Summary: WHERE ARE YOU PRE-BETHEL Life a mess, running from self BETHEL Coming to Christ POST-BETHEL Drifted away PENIEL Messed up again… Wrestling with God Come back to Bethel
BACK TO BETHEL
“Isn’t he rightly named Jacob [“deceiver”]? He has deceived me these two times: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my b1essing!"
You know the story… how the younger, wimpier, momma’s boy stole the birthright and blessing from his bigger and more macho brother.
It is a great story but I don’t have time for it today.
Today, I want to deal with the rest of the story.
Esau vowed to kill Jacob, so Isaac and Rebekah were forced to send Jacob away. The family was now divided not only by favoritism and rivalry but also by physical distance. And, tragically Rebekah never saw Jacob again.
Jacob fled from Esau to Haran, in Syria, where his Uncle Laban (Rebekah’s brother) lived.
Enroot, between Beersheba and Haran, Jacob stopped to rest for the night. The Scripture says that he used a stone for a pillow.
He dreamed of a stairway (“ladder") that came down from heaven with angels ascending and descending on it. At the top of the stairway the Lord stood and said, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac" (Genesis 28:13).
Notice, God did not say “I am your God" to Jacob, because He wasn’t.
Jacob’s life was a mess! He had tricked his brother out of the birthright, stolen the blessing by deceiving his father, and now he was running for his life. He was leaving the very land he had hoped to inherit by stealing the blessing. But God intervened. He came to renew the promise He had made to Abraham and Isaac.
Don’t miss this… God implies that He is willing to be Jacob’s God also.
“I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying .... 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" (Genesis 28: 13-15).
What an amazing promise! God was telling Jacob He would stay with him, take care of him and bring him back to where He planned for him to be.
God was saying… even though you are a liar, a cheater and a schemer, even though you have messed up your whole family with your lies and deception… I WILL BE WITH YOU!
Do you think that was an amazing revelation to Jacob? Don’t you think Jacob expected judgment and punishment and threats because of his sin?
But God offers to be with him, to bless him.
That is the same way God comes to us… not with threats and condemnation
John 3:17 For the Son of man (Jesus) came NOT into the world to condemn the world…BUT TO SAVE THE WORLD!!
Just like with Jacob ----- Jesus does not want to condemn you… He wants to save you from the mess you are in… the mess you and others created.
Jacob woke up, his eyes were opened --- he saw the light
Let me tell you something… JACOB HAD A RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE!!!
IT WAS REAL !!!!!!!!!! It was life changing.
He came to a point of genuine conversion. He totally committed his life to God.
How do I know? The proof is in the pudding. Listen to what he did…
20 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 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the LORD[f] will be my God22 and[g] 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.” (Genesis 28:21, 22).
HE promised to give God a tenth of everything
This was a man whose whole world was all about stuff… having stuff, having more stuff. He would lie, cheat, steal… whatever it took to get more.
The fact that he promised to tithe is dramatic evidence that he had been changed.
THE TAKER PROMISED TO BECOME A GIVER.
That meant a whole new direction in his life.
Then Jacob did something else to indicate his commitment to God.
He built an altar of worship.
This man had only one God… mammon… money… more!!!!
Now he was vowing to give up his idols and worship God.
That is a REAL change
But that is not all he did to prove his sincerity.
On that altar he poured out oil,
Why is that so big?
It was the only valuable thing he had with him. He did not have an animal sacrifice.
He simply gave all that he had.
He went beyond lip service and promising to love and serve God. He put his money where his mouth was.