Summary: Through his dream, Jacob receives a glimpse of reality that God is always near and that his Word will always cheer no matter how lonely our pligrimage to heaven may seem.
“Touched by an Angel” is a popular family show about heavenly beings sent to earth to help people with their problems. How would you categorize a TV show starring angels? Would you call it fiction or reality TV? It all depends what you believe about angels doesn’t it?
On our episode of “Jake TV” this morning Jacob was touched by an angel, several angels to be exact. While he saw these angels in a dream, they were real. Through Jacob’s glimpse of reality we’ll learn that God is always near us, and that his Word will always cheer us no matter how lonely our pilgrimage to heaven may seem.
We’ve spent the last three weeks watching Jacob’s life unfold in our “Jake TV” sermon series. We’ve learned so far that Jacob is a lot like us. He was a believer, yet he had his faults. His weakness was his impatience with God to fulfill his promises – specifically the promise that he would receive the inheritance of the firstborn. Instead of waiting for God fulfilled that promise, Jacob, whose name means “deceiver,” sought to speed along the process. Jacob first took advantage of his brother Esau one day by refusing to give him a meal until Esau promised to hand the birthright to him. Jacob continued his trickster ways when he dressed up as Esau to deceive his blind father into giving him the inheritance instead of to Esau.
While Jacob got what he wanted and that which God had promised to him, he lost what he had. Upon learning that Jacob had taken the blessing from him, Esau vowed to kill his brother. Because of that threat Jacob, a homebody, was forced to flee for his life with nothing but a staff in his hand and the clothes on his back. As Jacob traveled north he must have wondered if he would ever see Mom and Dad again, or if he would he ever again enjoy the creature comforts of home: hot meals and servants tending to his every need? And what would Grandpa Abraham think of him if he were still alive? What did God think of him?
It’s not hard to imagine what Jacob was feeling is it? We experience those same feelings of regret and guilt when we deceive, and think and act only for ourselves. We too worry about what God thinks of people who fail to trust in him. What God thought of Jacob, however, is simply amazing. After traveling 110 km Jacob stopped at a place he would later call Bethel. There he lay down to rest but with no sleeping bag or camping pillow with him he had to use a hard rock upon which to rest his head. Thinking about everything he had done, Jacob probably expected to see a few nightmares that night. But instead of a nightmare of his brother chasing him down with a knife to make good on his vow, Jacob saw the most comforting dream he had ever seen. In the dream, Jacob saw a ladder that was firmly planted on the ground but stretched all the way up to heaven. On that ladder Jacob saw angels ascending and descending and God standing at the top. This scene not only assured Jacob that God had not forgotten about him but that he took an active interest in Jacob’s life. With the angels ascending and descending the ladder God assured Jacob that he was not traveling alone and that all of his prayers and concerns were being heard.
This dream was not just wishful thinking on Jacob’s part but a glimpse of reality because God has promised to use his angels to protect and serve his children. The angels that God sends to protect us are not those chubby bow and arrow-toting cherubs you see on Hallmark cards but mighty beings capable of protecting us from all harm and danger as the Psalmist explains: “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11, 12).
It must have been awesome yet frightening for Jacob to see all these angels. After all, how could Jacob be sure that God wasn’t using those angels to spy on him? If Jacob entertained that thought, God quickly put it to rest when he spoke: “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. 14 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. 15 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” (Genesis 28:13-15). The words that God spoke to Jacob were words of pure grace. Jacob had made a mess of God’s plan through his deceit but instead of calling the whole deal off, God reassured Jacob that the promises were still in place.