Summary: A teaching message on Genesis 28:10-22.

Genesis Series #53 July 14, 2002

Title: 4 Things to Remember in Uncertain Times



Welcome to New life in Christ. Today we continue with message #53 in our verse-by-verse study of the Book of Genesis.

Read Genesis 28:10-22

Opening Prayer

Illustration: Willie Mays began his major league baseball career with only one hit in his first 26 at-bats. Though he went on to hit 660 home runs (third on the all-time list), and steal more than 300 bases, his debut was so unimpressive it seemed unlikely he would last more than a few weeks as a big-leaguer, let alone become one of the greatest to play the game. He had a very uncertain future in baseball.

The turning point for Mays occurred when his manager, Leo Durocher, found him crying in the dugout after yet another miserable performance at the plate.

The coach put his arm around Mays and said, "What’s the matter, son?" Mays said, "I can’t hit up here. I belong in the minor leagues."

Durocher said this to Willie Mays: "As long as I’m manager of the Giants, you’ll be my centerfielder."

You know how the story ends. It wasn’t long before Mays began hitting the ball, and he was on his way to becoming a legend of the game.

Fortunately there was someone there to encourage him and tell him, "I am behind you, this will work out." Source: by Steve May. I have modified parts of this story from the original in order to fit this sermon.

We also will face times in our life when we are discouraged and despairing because our future seems so uncertain. Life may be falling apart as a result of our own wrong decisions or through no fault of our own, just as a result of living in a fallen world. Doubt, discouragement, and uncertainty can affect varied aspects of our lives. We might be uncertain about our ability to fulfill ministry obligations. We might be uncertain about our material needs be met. We may be uncertain about our personal relationships, our physical health, or some other area of our lives.

During those times of uncertainty and discouragement we need the same thing that Willie Mays needed. We need a word of encouragement. We need to know that the "coach" is behind us. We need to know that things will work out. The good news is that we can have this need for encouragement and assurance met because God, through his word and Spirit, reminds us of what we need to remember in uncertain times. In fact, this particular passage of Scripture contains four things we need to remember in uncertain times.

Jacob was facing a very uncertain future. He was far from home and could not be sure of ever coming back. He had no assurance of finding a wife, a job, a home to stay in, or even having his basic needs met. He was seemingly all alone in a hostile world with no guarantee that he would not be hunted down and killed by his brother Esau or that he would not be harmed by a bandit or wild animal. Jacob was living in very uncertain times and needed a word of encouragement and assurance from God. Jacob did deserve anything from God, but God in his mercy came to Jacob anyways.

Read Genesis 28:10-12

Jacob had traveled about 70 mi. of its 450 mi. journey to Haran. He needs to rest for the evening and so he set up camp in a "certain place." This place is not especially noteworthy, it does might even have a name. It is not known as a place for Divine visitations. There’s nothing particularly holy about this place. It is just a place of dirt and stones, so Jacob has no reason to expect anything unusual. Soon after Jacob goes to sleep with this head on a rock, which is not unusual for people in ancient times, God comes to Jacob in a dream.

God sometimes shows up at unexpected times and unexpected places. It may be in the shower, during the drive to work, or when you’re cooking dinner. The well known worship course, "Lord You Are More Precious than Silver" was actually received by a lady while she was cooking French fries at McDonald’s. God is not limited to showing up at so-called spiritual places, such as the church building. Now of course God is everywhere, but I am referring to God showing up or manifesting himself to us in a special way. In this case, God visits and encourages Jacob through a special dream.

In the dream Jacob saw a stairway going from earth to heaven, with angels going between the two realms, and the Lord (Yahweh) at the top. Jacob would have understood the dreams symbolism as the stairway being representative of a place where there was access to God. The main point of the dream being to affirm to Jacob that the Lord and his angels were present and active even though he’d been unaware of them, as verse 16 attest. Most of us will not have special dreams like Jacob did, but it has been revealed to us through the Bible that God is present and active even when we are unaware of him.

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