Thursday, June 9, 2011

Genesis 28:16-22

In yesterday’s verses we read about Jacob’s dream, in which he saw a stairway to heaven (or “ladder” ). Angels were ascending and descending on it. In today’s verses we’ll see Jacob’s understanding of the vision of the stairway, and we’ll look at his reaction to this personal encounter with the God of Abraham and Isaac.

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”. . .Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.” (Gen 28:16-17,20-22)

Jacob awakens and is now in awe of this “random” place he chose as a stopping place on his journey. He recognizes that God was in this place, meeting him. Because of the vision of the stairway to heaven, Jacob decides this must be the “gate of heaven,” so he takes the stone he had been using as a pillow and sets up a memorial to God, anointing the rock with oil. (vs. 18-19) He calls the place Bethel, which means house of God. At this point in his new walk with God, Jacob seems limited in his understanding of God, but the new relationship is real. Jacob could not have known that the stairway was prophetic of Christ’s role as the one who bridges the gap between us and heaven, the One who even calls Himself the Gate (John 10:7)

Note that in Jacob’s vow there seems to be a slow transition of his awareness of God’s presence. Look at the many pronouns. At first there are lots of first person pronouns, as Jacob revels in the blessing God has promised him: “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household, the the LORD will be my God...

Then, after speaking of the LORD in third person throughout that, he finally realizes that God is still with him, and he addresses God directly at the very end of this vow: “. . .and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.” Look! There’s a model for tithing!

When Jacob speaks of his journey, I’m certain he is just thinking about this specific trip to find a bride (and to escape the wrath of Esau). But we know that he has only just begun his lifelong journey of faith in the God who will be called “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” In fact, the rest of Genesis is about Jacob and his family. I’m so grateful for this story of Jacob’s beginnings of faith, because it so encourages me! It will take many years to work out some of Jacob’s major issues, but he has begun the life of faith, and he has certainly found grace from a merciful God who loved this conniver just as he was - but who also loved him too much to let him stay that way! And so with us...

This morning was one of those when I woke up feeling so inadequate and overwhelmed - in fact, I had to really struggle to get into God’s Word this morning. Thank you, LORD, for drawing me here to be reminded that my worth comes from you alone. You use my inadequacies to show your strength and power and to demonstrate who YOU are to others around me!

 

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