Genesis 28 (No audio available)
Genesis 28 (No audio available)
Genesis 28:1-5 Isaac in the meantime has repented of his actions and taking now the counsel of his wife Rebekah. Isaac gives Jacob his sincere blessings and charges him to marry a woman from one of their own relatives and not from the Canaanites as Esau had done. The blessing given is similar to the one he received from his father Abraham; in fact, Isaac bestows the blessing of Abraham on Jacob. The sending away of Jacob must have grieved Rebekah greatly for within twenty years she died.
Genesis 28:6-9 – Esau thought that his father was fully behind him and against his brother who acted deceitfully, but with this blessing he realizes that this is not the case. When Jacob is sent away not only with a blessing but with instructions not to marry a Canaanite woman, Esau seems to realize the mistake that he made in marrying the wrong women. In what appears to be an attempt to ingratiate himself with his parents he goes to the family of his uncle Ishmael and marries one of his daughters. Esau and Ishmael were both sons who Scripture describe as outcasts and their families are now joined together. In Biblical history these two families will bring trouble to the children of Jacob.
Genesis 28:10-11 – Jacob begins the long lonely journey to the homeland of his mother without the benefit of a caravan and with limited supplies. He is alone and really dependent on the Lord for the first time here. This is the beginning of real training in godliness for Jacob. This season away from the land of promise will begin to break Jacob of his self-sufficiency and bring him into a personal relationship with God. For many of us it is this kind of experience that cause us to come to the Lord or deepen our relationship with Him. We tend to be distracted by the everyday cares and routines of our lives to become reliant on the Lord. It is these experiences that God graciously brings into our lives that cause us to draw near to Him. While we are called to honor and submit to our parents, there comes a time when a man must leave his father and mother (Gen 2:24) especially when we marry. It was a long journey that probably took weeks. Not many nights from home he came to Bethel which today is located in the West Bank territory north of Jerusalem. It was here that the Lord met with him in a most powerful way. Not far from here Abraham built an altar (Gen 12:8; 13:3-4) and it would be here that Jacob would return later (Gen 35). Bethel means literally “house of God”, while this was a place of great meaning and significance in the life of the patriarchs, it would later become a place of idolatry under Jeroboam the first king of Israel. This is also the territory that would become Samaria. The stones that Jacob used for a pillow to rest his head on may have been some of the stones from Abraham’s altar, but it was not the stones that made the place sacred it was the presence of the Lord.
Genesis 28:12-15 – While Jacob slept God appeared to him in his dream. This was not merely a dream about God, but God appearing in his dream in a very real sense. The focal point of this dream was a heavenly ladder reaching from heaven to earth. The ladder was such that angels were seen by Jacob ascending and descending on it. The Hebrew word used here is “sullam” this is the only time this word is used in the O.T., it comes from the root word “salal” meaning to lift up, and translated “build up”, exalt, highway, prize. The idea is that Jacob is given a vision of the highway to heaven. It gave Jacob a vision of the amount of activity that the Lord and His servants are involved in the affairs of man on earth. Isaiah speaks of the Highway of the Lord as well: “And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there” (Isa 35:8-9). In the book of Hebrews and Corinthians we are told that there are myriads of angels involved in the activities of our lives. Jacob was shown just how concerned God was with his life, even though he may have had doubts concerning the way, he had obtained the blessing. The Rabbi’s taught that this dream was a direct response to Jacob’s prayer seeking to know if God was indeed with him. This was the common understanding of the Jewish community at the time of Jesus. This is the reason Nathanael was convinced that Jesus was the Messiah in John 1:48-51. Nathanael was probably meditating on this portion of Scripture in the life of Jacob similarly, wondering if God was involved in his life. When Jesus described his ministry in terms of Jacob’s dream this stunned Nathanael which convinced him that Jesus was in fact the promised Messiah. Jesus was in essence saying I am the ladder or the way to heaven. This is reinforced in John 3:13, Eph. 4:8-10.
Genesis 28:16-22 – Jacob awakes from his dream and encounter with God in awe and reverence. The omnipresent God who is everywhere was here in a special way. God spoke to Abraham, and to his father Isaac, but now He speaks to Jacob personally. Since his flight from home, he had been filled with fear, shame, loneliness; and was now destitute. He had been suffering mentally and emotionally for days, perhaps sensing conviction of sin because of the wrong he had done against his father and brother. He had been in the depths of discouragement and despair. Sadly, this is where most of us must come in order to have an encounter with God, and God meets him in his desperation and need. God was present with him now and would always be present with him protecting and meeting his needs. This wonderful truth struck Jacob. With new insight he saw as never before that the Lord was always with him whether he felt it or not. As far as Jacob was concerned this place is no longer just Luz it is Bethel, the House of God. Even though Jacob never owned any part of the land as was the case with his father and grandfather, the village is forever known as Bethel and not Luz. Jacob, to commemorate his encounter with the Lord, builds a visible memorial and altar to the Living God. The foundation of this altar was the stone that was his pillow. While Jacob had no animal to sacrifice, he was carrying oil, which he poured on the altar as a drink offering confirming his faith in the God who promised to bless him. Jacob then makes a vow to God not conditioned on God’s blessing but rather because of God’s blessing. The Hebrew is better translated since God will be with me. Jacob is not making a bargain here; he is expressing his gratitude and love for this visitation from God. This is the first vow recorded in the Bible. In response to God Jacob declares His faithfulness to Him, and that this place will always be a remembrance of His vow to serve the Lord. The Lord honored Jacob’s vow (Gen 31:13) and when God fulfills His promise to bless him, he will give a tenth of all to the Lord. There was no law or requirement to give a tenth; this came later, so this was a free act of gratitude to the Lord.