Summary: Discover the power and the potential in those "Rock Bottom" experiences

“Rock Bottom”

Genesis 28:10-16

INTRO: 1. I like the way the KJV introduces us to this place… “certain place.”

a. I want to take a little ecclesiastical license here and tell you that there’s no place in life that is as certain as that place where you hit rock bottom.

b. No place as common…everybody goes there no matter your socio-economic standing, background or religious experience.

c. There are certain places on your path where you will hit rock bottom!

d. Not a noteworthy place, didn’t even have a name, no reputation…can hit you at the most unexpected places in your life.

e. Like Jacob you may find yourself in that place as a result of poor decisions, or you may find yourself their at no fault of your own.

2. Rock Bottom is a place where you can’t get any lower, things can’t get any worse, where life no longer makes sense…nothing you can seemingly do.

a. A place not with just ’a’ problem—all your problems seem to converge into that single moment. (Life closes in)

b. A place that touches not one area of your life… seems you’ve hit rock bottom in every area of your life.

3. We see in Jacob’s life that this was the place where He hit rock bottom.

a. In his efforts. (conniving had got him there)

b. In his plans and dreams.

c. In his family life.

d. In his emotions. (loss everything precious to him)

e. In his support. (a lonely place)

d. In his faith. (Only family that worshiped Jehovah God he had just left)

e. Even in his future. (on the run, hunted)

f. Gotten so bad that the most luxurious thing in his life was a pile of rocks.

4. Many of us have felt the pain of that moment…but few have felt the power of that moment.

a. With God’s help Jacob turned his “Rock Bottom” experience into a “Rock Solid” encounter.

b. Can’t help but note that God placed this “rock bottom” experience at the beginning of Jacob’s ministry with God… something Jacob needed to face what he would be facing.

c. Don’t be surprised on your divine itinerary a visit to that place called "Rock Bottom."

5. A terrible misconception among believers…that all hardship is a form of Divine discipline, and all “good things” are a result of divine reward.

a. When Job’s wife suggested he curse God and die Job responded

Job 2:10 …What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?…

b. The events in our lives are not always about discipline or even reward… but mostly relationship.

6. But what Jacob did when He hit rock bottom made all the difference.

a. O, the lessons we can learn from him.


a. Traveled about 70 miles… exhausted physically, mentally & emotionally… yet he built.

b. Amazing because of Jacob’s past, knew very little about the outdoors or hard labor, but he knew it was time to do something.

c. How can I build when I’ve lost everything? when everything is against me?

d. It wasn’t a big thing he built, but the fact that he built that was significant.


1. Too often we’re prone to take inventory of what we’ve lost instead.

2. No green grass, no bubbling brooks… just rocks and dirt.

3. Requires we see what’s left not for it’s hurt, but it’s help.

4. What others would see as a hindrance, Jacob saw as a pillow and a bed.

ILL. Short story entitled “The window” of two injured men in a hospital. They where both hurt very badly. One was constrained to lay flat all day, but one was allowed to sit up next to the window next to his bed. The man that could sit up would tell the other man about the beauty he saw outside. The park, the blue skies, the children splashing in the fountain. The other man laid there and visualized it all and longed for the day he too could look out the window. Over time the man began to resent the other for his place next the window and became bitter. Not long after the man next the windows condition worsened and one day he began choking and coughing and couldn’t reach his alert button. The other jealous man while easily in reach of the button did nothing… he just watched him die. The next day they gave the man what he’d dreamed he was moved next to the window. To his surprise as he looked out the window he saw a brick wall.

5. Like David, we have to get up from our crying party and encourage ourselves in what we have left.

6. God loves to use what we have left.

7. God won’t really let us lose what we really need.

B. Use what you’ve been given… build on it.

1. The process of healing began when Jacob built something.

2. What are you doing with the hard things in your life?

3. Rocks can be missiles thrown at others, or sharp instruments to cut the skin of mourners.

4. Many will use their resources to bring others down or even to hurt themselves more.

ILL. Desert is a desolate place, but it can also be a beautiful place if you look for it. In the desert is found both the vulture and the hummingbird. All vultures are looking for is the rotten remains of what has been. But the hummingbird is looking for any sign of sweetness. What are you looking for in your desolate place? The vultures fill themselves with what is dead and gone, but the hummingbird fills itself what is sweet and alive. Are you living life as the vulture or the hummingbird?

5. This encounter would be all about building.

a. Jacob built a bed, God built a ladder, Jacob then built an alter God built a man of God.


a. How else could someone lay their head on a hard desert rock knowing that your life is being hunted by a brother with blood in his eyes and sleep if this rock wasn’t special?


