Why am I going through this?

Feel like you're barely hanging on?

The young man asked: “Why? Why am I going through this?”

The old man answered: “You’ve got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was.”

We’ve been studying the life of Jacob for the last few weeks. Jacob, whose father and grandfather were great men of God. But whatever Jacob’s ancestors, including his grandfather Abraham might have accomplished, Jacob has to do his own growing. Jacob was threatened with murder by Esau; exiled from his home town and family; he had to travel through the desert for 450 miles; he was tricked into working an extra 7 years by Laban; he thought he was marrying the woman of his dreams but was tricked into marrying her older, probably unattractive, sister, so he marries both and now lives with constant bickering between the two.

And the really tough part hasn’t come yet.

There’s an old Irish proverb that goes like this:

You’ve got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was.

How true that is.

Why are you going through this?

Take a look around. Find a man or a woman without trials and tribulations, and you’ll find a person without growth. The really great ones have gone through tough times.

So take heart. Don’t give up. Hang in. Move forward — in Christ’s name.

There are better days ahead. For…

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12

How Can I Go to Heaven?

Jesus died in your place, on the cross, defeating your sin.

Jesus then defeated death, and rose again.

And from the moment Jesus saves you… The Father looks at you, as if you lived Jesus’ life.

Because the Father looked at Jesus, on the cross, as if He, had lived your life.

1 Cor. 15:3-4 & Romans 3:23-26

Ryan Sample

Pastor of Lakeside Family Church

Genesis 30:1-24 When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister

Read Genesis 30:1-24

In chapter 29 we saw the that the LORD had compassion on Leah. Because of the resentment or lack of love that Jacob had for her, God blessed Leah with four sons. Rachel, up to this point, has been barren. We also saw how God chastised Jacob. He gave Jacob a dose of his own medicine when Laban duped Jacob into marrying Leah. Finally we saw that basing our emotional response on our tiny limited perspective is a misguided misuse of our energies, because God’s plan is so big, that only He will ever be able to see the whole picture. (See previous post on Genesis 29 — When morning came, there was Leah!)

Genesis 30

So Leah has given birth to four sons. And all this time Rachel hasn’t conceived. At that time, in that culture, an inability to bear children was a source of great shame to a woman. So perhaps not surprisingly, Rachel became distraught. She became jealous of Leah. She saw her sister’s success in child bearing as a detriment to herself personally. Jealousy is an interesting emotion. In some ways it’s the opposite of love. I love my kids. I love my wife. Consequently, I’m rooting for them, I’m excited to see them do well. Jealousy, on the other hand, results in just the opposite. When Rachel saw Leah doing well in bearing children, she wasn’t happy about it at all. On the contrary, she was filled with remorse, with bitterness, with jealousy.

(BTW, 1 John 4:8 tells us that God is love — He’s for you, He rejoices in your victories, it’s His desire to see you blessed, and He delights in seeing you do well. The Bible also tells us that God is a jealous God. (Exodus 20:5) However this is in the context of worshiping idols and shouldn’t be confused with the type of jealousy referred to in our story about Rachel and Leah. One of the definitions of jealousy is “vigilance in maintaining or guarding something.” (see Dictionary.com) That’s the type of jealousy that’s God’s. His jealousy is that of someone who loves us so much that He guards us jealously, against those other gods who would lead us astray. If your son or daughter came home and announced that they were completely enchanted by a man he or she met, who happens to be a leader in the Italian Cosa Nostra, you’d jealously guard them against any further involvement! That’s the type of jealousy God has for me, and for you. I recently heard a celebrity say that she was turned off at a church service when she heard the pastor say that God is a jealous God. What a tragic misinterpretation of the meaning of the word, and a classic example of scripture taken out of context.)

So Rachel finds herself consumed with jealousy. As you and I might sometimes do, she’s looking for a convenient target upon which to express her frustration. And as you and I might sometimes do, she takes it out on her spouse, she says to Jacob, Give me babies! I’ll just die if you don’t!

Jacob becomes angry with her and replies, Am I God? I’m not the one who’s kept you from having children!

So Rachel, perhaps recognizing that her expectations of Jacob were amiss, says, Alright then, let’s do this, here’s Bilhah, my servant girl. Make love to her and she’ll bear children for me. I’ll build my family through her. (Having children “through” a woman’s servant was not an uncommon practice in that society, at that time)

So that’s what they did. Rachel gave Jacob Bilhah as his wife, and he slept with her. She conceived and gave birth to a son.

Rachel rejoiced, she said, God has vindicated me or judged in my favor; He’s heard my cries and given me a son. And she named him Dan which means, “judge” or “he has vindicated.”

Later, Bilhah conceives again and has a second son. Rachel says, I’ve had a tussle with my sister, and I’ve won. She named him Naphtali which means “my struggle.”

Now Leah sees that the tide has turned. Rachel, through her servant Bilhah, has born fruit a couple of times and during this period, Leah has been fruitless, with respect to childbearing. So she gives Jacob her servant girl, Zilpah, to be his wife. And Zilpah bears Jacob a son. Leah says, Another son, what good fortune! So she names him Gad, which means, “a troop is coming” or, it can also mean, “good fortune.”

Then Leah’s servant Zilpah bears Jacob a second son. And Leah says, I’m so happy! And the women will call me blessed or happy. So, she named him Asher, which means, “happy.”

“The women will call me blessed.” Leah thinks herself blessed if the women in town call her blessed. Both Leah and Rachel are caught up in a calamitous competition as well as a concern for what other people think creating a mess of the relationships in Jacob’s family.

So at this point, each servant of Leah and Rachel has born for Jacob two sons.

