Alfred Place Baptist Church

When God Came Down

Genesis 28:10-22 “Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. 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. 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.’ 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. 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 house, 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.’”

 

So Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. It was a 500 mile walk. His grandfather Abraham had traversed that long journey from the opposite direction 125 years earlier. When Abraham’s servant had taken a similar expedition to find a wife for Jacob’s father he hadn’t gone on foot. He had prepared for a long journey with an entourage of servants, and they all rode on the backs of camels, but Jacob had left Beersheba all alone. It was a hurried departure escaping his brother Esau’s murderous intentions; little did Jacob know that ahead of him was his uncle Laban, a merciless man, prepared to trap him and suck all the life out of him. Jacob was going from a rock to a hard place, from a death camp to a hard labour camp. Banished from the former, God now sentenced him to the latter. He was driven eastwards, like Adam and Eve before him, outlawed east of Eden, and like his own descendants after him Jacob was going into exile near Babylon. Jacob was leaving the place where his grandfather and father worshipped Jehovah to go where men had no regard for the living God. It happened to be in that same place, then called Babel, that men had once tried to build a tower that would reach up to God, in an attempt to destroy the distinction between the Creator and his creatures. Jacob, you remember, had been the home boy; it was Esau who’d been the rugged outdoors hunter. Now Jacob had been driven out of his comfort zone, away from the one woman of his life, his beloved mother Rebekah, with no possibility of going back to her if things didn’t work out. He could only go in one direction, on and on for hundreds of miles to Haran, searching for an uncle and his family whom he’d never met hitherto.

 

On the journey Jacob would try to travel in daylight to the next well, or to some community to find shelter through the hours of darkness, but for some stretches of his long walk this was impossible, and this occasion before us was one of them. “When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set” (v.11). The language of Moses emphasizes the randomness of his choice. He just happened to be in that place with no one around when the sun set, and he could travel no further. He was surrounded by danger, all alone in a wilderness, lying down in the dirt with only a stone for a pillow. Of course, Jacob was not seeking a holy place. He was not thinking of this journey as a spiritual pilgrimage. He has heard from his father the words of great blessing that first had been spoken to Abraham, words very familiar to him since a child, and now Abraham’s son has spoken them to him, but they were as yet mere words. We have not yet read Jacob speaking a single spiritual word throughout his life. He has not yet displayed any hunger for God. Yes, he was hungry for God’s blessings, but he was not ravenous for the living God himself. He has not come to the point where he is crying to the Lord to confirm the Abrahamic blessing, and then to teach him where he’d gone wrong and how he needed to change. Jacob was not yet a man seeking God or spiritual renewal. The one thought in his mind was mere survival. This man wasn’t on a journey of repentance like the prodigal son. He had yet to see his sin for what it was. He hadn’t yet come to the point of self-understanding and cleansing. Here is a dejected, weary, fearful, lonely man lying in the dust with his head on a boulder facing a dark, unknown future, and he was in this state at his own making, because of his sin. Jacob was not a victim. Just like each of us lost men and women we have no one to blame for our wretched condition but ourselves. Until we acknowledge that there is little hope of recovery. We also know what Jacob did not know at all, that he had been brought to this place because God was about to be gracious to him and deal with him in pity, but Jacob had no awareness whatsoever of that. A time of love was drawing near, and God was going to speak to his heart, and so first God has to bring him down. He that is down need fear no fall. Jacob was coming to an end of himself. Blessed is the man whom God brings down, because those whom God brings down, God will also lift up. The Lord kills and the Lord makes alive. He resists the proud; he gives grace to the humble.

 
  1. GOD GIVES JACOB A VISION.
 

&ldqu
o;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” (vv.12&13a). The Hebrew captures the sense of total shock that this man was experiencing. He had not received a divine revelation like this throughout his life and so in the original the description of what occurred next jumps out at you something like this: “There, a stairway! Oh, angels going up . . . coming down! And look, . . . Jehovah himself!” Each clause is shorter than the one before. The first has seven words; the second has six and the third four words. “God is here . . . God is seeking for me . . . he has taken the initiative coming here to this lonely, dangerous place.” What lavish grace! Jacob had not been looking a quiet place to meet with God, and yet he is found by God as he sleeps, with his head on a rock. He had not gone there to agonize for God’s blessing, and yet he received it. How many here can say, “I was a runaway and God met with me. I was saying, ‘Where is God in this mess?’, and I discovered he was standing there right before me.”

