Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Significance of Place

What is the significance of place to God? In Acts 17:26 it says that God “. . . hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.” (KJV) The NIV phrases it “. . . and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.”

In John chapter 4 Jesus meets the woman at the well, the woman of ill repute.

(5) Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
(6) Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

Why is this place chosen for this meeting?

Look at Genesis 12:6-7

(6) And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Shechem, unto the oak of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.
(7) And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, “Unto thy seed will I give this land:” and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.

The place chosen for this meeting was the place where God appeared to Abram for the first time in the Promised Land. In verses 1 and 2 of Chapter 12 God tells Abram to (greatly revised here (o; !)Get moving and I’ll make a great nation. But in verses 6 & 7 He says – You have arrived! This is it! Here it is! This will be your land!

Fast forward two generations. In Genesis 33 Jacob has returned from Paddan Aram (the country of Laban his uncle/father-in-lawX2). He has already had his meeting with Esau.

Genesis 33:18-20

(18) And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city.
(19) And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for an hundred pieces of money.
(20) And he erected there an altar, and called it Elelohe-Israel.
(Note: Elelohe-Israel means God, the God of Israel. Jacob accepts his new name, Israel, and proclaims a new strength or greater intensity to his relationship with Elohim. God is HIS God.)

In verse 18 the NIV says Jacob had “safely arrived in the city of Shechem."

After his deceipt and exile – Shechem is the place to which God brings Jacob back. A place that he knows from his own family history is a place of great promise to his grandfather Abraham and his descendants, and therefore a place of great promise for him. The promises of God bring hope and assurance and therefore an awareness of safety. (Blessed assurance I’m standing on the promises of God!)

Back to the New Testament!
Reposing in this awesome place of history, Jesus has an encounter with the woman at the well. When he confronts her with her sin, she begins to argue with him about – place.

(John 4:20) Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

But Jesus does not let her get by with that.

John 4:21-26

(21) Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
(22) Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
(23) But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
(24) God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
(25) The woman saith unto him, I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.
(26) Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he
(Note: I AM He – I AM – God’s name in the Old Testament)

In a place where a Jew should not be, Samaria, Jesus meets a woman at a place that during that time of day was not customary for “nice” women to be, a well, that is steeped in history as the very soil that God said to Abraham – here is your land, and God said to Jacob – welcome back my wayward child. And in this place Jesus says to that woman, God is a God of spirit to be worshiped in spirit and truth. Worship is a heart issue, not an place issue, not a race issue, not an outward issue. God is accessible to everyone. He is accessible to you. I have made Him accessible to you. Reach out and touch Me. I am God!

Act 17:26-28 (NKJV)

(26) And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, (27) so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; (28) for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, “for we are also His offspring.”

So where are you? Wherever it is -- it's significant!

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