Summary: Just as Jacob built a marker at Bethel, we must build markers of faith along our pilgrimage through the deserts of this life.
A Pilgrimï¿½s Marker, Genesis 28:10-22
The famed preacher of the 19th Century, Charles Spurgeon, used to tell of a road which had been cut in red marble. It was so smoothly polished that, even when it was free of its usual thin coating of snow, it was dangerous in the extreme. Even though steps were hewn and rough marks made across the granite, he would be foolhardy who should try to ride along the slippery way, which is called Helle Parte (Hell Place) for reasons which glisten on the surface.
There was a sign at this place which read, ï¿½Dismount,ï¿½ and none were slow to obey it. There are many such Hell Places on our pilgrimage through this life ï¿½smooth places of pleasure, ease, flattery, self-content, and the like. It will be the wisest course, if any pilgrim has been fond of riding the high horse, for him to dismount at once and walk humbly with his God.
We do well to remember that we are very much pilgrims passing through this life. The tests of our character and the opportunities for genuine spiritual and personal growth happen ï¿½out thereï¿½ on the highways and byways of this life.
Christian character is produced ï¿½ shaped ï¿½ not in beautiful comfortable sanctuaries of worship, but in the grueling hot sun, sandaled feet trotting dusty trails, hands callused from our walking sticks as we follow the master of mercy, Jesus Christ.
In todayï¿½s Scripture reading we read of an incredibly important event which took place in the life of Jacob. This was a turning point in Jacobï¿½s pilgrimage of faith and therefore, a turning point in the faith of the future Nation of Israel, and indeed the entire human race. We read of the beginning part of the pilgrimage of Jacob.
In the chapter preceding todayï¿½s reading, chapter twenty seven, we learn the reason why Jacob was out in the desert. Jacob literally means supplantor or ï¿½heel grabber.ï¿½ Isaacï¿½s sons, Jacob and Esau were twins and it says that even in the womb they wrestled and at birth, Jacob grabbed his Brother Esauï¿½s heel, perhaps in an early attempt to be the first born son of Isaac.
The story goes to tell us that Jacob and his mother, Rebekah, conspired to trick Isaac into giving Jacob the birthright over his slightly older brother, who had been born first. Perhaps you have already heard the story?
It is told in Genesis 27:15-29, ï¿½Then Rebekah took the choice clothes of her elder son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. And she put the skins of the kids of the goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. Then she gave the savory food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob. So he went to his father and said, ï¿½My father.ï¿½ And he said, ï¿½Here I am. Who are you, my son?ï¿½ Jacob said to his father, ï¿½I am Esau your firstborn; I have done just as you told me; please arise, sit and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.ï¿½ But Isaac said to his son, ï¿½How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?ï¿½ And he said, ï¿½Because the LORD your God brought it to me.ï¿½ Isaac said to Jacob, ï¿½Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, whether you are really my son Esau or not.ï¿½ So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, and he felt him and said, ï¿½The voice is Jacobï¿½s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.ï¿½ And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esauï¿½s hands; so he blessed him. Then he said, ï¿½Are you really my son Esau?ï¿½ He said, ï¿½I am.ï¿½ He said, ï¿½Bring it near to me, and I will eat of my sonï¿½s game, so that my soul may bless you.ï¿½ So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank. Then his father Isaac said to him, ï¿½Come near now and kiss me, my son.ï¿½ And he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his clothing, and blessed him and said: ï¿½Surely, the smell of my son Is like the smell of a field Which the LORD has blessed. Therefore may God give you Of the dew of heaven, Of the fatness of the earth, And plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, And nations bow down to you. Be master over your brethren, And let your motherï¿½s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, And blessed be those who bless you!ï¿½ (NKJV)
Jacob gained his blessing by deceit. As it turns out, the family through which God would ultimately bless the entire human race is just as dysfunctional as any of ours! Jacob, the man of faith, started his faith-pilgrimage as a lying cheat of a brother. Isnï¿½t it amazing how God chooses the foolish things of this world so that in using broken vessels He, not us, is glorified?