 

First he saw the stairway, and in the Greek translation of the Old Testament the translators used the word for a ‘ladder’ or a ‘staircase’ – it was the same word in classical Greek. Most commentators connect the staircase with the temple towers of the ancient world, a central staircase going up and up to the top where their god was imagined as living, or a ziggurat, a round temple with a circular staircase going around the outside. The design is not important. I think of one of those tube stations in the London Underground where there are two long steep escalators with passengers ascending up and up on one side or descending on the other. The top of this staircase is heaven itself, and at the bottom of the staircase is Jacob, and you and me, but the link between us is not frail and thin but a good strong staircase that will carry the weight of the glory of God. Favoured sinners are connected with God, whether they have now passed on to the top or they are at the bottom. Then we are told that the messengers of God are traveling both ways on the staircase, coming to earth because they have been sent on a mission by God to guard, to speak, to rescue, to protect, or they are returning up to the Lord at the accomplishment of their task, or as if they were bearing messages from men or describing the great need these divine messengers have seen. So God and certain blessed men are joined. There is communion and communication and dialogue between them. There is a way for man to rise to the sublime abode of our Father who is in heaven. He can easily come to visit and bless his favoured children. We do not have a distant God, hiding away somewhere behind the Milky Way. Jehovah Jesus says to us, “Lo I am with you always . . . when two or three gather together in my name there am I in the midst of you.” He has come to us today, and so, suddenly Jacob knew that though he had left his mother and father and was facing the uncertain years ahead he was not by himself in a wilderness.

 

Then Jacob saw the Lord (v.13). This is the climax of this vision. God has come down the staircase and he is standing over the prostrate Jacob, not right up there in heaven at the top of the ladder. We know this from God’s second appearance to Jacob in chapter 35. In the thirteenth verse of that chapter we read, “God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him” (Gen. 35:13). You must remove from your minds the thought of some big, booming, distant voice shouting out this message of verses thirteen to sixteen. Jehovah was there next to him, unsought for! Do you see the sovereign grace of it all? It was not that Jacob had “laid all on the altar,” not that he had “prayed through,” not that he had agonized for God to bless him, not that he had cried to God to visit him with a word of assurance. What occurred was all the divine initiative. It was all an act of grace. Jacob had done nothing at all to deserve such an honour. Absolutely nothing. Yet God came and he made himself known to Jacob talking with him just as he was, a renegade loner lying in the dust. God had done this solely because he chose to do so, and throughout the vision the angels continued to attend to their duties ascending and descending the staircase behind God. What does the Lord say?

 
  1. GOD GIVES JACOB A WORD.
 

What will the Holy One say? Will he say, “I’ve had my eye on you, and the angels have been coming back to me reporting on all your shenanigans. How could you behave like that, my friend Abraham’s grandson, cheating and lying and blaspheming? Why didn’t you talk to me before all that stupidity? Why didn’t you put some brakes on your mother’s wild schemes? Look at the trouble you’ve got yourself into.” No! There is not a hint of that. There is no word of reproach. There are not even demands or commands that Jacob has to obey. There is nothing in God’s words in the imperative; it is all declaration and promise of what God intends to do for Jacob. The Lord doesn’t curse him. There is no rebuke or reproof. Of course he cannot condone what Jacob has done, but he can forgive and reaffirm his covenant to his servant. Jacob deserves a curse; he obtains a blessing. The messengers of God that descend the staircase to this spot come down loaded with blessings. There is this majestic declaration, “I am the Lord.” In other words, God begins with covenant, and what follows is another repetition of the Abrahamic blessing. Isaac had given it to him when he thought that the man receiving it was Esau. Then the reconciled Isaac reaffirmed it to him as to Jacob himself, but now it is God, the Lord of Abraham, who gives it him. This is what he says, “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. 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” (vv.13-15).

