One thing that I love about the Bible is that it talks about real people and real families dealing with real situations in life. Genesis 28 is no exception. Every parent that has had a child in a dating relationship, can relate to the opening verses of this chapter. Isaac and Rebekah want Jacob to find the right spouse, to marry the right girl. They want him to find someone who shares the same values, a girl that will fit into their family. The previous chapter ends with a conversation between Rebekah and Isaac. “I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth”…she says. These women were from the people known as the Hittites. Esau, their other son, had married two women from this group. Genesis 26:35 says, “they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.” Some of you parents may be able to relate to their experiences with their daughter-in-laws. It explains why this chapter opens with Isaac telling Jacob not to marry a wife from the daughters of Canaan. Isaac tells Jacob to go back to Padan Aram, back to his mother’s people…to his uncle Laban. If you like romance, the love story between Jacob and Rachel will happen in the next chapter.
The next few verses talk about Esau. He is aware of the tension between his parents and his two wives and when he hears his father tell his brother to go to extended family to find a wife, he takes a wife from his Uncle Ishmael’s family. By the way, it was a common practice in those days to marry a close relative, something that is not done in the time we live in.
The heart of the chapter tells about Jacob’s FIRST encounter with God at a place called Luz. As Jacob stops for the night, he finds a stone for a pillow. As he sleeps, God comes to him in a dream. In his dream, he sees a ladder that stretched from earth to heaven, with angels going up and down the ladder. Then God speaks to Jacob and tells him “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac’ the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants….Behold I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” IMAGINE having a dream where God speaks to you in the dream. Jacob wakes up and realizes that God’s presence was literally there…while he was sleeping.” That encounter causes Jacob to vow that the Lord would be his God. He renames the place “Bethel” and it will be a place that Jacob will return to, and God will speak to him again. The next time God will promise him that “a nation and a company of nations would come from Jacob and kings will be among his descendants.”
So, how can we this chapter relate to our lives? What are some takeaways.
FIRST, TRUST THAT GOD IS FAITHFUL TO KEEP HIS PROMISES
Isaac proclaims the same “blessing” and promise over Jacob, that had been given to HIS father Abraham. It was a blessing that had impacted his life. God had made some very specific promises to Abraham that we can see the fulfillment of, thousands of years later. His descendants have become great nations, his descendants ARE too numerous to count. But God has made promises to US as well. What promise has God made to you? Do a search on the promises that God has made and remember that God ALWAYS keeps His promises. It may not happen when you expect it or want it. It may not even happen in your lifetime, but if God promised it, He will be faithful to keep it.
SECOND, TRUST THAT GOD IS SPEAKING TO YOUR CHILDREN
It was a big deal for Isaac and Rebekah to “let go” of Jacob. To “send him out on his own”. Would he keep the faith and follow God? We do it as well. We send our kids “off to college”, or to another city to find a job. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of letting them get their own apartment, allowing them
to be on their own. Will they keep the Faith? Will they follow God. The FIRST thing that happens when Jacob leaves home, is that he has an encounter with God. It seems that prior to this, Jacob lived on the faith of his father. He probably even heard stories from his grandfather, Abraham. Now, God directly speaks to him. God becomes HIS God. How old were you when God spoke to your heart for the first time. I was 7. As a father, even today, it is always a thrilling thing when I hear what God is speaking to my kids, how He is directing AND correcting their lives as they do life and live for him. You have to trust that God is talking to your kids. Remember that God loves your kids more
than you do. God is also more concerned about their relationship with Him than you are. God is always preparing the next generation to follow Him. He is always looking for young people that he can use to accomplish His Will.
HERE'S THE LAST THING…HANG ON TO THOSE “BETHEL” MOMENTS
In this story, Jacob goes on to his uncle’s house. Spoiler alert…He marries two of his daughters
and has twelve sons. But Jacob NEVER forgets Bethel, the place where he met God for the first
time. Jacob will return to Bethel in the future to meet with God again. In fact, God will refer to Himself as “the God of Bethel” where Jacob anointed a pillar and made a vow to God. God will tell him to go back to Bethel and “dwell there” and “make an altar there”. Do you remember your “Bethel” encounter with God. Have you been back there lately? Bethel is a time and place where we intentionally go to meet with God, to hear from Him and receive His strength and direction for our lives. Make today, THIS TIME, a Bethel moment.