Finding God for Yourself Part 1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Title: Finding God for Yourself
The last time we studied Jacob’s life we saw him doing one of the most despicable things a man can do.
He did it at the request of his mother.
You know, sometimes people excuse themselves for being mean by saying it was because their mother didn’t love them when they were little.
Believe me, Jacob couldn’t say that.
Jacob was loved and spoiled.
However, when he was asked to do something that was not the honorable thing to do, he did it.
He stole the birthright from his brother even though the birthright was already his.
The formality of his father giving a blessing wasn’t necessary at all.
Abraham hadn’t given the blessing to Isaac—God had!
And it is God who gave it to Jacob.
His trickery was not only unnecessary, but God will deal with him because of it, you can be sure of that.
It is because of this trickery that his brother hates him, so his mother conceives a plan to save him from his brother’s wrath.
The plan that Rebekah has now thought of is plausible and logical.
It was probably the right thing to do in this case.
She didn’t mention to Isaac that she wanted to send Jacob to her brother so that he would get away from the wrath of his brother Esau, but she did mention the fact that he could choose a wife back there from among her family.
Isaac liked the idea, so we read…
Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, and charged him, and said to him: “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan.”
All the way through the Old Testament we find that God does not want the godly to marry with the ungodly.
And the New Testament tells Christians that they are not to be unequally yoked.
For example, it says in 2 Corinthians, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”
Intermarriage between believers and unbelievers is something that God strictly forbids.
Then Isaac said to Jacob…
Arise, go to Padan Aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and take yourself a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother. “May God Almighty bless you, And make you fruitful and multiply you, That you may be an assembly of peoples; And give you the blessing of Abraham, To you and your descendants with you, That you may inherit the land In which you are a stranger, Which God gave to Abraham.”
It is obvious now that Isaac understands that God had given the blessing to Abraham, that God had transferred it to him, and that the blessing is to be passed on to his son, Jacob.
So Isaac sent Jacob away, and he went to Padan Aram, to Laban the son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau. Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Padan Aram to take himself a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan,” and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and had gone to Padan Aram. Also, Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please his father Isaac. So Esau went to Ishmael and took Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife in addition to the wives he had.
Esau goes and marries a daughter of Ishmael.
He thinks it will please his father.
But now let’s see how Jacob is doing.
Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep.
The place he has come to is Bethel.
The name literally means, “the House of God.”
Bethel is twelve miles north of Jerusalem and the home which Jacob left was probably twenty-five or thirty miles south of Jerusalem.
This means that Jacob covered at least forty miles that first day.
You can see that he was really hot-footing it away from Esau.
He wants to get as far from him as he can, but the farther he gets away from Esau, the farther he gets away from home.
Jacob is a man now, a pretty big boy, but I think he is homesick.
This is the first time he is away from Rebekah.
He has been tied to his mama’s apron strings all of his life, and now he is untied.
He is out on his own and this is his first time away from home.
Notice what happens.
He lies down and puts stones for pillows.
Bethel is a dreary place.
It has been described as highlands with large, bare rocks exposed.
It’s twelve hundred feet above sea level, in the hills.
Next, we are told that Jacob fell asleep…
Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven, and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also, your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Now God is giving to Jacob exactly what He had given first to Abraham; He had repeated it to Isaac, and now he confirms it, and He reaffirms to Jacob that He will do this.
Then God said, “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”
You can see that this would be comforting and helpful to a lonesome, homesick boy who really had to leave home in a hurry.
He is on his way to a far country, and this first night God says to him, “I’m going to be with you, Jacob, and I’m going to bring you back to this land.”
The vision that God gave to him in the dream was of a ladder that reached up to heaven.
What does the ladder mean?
The ladder is Christ.
The angels are ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.
The angels ministered to Him; they were subject to His command.
The Lord Jesus said, “…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me.”
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the ladder—not one that we can climb, but one that we can trust.
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”
When Jacob ran away from home, he had a limited view of God.
He thought that when he ran away from home, he was running away from God, also.
But he found that he had not left God at home.
He exclaimed, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”
Next, we read…
Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of that city had been Luz previously.
Now listen to Jacob.
He has a lot to learn, and this is evidence of it.
Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God.”
What is he doing?
He wants to trade with God.
He says, “Now God if You will do this for me…”
But God has already told him that He is going to do every one of these things for him.
He already told Jacob, “I am going to keep you; I am going to bring you back to this land; I am going to give you this land, and I am going to give you offspring.”
Then Jacob turns around and bargains with Him, “If you will do it, then I’ll serve you.”
God doesn’t do business with us that away.
He didn’t do business that way with Jacob either.