Genesis 28:1-22 Responding to God with Faith

    Genesis 28:1-22                    March 2 2008

    Genesis 28-29 focuses primarily on the patriarch Jacob and
to a lesser extent his older, twin brother Esau. These boys
struggled in their mother’s womb, a foreshadowing of what was
to come. Esau was entitled to the birthright, an arrangement
whereby the oldest son received as mush as twice from his
father’s estate what the younger son received. Yet Esau despised
his birthright, opting instead for a bowl of lentil stew prepared
by Jacob (Gen.25:27-34). Esau’s lack of discernment cast him in
a bad light as one unworthy to carry the older son’s
    When Esau discovered Jacob’s treachery, he responded with
an attitude of murderous revenge. He decided to kill Jacob as
soon as Isaac died. If Jacob was to fulfill the blessing of his
father, he would have to escape his brother’s wrath, Rebekah
understood the situation well.

    1. Tacking Transitions (Gen. 28:1-2,10)

Gen. 28:1   So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him and
commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman. 28:2   Go
at once to Paddan Aram, to the house of your mother’s father
Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the
daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. 10   Jacob left
Beersheba and set out for Haran.

    Isaac commanded Jacob to marry one of Laban’s daughters.
(Laban was Jacob’s uncle.) in this way Isaac hoped to avert the
threat of Jacob adopting the Canaanite lifestyle should he
marry a Canaanite wife as his brother Esau had done. Laban
had two daughters. Would Jacob make the right choice? Would
Iassa’s blessing ensure Jacob’s success in finding the right
    Paddan Aram. Means “plain of Aram,” another name for
Aram Naharaim (Gen.24:10). Take a wife for yourself there.
(Gen24:3-4). God almighty. ((Gen.17:1). The blessing given to
Abraham. For Paul’s application of this phrase to Christian
believers (Gal 3:14). In addition to the wives he already had
(Gen.26:34 ).

    2. Taking in God’s Message (Gen. 28:11-15)

Gen. 28:11   When he reached a certain place, he stopped for
the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones
there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 28:12  
He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth,
with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were
ascending and descending on it.  28:13   There above it stood
the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father
Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your
descendants the land on which you are lying. 28:14   Your
descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will
spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the
south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and
your offspring. 28:15   I am with you and will watch over you
wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will
not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

    One of the stones. . . under his head. In ancient times head
rests (in Egypt) were often quite hard, sometimes being made
of metal. People were used to sleeping on the ground. Stairway.
Not a ladder with rungs, it was more likely a stairway such as
mounted the sloping side of a ziggurat (Gen.11:4). Angels of God
were a sending and descending on it. A sign that the Lord offered
to be Jacob’s God. Jesus told a disciple that he would “see
heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on
the Son of Man” (John 1:51). Jesus himself is the bridge between
heaven and earth (John 14:6), the only “mediator between God
and men” (1Tim. 2:5). Above it stood the Lord. Mesopotamian
ziggurats were topped with a small shrine where worshipers
prayed to their gods. Like the dust of the earth. (Gen.13:16). All
peoples on earth will be blessed through you. Repeats the blessing
of (Gen.12:3).  I am with you. (Gen. 26:3). I will not leave you.
Unlike the gods of pagan religions, in which the gods were merely
local deities who gave protection only within their own territories,
the one true God assured Jacob that he would always be with him
wherever he went.

    3. Taking Steps of Faith (Gen. 28:16-22)

Gen. 28:16   When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely
the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 28:17   He
was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none
other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” 28:18  
Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under
his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 28:19  
He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.
28:20   Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me
and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give
me food to eat and clothes to wear 28:21   so that I return safely
to my father’s house, then the LORD will be my God 28:22   and this
stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all
that you give me I will give you a tenth.”

    House of God. . . gate of heaven. Phrases that related Jacob’s
stairway to the Mesopotamian ziggurats (Gen.11:4,9).  Pillar. A
memorial of worship or of communion between man and God,
common in ancient times. Poured oil on top of it. To consecrate
it (Ex 30:25-29). Return safely. Partially fulfilled in (Gen.33:18).
The Lord will be my God. For the first time Jacob considered
(conditionally: “If. . .”) acknowledging the God of Abraham and
Isaac (Gen.28:13; 27:20) as his own. His full acknowledgment
came only after his safe return from Haran (Gen.33:20 ). This
stone. . . will be God’s house. In the sense that it would
memorialize Jacob’s meeting with God at Bethel (Gen.28: 19). Of
all that you give me I will give you a tenth. A way of
acknowledging the Lord as his God and King (Gen.14:20).


            We too can respond to the Lord’s messages to us by
taking appropriate steps of faith. If we fail to act when God
first guides us , we fail to follow Him in obedience. Jacob
erected a marker and made a vow. He could not make good on
the vow for some time, but at least he took tangible steps of
faith toward serving God. Why not take some step of faith to
you draw closer to the Lord?