Then, in the fall, during the time of the wheat harvest, Leah’s son Reuben comes back from the fields with some mandrakes. Now these mandrakes were a type of weed found in Israel. The top looks somewhat similar to a tobacco plant and the root looks somewhat similar to a turnip, except that the roots often branch out in ways that make them resemble the shape of a person. Perhaps for that reason the superstitious ascribed magical qualities to the mandrake plant. Two of these qualities, falsely attributed, were that of increasing sexual desire and fertility. So when Leah’s son Reuben comes back from the fields with some mandrakes, Rachel’s jealous again, this time she’s jealous that Leah’s come into a supply of mandrakes.

Rachel, desiring some of those mandrakes, presumably to use them as an aphrodisiac with Jacob, says, Please, give me some of those mandrakes that your son Reuben brought in.

But Leah says, Isn’t it enough that you monopolize all of my husband’s time? You’ve taken him away from me. And now you want my mandrakes too?

All right, all right, if you give me the mandrakes, you can sleep with him tonight, Rachel says.

At the end of the day, as Jacob’s coming in from working the harvest, Leah comes out to meet him. She says, You’re sleeping with me tonight. Reuben found some mandrakes and I’ve traded them to Rachel for one night with you. I’ve hired you out. So he complied and he spent the night with Leah. (I find it amusing that Jacob doesn’t appear to have a whole lot of say in any of this)

God is again sensitive to Leah’s plight, and she becomes pregnant, and bears Jacob a son, the fifth from Leah. Leah says, (mistakenly, I believe), In reward for giving my servant to my husband, God has given me a son. So she names him Issachar, which sounds similar to the Hebrew word for reward.

Later, Leah becomes pregnant again, and gives Jacob a sixth son. She says, God’s given me a precious gift. Now that I’ve given him six sons, my husband will treat me with honor. So she named him Zebulun, which means, “honor.”

Later she gave birth to, Jacob and Leah’s last child, a daughter. She named her Dinah. It’s not surprising that Dinah is given the least amount of ink here in the Old Testament scriptures. In those times, women weren’t valued the way they are today. It’s through Jesus’ influence that the cultural patterns have been changed. He’s the One who’s brought us to the place where no sex is superior. Are the sexes different? Of course. But is one superior over the other? No. Through Christ we’ve come to recognize the equality of not just the sexes, but of everyone. The thing that God hates is an attitude of one person lifting himself or herself over another. It’s an attitude that the LORD detests. There are similarities in all of us, we all have value in God’s sight and we’ve all sinned. We’re equal in Christ. Check it out for yourself. Of all the religions in the world, it’s the Christian nations that are the ones that give the greatest respect to women. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28) (Chuck Smith)

So Leah’s given birth to seven children, and it would seem that poor Rachel will never give Jacob any sons or daughters other than those that might come through her servant. But God, He remembers Rachel, and He listens to her pleas, and finally, after all this time, He provides for Rachel a son. She gives birth and says, God has taken away my disgrace. She named him Joseph which means, “may he add,” because she said, May the LORD add to me another son. A sad commentary on human nature — God gives Rachel a son and her response is, “may he add,” or, give me more.

Look to Christ and do your part

So what do you think, about Rachel’s expectations of Jacob? When she demanded, Give me children, or I’ll die! Is that realistic? Jacob’s already had four sons with Leah, so everybody including Rachel knows that he’s biologically capable, he’s fertile. Rachel’s expectations of Jacob are completely misplaced. Her fulfillment doesn’t lie with Jacob.

Another person who had unrealistic expectations is found in the story of Namaan, the Syrian General, a man whom the Bible says was a valiant soldier. (2 Kings 5:1) He was in charge of all the armies of Syria which would be similar to the rank of Colin Powell when he served as the Secretary of Defense for the United States. Namaan was a man of high rank and great renown but he was also a leper. Now an Israeli slave girl, who served Namaan’s wife, mentioned that Namaan could be healed of his leprosy, if he would only go to Israel and seek out the prophet of God, Elisha. Namaan, did as the Israeli girl said to — sort of. He went to the king of Israel, instead of to God’s prophet. He had a letter in hand from the king of Syria directing the king of Israel to heal Namaan. The king of Israel’s response? He tore his clothes and said, Am I God, that I can heal this guy? (Sound familiar?) Namaan was putting his hope in the wrong person. His expectation was that a great general like himself would receive what he needed from the head of the Israeli nation, not from God through his prophet Elisha.

So the prophet Elisha hears about Namaan and tells the king of Israel to send him on over. So Namaan, the great general, arrives at Elisha’s place and expects, I imagine, to be welcomed like a great dignitary. But Elisha doesn’t even come out of the house. Instead he sends a servant to tell Namaan to wash in the Jordan river seven times.

Namaan is livid! He didn’t get the reception he expected, and he didn’t get the remedy he expected either. Elisha didn’t bestow upon Namaan the keys to the city. Elisha didn’t lay hands on him and call out to heaven with great fanfare. Elisha didn’t even show up!

So the king wasn’t the only person in whom Namaan mistakenly put his hope, he also put his hope in a face to face meeting with Elisha. With his expectations violated and left only with the instructions from Elisha’s servant to wash in the Jordan, Namaan tells his entourage to pack up and head for home.

Then some of his servants say something that makes quite a lot of sense: Hey Namaan, they say. What if you were to just do what you’re supposed to do. I mean, if the king of Israel, or the prophet Elisha had given you some elaborate and difficult task to accomplish in order to be healed, wouldn’t you have done it? So what do you have to lose? Why not just do your part? Why not just do what you’re supposed to, wash in the Jordan seven times, and see what happens?

So Namaan does what he’s supposed to do, what the LORD through Elisha told him to do, and Namaan is healed of his leprosy.

