Summary: God gave Jacob a powerful dream and an impressive promise. But Jacob didn’t deserve either. What he received, he received because of a spiritual inheritance for a greater man of faith.
OPEN: During the Persian Gulf War, a soldier was assigned to go to Saudi Arabia. As he was saying good-bye to his family, his three-year-old son was holding on to his leg and pleading with him not to leave. "No, Daddy, please don’t go!" he kept repeating.
We were beginning to make a scene when my wife, desperate to calm him, said, "Let Daddy go and I’ll take you to get a pizza."
Immediately, the child loosened his death grip, stepped back and in a calm voice said, "’Bye, Daddy."
APPLY: That’s the kind of behavior you would expect from a 3 year old boy…
He loved his dad… but he loved his pizza more – that’s what you’d expect from a 3 yr. old
But when grown men and women behave like that, we find it to be disappointing and irritating.
A grown person who would make their decisions based on what they could GET OUT of the relationship is someone we wouldn’t trust very far…
I. Let me introduce you to Jacob – a grown man who acted like a 3 year old.
The Bible passage we just read sounds like a great tribute to Jacob’s faith…
I mean, here he is receiving a great vision from God
He erects a stone pillar to honor his God
And he makes a commitment to his God
That all sounds like the behavior of a great man of faith
But that’s not really true
You see (when we find Jacob sleeping by the side of the road) the reason he’s there was because
he was running away from home. Actually, he was running for his life
He had cheated his brother Esau out of Esau’s inheritance and Esau hadn’t appreciated it. Esau threatened to kill Jacob as soon as he found him - so Jacob decided to leave town… to go visit some relatives.
Jacob was where he was – sleeping on the road - because he was a selfish, self centered man. A man who had hurt his brother and shamed his family.
II. And Jacob doesn’t change all that much, even after God gives him this dream & promise
God gives Jacob this great vision. God gives him a powerful promise. And what does Jacob do? He makes a DEAL with God.
He tells God (Genesis 28:20-22) “IF (you’ll) be will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s house, THEN (you’ll) be my God.
(And if you’ll do all that for me, THEN) this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and (THEN) of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”
Implied in his vow is this: If you don’t follow through, don’t count on getting much out of me.
ILLUS: I don’t know about you… but if God had visited ME and gave ME a dream like Jacob got, and gave ME a promise like Jacob received – I’d be asking where I could sign up.
"You just tell me where to build you a house of worship… and I’ll do it right now"
"Here… don’t just take a 10th of my income… here, take my whole wallet"
I don’t know how I could repay Him for that kind of faith in me. But I’d do just about anything for God … anything except try to bargain with God
Only a selfish, self centered, shameful man like Jacob would do something like that…
III. And yet… it was to this selfish, shameful man that God gave a special dream & promise
Look again at Genesis 28:12-15
"(Jacob) had a dream in which he saw a stairway 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.’"
Why? Why would God give such an impressive dream and such a powerful promise to a man who was so untrustworthy?
Well, there are several possible reasons… In fact, I might be able to preach an entire sermon on the reasons God chose Jacob to receive this vision and this promise…