This teaching is our 25th session in our verse-by-verse study of the Book of Genesis by pastor Barry – given as part of our family service on 3rd September 2017.
In chapter 28 we see two departings: Firstly, a 77-year-old Jacob leaves home because 1) dad & mum tell him it’s time he finds a wife! & 2) because Esau wants to kill him!
The second ‘departing’ is a spiritual departing as Esau tries to impress Isaac and Rebecca by ‘doing that which seemed right in his own eyes’. There are many, even within churches who have the appearance of godliness; they seem to be doing right as you look from the outside, but inwardly their heart is hard to the things of God and, like Esau, they are only seeking the blessings, the ways that their lives will be enhanced. To them, God is more of a Mastercard than a Master!
En route to Uncle Laban (450 miles away in Padan-aram), and after just (approx.) two days of his journey, Jacob lays down to rest in the remains of the town that was once called Luz. He finds a suitable stone to use as a pillow and beds down for the night – all alone, and no doubt apprehensive at what his future might now hold.
But then, in the depth of night, Jacob has a dream that was so real and vivid it would change his life forever. Up to now, others had been pulling the strings in his life, that was all about to change!
From John 1:45-51 we understand that Jacob comes face to face with Jesus. Jesus is the one taking hold of heaven on one hand and reaching down to fallen humanity on earth with the other. He is the mediator between God and man. It is significant that God the Son reiterates the promises given to Abraham & Isaac, and now them to Jacob personally. Significant, because the promises have to do with the Land of Israel and the descendants of Abraham – through whom the whole earth will be blessed. Jesus is the descendant of Abraham through whom those blessing will come, and He is the one who will ultimately rule over the Land of Israel during His Millennial reign! Jacob is here being given the keys just for a while!
When He awakes, Jacob does what we so often do! He wants to mark the place and names it Bethel “The House of God” – as if the place itself had any significance! Jacob will later return to this place, but it will never live up to his expectations. Of course, it couldn’t, for it was never about Bethel, but about the God Jacob met there. It is the same God who promises to never leave us or forsake us!
For us today, it is our hearts that have become Bethel. The living God has chosen to dwell in each one who has placed their trust in Jesus.
“Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Isaiah 66:1-2).
“Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him”. (John 14:23)
We don’t need a place, a memorial or anything else; we can enjoy fellowship with the LORD wherever we are. God will be as close to Jacob during his stay in Padan-aram as He was at Bethel.
When Jacob arrives in Padan-aram he ‘happens’ to ‘bump into’ Rachel! What a coincidence! (Ed. A coincidence is when God chooses to work anonymously!)
Over the next 14 years Jacob will end with two wives and two concubines and in so doing learn some lessons about the right (and responsibility) of the first-born – a role he himself has assumed without considering all it might entail!
To be continued…
You can listen to the audio on this web page, or save it for listening to later. We have also made available the Powerpoint slides (in PDF format) that outline the key points of this study.
We hope and pray this teaching will bless you and encourage you to undertake your own personal study and adventure in God’s Word!