Summary: As Jacob flees for his life after deceiving his brother, God meets him at Bethel. He is not lost and alone, for God has not lost him! God shows him a stairway to heaven, which prefigures Jesus (John 1:47-51). God invites us to walk with him into a new lif
STARTING FRESH—Genesis 27:41-28:22
We are just a few weeks in a new year, and for some of us, a new year is a time for a fresh start. Maybe we refocus on what is most important, and invest our efforts there, with new energy. Maybe we lay aside some of the bad habits that keep us from our best.
Jacob needs a fresh start. He needs more than just minor changes; he needs to start over, and set a new course in life. He has lied to his father, and stolen the family birthright and blessing of the firstborn son from his brother. His brother is making plans to kill him, his mother is desperately trying to protect him from his brother, but the biggest problem for Jacob is Jacob. He is a schemer and a manipulator, who has learned behavior patterns that destroy relationships and sabotage success in life. He needs a fresh start.
Jacob’s life, up to this point has been full of confusion and contradictions.
His family was not what they appeared to be:
They think of themselves as a godly family. They give blessings in the name of God, but they also lie, using the name of God.
The parents love their children, but in unhealthy ways. The patriarch and matriarch of the family are pulling in different directions. The heirs to the family heritage are two brothers, who are at each other’s throats.
Even now, Jacob is living a lie: His mother and father say they are sending him away to find a godly wife, but the true reason is that his brother might kill him if he stays.
We might think (or wish) that those kinds of contradictions are rare in families, but they are not so rare.
They say they are a close family, but conversation is shallow, centered on sports or activities.
They claim to be a loving family, but people don’t build each other up, and they even say mean and hurtful things.
They consider themselves to be a religious family, but their religion is more like a hobby, when there is nothing else going on.
They want the blessings of a godly family, but their source of values is not God, but other people, and culture.
Having grown up in a family of contradictions, Jacob is confused. He has schemed and lied and manipulated—to get God’s blessing! He has tried to please his mother, only to be sent away under false pretenses. Now he is fleeing for his life—not only fleeing from his enraged brother, but fleeing from whom he has become.
So Jacob leaves with nothing. The props are all gone:
The wealth of his father? All left behind! Who knows whether Esau will ever allow him to claim it?
The support of his mother, his protector and soul mate? Will he ever see her again? No!
The covenant promise of God? Through his scheming, he has obtained both the birthright and the blessing of the firstborn. But is the promise of God still good, if he lied and cheated to make it his? Even if the promise is still good, is he so far gone, that not even God can fix who he has become?
Jacob leaves home with nothing, except directions to a place: Haran, the home of his mother. (PP map) There he must find a wife (if the family is still there!) And then what? What does he know about marriage? What does he know about family life? His family was the only “godly” family he ever knew—and how “godly” was that? There would be no premarital counseling, no parenting class—just what he experienced in his dysfunctional home.
Jacob walks (or rides?) until after sunset. When he finally stops for the night, he is bone-tired. It is his first night away from home (think college or the military), and he is feeling lost and alone.
Jacob is not lost, for God has not lost him! (Read 28:10-22)
A. God was there all along (28:16)
Not just in that place! Before he was born…God spoke to his mother about Jacob and his descendants:
Genesis 25:23 The Lord said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger."
As Jacob grew, he heard stories about God, and the covenant with Abraham.
Genesis 15:5 [God] took [Isaac] outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars--if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."
God was with Jacob. He learned to value the covenant (the birthright and blessing), even though he abused the privileges. He had the good sense not to marry any of Hittite women, like his brother did. Even now, he has a guilty conscience and a hunger for God; God placed that in him! And this strange dream that came into his head—Was that God too? How does God work in our lives?