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Genesis 28




SCRIPTURE: Genesis 28

As we get into this chapter, the Bible is making a rather significant transition.  The narrative is moving away from Isaac.  He will still be important in the next chapters but the narrative is moving more toward the story of Jacob.  In much the same way that the story moved from Abraham to Isaac, it now is moving toward Jacob.

But regardless of who the human actors are in the Biblical narrative, God’s sovereign plan is still in place.  Everything is happening according to God’s will and all of it is moving us toward the arrival of Jesus as the Savior of the world.

Isaac sent Jacob way to find a wife from Laban’s family.  Actually this was actually Uncle Laban.  So, Jacob was actually sent away to marry a cousin.  Esau gets wind of all of this.  His solution to the situation was to go to Uncle Ishmael and marry one of his daughters.  In other words, Esau married a cousin as well.  Don’t forget that this is happening in the Middle East and not Arkansas.

About three days into his journey, Jacob is preparing to spend the night in a particular place.  He found a stone for a pillow and went to sleep.  At that point he began to dream of a ladder reaching from where he was into heaven.  He saw angels descending and ascending that ladder.  And He saw God.  God spoke in very covenantal language to Jacob.  In fact, it was basically a repeating of the covenant that God had made with Abraham.

There are at least a couple of important things happening here.  One, it was not uncommon in that time for people who worshipped idols to believe that when they left their home they were leaving their god behind.  God’s appearance in this story not only sets Him apart from all idols but it also points to His omnipresence.  Two, God’s great promises to Jacob were not based upon a behavioral contract.  In other words, God didn’t say to Jacob, “If you do these things, this is what I will do for you.”  Think about it this way.  God didn’t make these incredible promises based upon Jacob’s character.  God made them based upon His character.

Jacob was obviously shaken by this encounter. (I would be too.  You would be as well.)  He spoke of the place as the “house of God” in verse 17.  In verse 19, the place was named Bethel.  Bethel literally means “House of God”.  (Beth is Hebrew for house.  El refers to God.)

Part of Jacob’s response was to take the rock that he used as a pillow and turn it into a pillar.  Then he poured oil over the rock.  Oil in the Bible is often symbolic of the spirit.  Often it symbolized the Holy Spirit.  But there are times that it represents the human spirit or the human life.  So, when Jacob poured this oil over this rock, he was symbolically pouring out his life in this House of God.

In verse 20, Jacob made a vow that starts with the word “If”.  When we read that it looks as though Jacob is making a bargain with God.  That is not the case.  The word “If” here can also be translated “Since”.  So, this is a supposition.  There was no question about what God would do.  The issue was what would Jacob do in response.

By the way, the issue is still the same today.  We know what God will do because He has already told us.  The issue is what will we do in response.

Posted by Joe Ligon with 0 Comments

Genesis 27




SCRIPTURE: Genesis 27

As we continue with the story of Isaac, Rebekah, and their two boys, we see it sadly unraveling.  It has been said that a good beginning does not guarantee a good ending.  Indeed we see that in multiple places in the Bible.  We see it confirmed in the lives of people like Lot, Gideon, Samson, King Saul, King Solomon, Demas and many others.  And now we are about to add Isaac’s name to this dubious list.

Isaac knew that his time on this earth was short.  But his last request was for a favorite meal.  Any time a man is governed by his physical appetites, he is in trouble and headed for greater trouble.  The trouble was increased when Isaac asked for Esau to bring that final meal so that Isaac could bless his “favorite son”.

There are a couple of troubling issues here.  One, parents must be very, very careful when it comes to playing favorites with their children.  While personality, disposition, likes and dislikes might cause a parent to be more inclined to one child over another, parents must never play favorites.  That is a recipe for a guaranteed family disaster.  Two, Isaac was going against God’s Word and will.  God had already told Isaac and Rebekah that Jacob, the younger son, was to receive the covenant blessing.  Yet, Isaac was determined to pass the covenant onto Esau.

Rebekah was just as much of a culprit.  Although she worked to see that Jacob “rightfully” received the covenant blessing, she did so in a most duplicitous manner.  Instead of having a conversation with her husband, she arranged a plan for her “favorite son” to get what she wanted him to have.

As the story continues to unfold, it continues to unravel.  For example, when Rebekah told Jacob of her plan, his concern was not “Is this the right thing to do” it was “Is this safe”.  He was much more concerned about being caught than he was being correct.  Certainly Jacob could have put a stop to this.  But he went right along with his mom’s deceitful plan.

The story finally crumbles into a heap when Esau returned from his hunting trip and took the prepared meal to Isaac.  Once Esau discovered what had happened, he placed all the blame on his brother.  And then Esau vowed to kill him.  Although our kids in fits of anger might say something like this, Esau really meant it.

As you think about this, you might see an interesting thread in this story.  It begins with Isaac deciding to do something that he knew was not God’s plan.  Rebekah blamed him for her doing what she did.  Jacob blamed his mom for his doing what he did.  And Esau blamed Jacob for his doing what he promised to do.

Even in the best of days, parenting is hard work.  Every stage of life our children go through brings a new set of struggles, worries, challenges, and problems.  As parents, any time we make a decision based upon what we want instead of what God says, we either intentionally or unintentionally make a decision to unravel the fabric that holds our family together.  The scary thing is we are all undoubtedly guilty of such decisions.

The good news is (and we will see it in this story) God is able to take our mistakes and turn them to good.  God is able to take the times that we mess up with our children and grow our children from those times.  While this should never be a reason to intentionally wreck your kids, it should be a relief to know that God is bigger than we are.  After all, our kids really are God’s kids in the first place.

Posted by Joe Ligon with 0 Comments

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