Summary: The Patriarchs The Fugitive Encounters God’s Grace Genesis 28:10-22
The Fugitive Encounters God’s Grace
August 21, 2016
We are in the midst of a series, “The Patriarchs,” and have started looking at the life of Jacob. As a review, Genesis starts with God created humanity in his image to represent him in all creation as they lived in dependence upon him by which they would display God’s greatness and glory. Yet almost immediately Adam and Eve are deceived, rejecting God’s goodness and fall into sin. Sin is like a fatal virus that wreaks chaos and destruction on all creation. Yet God is on a mission to reverse the curse of sin and reconcile humanity to himself through a Deliverer. This mission comes into focus in Genesis twelve when God chose to work through Abraham and his descendants. The Patriarchs are just like the rest of us, morally frail and sinful, yet trophies of God’s grace. Turn to Genesis 28 as we see once again grace triumphing over an unloving and unlovable Jacob in today’s message I have entitled, “A Fugitive Encounters God’s Grace.”
Jacob is on the run because Esau is seeking to kill him (10). He has stolen his brothers blessing by scheming with his mother, Rebekah, to deceive his father Isaac. The blessing was Jacobs because God chose him to be the son of promise but instead of trusting God to give it to him in God’s time and by God’s way, he took matters into his own hands. So Isaac and Rebekah send him to Haran to protect him from Esau and to find a wife among Rebekah’s relatives. He stops at a “certain place” to spend the night. He is alone and uncertain of his future. He has traded the comfort of a tent and a pillow for a rock to sleep. Some of you may be running because of sin, maybe you are running from God. If you have truly put your faith in Christ, then you cannot out run God and you are never beyond his reach. Well, Jacobs sin has caught up with him, making a mess of his life. Sin always has consequences. And because of what he has done, he is a fugitive, all alone, and God’s promises seem impossible or at least improbable. He is a victim of his own sin. But as we will see you may not escape the consequences of your sin but you are never beyond the reach of God’s grace. Jacob may have enrolled himself in the school of hard knocks but God has already enrolled him in the school of grace.
As Jacob sleeps, he has a dream. In it, God reiterates his word of promise and confirms him as the next Patriarch (12-15). The significant parts of the dream are identified by the word “behold.” The vision of the ladder is made up of three parts, the ladder that goes from earth to heaven, the Lord at the top, and angels ascending and descending the ladder. The ladder is a visual picture of the words of the dream. The dream is about the Abrahamic covenant by which God is reversing the curse of sin, reconciling humanity to himself. The Lord is standing at the top of the ladder, above it as the Sovereign One who is over his creation yet guides and directs everything for his own purposes, even Jacobs life. The angels are the messengers or mediators of the covenant. Jesus tells us that he is the fulfillment of this ladder as the greater mediator of the covenant. Jesus is the ‘new bethel,’ the house of God, as he now mediates the presence of God. There is one way by which humanity is reconciled to God, the mediator Jesus Christ. Then God reminds him of the covenantal promises - the land, his offspring being so numerous that they fill the whole earth, and in him and his offspring all the families of the earth will be blessed. These promises are partially fulfilled with the Patriarchs, then with Jacob’s physical offspring, the nation of Israel, but are ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the one offspring of Abraham who destroys his enemy and mediates the spiritual blessings of the Covenant, through the gospel. And the numerous offspring is ultimately fulfilled in spiritual offspring who will fill the earth, Jews and Gentiles who put their faith in Jesus Christ.
But there are additional promises given to Jacob. “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 (15).” I am with you is the promise of God’s presence, will keep you is the promise of God’s protection, and will bring you back is the promise that he will not be a fugitive forever. God says something will happen because God makes it happen. God’s plans can never be frustrated nor hindered, not even our sin. God makes this promise based upon the next phrase, “for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Jacob has made a mess of his life yet God extends grace to him with extravagant promises. Grace is not getting what we deserve and getting what we do not deserve. God’s promises his presence to Jacob even though he is leaving everything safe and secure behind because of his sin. God’s presence is not limited to a specific location but is always with his people. God has not abandoned him because of his sin. No matter the mess he has made of his life because of his sin, he is not beyond the reach of God’s grace and neither are you.