We all have arguments with our family members. Whether they’re passive-aggressive and icy or loud and violent, they suck. The worst part, in my opinion, is the aftermath. How do we mend this? How are we supposed to act around each other until someone says “I’m sorry”? How do we get back to normal?
The tense power struggle between Jacob and Esau, the twin rivals, and the parents who each sided with their favorite child, is over, at least for now. This family argument has been hastily patched up and swept under the rug. Rebekah makes good on her promise to send Jacob away, far from the bloodthirsty Esau. She has no problem convincing Isaac to send his younger son to get married. Isaac gives Jacob a blessing as he leaves – God will bless him, prosper him, and give him lots of children, just like he’d promised Abraham, Jacob’s grandfather, and Isaac himself. Jacob heads off to his cousin’s place to find a wife.
It’s a long journey to Paddan Aram, so Jacob has to stop and rest for a night before continuing. While he sleeps, God gives Jacob a dream. There is a stairway – a huge one, connecting earth and heaven. Maybe the stairway was made of clouds or even gold. Whatever the material was, the stairway was not just there for decoration. Angels were walking up and down the ladder, coming to and from Jacob. At the very top stood God. He repeats to Jacob the same promises Isaac had mentioned before he left, confirming them. He promises to be with Jacob wherever he goes and that one day Jacob will be home again.
Jacob wakes up in awe…and in love. He commemorates the spot where his God spoke to him with some oil and a new name. He promises to give himself and even his money (verse 22) to the God who had promised never to leave Him. Rested, renewed, and changed, Jacob continues on his way to Paddan Aram and to God’s promises.
The Treasures Within:
That Moment When God Visits You…
I can only imagine the headspace Jacob was in as he essentially fled from home, leaving behind a murderous brother, a father he’d scammed, and a mother who had started it all. The past was shameful. The future was uncertain. On top of all of this, Jacob’s faith was wavering. It probably felt like it was him against the world. Settling down on his rock bed for the night, I’m sure Jacob felt like the loneliest man alive.
Then God stepped in. He heard the cries of His child’s heart. He reached out and held Jacob, comforting him and telling him He loved him. He did all of this through a dream. When Jacob awoke, it was as if something clicked. “Surely,” he said, “surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”
Jacob is shocked. He is amazed. He had had no idea how close God was to him, how real God was, or how much God loved him until he had an experience with Him. Fresh hope and a revived faith filled Jacob as he absorbed this new information. His perspective has changed. A weight has been lifted off of his chest! He feels giddy and light! There is a God, He is real, and He wants to change Jacob’s life! THIS IS AMAZING!
…And Everything Changes
If there ever was such a thing as a spiritual high, Jacob was probably on it. Still, it wasn’t just Jacob’s perspective and emotions that changed – Jacob’s attitude changed. He changed. After witnessing the true God and hearing of His love for him, Jacob promises to serve Him (verse 21). He also promises to give God a tithe, a tenth of all that he ever comes to own (verse 22). Simple, straightforward, yet groundbreaking.
God never asked Jacob to serve Him or to give him tithe. Yet Jacob did these things because he believed. He wasn’t on some kind of acid trip – He had truly seen God, felt His presence, and experienced His love. Now, Jacob believed that God was real and that He had plans for him. Thus, Jacob could do no less than give himself to God.
What happened to Jacob is what happens to us when we truly believe in God. We give of ourselves to him. The awe, the love, and the glory that we experience when we acknowledge and accept who God is is too much to pass by. It is too much to continue living the way we used to. It is too much to continue acting as if God is not real. It is too much to continue sinning.
Sin is unbelief. Jacob deceived his family because he didn’t have faith in God’s promises. We say, think, and do what we want, ignoring God’s commands in the Bible, because we don’t believe in them. We don’t believe God said them or we don’t believe they apply to us. We don’t believe God really knew what He was talking about or we simply don’t believe in God. Whatever the fine print, it boils down to unbelief. Yet just like Jacob, it is possible to believe. And when we do, change begins to take place. Sin stops. Hearts surrender. Everything changes.
God’s Message To Us:
“I am real.” We are Jacob, stumbling around in sin and despair. We are scared of the future. We are disgusted by our past. We are hopeless. Religion offers a solution. It says “There is a God and He will help you!” But every thought, everything we observe, every bit of knowledge we take in through our senses seems to think otherwise. Atheists and intellectuals and smart, progressive people laugh in our faces. Religion is a crutch. Those stupid rules are pointless. Your God isn’t real. At the same time, the God who gives dreams to lost young men is speaking to you. “I am real. I am here. I love you. I want to save you.” Do we believe Him? Do we believe Him? This question is no joke. This question changes everything.
What do you think? What do you believe? Have you had an experience with God? What did He tell you as you read this chapter of the Bible?