 

I am saying that at least what we have here is the blessing of God to Abraham and his children which is repeated and confirmed. “I who have been your father’s and grandfather’s God will be your God too. I will give this land to your offspring.” The land on which Jacob lay asleep with its stones, and wildernesses, its sand and hollows, this land on which Jehovah was standing, he promises to Jacob and his seed. It will not be obtained by deception but by divine provision. In his offspring all the nations of the earth will be blessed. This is a Christocentric promise; it will be fulfilled with the coming of the Lord Jesus into the world, in his miraculous birth, his preaching, his life, his signs and wonders, his death and resurrection, and the spread of the gospel of Christ throughout the world from the day of Pentecost. So to begin with, I’m saying that Jacob hears it confirmed by the voice of God that the blessing of Abraham is now resting on him. Of course he has already heard that twice from the lips of Abraham’s son Isaac, but you can hear precious gospel promises of grace many times and they don’t touch you. There are messages that I have brought to the same people again and again, truths that I try to explain as lucidl
y as I can, and these people do not see them for years. Then one day . . . they see it! One sermon, and it is clear. Those truths were sort of familiar to them, but also they weren’t. Faithful members of a congregation had never understood them before, and had never been comforted and strengthened by them. Now what a change when God himself by his Spirit takes the word and opens the understanding of the hearer to perceive and grasp what he is hearing. From now on those truths are personal and powerful to his state of heart and mind. They become the stuff of believing meditation and his doxology. That is what is beginning in Jacob here. So certainly Jacob hears and finally begins to grasp the length and breadth and height and depth of the Abrahamic covenant with him and his seed.

 

Yet there is more; there is a personal expansion and application to Jacob; Jehovah tells him that he will be with him and will guard him, watching over him wherever he goes (v.15). The very vision itself, supported and interpreted by these words, shows Jacob that he is dealing with a God who is concerned for his soul, a Lord who knows the perfect balance of discipline and assurance he must bring to us. He knows what is Jacob’s need now; he is on his way to the Gulag run by cruel Uncle Laban to spend fourteen years there. So Jacob needs a strong assurance that God loves him and will be with him. God is preparing him for that long penal servitude by which the Lord will chasten him in the servile employment of Laban. “Remember this Jacob, ‘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.’” Abraham didn’t wish his son Isaac to leave the Promised Land; he warned him not to go down to Egypt, but now Jacob, through his own folly, is leaving the Promised Land. Yet God tells him that that will be all right. Our God is not a tribal, geographical deity; “I will be with you wherever you go.” God will not abandon him, and he tells him that he will eventually bring him back to “this land.” Jacob’s sin and stupidity will not prevail in frustrating God’s plan. God came to him in this vision and by this revelation, and magnified his grace to cover all Jacob’s sin. That is the message he heard from our God, the one who comes down and down, stooping so low, to a wilderness, to raise up one rebellious, helpless sinner.

 

God brings to every one of us Christians whose trust is in Jesus Christ alone his words of covenant promise so that our faith may grow. That is how it will be in the life of Jacob. We might think that after this experience with God in the desert that he will immediately return home with an aura of invincible protection about him, and that Esau will flee before this inviolable son of God, that he will take over his father’s vast flocks, herds and servants and reign for the rest of his days. No. It is not like that in a groaning world. Jacob’s life is going to take twists and turns, Hill Difficulty, Giant Despair, Doubting Castle lie before him. Jacob will know a number of serious falls again, but the grace of God is going to triumph in his life as it will in the lives of all the elect.

 

What is this incident saying to us? “Are the children of God hapless victims of life’s whims? Are we driven along by some blind and impersonal force? Are we battered by circumstances beyond all control? A thousand times no! Instead, we are objects of God’s providential care. We reside under his guiding and protecting hand. It’s an amazing and comforting fact that God rules and overrules in the circumstances of life. He is neither a capricious nor a vindictive authority. Quite the contrary, God works through the circumstances of life to bring about something miraculous, something abundantly good, even out of what we perceive to be our darkest moments.” (Alistair Begg.)

