Jacob Meets His Maker
Genesis 28 (focal vv13-15)
As Isaac lifted his hands from Esau’s head and Esau understood that the blessing that his father had just bestowed on him was, in effect, an anti-blessing, because Jacob had stolen his blessing, a murderous hatred gripped Esau’s soul. His hatred was so deep that the thought of killing Jacob brought him comfort. Rebekah did not doubt for a moment Esau’s homicidal intent.
So Rebekah took charge, commanding Jacob to flee to her brother Laban until Esau’s fury cooled down and he forgot what Jacob had done to him. How would she ever get Isaac to agree to this? Easy, if you are as subtle as Rebekah. It was a bitter fact that Esau’s two Hittite wives had made life miserable for Isaac and her (see Gen. 26:34, 35). So she suggested the possibility of new miseries for her and Isaac if Jacob followed Esau’s example (Gen. 27:46). Her suggestion so unnerved Isaac that he immediately grasped the logical alternative and summoned Jacob.
Jacob was commanded not to marry a Canaanite (i.e., Hittite) wife. He was instead told to tread the long journey to Paddan-aram and there marry a cousin from among the daughters of Rebekah’s brother Laban. Isaac coupled this command with an extraordinary blessing, recognizing Jacob as the true heir of the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 28:3, 4) – the third patriarch.
So we read, “Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set” (Gen. 28:10). Kent Hughes then notes:
“The psychic force of Esau’s rage at Jacob’s stealing both the birthright and the blessing ate at his heart. It is a terrible weight to be so hated. How bitter it must have been for Jacob to know that his misery had been unnecessary, that it was the creation of his own unbelieving deceit and stupidity, that the vulture that was eating his vitals was reared in his own nest. The mouth of God had promised Jacob the firstborn position, but Jacob had stolen it with his own lies.”
Such pain. Jacob was now profoundly alone. He had no one to talk to. And he was in a dark howling wasteland full of real and present danger. His solitary state was obvious. Exhausted and despondent, Jacob settled for a stone pillow and fell fast asleep.
As he drifted off, he wondered if he would make it. He remembered every word of Isaac’s blessing about the land and a people. But he was fleeing the land and was childless, indeed wifeless. What a mess he had made of his life. “And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it” (Gen. 28:12, 13a). Jacob’s dreaming eye saw a ladder extending from the earth, on which he lay, far up to Heaven. Was it a staired ramp as on a ziggurat or a runged ladder? We do not know. But it makes no difference because it was a surreal dream ladder.
And there was more. It was freighted with angels. Some were rising from where he lay, and others were coming down. The arrangement of the descriptions – from the ladder to the angels to the Lord – narrows the focus to the central point of the vision, which was God himself.
Then from above the ladder, from Heaven, God himself spoke in grand covenantal terms: 28:13-15:
“And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 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 promised you.”
What was this dream all about? What is the meaning of the ladder? What is God doing? What is Jacob’s response? These are the questions we will wrestle with and answer this coming Lord’s Day as Chad preaches on Jacob meeting his Maker.
I hope you can join us and bring along a friend or two as we gather to worship this God of amazing grace. See you this Sunday.
Grace to you,