Summary: God’s promises to Jacob in the desert are types of the promises made to us. Like Jacob God has promised us his PRESENCE, A Permanant PLACE and PROTECTION. We Perfect his promise when we trust him.
You remember the circumstances, Jacob had deceived his father stolen the blessing which was itself a testimony that he had no faith that God would bring about what He had promised: since Jacob (and his mother) didn’t believe God’s word they took things into their own hands and created heartbreak instead!
How very much like us, God has promised us that he will care for us if we will but seek his kingdom first but we lack trust and risk falling into destructive ways of getting what we perceive we want.
Jacobs failures were born out of faithlessness, but Jacob himself was about to go from faithless to faith-full. It wouldn’t mean automatic righteousness outwardly but it would begin a life of transformation over the long haul which is no different than what we experience – a long slow growth towards righteousness.
Turn to Genesis 28:10-22 and we’ll read this together.
When Jacob gets to the end of a full day of traveling he’s exhausted and while he may think it’s little more than coincidence that he should be at that place; God has set up for him a divine appointment. Bethel is a place with many stones and he took one to use as a pillow supporting his head for the night and soon fell fast asleep. I’ve always been a bit amused by this because, even though I like a hard bed, the thought of using a rock for a resting place does little to get me feeling comfortable. It’s here in the midst of Jacob’s exhaustion that God comes to Jacob with a Three-fold promise promise. And it starts with...
1) The promise of God’s Presence:
God will never leave us nor forsake us. I have taken more pleasure and peace basking in this promise alone over almost any other. To know that God is with me is the most sacred medicine my heart could receive in times of doubt or trial.
Immediately we are invited into the scene as if to watch it, Three times starting in the twelfth verse we see the word “Behold” or “Look” because it’s important that we catch the magnitude of God’s appearance here which is the central point which the passage pivots on.
When God appears to Jacob in this dream it’s apparently the first time Jacob has had a direct association with God. Until this day everything has been through his father Isaac, now it begins to become personal. Numbers 12:6 tells us that dreams are the normal way God begins the prophetic relationship "... if there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream."
So the promise of God’s presence begins in many ways with this dream it is the first communication Jacob has had from God and the substance of the dream matters as well. In the dream Jacob’s dream involved a ladder or a staircase which had it’s foundation upon the earth and yet reached into the heaven of God. In Jacob’s dream the angels of God where going up and down upon the stairway.
In John 1:51 Jesus and Nathanael first meet Jesus makes a clear allusion to this passage as he speaks to Nathanael. Immediately the new disciple confesses that Jesus was the Messiah / the Christ and the son-of-God! Jesus responds then to his new disciple telling him that he would see greater things than that, but that he would see the angels ascending and descending on the son of Man. In other words, "Jesus announces to Nathanael, whom in contrast to wily Jacob he called an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile, that he himself is the ladder set up between heaven and earth which Jacob saw."1
Jesus is the stairway to heaven, he came and provided a foundation upon the earth for men to have access to God.
As the 15th verse begins the first promise is the promise of God’s presence, and it’s not lost on Jacob. Imagine if you can the position Jacob was in.
"Jacobs heart was probably filled with regret for the past, loneliness in the present, and uncertainty about the future..."2 But as Jacob looks at the top of the staircase he sees the Lord there; and what he hears is that God himself will be with this deceitful arrogant self-centered little man until all that he has promised is fulfilled.
We also have the same promise from Jesus in
Philippians 1:6 "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."
I for one am grateful for the promise because the road is long and there are times when we feel as if we are alone and God is distant - it is in those moments when we cannot see the hand of God that we can still trust Him because he has promised not to leave us.