1. Paul said that wilderness rock that blessed Israel in their wanderings was “Christ.”

2. Before the children of Israel would ever learn this, Jacob learned that in your times of confusion… you can rest on the rock!

3. David realized what it meant to hit rock bottom, but declared:

Ps. 61:2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

4. When you’ve lost it all and there’s nobody listening or caring Jesus is still there saying

Matt. 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.


1. Not enough to build a place where God can visit… must lay down in that place.

2. Lay it all on the Rock—Christ Jesus

3. Find peace that doesn’t come naturally… a supernatural peace.

4. Laid his head on that Rock

5. On Him rest your tormented mind.


a. Let’s take a look at the COUP DE Grace (finishing stroke, the decisive event)

b. What happens next is the decisive event…he caught a vision.

c. Last thing we expect to do when we hit rock bottom is catch a vision… but it is the perfect place.

d. The fact of the matter with Jacob is that before he was just too blessed to see God.

e. In the comforts of home, under the blessings of a father God couldn’t reach him and sure couldn’t change him.

f. Not a vision of his future or his circumstance… but of God.

g. Remember this “rock bottom experience” isn’t about discipline or blessing it’s about relationship.


1. That rock “higher than I.”

2. He is above our circumstance, our dark place, our hopeless place.

3. He’s above it because he’s over it all… position of authority.


1. Even in this desolate place.

2. A ladder that wasn’t just in heaven, but here at rock bottom.

3. You need to know this morning, that your God is accessible even in the worst crossroads of life.

4. Angels descending and ascending showing that God’s business was always going on… God still works the night shift.


1. Dependable because of his everlasting covenant.

2. He introduced Himself to Jacob as the God of covenant with his forefathers.

3. He was saying, I was there for them and I’m here for you.

ILL. Willie Mays first season was a disaster (hit only 1 of first 26 at bats), he was sure that he would be dropped. One day manager found him crying in the dugout. He put his arm around Willy Mays and said “All long as I’m manager of the Giants, you’ll be my centerfield.” With that confidence Willy Mays went on to hit 660 home runs in his career. It’s all a matter of who’s backing you up.

4. It will change the way you face the challenges of life, take risks, life without fear…because God is backing you up.


1. In the land he had been raised believed in local gods that where attached to a certain city or place.

2. No doubt this belief system may had influenced Jacob into believing that when he left his family behind he may have left his God behind as well.

3. God wanted to make it clear to Jacob… not merely a god of the mountain or the valley…

4. God Omnipresent, He is Jehovah–Shammah…The Lord who is Present.

5. At that “Rock Bottom” experience you can meet God again.


a. The story is not over until Jacob wakes up a changed man.

b. Doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been at rock bottom or how often God has pulled you through… real difference is have you awaken to a new you, a new day, a new vision for tomorrow?

c. Jacob would have never been able to handle what was ahead of him until God put a new spirit in him.

d. God put more fight in Jacob to stand against the battles ahead.

e. How much fight is in you?

ILL. An evangelist owned two top notch setters he kept pinned up behind his house. One night he heard a fight and looked and saw his two setters all over a bulldog that had dug his way into their cage. He thought for sure that this bulldog would never do that again. However, the very next night he was back and again the setters beat him again. The owner laughed it off and left town for a few weeks. When he returned his wife told him “You’d never believe that bulldog. He came back every day to fight. And it got to the point that when the setters would see him coming they’d start whining and hiding.” There was more fight in that bulldog than in those setters.

f. Is there more fight in you or in your circumstance or in your enemy.

g. Jacob awoke a new man.


Gen. 28:16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.

1. God never changed Jacob circumstances only changed what Jacob knew.

2. Are you courageous enough to trust God to make the best change in your life, even if it means leaving you right where he found you?

3. Will you trust what He tells you about himself… it will change you.

4. Not merely what he knew, but what it made him.


Gen. 28:18 And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.

1. Jacob seemed to realize that the rock he was resting on had greater significance.

2. The devil hates to see you worshipping at rock bottom, he knows you won’t be there for long.


Gen. 28:20 And Jacob vowed 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 raiment to put on,

1. When you realize that God is ever present in your life it will change your outlook on life.

2. He awoke to the purpose of this “rock bottom” place in his life.


ILL. Rabbi Abraham Heschel observed, “Faith like Job’s cannot be shaken because it is the result of having been shaken.”

1. There are no shortcuts to spiritual maturity…our faith must be stretched.

2. Our idea of what a blessing is has to be changed.

CONCLUSION: Rock bottom can seem so lonely and so desolate or it can be the greatest place of blessing you’ve ever know. Are you there this morning? Will you use what you’ve got left over? Will you Rest In Christ? Will you Wake to be a new man or woman?