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Gen. 28:1-22 - Chutes and Ladders - Part 2
Last week we left off with Jacob coming to a place of separation and discovers the presence of God. As with us, Father God is able and willing to meet His wandering children anywhere, anytime!
Vs. 20-22 - “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.”
How’s that for a deal God? You take care of me and you give me stuff and I’ll let you be my God! Here we have God sovereignly coming to Jacob and saying: “Jacob, this is what I’m going to do.”
You notice how God centered God’s promises were? Go back up to vs. 13-15 - “I am the Lord... I will give it to you... I am with you... I will not leave you... I have promised you.” Of course, the language that Jacob is using is: “If you’ll be with ME... If you’ll keep ME... If you give me...”
What Jacob SHOULD have said was: “Ya know what, God, your soooo good, and I can’t believe you're going to do all this for me. Man, just all I have is yours and I just commit all that I am to you...” But instead of that, Jacob approaches God on the basis of: “You do this and I’ll do that.”
So God is going to root out of this man, God is going to put him in a situation that this schemer cannot bargain himself out of. And often times in our lives it seems that God just paints us in some corner that we can’t get out of, and once we come to the end of ourselves and we cry out to the Lord, it’s only then that we begin to learn what it is to relate to God upon the basis of Grace and not self.
So it's important that we learn as we go through this text, to understand that these lessons that God is trying to teach Jacob is a very powerful picture of the N.T. believer. In the most general sense Jacob is sovereignly chosen of God. He is utterly undeserving. There’s nothing in this man’s life up to this point that has any honor to it whatsoever... And yet God comes and sovereignly choses this man and reveals Himself to this man, even as Paul said in Rom. 5:8 to us: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us demonstrating God’s love.”
But the beautiful, poetic picture that I want us to meditate on this week is this - and in order to get hold of this picture I gotta remind you of 2 things from the Word of God in order that you might understand what is being done by the Holy Spirit.
First - The Bible tells us several times that we are “clothed in His righteousness...” (Isa. 61:10, Rom. 13:14, 2 Cor.5:21). We are clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
Secondly, the Bible calls Christ what? Literally, word for word? “The firstborn of all creation.” (Col. 1:15).
How was Jacob accepted? How was he blessed by the father? By finding shelter in the name of the firstborn! Here comes Jacob, seeking the acceptance of his father, taking the name: “I am Esau, your firstborn.” Taking the name and wearing the clothes and the smell of the firstborn. He was accepted by the father. Why? Because he was clothed in the garments of the firstborn, he approached him in the name of the firstborn, and had the aroma of the firstborn on him.
EVEN AS you and I are accepted by our heavenly Father, coming in the NAME of, being clothed in the righteousness of Christ, the firstborn of all creation!!
Remember Eph. 5:2 that Christ was “sacrificed for us as an offering to the Lord which was a sweet smelling aroma to the Lord?” This is an incredible picture of the Gospel that we find woven yet again into the fabric of another story.
Again, Heb. 10:7. Quoting from Pslam 40:7 - “The entire volume of the book testifies of, is written of... ME!” Put Christ in the center, it’s all about Him! And this should cause us all to come to an appreciated awe and unspeakable depth of the divinity of the Word of God. And the glory is that today the ascended “Son of Man” mediates the commerce between heaven and earth.
As Paul says, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all.” (1 Tim. 2:5-6).
Christ is everywhere at all times, hearing our prayers and mediating the commerce of heaven on our behalf. Even the old Bethel (“The House of God”) has been superseded. It is no longer in Bethel where God reveals Himself, but in Jesus. The temple is likewise obsolete, because Jesus IS the Temple: Rev. 21:22 - “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.” And there is nowhere we can go where He does not mediate commerce between heaven and earth for us. His promises to us stand. He keeps His word.
Everywhere we go is “the house of God” and the “gate of heaven.” We are all Jacobs. We are all people who very often find ourselves in flight because of our sins. We are people who then imagine God is not with us because of our sins. But the reality is that there is a ladder that extends between heaven and earth for us, and the one who controls that ladder from top to bottom is the Lord Himself.
It blows me away that He sends His angels to us as ministering spirits: Heb. 1:14 - Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?”
He directs our lives. And, like Jacob, He finds us in our solitary desolations and ministers to us. Why? Because He is a God of grace, and He is not done with us, and never will be until we are finally with Him. God is Transcendent yet Imminent. Some people believe God is only transcendent, in that He is above our sphere of influence and He no longer has anything to do with humanity. But the Bible teaches that He is both. On the one hand He is above and beyond everything creaturely, and yet, in His exalted position, He still visits His people. He makes Himself present in terms of the Holy Spirit, in terms of Christ coming to the earth, and in terms of intruding into our lives right here!
We saw Jesus made reference to this in John ch. 1 when Nathaniel meets Jesus for the first time, and Jesus sees Nathaniel coming and looks at him and says: “Behold, an Israelite in whom there is no deceit, no gile.” And Nathaniel says: “Wait a minute, how do you know anything about me, I’ve never met you before.” And Jesus said: “If that really shocks you, you haven’t seen anything yet! The day will come when your going to see angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Stop and think about that! Jesus is saying to Nathaniel: Hey Nathaniel, you read that story in the O.T. about Jacaob where Jacob seen this ladder that bridged the gap between heaven and earth, between the transcendent realm and this place here of dirt and dust?”
He said: “I AM that ladder!! I AM the bridge between heaven and earth!” Then in vs. 15 of our text today we hear God telling Jacob that He would never
leave him and will be with him wherever he goes.
I don’t know about you, but there’s lots of times in my life when I don’t feel like God is with me. As a matter of fact, at times I feel like He’s far away from me! Let me say that we can NEVER rely on our feelings to determine whether God is present or not. We should just trust that God says He will be with us - He says He will be with us, He promises He will be with me - He promises He won’t leave me, He promises He will be there when I need Him, even if its in the valley of the shadow of death. And it doesn’t matter if I feel Him.
And in vs. 16 we read: “Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said: ‘Surely the LORD is in this place and I did not know it!”
Then he said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God...”
He didn’t know the LORD was with him, and when he realized it he realized how awesome it was! We actually have the very presence of God living WITHIN us and I think we don’t internalize that enough or we would be in constant awe! We need to take these amazing truths to heart. Our eyes should continually behold the vision of the angel- freighted ladder superintended by the awesome Son of Man, who directs heaven’s traffic for our sanctification and His glory.
And in the end, upon death, there is only one way UP to God the Father, and that is through His Son Jesus Christ. And if you would like a relationship with Him, please feel free to contact me and we can talk about how this is don and what your next steps are.
Blessings to you all.