Summary: What application could Jacob’s struggles have for us today. A look at a ladder, Jacob, and even Nathanial help us to understand that God is there for us and knows everything.
GREATER THINGS THAN THESE
WHO WAS JACOB?
Was he a traveling salesman?...why was he going from Beer-sheba to Haran?
1.He was looking for a wife. He was told by his father not to take a wife from the Canaanite people, so he had to go north to Padan-aram.
2.Secondly, he was running. He had deceived his father; which I am sure, despite the blessing by Isaac; was not fully resolved. I mean …. Can we really believe that Jacob was not thinking about the effects of deceiving his father and all that was associated with that?
And he had, through trickery, subverted his brother’s birthright and blessing (27:35-36). He had been told by his mother that Esau his brother, was going to make himself feel better by killing Jacob. …. And that he should make himself scarce for awhile until Esau forgets what he had done to him (27:42, 45).
APPLICATION: Anyway, Jacob was no traveling salesman, but had some real issues in life just like we do. Just within his family, we see what can happen when his father Isaac favors one child and his mother Rebekah favors another. Both Jacob and Esau were affected for the rest of their lives because of the way their parents raised them. Rebekah actually plotted against her husband to secure better things for her son. (Now, I know that this is unheard of….) In fact, these historical stories of real-life people help us look at the similarities between them and ourselves.
TRANSITION: Just so you’re aware, I used some of the following from some notes I had from one of John MacArthur’s sermons. He asked the question: What kind of people does God use? Just stained-glass saints? Just about anything that is in our world, we have to qualify for (jobs, a NASCAR race, a driver’s license). So what kind of people does it take to qualify for God’s work? The answer is: Nobody is qualified. ….God uses the unqualified! Look at some of the people that God uses the people in the Bible………….Noah was drunk and naked; Abraham laughed at God’s plans, lied about his wife, and committed adultery; Jacob extorted the birthright from Esau, deceived his father; Moses was a murderer; Aaron led the people in idolatry and orgy; Gideon who had no confidence in himself or God’s power; David married every women he liked, an adulteress; Timothy who was ashamed of Jesus…..but God used them all and more. They all had problems and they all had sins.
APPLICATION: In John 1:43-47, we find a man named Nathanael. Bartholomew was his Hebrew surname meaning “son of Tolmai.” Nathanael means “God has given.” Nathanael “was as a student of Scripture and a searcher for the true knowledge of God; although he had strong spiritual interests and had been faithful, diligent, and honest in his devotion to the Word of God; he was human. He had certain prejudices. In his saying, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” he revealed sin in his life. Nathanael, one of Jesus’ disciples! “Here again we see that God takes pleasure in using the common, weak, and lowly things of this world to confound the wise and powerful (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:27). He even calls people from the most despised locations. He can also take a flawed person who is blinded by prejudice, and He can change that person into someone used to transform the world. In the end the only explanation is the power of God, so all the glory goes to Him.”
BUT “The most important aspect of Nathanael’s character is expressed from the lips of Jesus. Jesus knew Nathanael already. So His first words upon seeing Nathanael were a powerful commendation of Nathanael’s character. Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” (or guile, KJV) (John 1:47).
Can you imagine a more wonderful thing than to have words of approval like that come out of the mouth of Jesus? Jesus did not mean that Nathanael was sinless, but he did mean that Nathanael earnestly wanted to know God and live for Him. He was going to make mistakes, but in God’s presence, he would do everything possible to walk with God. Remember, this is not the case with everyone! His friend Philip had not grasped this truth yet! Two years later, in the upper room, Philip says, “Show us the Father” (John 14:8–9). You see, “what Philip didn’t get until the end, his friend Nathanael understood at the very start.” So ask yourself, “Do you qualify among the unqualified?” Do you have purpose in doing what your Creator has called you to do? Do you know who He is?
So we know Jacob, Nathanael, and how we are like them, and in similar situations like them. It says in verse 11, that he took some stones and made a pillow.