Genesis: The Beginning
God, Jacob, and His Dream 1-27-16
READ: Genesis 28
Isaac accepts his favored child, Esau, will not be the one to fulfill the covenant blessing. The land God promised to Abraham will be passed down through Isaac’s line and into Jacob. Jacob has always been at home; not much of an explorer. I am thinking this was pretty stressful for Jacob. Do you like getting out of your comfort zone and traveling by yourself to places you have never been? It was Esau who was always outdoors and had experience with the land. Yet, now Jacob must follow Isaac’s instruction to leave a place of security and familiarity to explore the promised land (think about this line: ‘leave and go to the place I will show you’). Somebody say, “This is a set up!” God is going to show Jacob something about serving El Shaddai! So Jacob leaves.
Esau is still struggling with losing his father’s favor. Since Jacob is leaving to go find a suitable wife, Esau decides if he picks a more suitable wife for himself (than the two Canaanite wives he has), then maybe his father will forgive him for being careless with his birthright and the divine blessing. What do you make of that? Esau still has not connected the dots that he missed out on the blessing by divine design. BTW, Ishmael was rejected. I guess Esau did not get the memo.
Jacob heads out toward Haran; a Mesopotamian city. He travels until it is dark and decides to lodge there. He grabs a big stone and goes to sleep. While he is sleeping, Jacob has a dream. In the dream, Jacob sees a stairway connecting heaven and earth; angels are ascending and descending on this stairway. How do you interpret the dream? Do you think he sees the tower of Babel (a ziggurat) in his dream? What are the angel’s doing? The LORD reveals to Jacob that someday God’s presence will fill the earth.
John 1:51 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.”
Jesus is the mediator between God and man and we see that clearly in Jacob’s dream. The LORD comes and stands over Jacob as He reaffirms the Abrahamic covenant with Jacob. El Shaddai is not only the God of Abraham and Isaac; he is the God of Jacob who will never leave him or forsake him. The importance of the idea of God being ever present is really important; pagan gods were located in a shrine and worshipers went to them. God pursues us! Amazing!
Jacob may be heading to Haran, but it is a temporary stop on his journey with God. God lets Jacob know he will be coming back to this land which will be called Bethel or “house of God.” (NOTE: Bethel is a city located six miles north of Jerusalem). This is all rather frightening to Jacob; it is a spiritual milestone in his life. So, he sets up a memorial stone on pillars to signify to others of this place of divine visitation. Jacob then pours oil on the stone and pillar (a sign of consecration to the LORD).
Jacob has new knowledge of God, but old ways are hard to change. Sure appears at first glance that Jacob tries to bargain with God; if God does this then I will do that type of thing. He even mentions giving a tithe (a tenth) for God’s favor. Wow! Thoughts? In the New Testament the focus includes conversation about tithing, but more importantly the Word of the LORD speaks to gracious giving and gracious living. Once we give ourselves fully to God he also possession of our wallets.
Jacob’s faith has to grow greatly, because he still does not realize the graciousness of God to unconditionally bestow the gift of the covenant upon him. He is a schemer and a trickster; he cannot earn God’s gift based on behavior. Wonder what will happen to help Jacob realize the Word of the Lord—His Promise—is the only Truth upon which we can fully count? God never lies and He always keeps His Word. This should give us a holy boldness, because we can count on Him.