are three words “God will provide.” There was a time in Abraham’s life when he provided, and Ishmael was born. God wasn’t going to have a child born of a bond woman. But when Isaac was born the child grew and was weaned and Abraham made a great feast the same day Isaac was weaned. When Abraham came out of the field Sarah said, “Ishmael is mocking Isaac. It’s time for Hagar and him to leave.” The Lord said to Abraham, “You listen to Sarah; you have to get rid of Hagar and Ishmael.” I don’t know how old Isaac would have been when he was weaned 2 or 3 years old. Do you know when Abraham was weaned? He was over 100 years old! That was his first time! There would have been some glory in that, but it wasn’t according to God’s promises. Sometimes it takes a long time to be weaned. Someone said when a child is completely weaned, they are no longer crying for something that wasn’t necessary.

Chapter 22 when Abraham was called the Lord said, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac.” Ishmael was now out of the picture and now they were firmly into the promise. All that Abraham and Sarah had done was gone and the only thought was going to bring blessing was what God had promised. We all know that the only thing that matters is what we have done within God’s Will and Abraham had learnt that before he died. Now there comes this time when he’s taking his son as the sacrifice and the Lord stopped him, “Abraham, Abraham…….” Once again, Ishmael is out of the picture. In this convention, we have already heard about “Simon, Simon” and then “Martha, Martha” and now it’s “Abraham, Abraham.” There 5 more in the Bible where they were named twice! But the provision was given that God will provide. After this, Sarah died and Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for Isaac. Chapter 24, the servant said, “What if this doesn’t work?” Verse 7, “The Lord God which took me from my father’s house and from the land of my kindred, and which spake to me, that sware unto me saying, 'Unto thy seed will I give this land,' He shall send His angel before thee and thou shalt take a wife unto my son.”

He didn’t say God would provide but God had been so faithful all those years, but I want to mention what I have appreciated about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I found 33 verses in the Bible where all 3 are mentioned together. There were 2 verses where Abraham, Isaac and Israel were mentioned. There was the same thread through all their lives – God will provide. Chapter 31:13, when the Lord told Jacob to go back to Bethel, he had been working for Laban but there was something he had to deal with first: his brother Esau. We don’t read until chapter 32:9, “O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which said unto me, 'Return unto thy country and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee.' I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant for with my staff, I passed over this Jordan, and now I am become two bands. Deliver me, I pray thee from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me and the mother with the children.”

Then Jacob started sending different messages, groups of animals saying, “This is for my lord Esau, from your servant Jacob.” He realised that this is what had hurt Esau, making him a servant, so Jacob took the place of a servant. “This is for you and I am your servant.” That night, Jacob wrestled with that angel and then the next day they met up. But here comes Esau with his 400 men and then there was his brother with the women and children. But when they saw each other, they ran and embraced, and it was all over. When I read this chapter and of this peace that was between Esau and Jacob, it reminded me of Jesus, because He humbled Himself. It was because of Jacob humbling himself; he bowed himself down to the earth 7 times. But how is it Esau brought 400 men?

When David went to take Nabal’s life, it was with 400 men. But then Abigail came, and she humbled herself, “I will take the blame.” It wasn’t her fault! When Jacob took the blame, “You are my Lord and I am Your servant,” peace was made. Years went by and Joseph was sold into Egypt and you know that story. Once again Egypt, after all this had happened and Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt. It says in chapter 47:9, when Jacob was presented before Pharaoh, Pharaoh asked, “How old are you?" Jacob said, "The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years. Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been.” Jacob blessed Pharaoh. When I read this testimony – 130 years old but few and evil have been the days of my years. I have one sheet for every day in the year (in my diary) and the title I give to every page is ‘the days of my pilgrimage.’ Jacob had some very hard years, then dealing with his brother and even later, he had some rough years. Yet in all this, God provided for Jacob and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Pharaoh didn’t bless Jacob! In Hebrews, it says Melchizidec blessed Abraham, he was a shepherd, he had sheep and cattle and he had more blessing in his life because he had allowed the Lord to guide – God will provide. We have received provision here in this convention and because of all God has provided in the past, we can be sure God will provide.