 
  1. JACOB RESPONDS TO THE DIVINE REVELATION.
 

When the revelation was over, and the vision disappeared Jacob was shocked at the glory shown to him, the staircase, a sight of God, the one who spoke to him promising his covenant love to keep him, a Lord who came to seek and save him. God’s grace is amazing grace; it always goes beyond what we expect. Jacob was overwhelmed with all he had seen and heard, overwhelmed with God. For the first time in his life he fears the Lord. He is in awe of the place where he’d been lying down. It was on this spot that God directly revealed himself from heaven itself. Have you noticed in the words of Jacob the repetition of the words, “this place” or its abbreviation, “this”? Jacob said, “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” (v. 16&17). This place, where Jacob slept on the dirt with his head on a stone, was transfigured. It became for him the house of God, the gate of heaven. He had seen the entrance to glory; he had seen the God of the covenant standing before him. God was there but Jacob had been utterly ignorant and blind to that fact. How many thousands of people of our town will feel like that on the day the heavens open and he shall appear with all his holy angels? Then they will know that indeed the Lord has been meeting in this very building with his people Sunday morning and Sunday night, that he speaks by his word to us, that he pastors us, teaches us, builds us up, makes himself known to us, humbles us strengthens our faith, and shows us his glory. But they had refused to take advantage of that. They would not think of that possibility. They would not come to have life from heaven. How shrunken their grasp of God and his glory! They saw it each day; the stars and moon proclaimed it to them each night, but they turned it into some idol that they worshipped. How little their understanding of God. Jacob hadn’t known that God was everywhere, that he was not alone, and the omnipresent God is one you might know personally that his pardon can be received, and his gift of eternal life is through Jesus Christ. Those who spurn his grace will gnash their teeth and wail that they had not availed themselves of God’s presence each Sunday.

 

Let me put it like this: it was first of all to you a little empty chapel building. You had passed it hundreds of times without paying any attention to it. You wondered whether it was derelict or still being used. Then through strange circumstances you entered it and in that place God began to make himself known to you. You picked up a book and you began to read it and so God began to make himself known to you. You listened to a CD and God began to make himself known to you through a recorded message. Or through the words of a friend God was speaking to you. You did not expect any of those things. They were all unplanned and surprising. You were not searching for God, but he chose to make himself known to you. I read to the congregation at Tuesday’s midweek meeting the words of a man who nine years ago came away from his well paid job as a travel organizer in Italy for a short break to a holiday home not far away in rural Wales. A part of his job in Italy entailed taking people into a monastery where he had regularly passed a marble inscription, “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” In this cottage in Wales in 2001 he switched on the newly installed satellite television and idly clicked through the channels. He came across a religious channel and was g
ripped by a preacher speaking of Christ before Pilate. “What do you think of Christ? Was he wicked and worthy of death? Was he crazy? Is this the Son of God?” He found himself the next night eagerly watching the same man again until at the end he knelt down in the TV room and prayed, confessing his sins and acknowledging Jesus Christ as his Saviour. The TV room became none other than the house of God; it was the gate of heaven for him.

 

What a reassessment can take place, of a chapel, of a book, of a CD, of a TV programme. Isaac had to reassess the Promised Land itself. He had been thinking of it only in terms of becoming a landowner of vast territory. He has used trickery and lies to get this real estate. Then he had a Damascus Road experience, like Saul of Tarsus. The Lord began to deal with him and he showed Jacob that the covenant was not about hills, valleys, streams and deserts but about having God, and God’s heaven. Jacob said, “Surely the Lord is in this place. And I was not aware of it.” The word “I” is emphatic. He had bought his brother’s birthright and cheated him out of his father’s blessing for all the wrong reasons, to get money and power and herds and servants and lands. Now he meets with God, our Creator, the one of incalculable value. Jacob is coming out of the shadow-lands where he’s been spending his life and coming into the bright, warm, healing light of the one true and living God. Now he has a criterion by which to measure life’s values. How does this or that measure up to God’s promises? This is a real inheritance worth getting excited about, it is incorruptible, undefiled and does not fade away. It is reserved in heaven for us who are kept by the covenant power of God. Now it is dawning on him what’s been promised to his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac. He was afraid at such glory (v.17).

