Old Testament passage for Sunday, January 13, 2013: Genesis 28:1-29:35
16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” Genesis 28:16-17 (NKJV)
Jacob was in trouble. His conniving nature had caught up with him. Twice he had robbed his brother Esau. First it was the birthright, then it was the blessing. Esau had made it clear. As soon as their ailing father passed away, Jacob would meet with justice. Jacob's days were numbered. He was now running for his life.
Think for a moment of Jacob's condition that night in the desert. He was alone and guilty. Behind him was a brother who hated him. In front of him was "no man's land." It is symbolically significance that he had a rock for a pillow. He was in a hard place.
You might say that Jacob had it coming. His name meant "supplanter" or "deceiver". His own nature had repeatedly gotten him into trouble until now he was getting what he deserved. Jacob was a slippery character, but God was chasing him down.
Have you ever felt that way? The Bible says that our flesh is shot through with corruption. God knows what we are really like. He knows our tendence toward deceit and sin. He will allow us to persist in our errant ways for a while. But He has an appoinment with you in the wilderness.
God gave Jacob a dream that was the beginning of the great transormation in this conniving swindler. God was building a patriarch out of a reprobate. God showed Jacob a "heaven and earth connection." It was a ladder whose top was the throne, and whose bottom was .... him!
Though it was a hard place, yet God was in that place. That rock that had been his pillow was transformed into an altar of worship. Jacob called this place Bethel -- house of God.
Throughout Scripture, it is said that our God is the "God of Jacob" (see Isaiah 43:1). I love that. He is the God who takes Jacobs and makes them into men of God. We, with Jacob, can say, "How awesome is this place!"