When you were a kid did you ever run away from home? Maybe one of your kids?
I read a story about a 5-year old who decided to run away. His neighbor lady saw him go, as she worked in her garden. There he trudged down the sidewalk, past her house, hauling a little suitcase in his red wagon. He disappeared around the block. A few minutes later, he reappeared and went past her again. Again, he circled the block. The third time, she finally asked: "Whatcha doing?" He answered, "I’m running away from home!" “So” she said -- “why do you keep circling the block?" He answered timidly, "cuz I’m not allowed to cross the street!!"
When I was about 10 years old I attempted to run away from home.
[My running away story.]
But the more my Mom told me what it would really be like out in the world the more I wanted to stay at home.
As we saw last week, Jacob has to leave home. The family is in turmoil and he just wasn’t safe there. Things didn’t turn out like he wanted them to. I mean, he’s gained his brother’s birthright, which meant a double inheritance for him. And he’s gained his father’s blessing, which meant he would be in charge of the family when his father died. He had everything he wanted – money, power, his mother’s love. But the way in which he got what he wanted caused him to have to leave home.
His father didn’t trust him and his brother wanted to kill him. All the money and power in the world doesn’t do you much good when you’re six feet under. So he sets out on a 500 plus mile journey to his mother’s homeland to find a wife and to let things at home cool down.
[Read Genesis 28:10-11.]
You really get the impression here that Jacob’s trip was a difficult one. Because of the bleak circumstances that he’s in it seems that he didn’t leave home with servants or many supplies. He doesn’t even have a bedroll or blankets or something with which to make a pillow out of. He’s resting his head on a rock! Now that’s hardcore! So let’s put this in context.
At home Jacob had it all. But because of his own selfish and deceitful actions he’s homeless, alone, in the midst of a huge journey, probably broke, his dad doesn’t trust him, his brother wants to kill him, and his mom isn’t there to help or comfort him. It stinks to be Jacob!
Can you imagine what must have been going through his mind? “How did I end up like this?” “Where is everyone?” “I want to go home!”
He must have thought this was the worst time in his life. But actually this was a good place to be. Because when you’re on the mountain top you feel like you don’t need God’s help. But when you hit rock-bottom the only direction you can look is up. Jacob has hit rock bottom and his life has positioned him to be open to God maybe for the first time in his life! So guess what God does…
I. God shows up! (God reveals Himself to Jacob.)
[Read Genesis 28:10-15.]
Isn’t this amazing. Here’s this deceitful, spoiled, mama’s boy Jacob who’s done everything he could to ruin his own life, homeless and alone, and God shows up. God out of His love and grace shows up in Jacob’s dream and reveals Himself to him. What love God has.
Now what did this dream mean? There’s a couple of main themes in its symbolism:
1. God’s love and grace is shown in the ladder or staircase.
[Read Genesis 28:12-13a.]
The angels ascending and descending between God and man show how God cares about the affairs of man and is involved in the world. The staircase also shows the connection or porthole between the earth and heaven. It’s like a dimensional doorway on a spiritual level with man on earth and God standing at the doorway of heaven. God loves man and has made a way for us to be with Him.
2. God’s faithfulness to man is shown in the Abrahamic covenant.
[Read Genesis 28:13b-15.]
God repeatedly says that He will perform it. That He wont leave Jacob until God has accomplished the covenant. He will build the nation, Israel, through him in such a way that all the world will be blessed through him.
Of course, God’s love and grace and faithfulness to man was ultimately fulfilled and displayed through His Son Jesus Christ, who came through the family line of Jacob.
[Read John 1:45-51.]
Nathaniel, being a good Jew would have recognized how Jesus was using the imagery of Jacob’s dream to make the point that He is now the connection between God and man. Jesus is the stairway to Heaven and all who walk in faith will reach God. Out of God’s love and grace and faithfulness God has provided a way for man.