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Monday, June 22, 2020

2020.06.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 28:10–22

Questions from the Scripture text: From where did Jacob go toward where (Genesis 28:10)? What time of day was it in Genesis 28:11? And what did he do? What did he see set on earth and reaching to heaven in Genesis 28:12? Who stood above Jacob in Genesis 28:13? How did He identify Himself? What did He promise to give to Jacob? What would God do to Jacob’s descendants (Genesis 28:14a)? What will God do through Jacob’s Descendant (verse 14b)? What personal promise does God make, in conjunction with these other promises (Genesis 28:15)? How long does God say that He will be with him? How long will this end up actually taking? What does Jacob say when he wakes up (Genesis 28:16)? What impact does this have upon him (Genesis 28:17)? What does he now do with his “pillow stone” (Genesis 28:18)? And what does he call the place (Genesis 28:19)? What does he vow to do (Genesis 28:21b)? Based upon the certainty that God will do what (Genesis 28:20-21a)? What does he propose as the essential elements of his religion (Genesis 28:22)? 
The Lord is always working in His people’s lives, whether they can see it or not. Other than the words to Rebekah about Jacob while he was still in the womb, we haven’t heard much explicitly from God up to this point in the account of his life. And, considering the way that everyone have been conducting themselves, it seems that they were rather forgetful of God, too!

Finally, when God’s sovereign providence overwhelmed Isaac in chapter 27, he seemed to begin to remember God, as borne out by the words of his second shot at the blessing in Genesis 27:3-4. But we still hadn’t seen any indications of spiritual life from Jacob.

Now, he’s gone about 60 miles in a day, taking nothing but his staff with him—literally running for his life from Esau. And God gloriously appears and declares that He is with Jacob. We know—from the teaching of the whole Bible, and especially from what Jesus says in John 1:51that it is specifically in Jesus Christ Himself that God is with him (and with us!).

Based upon his responses to this appearance of God, Jacob has a long way to go in learning how to respond to the presence of God. Here, he is more impressed by how dangerous God is to him as a sinner, rather than by how gracious God is as his Savior. Jacob exclaims, “Surely Yahweh is in this place, and I did not know!” The implication is that if he had known, he wouldn’t have profaned the place by doing something so mundane as sleeping.

Genesis 28:17 goes on to tell us that he was afraid. It’s entirely appropriate to tremble before God and to worship. But outside of stones of witness such as at Mizpah (Genesis 31:45–54) and Shechem (Joshua 24:27), there’s not much reason in Scripture to think that God approves of Jacob’s response. There’s no indication that God ever accepted the stone as His “house” (Genesis 28:22), and God forbids His people to worship Him by sacred pillars.

It’s safe to say that Jacob wasn’t impressed enough by the grace in God’s promise to him. We see this show up in his vow, “If God will be with me, etc…” These are the very things that Yahweh has just promised to him (Genesis 28:20-21, cf. Genesis 28:15)!

In truth, much of the Christian life is being appropriately impressed by the great holiness and glory of God—while being that much more impressed by the fact that He is gracious to us, and having confidence that He indeed is with us and keeping us wherever we go.
What evidence is there in your life that you are duly impressed with the dangerous holiness of God? And what evidence is there that you are just as impressed by, and confident in, God’s grace to you? What means has He given us to grow in each of these? 
Suggested songs: ARP181 “God Our Only Good” or TPH164 “God Himself Is with Us”

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