(from the Breath of Life Series by C. D. Brooks)

transcribed and edited by Derek Morris


Our subject tonight is “God in Bad Company.” I want to begin by reading to you from . The Bible says, “The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee.” There’s something strange about that text. We have some proverbs that are common in various parts of the world. One of them is: “A man is known by”--what? “the company he keeps.” That’s right. Here’s another: “Birds of a feather”--do what? “flock together.” In other words, we generally associate with like kind. A filthy-minded man does not enjoy the company of a pure and noble individual, and vice versa.

In the Scriptures there are clear warnings against keeping bad company. is one of them. The Bible says, “If any man obey not our word by this epistle…have no company with him.” Another text is . The Bible says, “Mark them which cause divisions and offences...and avoid them.” In other words, don’t associate with bad company.

I read an article some time ago on name-dropping. Apparently, this is the favorite sport in Hollywood, California. So many hopefuls gather out there, hoping to strike it rich in show business, and compared to those who come, those who make it are relatively few. So if you go there, folks are working as maids and waitresses and chauffeurs, people who hope someday to get a big break into show business. Many of them love to go to parties and try to shake hands with a star or a producer, and if they can do it, then they’ll talk about it, and drop those names as though they were good friends! Name droppers. They’re usually people who haven’t attained much, but they’re trying to gain from the prestige of another. And sometimes it works. As a result of name dropping, people have been given admittance into places where they otherwise could not go. They’ve been allowed credit that otherwise they could not have, simply because they dropped names.

But back to our opening text. Could it be that the great God of heaven is name dropping? Why would He say, “the God of Jacob defend thee?” Is it possible that any name could add luster to the name of the Lord? And why that name? If God is going to name drop, why Jacob? The name Jacob has a bad connotation. Jacob means thief, con-man, one who takes by fraud. It seems to me, if God is going to drop names He might say, “I am the God of the angel Gabriel,” that bright angel who stood in the place of the fallen Lucifer. Gabriel, who is known for his devotion to God and his loyalty and faithfulness. Or God could have said, “I am the God of Melchizadek,” flawless priest of Salem, a man with an impeccable reputation. But He didn’t. Why didn’t God say, “I am the God of Joseph,” a young man of such integrity that he preferred to go to jail rather than make love to a beautiful woman who happened to be his master’s wife? Why didn’t God say, “I am the God of the virgin Mary,” a virgin so pure and so clean and so humble and so submissive to the dictates and holy impulses of God that she was chosen to bear in her body the Christ child? Why did He say, “I am the God of Jacob”? And God did so over and over again. What kind of company is that for God to associate His name with? You ought to take a look at Jacob.

He was a thief and a con-man. He conned his old daddy in regards to the birthright blessing and he cheated his brother Esau out of what was rightfully his. As the firstborn, Esau had the right to the birthright in their family, which meant he should become priest of the home. He should get most of his father’s goods, and should be progenitor of the promised Messiah. That’s what the birthright involved. No wonder it was so precious! Well, Jacob came up with a scheme involving his mother that fooled and deceived his aged father, stole that birthright, and when Esau found out about it, he was going to kill his brother as soon as he laid eyes on him. And so Jacob had to flee for his life. He ran so hard and so long that finally in exhaustion he fell down on the ground, and having nothing but a stone for a pillow, he went to sleep.

While he was sleeping, there appeared to him a vision. He saw a ladder extended from earth to heaven and angels ascending and descending on that ladder (). As he was having that vision, the Lord appeared to him and said, “The promise I made to Abraham and Isaac will be fulfilled in your seed.” The Lord ratified the birthright with Jacob. Jacob got up and thanked God. But he was afraid to go home, so he went down to Mesopotamia. There he saw a beautiful girl and he decided he wanted to marry her. So he went to her father, who was a crook named Laban, and he said, “Sure, if you work for me for seven years, you can marry her.” After the wedding, he found out that Laban had tricked him. He ended up with Rachel’s older sister, Leah. That must have been quite a surprise! So he worked another seven years for Rachel. But in spite of all this, the Lord prospered Jacob and finally he decided it was time to go home to inherit the promise. As he journeyed, Jacob sent out some of his men to see what the land was like, and before long they came riding back. “Jacob, we have bad news. Your brother Esau is coming to get you. He’s got hundreds of armed men. He’s coming like a man going to war.”

