July 18, 2021 Service
Building a People of God With Unusual Characters: Jacob, Part 1: A Deceiver Gets Deceived--Yet Carries God's Promise
- Building a People of God With Unusual CharactersNoah,Abraham,Rebekah,Jacob;Leah and Rachel;Jacob,Joseph,Moses.Last week we talked about Rebekah, the wife of Isaac, who was quite a mother of deceit. As the hapless old man Isaac sat waiting for his eldest twin Esau to bring home wild game and receive his blessing, Rebekah schemed to put Jacob in line with the blessing. It was an elaborate scheme that just barely worked—because Isaac recognized Jacob’s voice, even though he was wearing Esau’s clothes and goat-skin, hairy gauntlets.Jacob got his father’s blessing, which was according to the revelation Rebekah had from God about her twin boys, that the older would serve the younger. Of course, Jacob had already bought Esau’s birthright with a pot of stew.But now Esau had vowed to kill him for the deceit against Isaac that looked like stealing the rights of the first-born son. So Rebekah told Jacob to go back to her family, the brother of Abraham and his descendents, and get his wife there.This meant she was sending him to her own homeland—for she was Sarah’s cousin and Laban’s sister. Go back and draw from the same well for your wife, my son! Rebekah convinced Isaac to send him there with a sense of revulsion for the Hittite or Canaanite women surrounding them—whom Esau had married.>>>Isaac agreed, and that’s where we begin today, as Jacob is now escaping Esau’s wrath and is. . .On the Run to Paddan-AramHere is Isaac’s instruction for Jacob:2 Go at once to Paddan-aram, to the house of Bethuel, your mother’s father. Marry one of the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother.We will end up with 3 patriarchs of the Jewish people that are the descendants of Terah, who each have wives that are the descendants of Nahor or Haran, Abraham’s brothers. Abaham’s wife was his half-sister or neice, and Nahor’s wife was his neice Milcah. Isaac married Rebekah, Nahor’s granddaughter; and Jacob would marry Leah and Rachel, Nahor’s great-grandchildren, the daughters of her brother Laban.Keep it all in the family, you know. Yet this is, for the Jews, part of the original purity of their race: all from descendants of Terah.So Jacob takes off, looking over his shoulder the whole way in case Esau was pursuing him.>>>After a few days he comes to a certain place and we find him. . .Seeking Rest While Restlessly On the RunIt’s about 70 miles to this place from Beer-sheba, and we read. . .10 Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. 11 He reached a certain place and spent the night there because the sun had set. He took one of the stones from the place, put it there at his head, and lay down in that place. 12 And he dreamed: A stairway was set on the ground with its top reaching the sky, and God’s angels were going up and down on it.There wasn’t anyone nearby that Jacob could presume upon for hospitality, and it was already dark.So he grabbed a stone pillow to settle in. Don’t be too alarmed that this wasn’t a bag of feathers. The ancient Egyptian used headrests that were carved of wood or stone, curved like your hand would be when you cradle your head that way, below your ear. So maybe it was not as uncomfortable to Jacob as we imagine. He was certainly traveling light.His dream was an image of God’s continual involvement in the world, to guide and direct humanity and prepare his own people.I don’t know if this is the source of the title of the song “Stairway to Heaven,” but I do know this is a whole different theme than that song has.>>>This stairway is full of the hope of God in conversation with his creation. And so we read,13 The Lord was standing there beside him, saying, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your offspring the land on which you are lying.So God appeared side-by-side with Jacob. He announced himself as Yahweh, the God of Abraham and Isaac. It’s important to know who is speaking to you in a spiritual encounter.The promise of a place is repeated to Jacob as it was to Abraham and to Isaac: “I will give you and your offspring this land.”>>>And the next 2 parts of the promise to Abraham are also repeated here:14 Your offspring will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out toward the west, the east, the north, and the south. All the peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 Look, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go. I will bring you back to this land, for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”So, you descendants will be many.And, all peoples of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants.Of course, Jesus, the son of Man and Son of God would be the ultimate blessing to come from his descendants, but that is not clear to Jacob right now.Instead, God is promising that even though he is on the run, the promises still hold true. This is your land. You will fill it with your descendants. All will be blessed through you, and finally,>>>God says “I am with you”—present tense—and “I will not leave you”—the future promise of God’s presence, which Jacob would need. So in that place,Jacob Names the Place BethelFirst, though, he has to process his encounter with God a bit:16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! This is none other than the house of God. This is the gate of heaven.”It is both good and totally terrifying to have this kind of experience with the Living God. Jacob was awestruck, as he should be. What to do, how to react, what to mark this place?