The whole point is this, initially Naaman mistakenly put his hope in the wrong people. The king wasn’t where the answer would be found, and really, even Elisha, in and of himself, didn’t have the answer. Initially Naaman had some unrealistic expectations, but eventually, he did what he was supposed to do. Eventually, he focused on his part. And the LORD healed him. Rachel, rather than getting hung up on what she expects of Jacob, and what she hopes for Leah, no more kids, would have done well to focus on the LORD and what He has in mind for her. Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. (Psalm 127:3) The LORD is the key, not Jacob. It may take awhile, it took Namaan seven baths in the Jordan river, it might take seven weeks, or seven months, or seven years for Rachel to become pregnant. Or she might bear fruit in a way that she never even expected. But the only thing for her to do is to focus on God and what He would have her do. That’s our lot: to obey, and to wait, and to put our hope in Him. (John 14:15Psalm 27:14)

I know a thirty something whose company relocated from Oregon to Southern California at the end of 2011. He was offered the opportunity to relocate but, like most of the other employees at this particular company, what they offered made the move financially undo-able. So he faithfully continued to work at this place without resentment, giving his best right to the end of his tenure. Then he poured his energy into finding a new job, researching the job market thoroughly, carefully crafting a resume, reaching out to his network, submitting applications, he’s doing what he knows the LORD would have him do. I don’t hear him talking badly about his former employer. With his eyes on Christ, he’s focused on doing his part, taking care of his end. It’s been awhile but his efforts are starting to bear fruit. In fact he has an interview on Monday, and requests from recruiters are starting to come in.

In contrast to Rachel, Hannah is a great example of someone who responded well to her barren condition. Comparing the two: Rachel was jealous of Leah; Hannah wept unto the LORD. Rachel nags and badgers Jacob; Hannah submissively seeks help from God. After receiving a son, Rachel asks for another; Before she even had a son, In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “LORD Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life…” 1 Samuel 1:10-11

Rachel demanded children, and she died in childbirth of her second; Hannah asked the LORD for one child, then she had four more.

Maybe you’re waiting on the LORD for something today: for a job, or a wife, or a husband, or a child. Maybe you’ve been looking to your husband, or wife, or boss, or mother, or father, or teacher to fulfill that need. If that’s your situation then recognize that the LORD is where your answer lies. One of the greatest statements that John the Baptist ever made was, “I am not the Christ.” (John 1:20) John the Baptist is not the Christ. Neither was Jacob. Neither was the king of Israel for Namaan. Neither is your husband, or wife, or boss, or whoever. Focus on Him and the things you know He has for you to do. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. (Psalm 27:14) The time of fruit bearing will come. For if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:25)

Put your hope in Him.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Psalm 42:5

Genesis 30:1-24

1 When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!”

2 Jacob became angry with her and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?”

3 Then she said, “Here is Bilhah, my servant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and I too can build a family through her.”

4 So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her, 5 and she became pregnant and bore him a son.6 Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son.” Because of this she named him Dan.

7 Rachel’s servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. 8 Then Rachel said, “I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won.” So she named him Naphtali.

9 When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife.10 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 Then Leah said, “What good fortune!” So she named him Gad.

12 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13 Then Leah said, “How happy I am! The women will call me happy.” So she named him Asher.

14 During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”

15 But she said to her, “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son’s mandrakes too?”

“Very well,” Rachel said, “he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.”

16 So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. “You must sleep with me,” she said. “I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he slept with her that night.

17 God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18 Then Leah said, “God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband.” So she named him Issachar.

19 Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. 20 Then Leah said, “God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun.

21 Some time later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.

22 Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive. 23 She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.” 24 She named him Joseph, and said, “May the LORD add to me another son.”


Bible Gateway

Blue Letter Bible

Matthew Henry

Chuck Smith

Old Dominion University: Bible Plants

Jon Courson

Luke 10:38-42 — You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one

Time Well Spent

We’ve all heard it before:

“Spend time with the Lord.”

“Seek Him in a quiet place.”


“Be a prayer warrior.”

“Spend time alone in God’s word.”

It’s all time well spent — right?

We hear it from our pastors at church. We read it in books. We hear it from each other.

Has anyone out there actually tried to put it these things into practice? You might find the response of those around you to be interesting.

In a culture that values activity, you might find that in the eyes of many, being a prayer warrior doesn’t count for much. Time in God’s word may be perceived by some as time wasted. When you’re praying, when you’re reading God’s word, you’re not physically doing. You’re not producing, at least in the world’s eyes.

It’s been said that the United States runs on coffee. Santa Fe Springs, California alone has 560 Starbucks stores within 25 miles. And in the last five or ten years we’ve moved beyond coffee. We have a plethora of energy drinks available to us that give us wings, right? Monster Energy, 5 Hour Energy, Red Bull…

“Go, go, go.”

“Do, do, do.”

“But I’m praying,” you say.

“But I’m reading God’s word,” you explain.

“Hey,” enough of that. “Get it in gear!” If not said outright, the expression on the faces of some say it clearly enough.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m a believer in work. A number of years ago I read an article about geniuses and they all had one thing in common: they were prolific. They produced. They produced more great works than their contemporaries, and they even produced more mediocre work than their contemporaries. More recently Malcolm Gladwell writes of how he can’t find anyone at the top of their field who hasn’t put in at least 10,000 hours of work before they became successful. That’s 20 hours per week, for ten years. (Gladwell, Outliers)

Work is important. Work is essential. Getting things done is important. God can’t direct you if you’re not moving. You can’t navigate a boat if you leave it sitting at the dock.

So I’m not talking about using prayer and reading scripture as an excuse to be lazy or slothful. In a study by the Catholic church based on confessions, slothfulness was the third most common sin confessed, among men. (see article from the UK Telegraph) So laziness or slothfulness is definitely something to watch out for.

