All this week I will be sharing some thoughts on the life of Jacob, based on a series of messages I gave at a youth retreat last fall. I pray that this will be encouraging and challenging for you, as it was for me!
While I was in college my family lived north of Chicago. My sophomore year I had my own car and was driving home from Ohio for the first time with a couple of other girls who lived in the area. I dropped one of them off deep in the city in an area that was unfamiliar to me – a very confusing area where all the highways twist and intersect. Needless to say, I got completely turned around. The girl who was with me in the car didn’t know how to read a map, and after we realized we were lost we were in a terrible part of town late at night and knew it wasn’t safe to sit in a parking lot trying to figure out where to go. [Oh, for a GPS!] :)
I called my dad frantically and told him what was happening. He told me, “find the Sears tower. Drive toward it, and keep it in your front passenger window.” I had no idea where I was, but by finding that one unmistakable Chicago landmark, my dad gave me a sense of direction and helped me find my way home. Having that one fixed landmark gave me the direction I needed to find my way out of utter confusion. Knowing where you are changes everything.
We’re picking up‘s story today in Genesis 28 as he flees from Esau and stops for the night in Bethel.
Remember the wording: a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. (28:12)
What is this dream all about? Access to God. God is basically offering Jacob a personal relationship with Him – which is the only access to heaven.
How does Jacob respond to God’s offer? Check out 28:20-21.
Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God.
In other words: Ok, God. IF you are with me and bless me and give me everything I need or want and bring me back to my family, THEN you can have the privilege of being my God. Is this a genuine response of faith and gratitude for God’s amazing offer? I’m afraid not. As we discussed in yesterday’s post, Jacob seems far more interested in receiving God’s blessings than he is in knowing God Himself. Jacob didn’t understand that the real treasure was knowing God. Now, keep all of that in mind and fast-forward to the New Testament. In John 1:51, Jesus says
“Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
(The Son of Man is a title used for Christ). The wording Jesus used would not be lost on the men he was speaking to at this point- He was claiming to be Jacob’s ladder! He is the only point of access to the Father!
Through Christ, God has offered us an unbelievable gift – a way of access to Him! Unfortunately, our wayward hearts often respond similarly to Jacob’s: “If God will take care of me and keep me safe and keep me comfortable and give me everything I want, THEN He can be my God. [And if He allows me to experience pain or suffering or sickness or the results of my own bad choices or if He just does things I don’t understand, all bets are off.]”
My friends, we have to decide what we really want! Not only that… but do you know where you are?
Jacob realized that he was in the presence of God, and it made him afraid – but he didn’t allow it to change his heart and life.
Do you know where you are? Not just physically where you are… do you recognize that you are, right now, in the presence of God? That He wants to meet you where you are and have a true, vibrant relationship with you?
Stop settling for stuff. Wake up and realize that God is offering you access to Himself. Just like the Sears Tower offered me a fixed point of direction that allowed me to find my way, realizing that we live each day in His presence – longing to know Him above all else- will change the way we live, the choices we make, the priorities we have.
Do you realize where you are?