(If the Soundcloud player does not display in your browser or email, follow this link to listen to the audio: Barrenness – God’s nursery Fighting for your children by Basson Nel)
Before we start – remind yourself again: “What does barrenness mean to me?”
We might all have some area in which we are not fruitful, but it will differ from person to person, and right now I want each of us to ask God to minister to us in our specific place of barrenness during this morning, or during this series.
To briefly re-cap, as we continue with this series of lessons learned from the 7 barren women of the Bible:
God has made promises to each of us, either through His word, or prophetically.
But the fulfillment of a promise, unlike provision, does not fall from the sky, we have to fight for it – to co-labour with God for the fulfillment thereof.
If it is worth having, then it is worth fighting for – and God’s promises are always worth having!
Therefore it is incredibly important that we keep fighting - for our own victories in God, are also victories for our spouses; for our children; and for generations to come!
This brings as to the principle of Inheritance – the fight should become easier for each next generation as they stand on our shoulders – as they stand on our victories, as they build on our foundations, as our ceilings become their floors!
*This is a huge part of God's plan – that our victories and our areas of Spiritual authority should be passed on and increase with each generation! (repeat)
Last week we have seen that not only Abram's wife Sarai was barren, but also Isaac's wife, Rebekah, and Jacob's wife, Rachel.
Looking at scripture, we can calculate that Sarai remained barren for a minimum of 25 years, although it could be longer, as we do not know for how long they were married before leaving Haran.
Gen.25:20 tells us that Isaac was 40 years old when he married Rebekah.
The next verse reads: “Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.”
It sounds very easy though – he prayed and she became pregnant, but note that he was 60 years old when the twins Jacob and Esau were born - he had to fight for 19 years for the pregnancy, 20 years for the birth!
But part of the victory is that it was definitely a shorter time of barrenness than the previous generation!
Next generation – Jacob married to Rachel - from the scriptures (Gen.29:21-28, 30:22 and 31:41) we can calculate that Rachel was barren for a maximum of 13 years.
Each generation had to fight to see their own promise fulfilled, but in each generation, the fight became easier – the breakthrough came sooner – 25 years, became 20 years, became 13 years, and eventually we do not hear of barrenness in the next generations.
*I know that many here did not battle to fall pregnant, but whatever our fight was, we need to pass on that inheritance and breakthrough to the next generation.
They need to be aware of the promises, aware of the fight, aware of the victories and aware of the ground taken – it is their inheritance!
As I’ve said: a huge part of God's plan is that our victories and our areas of Spiritual authority should be passed on and increase with each generation!
This is not happening – who can tell me what your grandfather, or even your parents wrestled with God for – we do not know!
Yet it is important in your life, in your bloodline!
This is why we often see the same unhelpful stuff in the lives of our children, or grand-children which we struggled with as teenagers, or at some other stage.
Too often pitfalls are “outgrown” but left undealt with – just waiting for the next generation to fall into – do not be fooled, things like teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, pornography and even depression are real spiritual battles and landmines just lying in waiting for the next generation.
We stand amazed when, reading the book of Acts, we hear the accounts of healings, of demons being defeated and driven out, the accuracy of prophecies, etc.
Those took place in the first century, so imagine where the church of today could have been and should have been, if these victories and spiritual authority was effectively passed down from one generation to the next.
The reality is that the church of today is desperately trying to reclaim the spiritual ground which the early church had already taken – this is a tragedy!
Imagine us trying to reclaim anything else form the first century – sanitation, transportation, electricity, hospitalization, military strategy or equipment, technology – it is ludicrous, but in the area of Spiritual breakthrough and authority, we think it is ok for each generation to start all over again at ground zero!
This brings us to today’s barren lady, sadly only known as Manoah’s wife, in Judges 13:1-8
“Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, so the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years. A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was sterile and remained childless. The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, "You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son. Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean, because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines." Then the woman went to her husband and told him, "A man of God came to me. He looked like an angel of God, very awesome. I didn't ask him where he came from, and he didn't tell me his name. But he said to me, 'You will conceive and give birth to a son. Now then, drink no wine or other fermented drink and do not eat anything unclean, because the boy will be a Nazirite of God from birth until the day of his death.'" Then Manoah prayed to the LORD: "O Lord, I beg you, let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born."
Jg 13:9-12 “God heard Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman while she was out in the field; but her husband Manoah was not with her. The woman hurried to tell her husband, "He's here! The man who appeared to me the other day!" Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he came to the man, he said, "Are you the one who talked to my wife?" "I am," he said. So Manoah asked him, "When your words are fulfilled, what is to be the rule for the boy's life and work?"
I love this guy’s thinking: “Lord, if you are going to be so kind to us, that you send an angel to bring news of a miracle birth, then please also tell us how to raise him!”
By the way, the son to be born to them, was none other than Samson!
Unfortunately the incredible feats of Samson is not what we want to look at today (but do read Judges 13-16 for some amazing Old Testament stories).
My point today is that in co-labouring with God, we fight for the future of our children – Manoah asked: “teach us how to bring up the boy!”
This father realized that his son was significant and special – that surely there had to be a special way to raise him – why else would heaven take the trouble to come and break the news to them?
