Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Genesis 28:16-22 Jacob Responds to God's Offer

"When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, 'Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.'  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.'  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.  He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz." (Genesis 28:16-19 NIV)

The way Jacob responded to his dream shows us that he was thinking that the place was one which linked heaven and earth.  Although he had not built a ziggeraut in order to reach the heavens and speak to his God, God had taken the initiative and come to meet him.  When Jacob had been back at his father's house, although he seemed interested obtaining the covenant blessing, he had not seemed to have much of a personal relationship with God.  In fact, when he was in the midst of tricking Isaac into giving him the blessing instead of Esau, he had referred to Isaac's God as "the Lord your God" (Genesis 27:29).  Even now, as Jacob sets up his stone pillar, he is only at the beginning of recognizing who this God really is.  His next few words reveal that he is still trying to bargain with God, rather than fully submitting to His will:

"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
so that I return safely to my father's house,
then the Lord will be my God
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.' "
Genesis 28:20-22 NIV

The important thing is that Jacob is responding to the revelation which he has been given.  When God gives us some idea of who He is and we respond, He continues to give more light or information to our understanding.  If we turn away from this light, our understanding becomes darkened.  In the New Testament, Romans 1:18-32 speaks of these same matters.  Jacob may have a way to go, but he is at least finally moving in the right direction. 

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