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Gen. 28:1-22 - Chutes and Ladders - Part 1
As a quick review, the last couple weeks we saw Isaac being rebellious and Rebekah plotting devious schemes, and Jacob going along with them. Esau wanted to kill his brother. Rebekah sent Jacob away, and everyone sought the blessings of God without bending one knee to Him.
The Who family was full of ambition, jealousy, lying, deceit, coveting, malice and manipulation. Everyone lost and Rebekah was forces to send her son away and she would never see him again.
So where we left off, Isaac takes Rebakah’s bait, but we will see here in Ch. 28 he will eventually get on board with God’s program.
Vs. 1-9 - “So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman. Go at once to Paddan Aram, to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother.
May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.”
Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.
Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, “Do not marry a Canaanite woman,” and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram. Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.”
What we have here is really the sending away of Jacob and a re-statement of the blessing. This is kind of a do-over for Isaac, he’s realizing that God’s will is going to come to pass whether he likes it or not, only in this re-statement of the blessing we see more of a focus on the spiritual aspect of the blessing and the covenant flowing through him, rather than where in the previous chapter we saw more of the material aspect.
Isaac’s now moving out of the flesh and into the Spirit again, kind of a do-over. He’s on board with what God wants to happen.
And here we see the pathetic attempt of Esau to regain the favor of His parents. After the episode of the missed blessing and after being married to pagan women for over 20 years, after FINALLY understanding that neither Isaac nor Rebekah liked the Hittite women, Esau decides that a close relative might please his parents.
And who does he choose? A daughter of Ishmael, a descendant of the “bondwoman’s” son, the stock that God had already rejected in Ishmael! So Esau, he’s the flesh, and when we are walking in the flesh, when we are thinking of self, we’re just gonna do dumb things! At this point I feel sorry for the guy, there is such a lack of discernment going on in his life.
We hear nothing more about Esau for 20 years. As we’ll see in a few weeks, the next time he comes into the picture he is on his way to meet Jacob with 400 men.
In vs. 10-15 we begin to shift gears. Jacob is on his way and he’s going to take center stage, the patriarchal blessing has been passed. Vs. 10 is a summary statement, its going to tell us where Jacob’s going, and then vs. 11-22 is going to tell us what happened along the way.
Vs. 10-15 - “Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. Behold, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
In Esau, remember, we saw a picture of the unbeliever, a picture of the natural man. Jacob is now really taking on the picture of the N.T. believer here. This is a pretty awesome text, and we will conclude with this text also.
Let’s start unpacking it this way - I find it very interesting that there is no indication up to this point that Jacob has had any real spiritual hunger. Everything we have seen of this guy doesn’t indicate there is a desire on his part for God, a longing after God. And here he is, in reality, running away from a brother that he had ripped off in order that he doesn’t lose his life.
The text seems to indicate that Jacob was alone and we can imagine that, at this point, he might feel alone. He had essentially been kicked out of his family, his brother was trying to kill him, and all of his plans had seemed to drift away!
After all, he had done all of this for God, right?
- Why was he abandoned in the middle of nowhere?
- All of the promises were centered in Canaan, so why was he running off to Haran?
- What was going to happen?
- Would he ever get back?
- Would he ever see his mother and father again?
- How was he going to make a living?
- What if he was forced to marry someone he didn’t like?
- Why me?
How many of us have had this same experience? No doubt, just like us, all of these questions and more were probably running through his mind.
But God doesn’t leave him hanging for long! Now that he was away from all of the chaos of Beersheba, now that his heart was open and longing for direction and purpose... “God why?” And out of nowhere God appears to him! And again, just like so many of us, we were just living our lives and...
Now here God comes and sovereignly choses this knucklehead! And God has sovereignly chosen many knuckleheads since then, including the one speaking to you.
So He just appears in His sovereignty and Grace to this man who had no desire for him. You’ll notice in vs. 16 we get so caught up in what OUR part is, and we elevate OUR efforts, what I’M doing, and God came to ME because I was doing...
Where was this guy, what was he doing when God came to him? Let’s look at vs. 16. “From his sleep!” He wasn’t doing anything! He was sleeping! Receive that. It’s not a small point!
Vs. 16-19 - “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.”
Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.
Jacob is just awestruck by this whole experience. You remember that Jesus in John 1 claimed that HE was the ladder! This dream was about Jesus! John 1:51 - “...you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” Christ was taking them back to this O.T. imagery to point out the fact that HE is the one who was the connection, the bridge, the link, the ‘ladder’ between earth and heaven!
Of course, we know that Christ is going to come through the line of Jacob, that the covenant is going to flow through Jacob, so Jacob has this dream and he’s blown away by it.
Now, in vs. 19, and this is huge... You’ll notice that Jacob changes the name of this place. Now “Bethel” means “The House of God.” “Luz” means “separation” in the Hebrew.
Here he comes to the place of separation and what does he discover? He discovered that he’s in the presence of God! Upon coming to a place of separation he discovers he’s now in the house of God!
Listen up! I needed to hear this, so many of us need to hear this! Often times in our lives as God is dealing with us, maybe there are situations or things or relationships that God is calling us to separate ourselves from! The Word of God calls us to come out and be separate from the things of the world and yet there is so often an unwillingness on our part to want to be separated from these things...
But yet, we will discover that if we just take that step of obedience, separating ourselves from those things God wants us to be separated from, we make that wonderful discovery that there is just a new dimension to our relationship with Him, that He is more real to us than He has ever been before. And we make this unspeakably, amazing discovery that we’re right there in the presence of God.
Jacob comes to the place of separation and discovers the presence of God. Father God was able and willing to meet His wandering child anywhere, anytime!! And I just want to encourage you in the quietness of your hearts this week to challenge yourselves - What is it that God may be calling us to separate ourselves from?
Bring forth that obedience and we will have punched through a wall, we will have discovered a new dimension, a new dynamic to our relationship with God that we’ve been deceived from by not separating ourselves from that thing or things!
Join us next week as we continue with this text and see how this is the deal that God is going to try to root out of his heart, and maybe even ours.
Blessings to you all.