Exactly, he was significant and special, he was by no means an ordinary child! Years before, Israel had been led out of Egypt by Moses and this is what the word of God said about Moses:
"At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child.” (Acts 7:20a)
Heb. 11:23 reads: “By faith Moses' parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child...”
In the same way, Samson would be no ordinary child – Moses had a significant calling on his life to lead God’s people, now Samson would be born, and again Israel had to be led out of oppression – no ordinary child!
My question to us this morning: Are your children ordinary?
If so, who decided it?
Who decided and declared your children insignificant, not special – ordinary?
If no one did, then surely we should all be asking this same question of God:
Lord, teach us how to bring up the boy/girl who is to be born – our own extra-ordinary child!
I do not believe that any child given to any parent on this planet is just a number in heaven – just another one to suck in air, use the oxygen and exhale!
No child is given or born with the simple instructions of: Eat, work, sleep, repeat!
Our children are gifts from God the Father, from our Father, as a Father – there are no ordinary children!
Did an angel appear to Billy Graham’s parents, or to Mother Theresa’s parents before they were born, or to the millions of other political or business leaders, sport stars, artists, etc?
I don’t know, but I really doubt it – therefore I do not think that those waiting to fall pregnant today, should wait for an angelic visitation either!
Here is the deal – in an ecstatic ejaculation of life, between 200 and 500 million sperm are released in an epic race to fertilize an egg – only one will be successful!
If you realize that you were the winner in a race with a minimum of 100 million participants – you suddenly feel rather special, rather less ordinary, and it’s true for each of us!
So from now on we regard each child, and each grand-child as extra-ordinary; unless you specifically have an angel visit you saying: “You are about to fall pregnant, but rest assured he/she will be nothing special!”
So we sit up and ask: Lord, how do we raise our children to fulfil the calling that you have on each of their lives, in this day, in this family, in this city and nation?
In Eph. 6:1-4 Paul gives instructions to both children and their parents.
It’s only a couple of sentences, basically saying: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” And “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
That’s the sum total thereof, but I like the fact that Paul assumes that they are both there, in the meeting – hearing his instructions.
He did not say: “Parents when you get home, tell your children that uncle Paul said they must obey you!” – the children were there with their parents!
Neither did he say: “Mothers, when you get home tell your husband that Paul said fathers must… when he gets back form golf, or cycling, or fishing this evening!”
There is a responsibility on the church and on preachers to ensure that our message should be relevant, applicable, challenging, encouraging and edifying.
And there is a responsibility on us as parents to be here with our children – during good and bad times, if this cannot carry you through the tough times, why come when the going is easy, either?!
In 1 Thes. 2:11b-12 Paul wrote: “we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children: encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory.”
This is both an encouragement and a challenge to us as fathers – “encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God”.
In a world where dads mostly leave it up to mom to do a bedtime story or prayer, fathers have become largely uninvolved in the spiritual lives of their children.
It is little wonder that, in general, children have a hard time identifying God as a father!
Heb.12 urges fathers to discipline their children: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (vs 11)
I am fully aware that spanking has been officially outlawed in our country last week: The common law defence of reasonable chastisement was declared unconstitutional and no longer applies in our law.
Judge Keightley was very clear in that she didn’t intend for parents to land behind bars, but instead for parents to find alternative methods of discipline.
As much as we are completely against any form of abusive behaviour towards children, we are equally aware of the disastrous long term results of such a judgement in every country where all forms of corporal punishment was outlawed.
Your children, or grand-children need:
- For you to firmly establish their identity and security as sons and daughters of God;
- For you to love them unconditionally;
- For you to regularly communicate your approval and acceptance of them;
- For you to model marriage to them as a lifelong covenant, setting them up for success in this area;
- For you to set them up for victory in the workplace – releasing entrepreneurial thinking;
- For you to be courageous enough to let them both fail and flourish;
- For you to live your life with more dreams and less regrets and fears;
- For you to regularly and openly declare your dependence on God;
- For you to celebrate them as the next link in your family chain;
- For you to finish this race, this life strongly – going all the way to the end!
Some questions regarding your children, or grand-children:
- what are the most obvious challenges that you are preparing yourself to face during their current phase of life (baby, toddler, pre-teen, teen, about to leave home)?
- How do they differ in personality and ability and how does this affect your parenting of each?
- How intentional are you about modelling the true heart of the Father to them? (Identity, love, acceptance, provision, forgiveness, grace, patience, care, discipline, stewardship, freedom, blessing, trust)
- Realising that love is spelled t i m e, how are you doing with each of them? (dates, personal interest in studies/sport, can you name their friends?)
- Are you sure that you and your spouse are the loudest voices in their heads – are your values their values?
- Are you ensuring that they are aware of your struggles and victories – not having to re-fight the fight for ground that you have already taken?
- What is your idea of a great family holiday together? And theirs?
- Is your home environment conducive and inviting for them to bring their friends to?
- Do you know what their dreams, hopes and fears are for the future?
- Do you have a plan in place to set each of them up for success in their unique future?
Let us fight for this next generation, ensuring that they start off by at least walking in all of our victories! Manoah prayed to the LORD: "O Lord, I beg you, let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born."