What I am saying is, although time spent working is of course essential, all those things you’ve heard about concerning how good it is to spend time with the Lord — they are absolutely true! Time with the Lord is time well spent! Whether in prayer, or in His word, or in church, or in worship. It’s time well invested. Ideally your time spent with Him will result in your activity being directed by the Holy Spirit. My hope and prayer is that your time and my time spent with Him will result in our work being born of God, coming from the Lord instead of from ourselves.

Billy Graham was asked recently,

If you could, would you go back and do anything differently?

Yes, of course. I’d spend more time at home with my family, and I’d study more and preach less. I wouldn’t have taken so many speaking engagements, including some of the things I did over the years that I probably didn’t really need to do—weddings and funerals and building dedications, things like that. Whenever I counsel someone who feels called to be an evangelist, I always urge them to guard their time and not feel like they have to do everything.

I also would have steered clear of politics. I’m grateful for the opportunities God gave me to minister to people in high places; people in power have spiritual and personal needs like everyone else, and often they have no one to talk to. But looking back I know I sometimes crossed the line, and I wouldn’t do that now.

Spending time with Him is good. I hope what I’m sharing today will encourage you to carve out time with Him. But because our culture so values activity for activity’s sake, if you’ve just decided to embark on a new quest to spend quality time with Christ, if you’ve purposed in your heart to devote significant time each day to be with Him, brace yourself, steel yourself, prepare yourself. Some of the people around you may not recognize the value in what you’re attempting to do. You may even be surprised by who some of those people are. But be strong and of a good courage. (Joshua 1:9) Continue to seek Him.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42


Bible Gateway

Photo: DesiringGod.org

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

I let the people who recommended this book to me know — they have caused me some serious sleep deprivation. I was up until one or two AM several nights in a row. I couldn’t put it down. A book like that doesn’t come along very often.

This true and well documented story is about Louie Zamperini, a juvenile delinquent turned track star who, many thought would be the first man to break the four minute mile barrier. He dreams of winning the Olympics, however his Olympic dream is shattered when World War II begins and the Olympics are cancelled. He joins the war effort as a bombardier and, from there, his amazing story of survival in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II is told.

Stranded on a raft with two other airmen, he finds himself in that part of the Pacific Ocean controlled by the Japanese. He and his crew mates face starvation, insidious sharks that attack in unimaginable and unexpected ways, a strafing run by a Japanese bomber, capture by the enemy, and a typhoon.

Incredibly, the hard part is yet to come.

Louie Zamperini is such an engaging character that he’s impossible not to like. I found myself rooting for him at every turn. The story line is full of unexpected twists, with one in particular that I never saw coming.

Hillenbrand is masterful.

Unbroken is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

I highly recommend it.

I apologize ahead of time for any loss of sleep.

Falling Star: If this nation doesn’t reconnect with its military, we will lose more than our wars | OregonLive.com

Whether you’re a dove or a hawk, this article, by a man whose son served as a medic in Iraq, is an important read.

Falling Star: If this nation doesn’t reconnect with its military, we will lose more than our wars | OregonLive.com.

What stays with you latest and deepest? of curious panics,

Of hard-fought engagements or sieges tremendous what deepest remains?

–Walt Whitman, “The Wound Dresser”

Genesis 29 — When morning came, there was Leah!

Veiled Blessing

Read Genesis 29

In Genesis 28 we left Jacob at Bethel where he worshiped the Lord after experiencing a supernatural dream in which He saw God at the top of a ladder that ran from heaven down to earth, and angels ascending and descending the ladder. We explored what the dream meant, and specifically what or who the ladder itself, the connection between humankind on earth and God in heaven, actually is. The answer to what or who that ladder is, is, one of the most important truths you’ll ever uncover. (see Genesis 28 — You will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending’)

In Genesis 29 we’ll read the account of Jacob’s adventures, we’ll read of God’s heart for the broken hearted, then we’ll look at Jacob’s chastisement (see Proverbs 3:11-12), and finally we’ll look at the big picture — God’s plan. We pick up Jacob’s journey in Genesis 29 after he’s traveled through the desert some 450 miles, and now finally comes upon an area known in that day as “the land of the eastern peoples.” This land was probably located between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers.

It’s possible that a description of this area is found in the story of an Egyptian named Sinuhe. While some maintain that his story is fiction, others believe that his representation of the land of the east offers insight into the area that Jacob knew as Harran. Sinuhe was a government official in Egypt who lived around 1900 BC. He somehow found himself in trouble with his superiors and fled to the East. After surviving his long journey and arriving in the land of the east, Sinuhe offered the following description:

[It was] a good land … figs were in it, and grapes.  It had more wine than water.  Plentiful was its honey, abundant in olives.  Every [kind of] fruit was on its trees.  Barley was there, and immer [an early type of wheat].  There was no limit to any [kind of] cattle.  ….. Bread was  made for [Sinuhe] as daily fare, wine as daily provisions, cooked meat and roast fowl, beside the wild beasts of the desert, for they hunted for [Sinuhe] and laid it before [him], besides the catch of [his own] hand. (see Torahclass.com)

His description is consistent with the account of Jacob in the land of the eastern peoples.

So Jacob, happens upon a well in the open country at the edge of this region called the land of the eastern peoples. He sees three flocks of sheep lying nearby waiting to be watered from the well, which had a large stone over the top of it that served as a lid. Their routine was to wait until all the flocks in the area arrived there at the well, at which point they’d remove the stone and everyone would water their flocks. Then they’d return the stone lid to its place on top of the well.

Jacob engages the shepherds there at the well, he says, My brothers, where are you from?

We’re from Harran, they replied.