>>>He first make a simple marker. . .18 Early in the morning Jacob took the stone that was near his head and set it up as a marker. He poured oil on top of it 19 and named the place Bethel, though previously the city was named Luz.Naming the place Bethel is naming it “The House of God” and ignoring the old name of the area or nearby village as “Luz” which has no meaning for Jacob.But Bethel is a name and an understanding that would stick.Jacob’s Shaky Vow to God20 Then Jacob made a vow: “If God will be with me and watch over me during this journey I’m making, if he provides me with food to eat and clothing to wear, 21 and if I return safely to my father’s family, then the Lord will be my God.Jacob’s Love-At-First-Sight in Haran(Rachel at the Well)Different encounter than Abraham’s Servant fetching RebakahJacob’s 1st Contract with Laban16 Now Laban had two daughters: the older was named Leah, and the younger was named Rachel. 17 Leah had tender eyes, but Rachel was shapely and beautiful. 18 Jacob loved Rachel, so he answered Laban, “I’ll work for you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.”The Time Just Flies for Jacob19 Laban replied, “Better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay with me.” 20 So Jacob worked seven years for Rachel, and they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.Time for the Wedding21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Since my time is complete, give me my wife, so I can sleep with her.” 22 So Laban invited all the men of the place and sponsored a feast.Laban’s Schemes Against Jacob23 That evening, Laban took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob, and he slept with her. 24 And Laban gave his slave Zilpah to his daughter Leah as her slave.Jacob Discovers Laban’s Duplicity25 When morning came, there was Leah! So he said to Laban, “What have you done to me? Wasn’t it for Rachel that I worked for you? Why have you deceived me?”Laban Bargains for More Slave Labor26 Laban answered, “It is not the custom in our country to give the younger daughter in marriage before the firstborn. 27 Complete this week of wedding celebration, and we will also give you this younger one in return for working yet another seven years for me.”Finally Jacob Has Rachel as His WifeBut not his first wife, of course!28 And Jacob did just that. He finished the week of celebration, and Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as his wife. 29 And Laban gave his slave Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her slave. 30 Jacob slept with Rachel also, and indeed, he loved Rachel more than Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.Laban’s Land Gets Dangerous1 Now Jacob heard what Laban’s sons were saying: “Jacob has taken all that was our father’s and has built this wealth from what belonged to our father.” 2 And Jacob saw from Laban’s face that his attitude toward him was not the same as before.God Sends Jacob Home with a Promise3 The Lord said to him, “Go back to the land of your ancestors and to your family, and I will be with you.”Jacob Shares His Plans with His Wives4 Jacob had Rachel and Leah called to the field where his flocks were.11 In that dream the angel of God said to me, ‘Jacob!’ and I said, ‘Here I am.’ 12 And he said, ‘Look up and see: all the males that are mating with the flocks are streaked, spotted, and speckled, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you.Time to Go Home13 I am the God of Bethel, where you poured oil on the stone marker and made a solemn vow to me. Get up, leave this land, and return to your native land.’ ”This is the signal to from God to quit tarrying in the land whence Jacob’s grandfather Abraham was called, and get back to the place where God had decided that His people would give him glory.Go to the place of your altar, where you promised me I would be your God. Go to the place where you would mark the faithfulness of Yahweh God’s presence, protection and provision. Go back to the “House of God”, to The place you named Bethel, as you claimed it as your own in the land of Canaan.God tells Jacob, go back to the land that I said I would give you. The land that is your inheritance. Bring your family—it is their inheritance. Leave this place of the unfaithful, come back to the place of those who walk by faith.
Let us get to know you!
Please take a moment to send us your information so that we may stay connected with you. Your information is carefully managed and protected.
I am a:
How did you hear about us?