God blessed Isaac and Rebekah with twins. But these boys struggled against each other, from the womb to adulthood. And prophecy would be fulfilled when the younger became master of the older. For Jacob schemed and lied to take the birthright... and the blessing, of his firstborn brother, Esau. And once a blessing is spoken from father to son, it cannot be retracted. Esau is left empty handed, bitter and filled with hatred. Family division that began between brothers... became one that lasts for centuries; one that would cause nation to war against nation.
When Jacob realized his brother meant to kill him, he needed to flee his home. So he followed his father's request to seek a wife outside of Canaan and he journeys to his grandfather's homeland of Haran. Along the way he sets up camp as the sun is setting. Using a stone for a pillow, he begins to dream. And this is the vision Jacob sees:
...behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.
Genesis 28:12-14 (NKJV)
Can you imagine... the vision itself. What a spectacular sight this must have been. The angels moving up and down, what some versions also describe as a stairway from earth to heaven... and it's there in front of Jacob.
And the Lord stands above it all, and He speaks. He tells Jacob that the very ground he is lying upon will be given to him and his descendants. This is part of the promise that God spoke to Abraham for his faith and obedience long ago.
And then He personalizes the promise to Jacob...
Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”
Genesis 28:15 (NKJV)
I am truly in awe of this dream... what a beautiful vision it must have been. But even more so, the promise that Jacob receives...
Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go...
for I will not leave you...
Think of what this must have meant to Jacob in light of the fact that he is running away from a brother who wants to kill him. Think of the realization that he just lied and schemed his way into the blessing of the first born... that should have gone to Esau. Realize, that it could have been Esau hearing these promises from God, had Isaac spoken the blessing to him... but that was not the prophecy given when Rebekah went to God about the struggles of her pregnancy.
Jacob is the rightful heir according to the prophecy.
But He manipulated his way to it.
And now God is making him promises of protection and blessing.
An undeserving man, receiving abundance, wealth and security.
I wonder what Jacob was thinking?
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said,
“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”
And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place!
This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”
Jacob obviously knew it was God...
Jacob seems to be realizing who God is, as He appeared to him personally, as He did to Isaac and Abraham before him. And now Jacob is receiving all this blessing, because of the faithfulness of his grandfather, Abraham and his obedience. For surely, it was not the obedience of Jacob that earned it... this was by an inherited grace and favor. This was not deserved by Jacob in light of what he has just done.
Then Jacob made a vow, saying,
“If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going,
and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on
so that I come back to my father’s house in peace,
then the Lord shall be my God.
And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house,
and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”
Jacob's encounter with God...
made it personal...
then the Lord shall be my God.
When the Bible speaks of a vow, it is not some lighthearted promise like we think of today. A vow was taken very seriously in this day. It was a lifelong commitment. Jacob was serious about dedicating his life to God... about making the Lord... his God, and no longer just the God of his father or his grandfather.
And that's what it truly is for each one of us.
There comes a time in our lives, when we need to make a decision for ourselves.
When we can no longer ride along on someone else's God. I mean, it's the same God of heaven and earth we are speaking of, but we need to develop our own relationship with Him, rather than just believing in Him because our parents did, or our brother did, or our friend did.
He needs to become our God, because we have experience with Him.
Because we do life with Him... everyday.
Word of God... train me, today...
to experience You in a personal way.
Father God, I thank You that You promise...
to be with me and keep me in the way I am going,
just as You promised Jacob.
For I know that I can claim these same promises today.
Thank You for being the same God yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
I trust You to give me all that I need to eat, to be clothed,
and to live in peace...
and I choose You, Lord as my God
for this day, and for the rest of my life.
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