When I offered for the work, I wrote to my parents telling them of my offer for the work. Jesus gave the recipe and Jesus said, “You prayed for the harvest,” and that’s what my Mother did. It was the Lord of the harvest that touched my heart. I remember thinking about the future - raised in a professing home, I knew about workers and hadn’t heard of any having hardships or suffering from any need. I knew the story of Sam Jones almost dying when the gypsies came and helped him. So, I didn’t feel it would be a problem going into the work. But the thing I was thinking about was that – God would provide. God has provided and will provide so we will continue having this joy. For everyone, it’s the same recipe; it doesn’t matter what we have left behind, and we can find satisfaction in serving him.  Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

I don’t know the customs here but in the U.S when a veteran die, the army or the navy always sends 2 or 3 soldiers who play their music and put a flag over the casket. There are 2 soldiers holding the flag and there are 13 bolts. Each bolt has its meaning and number 11 represents the Jewish and the United States and their belief in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The next bolt number 12 represents the Christian belief in God the Father and His Son. But the United States have changed the rules to pray in schools and teach the Bible. Yet one of the bolts represents the Jewish and the United States. The testimony of those 3 men and the one thing they had in common was that they were peace makers. When Isaac was in the land of the Philistines, he went there as if he was thinking in his mind that he was going to Egypt. Because the Lord came to him and said, “Don’t go, you just stay here.” So, he stayed there. That year, he received one hundred-fold in the land of the Philistines. I would like to understand better what one hundred-fold is: it’s not 100%! He received one hundred-fold because he stayed.

We heard about this caravan of people coming up from Mexico and they are leaving their country. They feel, “If I can get to the United States, I will prosper.” That’s what they feel - that they can’t prosper in Mexico, but they will prosper there. That’s human nature. But that year, Isaac’s crop was one hundred-fold. After that they dug some wells and the Philistines came. Finally, they dug a third well and the Philistines didn’t take that one; he was a peace maker. All three: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were peace makers. Abraham and Lot were there, and he said to Lot, “You choose first.” Then there was Isaac when Amalek came out wanting to make a covenant with Isaac. He didn’t fight for it, he just gave it over. Jacob humbled himself. All these 3 men were peace makers. What did Jesus say? “Blessed are the peace makers.” So often in our nature, we don’t want to be the peace maker. One of my companions would be the meekest man around and someone gave him a plant, so he planted it and it grew and prospered there. But a lady came along, and she asked, “Do you know the name of it?” He said, “No.” She said, "It’s called, ‘Looking for a fight’." Blessed are the peace makers for they shall be called the sons of God. Jesus proved that on the last night of His life.

Two years ago, I read a book called the Longest Day, and it’s about the invasion of D-Day when it began at midnight in England. But looking at the last days of Jesus, Jesus had the longest night! Because when He was there for the Passover, Judas left and it was night. They came looking for Him with their lanterns and torches; and all that happened at night. It didn’t happen in the morning. It was in that night when Jesus prayed in Gethsemane and God provided. In the darkest moment of His life, He prayed, “Not My Will but Thine be done.” In closing is one of my favourite verses: lots of conventions and as a visitor but sometimes if you look ahead.

One of my favourite verses is II Corinthians 9:10, “Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness.” In Spanish it says, “He that gives seed to the sower and bread to the hungry will provide.” When we think of meetings ahead of us, He does provide; and that has been a comfort to me. What was it we sang in that hymn? “God is faithful to His chosen in His dealings every day.” God has helped us and now we are heading off into the future and He will provide. So many times in this convention, we have heard the words of thankfulness. Perhaps the testimony for the past is that God has provided in each experience and our testimony for the future is, "God will provide." I know each have had difficult experiences in the past, but here we are, and God has provided. We are just grateful He has provided and now we can go out into the future that God will provide, and I would like to have more faith in His promises.