Click for Audio: Beautiful Gifts_Genesis 28 thru 32_Sept 4 2011
Not many knew what happened. Some considered it was something on the roof, others rushed to see if they had overloaded their washing machine. Still others wondered if someone in their upstairs were running or falling down. My own daughters declared the moles had finally dug under the house and we were going down (not sure from where they got that idea!). The shaking event that 1/3 of the U.S. experienced was a 5.9 earthquake that hit the east coast, as far as Jacksonville, FL to New York and westward to Chicago, occurring Tuesday, August 23 2011. An east coast earthquake of this size hasn’t happened since 1897. Due to the unfamiliarity of earthquakes, many assumed different circumstances rather than an act of God’s power.
In Genesis 28, Jacob also had a life changing, powerful encounter with God. Jacob was a fake and fraud but this experience turned him to authentic faith. He said, “Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it… How awesome is this place!” (Gen 28:16-17) This encounter led to God blessing Jacob, as his forefathers Isaac and Abraham. In these passages you can see several of God’s gifts in Jacob’s life.
EXAMINE Beautiful Gifts Genesis 28-33
God’s gift of pursuit (28:10-17)
Jacob leaves Beersheba, his home, because he is running away from his family – his father for deceiving him and his brother for stealing his blessing. Jacob ran but found that he couldn’t escape the Lord. God pursued Jacob to remind him of the calling and blessing He had upon Abraham, Isaac and now him. Jacob’s faith in God was no longer ‘rented’ from family, it would become ‘owned’ by Jacob.
God promises to bless Jacob, as He did Abraham and Isaac (v.14). God promised to be with and never leave Jacob. This encounter was revealed through Jacob’s dream of God setting a ladder between heaven and earth, with angels ascending and descending. This was to show God’s persistent pursuit of Jacob.
Every other religion shows human attempts and work to approach God. Humanity seeks to find God, as if God is lost. The reality is that God is always present and available. There is no one who truly seeks God on their own without God’s first pursuit of them.
Romans 3:10-11, 23 “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Human sin blocks us from God. But God pursues and humbly descends the ladder of humanity and becomes like us in every way – even to the point of death. The idea in Genesis is that man cannot ascend to God (cf. Gen 11 Tower of Babel); Jacob is unworthy but God reveals Himself by grace. Religion is man going up, Christianity is God coming down. The entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation, shows God on a mission to pursue a relationship with humanity. There is no reason (like God is bored or lonely – He’s not! He’s the Triune God existing in perfect community and creativity!), or even worth in people; it is simply God’s sovereign choice to do so.
Romans 5:6, 8 “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly…God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Jacob’s response: “Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it… How awesome is this place!… He called the name of that place Bethel [house of God]” (Gen 28:16-17, 19)
– Jesus is the ladder and place/way to meet God. Has God found you? Are you available to God?
“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John 1:51)
“I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in” (John 10:9)
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1Tim 2:6)
– God’s presence is in your life, not just at church. Are you attempting to segment God from place to place?
God’s gift of promise (Genesis 29 – 32)
The rest of Jacob’s journey we continue to see an imperfect man (he tricks and conflicts with Laban) but one who prospers according to God’s promise. Jacob has multiple children with 12 sons and 1 daughter:
Leah: Reuben (29:32); Simeon (29:33); Levi (29:34); Judah (29:35; cf. 49:8-12); Issachar (30:18); Zebulun (30:20); Dinah (30:21)
Billah (Rachel’s maidservant): Dan (30:7); Naphtali (30:8)
Zilpah (Rachel’s maidservant): Gad (30:11); Asher (30:13)
Rachel: Joseph (30:22); Benjamin (35:16)
God’s gift of pain (Genesis 32:9-12, 22-31)
Jacob was a fake and fraud. He deceived his father, brother, uncle/father-inlaw and was always running away from his problems. But God arranged the circumstances of his life to fulfill His purposes. Jacob encounters God in such profound ways that it transforms his identity. A fake and fraud becomes a man of great faith.
– Jacob now prays with humility (v.9-12).
– Jacob’s wrestling with God turns into a transforming pain (v.22-31).
They wrestle all night until the break of day. Again, God descends to Jacob’s level by not conquering him but yet to correct his life through challenge and a crushing pain that will never go away.
God changed Jacob’s name to Israel – one who’s offspring would be eternally blessed with nations, kings and ultimately the Messiah would be the Blessed Seed (cf. 35:9-15)
When you live a life of sin, running from God and all your problems you come to a realization that you can keep running or fall to your knees. Sometimes God will crush us in order to correct and complete us.
ð C.S. Lewis said “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains. It is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world” (The Problem of Pain).
- Is God using pain or difficult circumstances in your life to get your attention? Are you listening? Are you obeying?
ð Have you realized God’s relentless pursuit of you through the gospel – His death proves love; His resurrection proves life and hope are available to you.