We are in the middle of a week of ministry by Peter Brandon, aged 86. He came to us shortly after an eye operation, and when he leaves us, he is soon to go for three months of ministry to Australia.
Do you think 86 sounds too old to be so active? Well, one in the congregation last night was a lady of 102, Mrs Hall, who walked in unaided. Mrs Hall met Peter Brandon 64 years ago when he came to minister at a church and was a guest in her home. Peter quipped: 'She not only put me up, but she put up with me!'
The message was about Jacob, which means 'supplanter' or 'heel-grabber.' Isaac's wife Rebecca was pregnant with twins, Jacob and Esau, and they were battling it out in her womb. 'They are still doing it today,' said Peter. Esau was the first born, and Jacob came out holding Esau's heel.
When they grew up, Esau became a materialist. Jacob was blemished, but still had a faith in God. He bought Esau's birthright and deceived his father Isaac to get the blessing that went with the birthright. You can read all about it in Genesis chapters 25 and 27.
Esau was so angry that he vowed to kill Jacob, and Jacob fled to the north to his uncle Laban, who was also a deceiver. 'Jacob had 14 years serving Laban, seeing himself in Laban - both deceivers.'
Eventually, God told Jacob he could go back home, by which time he had two wives, two concubines, 12 sons and great herds. But on the way back, he was told that his brother Esau was coming to meet him, riding hard, with 400 men!
Jacob was terrified. That was the night the heel grabber met with God, at a place called Mahanaim, which means 'two hosts.' There were two hosts of angels there, said Peter. They would have protected Jacob and the family, but Jacob could not trust God totally. Instead he sent magnificent gifts ahead for Esau - 220 goats, 220 sheep, 30 camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty donkeys with ten foals.
All night Jacob wrestled with 'a man' who was in fact the Angel of the Lord (a pre incarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus). By this time Jacob was old, and Peter said: 'God can use an old person, as well as a young person, if he's prepared to be used, but there has to be a period of brokeness. That is what happened with Jacob that night.'
Jacob would not let go of 'the man' until He blessed him. Peter Brandon said that we would never see the blessings of God if there was private sin in the church. People wanted to see others coming to know the Lord, but revival would not come unless there were inward cleansing. The self life had to go. We had to be emptied of self if God was to move in power. 'God can use you, young or old, but are we willing for that? God can come and examine you tonight!'
Peter digressed and told us of a large London church which was packed for a communion service one Sunday morning. A young man stood up whose wife was dying. 'He got up and read the scripture: "This people knows Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.' I was broken! I looked around. Some people were mad, livid. One man came, a businessman, and said: "If I were near him, I would have pulled him down." The Lord had spoken and prevailed not against him!"'
He went on: 'I believe you're longing to see the Lord at work. You're tired, sick of going through the process. You want to see God at work. Jacob resisted Him. When God is about to bless, let Him break you - and me.'
He said that Jacob continued wrestling. Around the thigh bone is the largest muscle. God did not break his bone, but gently dislocated the bone. 'The source of the trouble is in us,' said Peter. 'The strength of resistance to God comes from the flesh.
'The Scriptures speaks many times that the flesh is the source of sin. Paul says, "In my flesh dwells no good thing." Romans 8:2, the flesh is condemned at the cross, but is yet to be judged in us. Every believer has a conflict; if there is no conflict, it's a proof you have never been saved! If the flesh and the spirit are battling against each other, it is a proof that you have been saved.
'There is not one speck of goodness in the flesh; it is totally corrupt, totally incurable. We are never told to starve it, but to mortify it, put it to death. Learn to hate the flesh; we'll never get victory until we hate the sight of it.
'All of us have besetting sins. These besetting sins from the flesh are smashing the church all over the country. People get upset and leave the church, walk out.
'God doesn't improve the flesh; He gives us a new power, the Holy Spirit and ... sin isn't dead, but the Christian has died to sin.
'I was 10 years in the Lord's work before I saw that truth. Many times I went before the Lord, and there came a moment when God showed me that I was crucified with Christ. He was finished with me and wanted me to reckon myself dead to sin and alive to Christ!'
He said: 'There comes a time when people say, like Jacob: "I will not leave this place until You bless us."' And he told us of a time that happened in his experience.
'Fifty years ago about 40 men were on their knees, all saying: "Lord, we're not going to let You go until You bless us." We prayed right through and what blessing came! On many occasions it comes through prayer, especially when God's people are serious. When you see crowds of people coming to a prayer meeting that has not even been organized, when people pray through the night... I heard miners crying to God that night.'
In the case of Jacob, the moment Jacob was broken, he was asked: 'What is your name?' Jacob was a liar. 'His mother Rebecca had told him to lie! Don't influence your children to do wrong!'
He had once lied to his father and said his name was Esau. But once Jacob was broken, God changed his name to Israel - a prince with God, one who prevailed with God and had power with men.
Peter said: 'God has not only forgiven our sins; He has given us the Holy Spirit, made us sons and daughters and joint heirs with Christ. He is going to share the riches of Heaven with us!'
He digressed a second time to tell us of a revival in South Africa. 'I have only been in a real, lasting revival once, in South Africa in the coloured area. It had been going on for ten years. When you are in revival meetings, it is heaven on earth. I never saw it once in England, but outside Cape Town, night after night, the glory of God filled the place. None of us wanted to go home.
'After four months with those people I had to find out the secret (of how the revival began). A wood carver took him took him to an old caravan and said: "That is where I had my Jabbok, where God broke me and the tears were streaming down. We hadn't seen a soul saved in thirty years. My fellow elders and I had a week on our knees and God broke us. We wept night after night. We saw we were following the European churches, but He gave us a vision to divide our church into four places on Sunday nights so He could multiply us. The local church could see deep dealings with the elders. We had 14 days of prayer - and it wasn't a cartload (of sin) God took away - it was a trainload! We told the church what God was saying and they had the four gospel meetings. They were broken, cleansed, filled with the Spirit. Fourteen churches went out from them!"
Peter said while all this was going on, he was staying with an astronomer who had lived there 30 years. He warned Peter that the Africans were emotional, but Peter invited him to come and see for himself. He reluctantly came to a communion meeting in a hut. 'There were 120 believers there, 100 of them new converts,' said Peter.
'One sister greeted us with: "Isn't the Lord wonderful!" Then someone started singing: "We're gathering together unto Him." Paeons of praise rang out. One after another people got up to praise and thank the Lord. You forget about people at such a time; you're taken up with the Lord! I forgot about my astronomer friend, but when I looked, his head was down and there was a pool of tears at his feet. Children of 4 and 5 were praising God just as much as the parents.
'Later at his home he told me, "I met God in that gathering for the first time in my life" It transformed the whole of his life.
And Peter said to our church in England: 'Beloved, wouldn't it be wonderful if that happened tomorrow?'
-- The above teaching was on Tuesday, Jan 25, 2012, and you can order a CD of the meeting from the church at http://www.yeshuas-people.com/
You can see Peter Brandon for yourself on this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Po7UILtV0g