Summary: Jacob's dream at Bethel in Genesis 28:10-22 teaches us that God will be with his people wherever they go.
We are currently in a series of sermons on "Isaac's Descendants." After twenty years of barrenness, God gave Isaac and Rebekah twin sons, whom they named Esau and Jacob. As a young man, Esau despised his birthright and sold it to his twin brother, Jacob. Much later, Jacob deceived his father, Isaac, and received the blessing that Isaac had intended to give his older son, Esau. As a result of that double deception, Esau wanted to kill Jacob. And so, Jacob was sent away to his mother's family in Northwest Mesopotamia to find there a wife for himself. Along the way, Jacob had an astonishing dream.
Let's read about Jacob's dream in Genesis 28:10-22:
10 Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. 12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, "I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it." 17 And he was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."
18 So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19 He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, 21 so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, 22 and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God's house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you." (Genesis 28:10-22)
When Martin Luther was a young man, he was terrified of death. He knew that he was a sinner, and that he deserved to go to hell for his sin. When he was a twenty-one-year old law student at the University of Erfurt, he was returning back to school during a thunderstorm after visiting his parents. Roland H. Bainton writes in his marvelous biography:
Sudden lightning struck him to earth. In that single flash he saw the denouement of the drama of existence. There was God the all-terrible, Christ the inexorable, and all the leering fiends springing from their lurking places in pond and wood that with sardonic cachinnations they might seize his shock of curly hair and bolt him into hell. It was no wonder that he cried out to his father's saint, patroness of miners, "St. Anne help me! I will become a monk."
Luther felt forsaken by God, and tried to connect with God by becoming a monk. Have you ever felt forsaken by God?
Isaac's son Jacob felt forsaken by God. He had deceived his brother Esau out of his birthright and his blessing. Esau was so angry he wanted to kill Jacob. But, out of deference to his father Isaac, Esau decided to wait until his father died. When Rebekah and Isaac heard about Esau's murderous desire they decided to send Jacob to Rebekah's family in Northwest Mesopotamia. And so, Jacob hastily fled from his family in Beersheba and traveled more than 400 miles to Haran.
Jacob's dream at Bethel in Genesis 28:10-22 teaches us that God will be with his people wherever they go.
Let's use the following outline:
1. Jacob's Flight (28:10-11)
2. Jacob's Dream (28:12-15)
3. Jacob's Response (28:16-22)
I. Jacob's Flight (28:10-11)