I’m happy when I arrive in Portland after a four and one half hour drive! After 450 miles on foot or on a camel, Jacob must have been overjoyed to learn that he’d finally arrived at his destination.

Jacob asks, Do you know Laban, the son of Nahor?

Sure, we know him, they replied.

How’s he doing? Jacob asked.

He’s well, they said. Hey, look, here comes his daughter Rachel with his sheep right now.

So Jacob says to the shepherds there, You know, there’s plenty of daylight left, it’ll be awhile before you take the flocks home. Instead of just hanging around here why don’t you go ahead and water your flocks? Then you can take them back for some more time out on the pasture before the end of the day. (I can’t help but wonder if he was trying to get rid of the other shepherds so he could score a little alone time with Rachel)

We can’t do that, they reply back to Jacob. Not until all the flocks are gathered and the stone gets rolled away from the mouth of the well.

While he’s talking with the other shepherds, Rachel comes down with her father’s sheep. As soon as Jacob sees her, he goes over and rolls the stone away from the mouth of the well and waters Laban’s flock. Then, perhaps because of all that he’d been through: the deception of his father Isaac; fleeing for his life from his older brother; the encounter with God Himself at Bethel; the 450 miles of travel through the desert; all of these things combined may have welled up in him, he was overcome with emotion. Or it could be that he was overcome with joy at the sight of Rachel. Whatever the reason, Jacob became emotional, and, he kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud. He told her who he was, a relative of her father’s, Rebekah’s son. So Rachel ran and told Laban.

As soon as Laban finds out about Jacob, he hurries out to meet him. He embraces him and kisses him and brings him home where Jacob tells Laban who he is and the story of his journey.

Then Laban says to him, You’re my own flesh and blood.

So Jacob stays with his uncle for a month and during that month he didn’t spend his time playing the video game Star Wars: The Old Republic or watching the tube. But instead he found ways to make himself useful, I’m talking about serious full time usefulness here.

Jacob had to have been serving his uncle and serving him well because at the end of a month Laban apparently recognizes Jacob’s talent and industrious inclinations, he says to him, Just because you’re my relative doesn’t mean that you should work for me for nothing. Tell me what you think your compensation package should be, do you want insurance coverage? Time and a half after forty hours? A 401K with employer matching funds of up to 4%? Tell me.

A year or so ago, one of our best employees was being wooed by a competitor. I sent the following letter to my boss:


Recently I asked Bill (the names have been changed to protect the innocent) about what it would take for him to pull out of any hiring processes he might be involved in and commit to our organization. He shared with me a few modest requests. They’re outlined for you below.

  1.  I want a lifetime supply of echinacea, vitamin C and Flintstones chewable vitamins.”
  2.  I want fresh organic fruit on my desk every morning before I show up for work – but not too soon before I show up, lest they’re no longer fresh enough when I arrive.”
  3. I need an organic cheese tray featuring cave-aged Gruyere, Swiss, and sharp cheddar, along with organic berries, fresh – not canned – olives and Ferrero Rocher chocolates.”
  4. And most importantly, I need a fresh bowl of M&Ms – with all the brown ones picked out.”

Chief, these few simple requests are a small price to pay to keep Bill on board – I recommend that we provide these for him.

Shall I have support staff make the necessary arrangements?

Well Laban had two daughters, one of whom was Rachel, and Jacob didn’t want a bowl of M&Ms with all the brown ones picked out. Leah was his older daughter and Rachel the younger. The scriptures say that “Leah had weak eyes…” which some maintain, is a polite way of saying she was ugly. But Rachel on the other hand was beautiful in form and features. It’s been said that the average woman would rather have beauty than brains, because the average man can see better than he can think. Well perhaps this was the case with Jacob because he was crazy about Rachel and not so keen on Leah.

He tells Laban, Tell you what, I’ll trade you seven years of my service for the hand of your younger daughter Rachel.

Laban says (I imagine with great precision, choosing his words carefully), “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.”

So Jacob serves Laban for seven years to get Rachel. He was so enthralled with the opportunity to spend time around her that the seven years seemed like only a few days.

Then, when the seven years are up, Jacob says, OK Laban, give her to me. I’ve made good on my part of the deal, and, to be up front and honest, I want to make love to her, it’s been seven years after all.

Kudos to Jacob here who demonstrates 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient…” (v. 4) He didn’t pressure Rachel, he didn’t demand physical relationship before their marriage. He loved her. He waited.

So Laban throws a huge party. He invites everybody from the neighborhood and all his family. But, that evening, when it came time to deliver to Jacob his bride, Laban, under the cover of darkness, gives Leah, under the cover of what was probably an arrangement of veils, to Jacob. So Jacob takes her into his tent and consummates the marriage — they make love.

The next morning, Jacob wakes up and to his great astonishment and horror, there’s Leah! (Also, as was the custom of that culture, Laban gave his servant girl Zilpah to Leah as her servant)

So Jacob’s hot. Jacob feels betrayed. He says to Laban, What have you done to me? We had a deal! It was supposed to be Rachel! Why have you beguiled me?

Laban answered, Hey listen, it’s not the custom here to give the younger daughter away in marriage before the elder. Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we’ll give you the younger one too.

On a side note — it’s interesting that Laban calls the additional seven years of service a week. It’s the same manner in which we’ll see seven years described in chapter 9 of the book of Daniel.

So Jacob did what Laban required. He did his additional seven years, with Leah by his side, and then Laban, finally, gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. Again, according to the custom of the culture Laban gave his servant girl Bilhah to Rachel as her attendant. Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.