 

Jacob must do something to set apart this occasion, this place where God had stood over him in grace and spoken to him. He takes the stone that had been his pillow and he makes it a pillar. It had been horizontal but now Jacob lifts it upright. It had been a place to find some wretched comfort on earth, the place on which to rest his head. Now it is a witness, and a monument and a sign pointing to heaven to the Lord on whose breast he can rest his head as the apostle John did. He raises it up, and then he pours oil over it, anointing it. This is the place he had met with the God who is and is not silent, the God who makes great promises to sinners. He names the place “Bethel”. It is the house of God, not that God lives on earth but on this ground God came down and a staircase had united that place to God’s eternal abode and Jacob had understood what had been promised him. Here on earth he has seen the house of God, which is in heaven.

 
4. THE LORD CHRIST KNEW WHAT HAD OCCURRED IN BETHEL.
 

The Lord Jesus knew all about this incident, not only because of his exhaustive study of the Bible. We believe that he was referring to it in the first chapter of John’s gospel in the call of a little known disciple called Nathanael. John records the occasion when Jesus found Philip saying to him, “Follow me.” Philip came from the little town of Bethsaida, on the lake of Galilee. Philip began to follow Jesus, immediately looking out for his friend Nathanael who was also from Bethsaida. As soon as he saw Nathanael he burst out with the words: “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (John 1:45).

 

Nathanael listened to his friend, but was singularly unimpressed. “Nazareth? Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” he snorted. Philip’s simple invitation helps me every Sunday and helps us all in our evangelism: “Come and see” (John 1:46). So Philip eagerly brought Nathanael to meet the Lord Jesus. When Christ noticed Nathanael coming, he said, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false” (v. 47). Jesus knew that Jacob (whose name was later changed by God to ‘Israel’) had done plenty of false things, in fact the name ‘Jacob,’ is drawn from the word ‘heel’ in Hebrew. It describes Jacob as a ‘heel grabber’ trying to get the advantage over his twin brother Esau, even in the womb. Now Jacob’s Lord is incarnate and stands before Nathanael. It is Jehovah Jesus, the one who can read men’s hearts, who knows and evaluate every one of the offspring of Israel. Nathanael, so Jesus judges, is more worthy of that name ‘Israel’ than Jacob himself. “There is nothing false in your life or in your religion,” Jesus was saying to him.

 

Nathanael’s curiosity was aroused; “How do you know me?” he asked Jesus. The answer Jesus gave may seem ordinary enough: we all pass over Jesus’ answer, as if it were suggesting that our Lord had just noticed him nearby, close to some fig tree. As we say to somebody, “I saw you in town an hour ago as you were going into the library . . .” That is what we think is the meaning of Jesus’ words; “I saw you while you were still under the fig-tree, before Philip called you” (v. 48). However, Nathanael himself didn’t think that these words of Jesus were some simple explanation of where he’d been spotted. In fact his reaction to them was quite extraordinary. Listen to Nathanael’s astonished response; “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” So what’s with this time that Nathanael was spending “under the fig-tree”? What was significant about Nathanael’s experience there? I will tell you. It had been another experience of worship, of calling on the name of the Lord, a man encountering God. It had been the place of private exercises of devotion from a godly believer in some secluded place, in a quiet spot in a walled garden favoured by Nathanael, underneath the fragrant shelter of a fig tree where Nathanael had his regular quiet times with Jehovah, just God and Nanthanael with no mortal eyes seeing him. Only the Lord he worshipped could have known about this recent time of communion with God. That’s why Nathanael was overwhelmed; “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” It would be God the Son alone who would know where he was worshipping the Lord. Jesus replied to this new disciple: “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig-tree. You shall see greater things than that.” Then our Lord added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (vv.50&51).

