Summary: The life of Jacob is a great picture of the battle raging within every Christian between the flesh and the spirit.
Jacob: Back to Bethel
Bethel is about 20 miles north of Jerusalem and is described as a bleak highlands in the hill country. It stands 1,200 feet above sea level where the winds whistle around the large exposed rocks. Although the city was desolate and forbidding it was where the spiritual high point in Jacob occurred.
To understand this passage in Genesis 35, we must go back 30 years to a time when Jacob first went to Bethel. At the time he was fleeing for his life after tricking his father out of His brother Esau’s birthright blessing. Jacob was a fugitive on the run and his first night away from home was spend in Bethel. That night as he slept with a stone for a pillow, he had a dream about a ladder going from earth to heaven, and God was standing at the top of the ladder.
What was it that brought Jacob to this place? What kind of a home did he leave? It was not an ideal home, but it was a home through which God was moving.
I. The Home of Isaac and Rebekah
• Isaac was the son of Abraham and Sarah, the son of promise God had given them by a miracle.
• Abraham had sent his servant to bring a woman back to be the bride of Isaac when they were living in Haran.
• Let’s pick up that story once Rebekah is expecting their first child in Genesis 25:22-23.
“But the children struggles together within her; and she said, “If it is so, why then am I this way?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb; and two peoples will be separated from your body; and one people shall be stronger than the other; an the older shall serve the younger.”
• God said that two nations were to come out of this family and two nations did come from these two twin boys (Esau and Jacob).
• As we follow these two boys in biblical history we are given the spiritual application to the life of the believer.
• In Esau and Jacob we have a picture of the two natures in a believer today.
• When you become a child of God, you receive a new nature, but you don’t lose the old one, and it causes a conflict.
• Paul said that the flesh was against the Spirit and the Spirit was against the flesh.
• Esau the man of the flesh was outwardly far more attractive than Jacob.
• He was the outdoors athletic type.
• He was mister popularity.
• Jacob on the other hand was a man of the spirit – although not to apparent at the beginning.
• When we first meet him, he is not good looking, but he is clever, self opinionated, and above all a mama’s boy.
• Esau was the first born and due the birthright blessing, that he really didn’t care about.
• Jacob was God’s chosen and he knew it, but he wanted his Father Isaac’s blessing anyway.
• We all know the rest of the story of how Rebekah and Jacob trick Isaac for the birthright blessing.
• Even though Jacob didn’t really care about the blessing, this was the straw that broke the camels back.
• Look at Genesis 27:41 and see what Jacob has to say about it:
“So Esau bore a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him; and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”
• With that said, Rebekah tells Jacob to go away for a couple of days till Esau cools off, but those two days turned into 20 years.
II. The Encounter
• Let’s go back to that dream that Jacob was having that first night alone.
• In that dream Jacob saw a ladder going from earth to heaven and he saw angels ascending and descending that ladder.
• He thought, he had left god back home.
• Listen to what Jacob says in Gen. 28:16
“Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”
• You see, in that deep sleep Jacob has a spiritual nature.
• He is a schemer, depending on his own wits and strength.
• He is far from God.
• When he left home running for his life, I am sure he was saying, Goodbye Esau and Goodbye God.
• He honestly thought that he a had left God at home.
• But that first night out alone, God speaks to that lonely, homesick boy and tells him that there is grace and mercy with God, that he still has access to god, and the his prayers will still be heard and answered.