Now, Jacob knows that he doesn’t stand a chance against Esau, and his faith is tested, because God told him that he would inherit the promise and be the father of many nations. Had God made a mistake? Jacob separated himself from his family. He walked alone across the brook Jabbok, and there he fell down and began to pour out his heart to God.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there are times when your family can’t help you. There are times when your friends can’t help you. There are times when only God can help. Would you say Amen? Jacob was out there in the darkness praying, and all of a sudden, someone took hold of Jacob and began to wrestle with him. We are told that bandits and robbers were common in that region, and perhaps Jacob thought that one of them had caught him. Jacob was fighting for his life. It went on for hour after hour, and he was matching strength with whoever this was. He was wrestling and praying and crying at the same time. But all of a sudden this Visitor touched him on the thigh and crippled him. At once Jacob recognized that he was wrestling with the Lord. Jacob cried out, “I will not let You go until You bless me.” Now, Jacob was not boasting of his physical strength. He knew he was in the presence of God and such arrogance would have cost him his life. Jacob was saying, I’m going to hold on to God. I’m in a time of great trouble, but I’m going to trust in God. I’m going to believe the Word of God. It was then that the Lord said, “What is thy name?”

Now, the Lord knew his name, but He wanted Jacob to admit what he was. “My name is Jacob, Lord.” Everybody had heard of Jacob, the cheater, the deceiver. My name is Jacob.

“Well, I’m going to change your name. Henceforth, thou shalt be called Israel, because thou hast wrestled with God and prevailed.”

By the way, I want to tell you that God can still change your name. Some of you have bad reputations, but God can change your name. That’s the glory of God as it comes to rest upon the converted soul. He is able to change your ways so much that you get a new reputation around town. Even though God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, and even though over and over again He referred to Himself as the God of Israel, yet now and then, just to encourage the lost, just to say something to no-good folk, He calls Himself the God of Jacob. What He’s doing is name dropping: using a name that stands for nothing in order to remind you and me that God keeps bad company. God will come to the aid of the worst sinner in this auditorium tonight. He can save the most rotten person here who comes to Him by faith.

            The Bible is filled with other examples of other undesirable people that the Lord helped and saved by His grace. Over in we find God’s honor roll of men and women who were giants of faith. It starts off with Abel, then Enoch, then Noah, then Abraham, then Jacob, and then all of a sudden you come to verse 31 of . The Bible says, “By faith, Rahab the harlot perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.” Now, just in case you don’t know the word, a harlot is a prostitute, a lady of the street. And here on God’s honor roll is the name of a prostitute who overcame by faith.

Who was this woman Rahab? She was a prostitute in Jericho and one day, it is possible, she went down to meet the caravan coming in off the desert. She often met these men. She had on her special garments that identified her trade. She had on her golden chain about her forehead, her face and her lips highly painted, and her little black book in her hand. She went down to the well where the travelers stopped to water their beasts, except there’s excitement by the well this time. The people are talking about a God who set three million slaves free; talking about a God who led these slaves to the shores of the Red Sea, with mountains to the south and the Egyptian army fast approaching, and how that God had opened up a path in the midst of the sea that they might be delivered. Rahab heard about a God who brought down bread from heaven when His people got hungry, and as she listened, faith sprang up in her heart. She ran home and washed her face. She took off those clothes she’d been wearing. She tore up her little black book, and she began to ask questions around town: “Does anybody know anything about that God?” Folks thought she’d lost her mind.

“What’s the matter with you, Rahab? You’ve been making a bundle of money. Why are you getting so excited? You didn’t see God open the Red Sea. You didn’t see God rain water out of a dry rock. You didn’t see God rain bread down from heaven.”

And Rahab responded, “It’s true, I didn’t see it. I just heard it, and I believe.”

 When the spies from the camp of Israel came over into Jericho, Rahab helped to hide them, and when they got ready to go she said, “Listen, I believe in your God. I believe that He’s going to give you this land. I believe that He’s going to give you the victory. I’m asking you then, because I believe, I’m asking you to spare my life when you come back.”

The men of God said, “Alright. You take a red rope and hang it in the window of your house (). And when we come back, we’re going to look for a house with a red rope in the window, and whoever is in that house will live.”

As soon as they left, the first thing Rahab did was get that rope and put it in her window. She wanted to make sure she had done what was required of her. She hung that red cord in her window. Red, which is the symbol of salvation, the blood of Jesus shed for our sins. Hang it where it can be seen. Don’t be ashamed to be on the Lord’s side. Would you say Amen?

When Joshua and his armies came in battle against Jericho, it was the Lord who caused those walls to come crashing down. But there was one house on the wall which stood: there was a red cord hanging in the window. God honored the faith of a woman who had been a prostitute, and saved her by His grace.

Let me tell you something even more amazing. When you turn over to and you read the earthly genealogy of Jesus, it goes on with all of these begats. Then in the Bible says, “Salmon begat Boaz of Rahab.” Wait a minute. What’s she doing there, in the Lord’s family tree? I tell you, friends, when the Lord lays hold on you, He changes your ways. Amen? This woman of low repute got her act together by the grace of God, and became so desirable and so dignified that a man decided he wanted to marry her, and they had a little baby named Boaz, who, when he was older, saw Ruth gleaning in the fields and married her, and they had a son named Obed, who had a son named Jesse, whose youngest son was David. And Jesus Christ is of the root and offspring of David. Yes, God keeps bad company. In the family tree of Jesus Christ is a prostitute who overcame by the blood of the Lamb.