 

The Lord Jesus’ reference to Jacob’s dream at Bethel is now becoming clearer. He is applying the vision the patriarch had in the wilderness to himself. In what sense? How can the going and the coming of the angels apply to himself? It is very simple; at Bethel the Lord came down to meet with Jacob. The Lord who came down was the Second Person of the Trinity, the person who reveals the Father. It is natural that Jesus the Lord of angels would speak about them going on their mission from him at the bottom of the stair case, and coming down to him there to receive their orders for the day. They were not ascending and descending in order to zero in on the crafty, crooked Jacob. They were h
oming in on Jehovah Jesus. Hadn’t they come down to Bethlehem and filled the fields around the stable with their praise and worship when our Lord was born? “You will see greater things than hearing me say that I saw you under the fig tree.” What is Christ referring to? Jesus is now speaking to Nathanael of the great day of resurrection, of his second coming, when he will come in glory to this planet, and then he will be attended by all the holy angels of heaven. The gates of glory the everlasting doors will be opened, and the innumerable company of angels will pour out in the train of the coming Lord of glory.

 

As my old teacher, Edmund P. Clowney, has said, “The Lord who once came down the stairway of Jacob’s dream is the Lord who then came down to be born of Mary. Now here on earth he could tell Nathanael that he knew him, and had seen him under the fig tree. He also tells him of the glory of his second coming. Those angels of Jacob’s dream will come with him then. They had come to the shep­herds to announce his birth. They will come with him when he returns in glory. This is the clear teaching of Paul in his second letter to the Thessalonians. He shows us what our hope is as once he showed Jacob what his hope was. Christ’s second coming will bring relief to troubled Christians. “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels” (2 Thess. 1:7)

 

“This is the coming that Jesus refers to in his words to Nathanael. Jesus reminds Nathanael – and us – that marvelous as it is that the Lord sees and hears us in our times of prayer and fellowship with him, the Second Coming will be vastly more glorious. Precious are our times under a “fig tree” when we experience the presence of the Lord, when we are aware that he sees us. Blessed is that assurance of faith as the Spirit applies that very word of Christ to our hearts. Yet we believe in hope, looking for the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” (Edmund P. Clowney, Preaching Christ in All Scripture, Crossway, 2003, pp.84&85).

 
CONCLUSIONS.
 

i] As we wait for the Lord, look to him now. Jacob found a dream to be Bethel, the house of God, the gate of heaven. You have not a dream to cherish but a living Savior who speaks to you in his word read and preached. He bears witness to your hearts that he is yours and you are his. You with every Christian have received an anointing of the Holy one. You have no need to anoint a stone as Jacob did. Set apart Jesus Christ in your heart and love him. Find a place in your life that will be your Bethel where you will meet day by day with your Lord. The Lord will be in that place, and you sometimes will know it powerfully. That will be your Bethel, your house of God.

 

ii] Renew your vows to serve God first and foremost in your life. We are told in verse 20 that Jacob made a vow to God. This is the first vow recorded in the Bible. It is Jacob’s response to what God had promised. The Lord had come to him in Bethel utterly unexpectedly and made exceeding great and precious promises to him. Then Jacob rededicates his life to him. We are to be like Jacob. We are to take God’s word and say to him, “Lord, you have made these promises to me, so now fulfil them in my experience. Be my God for ever. Bring me safely to my final destination in peace.”

 

iii] Be a generous believer. If God prospers him then Jacob promises that he will give a tenth to the Lord. Greedy grasping Jacob has become a generous man! The change noted by Luke in Zacchaeus the tax collector was seen first in Jacob. This man who had gained the birthright and the blessing through trickery, finally acknowledged that he could not rely on himself. Everything he had was from God, and so he could and must freely offer a tenth of it back to the Lord. God will surely keep his word and supply all his need, as he will supply ours.

 
19th September 2010 GEOFF THOMAS