God’s heart for the brokenhearted

Regarding the virtuous woman, the Lord says in Psalm 32:8, I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. So it was with Leah. the LORD was guiding her with His eye, He was watching over her life, and He saw that Leah was not loved. So He enabled her to conceive, while Rachel remained childless. The LORD said in Isaiah 61:1 that He will bind up the brokenhearted. God has a place in His heart for those who are hurting. He showed favor to Leah and He blessed her. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son whom she named Reuben. She said, The LORD has seen my anguish, living with my husband who doesn’t love me, and He has shown compassion on me. Surely my husband will love me now. The name Reuben means, “see, a son,” and sounds like the Hebrew phrase, “he has seen my misery.” But there was no change in her relationship with Jacob.

Then Leah had another son. She said, The LORD has heard that I’m not loved so He gave me this one too. So she named him Simeon which means “hearkened” or “one who hears.” But still, Jacob loved Rachel more.

A third time she conceived and gave birth to a son. Apparently Jacob was still unloving toward her because Leah says, Now at last my husband will bond with me, because I’ve given him three sons. She named him Levi which is derived from the Hebrew word for attached.

Finally she conceived again. This time she doesn’t mention her personal struggle with her husband’s lack of affection. She simply says, “This time I will praise the LORD.” And she named him Judah which means “He shall be praised.” Then she stopped having children.

Hurting? Yes. But at the same time, God’s heart went out to Leah. He saw her hurt and had compassion on her. He blessed her with four sons. And later we’ll see that there’s still more blessings to come.

Jacob reaps what he’s sown

How interesting to see that Jacob the heel snatcher, the conniver who wheeled and dealed his older brother out of his birthright, and who deceived his father to receive the blessing, now finds himself on the wrong end of a bad deal. When Jacob proposes to trade seven years of his service for Rachel, Laban only says, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” He never actually agrees to give Jacob his daughter Rachel. “Give, and it will be given to you,” Jesus said. “Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Jacob gave out all right. And now it’s being measured back to him. He took advantage of Esau to get the birthright and he scammed his father to get the blessing. How shocked Isaac was to learn that he had blessed Jacob instead of Esau. And how shocked was Jacob, when he learned that he had married Leah instead of Rachel. He fell victim to a manipulator that may prove to be his equal.

God’s plan

At the same time that Jacob finds himself on the receiving end of a con game, it’s amazing to see how God’s hand is on his life in a way that causes God’s plan to unfold. The LORD delivers Jacob to Harran, safely, and shows him one of his brides to be, right on cue. Jacob’s all a twitter then the wife swap happens. At the time it seems like the end of the world to Jacob but later, in Genesis chapter 49, we’ll see that Jacob asks to be buried with Leah, not with Rachel.

You might be married to someone right now who’s not who you thought she was. You might be married to a husband who’s not the man you thought you were getting. Maybe you feel tricked, conned, or scammed. But it could be that this is the one that the LORD has in mind for you in spite of your own feelings. It may be that later, you’ll see, as Jacob did, that this is the one with whom you belong. Hang on, pray for strength, ask the LORD to help you see her or see him as He does, with His eyes. God loved Leah even though Jacob didn’t until later in life. He used Leah to bless Jacob, almost in spite of himself. She was completely devoted to him; ultimately, she bore him six sons and at least one daughter. And it was through Leah that Judah was born, and it was from the line of Judah that Messiah came. If you were Jacob would you have traded the wife from whom the Savior of the world would come? Would you have traded the wife from whose line the Son of God would arrive? (Matthew chapter 1, Luke chapter 3)

Of course Jesus didn’t come until hundreds and hundreds of years after Jacob and Leah were gone from earth. We can’t see the big picture the way God can. We can’t know what His plan is hundreds of years into the future. But His hand is on your life. Are you seeking someone’s affection as Leah was? Are you struggling with envy? Leah was veiled on her wedding night obscuring Jacob’s perception of who she was. Then for years afterwards, Jacob’s eyes were veiled when it came to Leah, obscuring his perception of how the LORD was using her to bless him. Ask the LORD to help you see your husband or to see your wife through His eyes, as He sees him or her. Then take your eyes off of your circumstances and focus them on Him. Like Leah, you’ll find peace in your praise of Him. Solace when you spend time with Him. The answer won’t be found in your situation, but in your relationship with Christ.

Seek Him.

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.

James 4:8

Genesis 29

1 Then Jacob continued on his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples. 2 There he saw a well in the open country, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large. 3 When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well’s mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well.

4 Jacob asked the shepherds, “My brothers, where are you from?”

“We’re from Harran,” they replied.

5 He said to them, “Do you know Laban, Nahor’s grandson?”

“Yes, we know him,” they answered.

6 Then Jacob asked them, “Is he well?”

“Yes, he is,” they said, “and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.”

7 “Look,” he said, “the sun is still high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep and take them back to pasture.”

8 “We can’t,” they replied, “until all the flocks are gathered and the stone has been rolled away from the mouth of the well. Then we will water the sheep.”

9 While he was still talking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherd. 10 When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of his uncle Laban, and Laban’s sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s sheep. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud. 12 He had told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and a son of Rebekah. So she ran and told her father.

13 As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he hurried to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his home, and there Jacob told him all these things. 14 Then Laban said to him, “You are my own flesh and blood.”

Jacob Marries Leah and Rachel

After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, 15 Laban said to him, “Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be.”

16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”

19 Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.

21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.”

22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. 24 And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant.

25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”

26 Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27 Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.”

28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29Laban gave his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her attendant. 30 Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.

Jacob’s Children

31 When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. 32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”

33 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon.

34 Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi.

35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.


Bible Gateway

Blue Letter Bible

Matthew Henry

Chuck Missler

From Torahclass.com :

More on this phrase, “the land of the eastern peoples” was disclosed in the delightful Egyptian story of “Sinuhe” (ca. 1900 B.C.).  Sinuhe was a high government official, who fled Egypt for reasons of state.  After a series of hardships, the story tells how he reached the country of the “East,” (Egyptian, Kedem) in Syria, which is probably the very same general area as “the land of the eastern peoples.”  Thus, the “eastern lands” seemed to refer to the lands east of Egypt, covering modern Israel, Syria and northern Iraq.

