Summary: Real worship happens only when God in His grace reveals Himself to us. Then we respond with gratitude by recognizing His presence, reverencing Him, remembering what He has done, and reserving ourselves completely for him.
Three-year-old, Mark, accidentally spilled his fruit punch on the floor one day. He decided to clean up the mess himself and dashed to the back porch to get the mop. Suddenly, realizing it was dark outside, he became apprehensive about reaching out the door for the mop. His mother reminded him Jesus is everywhere – even in the dark. Mark thought for a minute. Then, putting his face to the door, he said, “Jesus, if you’re out there, will you hand me the mop?” (Kathy Gunter Martin, Dandridge, TN, “Small Talk,” Today’s Christian Woman)
Sometimes, either through our own poor choices or because of life’s circumstances, we find ourselves in some pretty scary places. Well, those are the times God loves to show up. Even when we’re not looking for Him, He loves to surprise us with a strong sense of His presence. That’s what happened to Jacob when he was running away from his brother who had threatened to kill him.
Genesis 28:10-15 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 a 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.” (NIV)
At a time when Jacob is running scared, God in His grace reveals Himself to Jacob. Jacob did not DESERVE to see God. He was a cheat and a liar. That’s what got him in trouble with his brother in the first place. & Jacob did not DESIRE to see God. He wasn’t necessarily looking for God at this time. He was just running away from home. & Yet, God in his grace makes himself known to Jacob. God doesn’t show up because Jacob was a good boy. No! God presents Himself to Jacob purely out of grace, and God gives him a wonderful promise – a promise of land, seed and blessing.
Jacob’s father had already blessed him, passing on the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant. Now, God Himself blesses Jacob directly with those same blessings! & On top of it all, God promises Jacob His protecting presence: “I am with you,” God says in verse 15. “I will watch over you.” “I will bring you back.” & “I will not leave you.”
Oh how those words must have brought comfort to one who had never been away from home before. Jacob’s brother was the hunter in the family, used to the outdoors. Jacob was a mama’s boy, used to helping mama at home. Now, Jacob is all by himself, out in the middle of nowhere, 70 miles away from home, without even a tent over his head.
That’s when God meets with Jacob, and that’s when God likes to meet with us. When we’re running scared, God in His grace reveals Himself to us. When we least expect it, sometimes in far out-of-the way places, and often in times of fear, God shows up. Even when we’ve made a mess of things, een when we don’t deserve it, like Jacob, or don’t even desire it, God comes to offer His blessing and the promise of His presence forever.
That’s how Jesus came into this world. In a time of Roman oppression and fear, In a far out-of-the way place called Bethlehem, located in a small Roman province of little consequence, God revealed himself in the flesh as a little baby, whose name was Jesus. Then, 30 years later, when he began his public ministry, he declared to his followers, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John 1:51). sus was telling them, “I am the stairway into heaven that Jacob saw.” “I am the way, the only way, to heaven.” “If you want to get there, you have to come through me.”