I like that. That gives me hope tonight. There are times when you make such a rotten mess of your life that your own mother or father don’t want to be bothered with you. Folks in your neighborhood don’t even want to look at you when they pass by. Well, I want to tell you tonight, when your life is such a mess that you can’t even keep your head up in good company, when nobody wants to bother with you, there is a God in heaven, and He will reach down and say, When nobody else wants you, I’ll take you. I’ll take you. “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” ().

Just one other story of encouragement from the Word of God. The Bible tells me about a woman caught in adultery. If you read the King James Version it says she was “caught in the act.” The law of Moses said that she should be stoned to death--immediately! And by the way, the law of Moses said that the man should also be stoned to death, but by the time of Christ the men folk, who happened to run everything, had adjusted the law that only the woman died and the man that was caught with her could actually help stone her.

So they caught her and like folks today, they created a big scene. Somehow, it made them look a little holier to rub someone else in the dirt. They drag that woman out of the house and through the busy streets, and quickly a crowd gathers. Everyone is picking up rocks and walking along behind. The woman caught in adultery doesn’t even have the courage to look up. As they drag her out of the city, some of the religious leaders get an idea. “This man Jesus has been interfering with our authority. Let’s take her to Him. If He says stone her, then the people will turn their backs on Him. If He says to let her go, then He is contradicting Moses’ law, and we’ll stone Him, too!” It seemed like a perfect plan.

Finally, they arrive at the place where Jesus is teaching. The crowd parts, and the mob drags this poor woman to the center and slams her down at the feet of Jesus. Let me just pause to say this: When you’ve made a mess of your life, that’s the best place on earth to be--at the feet of Jesus. Would you say Amen? They throw her down in a crumpled heap at Jesus’ feet. But the Lord doesn’t even look at her. Instead, He looks at them and says, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” While they’re thinking about that, He stoops down and with His eyes on them, He begins to write in the sand. The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly what He wrote, but no doubt He wrote their sins. There were liars there ready to stone someone else, and wrote in the sand, LIARS. And those liars looked at it, and they looked at Him. And they dropped their rocks and walked away. Then, Jesus wrote down EXTORTIONERS, and they looked at it, and dropped their rocks and walked away. Then He wrote ADULTERERS, and a whole lot of rocks fell. He kept on writing until everyone of those hypocrites had dropped his rocks and walked off.

Finally, when they were all gone, and it was just Jesus and this sinner, He spoke to her. “Woman, where are your accusers?”

That woman heard a different tone of voice now. She heard the voice of God and the voice of God is a voice of mercy and pity and compassion and pardon. When she heard it, she found courage to lift her head and look out through reddened eyes. When she looked around, she saw nothing but a pile of rocks, and the Rock of Ages. Then she looked at Jesus, and said, “No man, Lord?” Now, that was more of a question, than a statement. In other words, Lord, I heard what You said, and I know why they left. They left because they were not worthy to stone me. But You are worthy. You, Lord, are pure and holy and you are the Son of God. You’ve never sinned. You’ve got the right to take these stones and kill me. Are You going to do it?

And Jesus, who keeps bad company, said, “Neither do I condemn you.” Neither do I condemn you. Notice Jesus did not say, “Neither do I condemn adultery.” He does. He didn’t say, “Neither do I condemn sin.” He does. He said, “I do not condemn thee.” That lady was never the same again. She had heard the voice of God speaking pardon and peace to her heart. And Ladies and Gentlemen, that lady was the last to leave the cross and the first to reach the empty tomb. She was the one to take the word to the disciples that Christ was risen from the dead.

Ah yes, my friends, there is hope for you. There is hope for me. Jesus stooped all the way down to the bottom. Our God keeps bad company. No matter what you’ve done, no matter what you’re doing, there is help close at hand through Jesus Christ our Lord. He will save to the uttermost those who come to Him by faith. The Bible has this word of hope in . Say it with me: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Jesus paid with His life to save sinners. He stooped all the way down to the bottom to reach you and me. God keeps bad company. The sorriest sinner here tonight can be saved and go to heaven if he wants to, and if you’ve got good sense, you ought to want to. What do you say?

If you want to say tonight, Jesus, I’ve heard Your Word. I believe there is hope for me. Save me, wash my sins away, and give me victory in my life, and help me to do Your will. If that’s the desire of your heart, I want you to all stand up with me now as we pray. Do it now.

O blessed Lord, here we stand again. You know our past. You know our present. But we thank You that You accept us just as we are when we come to You by faith. Take us Lord, wash our sins away, and make us wholly Thine, and save us in Your kingdom. We ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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