Summary: Encourage and empower beleivers to live according to God’s promises
NIV Genesis 28:20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God 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 21 so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the LORD will be my God 22 and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth."
Introduction: Do you have a vision? I mean a dream. My vision is pitching in the 7th game of the World Series in 9th inning and striking out the final batter. With my hands held high in victory the team pours off the bench and lifts me up in the air with the crowd going crazy with excitement, pride and awe! What’s your vision? I’ll probably never fulfill that vision, because there are too many things that would need to happen. I can’t throw very fast. I have other responsibilities. I’m too old now. What is your vision, your dream? What if God promised that he would take away all those roadblocks to your vision and he would grant you your dream? Would you quit your job, start throwing to a catcher, work on a curveball, make a videotape of yourself pitching and send it off to the major league scouts? Would you live on that vision? A sinner-saint by the name of Jacob did just that –no he didn’t pitch in the World Series but he did “Live the Vision” God promised to give him! Live the Vision! See God’s great grace to you. See your grateful response to that grace.
Part 1) See God’s grace to you.
“Jacob’s Ladder” is a vision that I learned about in S.S. It is one of my first memories of Christian day school. I remember being mesmerized by the artist’s rendition of the angels: the sweet “angelic faces”, the winged, robed and glowing bodies. It’s funny how you look at a bible story differently as you grow older and are weathered by sin and its consequences. Now that I have gained more experience as a Christian on this earth striving to make it to my heavenly home, this vision brings me great sorrow and great comfort. Sorrow because I see myself in Jacob’s lying and schemeing ways to obetian the blessings of God and great comfort because I see God’s undeserved faithfulness to Jacob just as he loves me in spite of my unfaithfulness. The angels don’t impress me as much as the promises God gave to Jacob. Oh of course the angles are truly powerful and amazing but they are only the tools that God would use to watch over Jacob, protecting him and providing the means by which God would fulfill every single blessing God promised Jacob. You see it is the promise of God -his grace- that is so powerful to me in this vision. During the vision God’s voice proclaims a summary of all the promises Jacob’s father and grandfather were given – a land to call their own, a great nation from their children and the greatest blessings of all – the promised Messiah would come from his family to rule the earth and rescue the world of sinners thereby becoming a blessing to the entire world. Jacob already knew those promises. Jacob’s mother Rebecca knew those promises. Esau, his brother and Isaac, his father all knew and remembered those blessings. The problem was that Jacob stole those blessings. He saw his brother as an enemy. In greed he saw those blessings and tricked his brother into giving up his birthright. He then proceeded to lie to his father pretending he was Esau so that he would receive the inheritance from Isaac. He stole the family farm, the line of the Savior, the Promised Land and the nation of Israel.
Tell me this; when your child steals from their siblings or takes things that don’t belong to them, what do you do? Child psychologist will tell you, “Don’t reward their bad behavior,” right? Talk to them about stealing – how it makes other people feel – and then make them give back whatever they have stolen. Jacob steals the birthright and all of those great promises but then the consequences of his actions start to kick in: Esau flies into a mad rage against Jacob –vowing to kill him; Isaac, Jacob’s father wants him out of the country; Rebecca his mother orders him to flee and never come back. Jacob runs away penniless and homeless. He is on the lamb – running away from his home, his family. When he sleeps all that he has is a stone for a pillow. There is no logical reason why God tells Jacob he will let him keep all those promises! Jacob doesn’t deserve anything but to suffer the consequences for his greed, selfishness and theft. And yet God shows his great love –we call it grace. He assures Jacob of all those promises will be his because he is the Lord who keeps his promises- in spite of sinful promise breakers –like Jacob.