Sinuhe described these lands this way:

[It was] a good land … figs were in it, and grapes.  It had more wine than water.  Plentiful was its honey, abundant in olives.  Every [kind of] fruit was on its trees.  Barley was there, and immer [an early type of wheat].  There was no limit to any [kind of] cattle.  ….. Bread was  made for [Sinuhe] as daily fare, wine as daily provisions, cooked meat and roast fowl, beside the wild beasts of the desert, for they hunted for [Sinuhe] and laid it before [him], besides the catch of [his own] hand.²

² Transl. John A. Wilson in J. B. Pritchard, ed. Ancient Near Eastern Texts. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1950, pp. 19-20.

J.B. Jackson, A Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names, Bible Student’s Press, Windber, PA, 1908

Jon Courson

The Haunted City

There is a city.
Inside it dwell a million souls.
Each of stained purity,
and embraced in spiritual shoals.

Dis is its name,
the haunted walls
smeared with ambitions of fame
while arrogance upon the ground crawls.
Lust is the current exchange
and the hairs of the tormented burn with mange.
Iniquity hangs above the gate
and its boundaries hold the worlds’ reprobates.

There is a city.
Inside the faithful wait.
Each a with covered iniquity,
paragons of the grace to mistakes.

Zion is its name,
the sacred walls
blessed with the right to forget shame
while all within may walk unfettered and tall.
Strength marks the time within,
each new soul is cleansed of sin.
For while we wait, the people cry
to escape from the forces that vilify.

Man has known these cities,
and though we may disguise,
the truth ushers fear and trembling.
For we know the reprise.

The truth of five thousand years
cannot be bought nor sold to assuage fears.
For in each brother human there is a common face.
Only the darkness of hearts can deny that grace.

Of the two cities, there is only a choice
and salvation depends on the sounds of your voice.
But the climb abroad Heaven’s ladder is hard
and easily may they falter that do not guard.

But I have known the Haunted City’s embrace,
and its many tormentors,
furies from ancient myths of disgrace.
So quickly they become fomenters.
And by the hearts of man,
are the hearts of man condemned,
in their own lack of salvation,
by their own reprimand.

My thanks to Jeremy Huard, poet and writer, for today’s guest post contribution.

Genesis 28 — You will see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending

Jacob's Ladder by Marc Chagall

Read Genesis Chapter 28

In chapter 27 we saw Jacob, with the help of Rebekah, trick his father Isaac into giving him the blessing instead of Isaac’s oldest son Esau. Isaac made Jacob lord over all his relatives and servants, and sustained him with grain and new wine. A double portion of the inheritance was now due to Jacob upon the passing of Isaac. (see previous posts on Genesis 27: When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes and I blessed him)

Afterwards Esau was enraged. So enraged that he plotted Jacob’s death — he said, After our father passes away and the days of mourning are over, I’ll kill my brother Jacob.

Word got back to Rebekah about what her older son Esau had said. So she sent for Jacob and let him in on it.

She said, Your brother Esau is planning to avenge himself by killing you. So here’s what you’re going to do: Get some supplies together and get out of here. I want you to go to my brother Laban’s place in the town of Harran. Stay with Laban for awhile until Esau cools down. When your brother’s anger subsides I’ll send word to you and you can come back.

Then, I imagine, in part to move her plot forward to rescue Jacob from Esau, and in part because she really did struggle with the behavior of Esau’s Hittite wives, Rebekah went to speak with Isaac.

Rebekah gave Isaac a very strong hint: I’m disgusted with living because of the Hittite women who Esau took for wives. If Jacob were to take a wife from the Hittites, I think I’d lose my mind.

Genesis 28

So, perhaps recognizing that Esau might kill Jacob, and also recognizing that Rebekah is distraught with Esau’s Hittite wives, Isaac calls for Jacob and gives him direction.

Isaac says, Don’t marry a woman from the land of Canaan. Go to Paddan Aram where your mother’s brother, your uncle Laban lives. Find a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban. And May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.” (v.3-4)

Did you catch that? Isaac said, “May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers… and may he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham…”  The first time he blessed Jacob, Isaac did so unwittingly. This time he does so intentionally because Isaac and Jacob are reconciled! How good it is to be reconciled with someone with whom we’ve had a falling out. That’s the work of God’s Son, to reconcile us to each other and to God Himself. So important is reconciliation to Jesus that He tells us, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-3-24)

Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, to Laban’s place in Haran which is about 450 miles away. To the brother of Jacob’s mother Rebekah.

God provided a servant to go to the very same place to fetch a wife for Jacob’s father Isaac. But Jacob will have to fetch his own. It’s ironic that Jacob, the one who received the birthright and the blessing, the one who received the double portion of Isaac’s very large inheritance, the one upon whom authority was given over all of Isaac’s household, the one who is promised the land of Canaan, should be chased out of town with only the possessions he can carry and with authority over no one, because he has to travel alone. This is a good reminder for you and for me that God’s promises often don’t line up with our current circumstances. But in the end His way will always prove best — even if we don’t see the outcome this side of heaven. Remembering how He provided a bride for Isaac is a good reminder that God doesn’t work the same way in every life. He works one way in one life and another way in the next person’s life. Even salvation is worked out differently for each of us as Paul said to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Phillipians 2:12)

So Esau hears what happened, that Isaac had sent Jacob off to Laban’s place to take a wife and Esau learns that Isaac told Jacob specifically, Don’t marry a woman from the land of Canaan. And he also learned that his little brother Jacob had obeyed and had left for Laban’s. Esau then realizes what a problem it has been for his mother and father, for him to have wives from the tribe of the Hittites. So he goes to Ishmael, Issac’s half brother, and marries Mahalath, Ishmael’s daughter. So Mahalath becomes his wife in addition to the two Hittite women. This speaks of the power of a good example (Jacob’s example in this case). A good example can influence even those with whom we’re at odds. Although it can be argued that Esau’s effort came too late and fell too short.

