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October 9, 2013 The main characters of Genesis so far have been Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Isaac. Adam started his life in the garden as the first man in creation. He had the privilege of naming the animals and he walked with God. He was given a wife created from his rib, but he followed her into sin by breaking God’s one law at the time: “Don’t eat from this tree.” This sin got them cast out of the garden, but more importantly introduced sin into the world. Several generations later we’re introduced to Noah. Sin was so rampant that God destroyed the whole rest of the world. Noah found favor in God’s eyes, so he build an ark with seven of his family members and they were saved. God established his covenant with Noah using the rainbow as a sign that he would never again flood the earth. After several more generations we come to Abraham. He gets the most attention and is considered one of the most important figures in Jewish history. He started out as an idolater but God called him and made a covenant with him. “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.” He had many ups and downs in his faith, but by the end of his life he was said to be “satisfied.” Abraham’s son, Isaac, leaves a different legacy. We’re never really shown that Isaac grew into the same spiritual maturity as his father. Hebrews shows that he believed unto righteousness, but when Isaac was too old to see, he tried to usurp God by giving the blessing to Esau. The satisfaction that marked Abraham’s life seems vacant in Isaac’s. Jacob begins his life much in the same way, and this serves as an important reminder of the definition of grace. None of these men were holy on their own; God called them and that’s more than enough. Jacob was a bit of a trickster as he “stole” the birthright and the blessing from Esau and this is where we pick up now: And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob. 42And these words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah: and she sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said unto him, Behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, purposing to kill thee. 43Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; arise, flee thou to Laban my brother to Haran; 44And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother’s fury turn away; 45Until thy brother’s anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and
fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day? 46And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me? So Jacob plans to escape Esau’s wrath under the pretense of looking for a wife. This adventure, as we’ll see, will hold much more than that, but this is the initial reason. And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. 2Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother’s father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother’s brother. 3And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; 4And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham. 5And Isaac sent away Jacob: and he went to Padanaram unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob’s and Esau’s mother. Isaac sends Jacob back to Haran (which is where Abraham and his father had settled for a while) and blesses him in the process. One might expect Isaac to be bitter but he seems to at least accept the fact that Jacob is promised the blessing. But the conversation doesn’t go unnoticed by Esau:
When Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob, and sent him away to Padanaram, to take him a wife from thence; and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan; 7And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Padanaram; 8And Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father; 9Then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife. Esau sees that marrying within the family pleases his father, so he marries within the family. The only trouble is that he went to Ishmael who was a work of Abraham’s flesh and not part of the inheritance.
And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. 11And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.
The distance between Beersheba and Haran was about 550 miles, so Jacob had quite a trip. I can only imagine the grief, the fear, the regret, and the uncertainty he must have felt. Try and put yourself in his shoes: he just deceived his father and basically betrayed his brother. He owned the birthright and the family blessing but they weren’t much good while on the run. He went looking for a wife, but he had to have known he was really running for his life. We know the end, so we don’t feel the anxiety he endured. Will he make it to Haran? If so, what will happen? Will he find a wife? What will she be like? Is Esau coming after him? Will he meet Esau again? What will happen? I think we can safely say that Jacob was at a low point in his life. In one day he lost 2/3 of his family and the safety of his home, and his future was uncertain to say the least. This is the prime time for God to speak:
And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. We know from John 1:51 that the ladder is a reference to Christ who speaks to Jacob and reveals several things:
And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God
When God appears to Jacob, He begins by revealing Himself as Yahweh. This is a special revelation and a special moment. This is perhaps Jacob’s first personal encounter with God. God is not vague but specific with His identity. of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: Jacob just made a complete fool of Isaac. I like to think here that these words brought both conviction and comfort to Jacob. It was convicting to be reminded of his sin, but it must have been comforting to know that God is the God of even dysfunctional families. This covenant wasn’t based on the super-righteousness of the first Jews; God chose to be their God based on His sovereignty and it was so. the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; This is a word of hope for the future. Don’t forget that Jacob is running for his life; now God speaks of Jacob’s future!
And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: Not only will Jacob have descendants, but he will be very fruitful.
and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Here again we see the promise of blessed nations. The promised Seed is Christ and He will come through Jacob.
And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. Imagine the comfort it must have brought while on the run. God will be with him. Well, this makes a significant impression:
And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. 17And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. He’s amazed at what he saw and in response he does four things:
And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. He built a memorial in this place because God had revealed Himself in such a special way and spoken to him. This was the place where he had seen God, and the oil set the monument apart as special.
And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first. The name means “The house of God.” Luz means “almond.”
And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, 21 So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: We should understand “if” to mean “since.” Since God will take care of him, then God would be his God. Jacob had been living on “borrowed faith.” In 27:20 he referred to the Lord as “your God” meaning the God of Isaac. Now he is saying “my God.” Jacob was just as pagan and faithless as any other lost man before this meeting with the Lord. His new life and his story really begin here.
And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.
The commitment to give a tenth of all his possessions reveals his immediate gratitude and obedience to God. It was a sign of submission. Let’s close with a few thoughts: #1- God often works in life’s lows. The tendency is to ask “why” or “why me” when things aren’t going well. Jacob made some bad decisions, but God used them to get him out on his own so they could meet. #2- God’s grace is true grace. True grace is only possible when the one receiving it does not deserve even an ounce of it. Because of God’s true grace… #3- Genuine faith produces fruit. This is something we’ll see throughout his life. newgracebaptistchurch.wordpress.com
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