Meanwhile Jacob leaves and sets out for Laban’s place. When the sun had set he stopped for the night. He found a stone lying around nearby and used it for a pillow as he lay down to sleep.

Close your eyes for just a minute and picture with me Jacob’s situation: Jacob, fleeing for his life, promised great blessing by his earthly father Isaac but currently possessing very little, sleeping on a stone. Emerson once said about tough times, “When it’s dark enough, you can see the stars.” So often it’s when you or I hit hard times that we find ourselves able to see something of heaven. So often it’s when you’re in trouble that you’re able to feel God’s presence. So often it’s when you’re between the rock and the hard place that you experience God communicating with you. So it was with Jacob.

While he slept he had a dream. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced a dream that was so vivid that it seemed real. I once had a dream that I was engaged in spiritual warfare. The dream appeared to be so real that I woke up in mid sentence, commanding some bad…, some bad…, some bad I don’t know what they were — bad angels? Bad men? Bad spirits? Any way, I woke up with my heart racing and in mid sentence commanding them, In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to be gone! Well I imagine Jacob’s dream as falling into this realistic dream category, a stunning and very vivid dream — so vivid it seemed to be real. It must have been, to have left such an impression on him, as we’ll see.

In his dream Jacob saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 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. 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. 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.” (v.12-15)

Notice first of all that Jacob, though he thought he was alone, wasn’t alone at all. The LORD was with him. The God of Abraham and Isaac was right there, with him, in that very quiet and lonely place. Are you alone? Did you know God tells us very specifically, if you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you. (James 4:8) Ask Him to come near. Get away from your phone, from your computer, from your TV. Seek out a quiet place, a place similar to where Jacob slept. Once there ask Him to draw near. You’ll be surprised at what happens. You’ll be blown away, I promise you. Try it and see.

Notice also that the LORD didn’t speak to Jacob while Jacob was in a pattern of good behavior. Jacob whose name means “The Heel Snatcher” had just cheated his own brother out of his birthright and his blessing. Yet God chose to speak to him, and to bless him, at this low point in his life. It’s yet another example of how God operates. In Jacob’s life we see that God is full of grace toward Jacob. And He’s full of grace toward you and toward me.

The dream itself is fascinating. The LORD’s position at the head of the ladder speaks of God’s sovereign and supreme position in the universe. The angels climbing up and down speak of the constant correspondence between heaven and earth. God’s directives are being carried out by the angels descending from heaven. And the angels ascending picture how all that occurs on earth is being communicated to heaven.

The LORD tells Jacob that he’ll be blessed in the same way as Abraham and Isaac. He’s told that he’ll be blessed in four ways:

1) Jacob will receive the land of Canaan. This is an extension of God’s promise to Abraham down to the third generation.

2) Jacob, this man on the run, who before he went to sleep must have felt like a branch that had been cut off, is now given the great promise that he’ll bear abundant fruit, producing descendants that will be like the dust of the earth.

3) Jacob’s also blessed with the promise that it’s through him that all peoples on earth will be blessed. All peoples on earth would be blessed because, Messiah, Jesus the Christ, would come through Jacob’s family line. (Matthew 1, Luke 3) And all peoples on earth are blessed by Him. All peoples. Everyone will be included, every nation, every race, every religion. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39) Every single person will be blessed — the only ones excluded will be those who exclude themselves.

4) Finally, Jacob, who’s running in fear; Jacob, who’s running for his life, is told by God Himself that He, God, will watch over him.

Jacob alone? Not by a long shot. And neither are you alone. Draw near to Him and see what happens to your life. You’ll be blessed also.

When Jacob woke up he thought to himself, I didn’t realize it but the LORD is in this place.

You may not realize it, but like Jacob, whether you realize it or not, God is with you. God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) Take time to seek Him.

The dream was so striking and God’s presence so overwhelming that Jacob was afraid. He said aloud, How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven. (v.16-17)

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. Before this all happened that place was called Luz, but Jacob renamed it — he called it Bethel which means house of God. On his way back from Haran, Jacob will build an altar in that very same spot.

Then Jacob made a vow, he said, 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 household, 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. (v.20-22)

The Ladder that joins us with God

You may not have heard this but hundreds and hundreds of years after Jacob’s dream; hundreds of years later in history, someone important commented on Jacob’s dream of God, the angels, and the ladder. He shared an answer to a mystery concerning this dream. An answer that unlocks one of the great mysteries of life. He answered the question,

“What or who is the ladder itself?”

In other words, what connects you and me, living here on earth, with God and heaven? What transcends the separation between humankind and God?

It was Jesus who answered that question. Jesus Himself referred to Jacob’s dream when He said to Nathanael,

“Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

(John 1:51)

He’s your Ladder, He’s the conduit, He’s your connection to God and heaven. Jesus is the ladder.

Follow Him.

John 1:45-51

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.

“Come and see,” said Philip.

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”

Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

Genesis 28

1 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman. 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. 3 May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. 4 May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.” 5 Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.

6 Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, “Do not marry a Canaanite woman,” 7 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram. 8 Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; 9 so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.

10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.”

16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 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.”

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. 19 He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.

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 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the LORD will be my God 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.”


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Chuck Missler

Matthew Henry

Jon Courson

“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.” -Saint Augustine