"The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms" (Deuteronomy 33:27).
I Rebekah's Plan for Jacob's Flight
1. Esau's purpose to slay his brother because of the blessing bestowed upon him, [Genesis:27:41, 36].
2. His mother's plan to have Jacob flee to her brother's home in Haran, [Genesis:27:42-45].
3. Rebekah’s subterfuge about Jacob's departure to Haran to seek a wife, [Genesis:27:46].
II Isaac's Ready Consent to Jacob's Departure
1. His charge that Jacob should not take a wife of the Canaanites, but of Laban's daughters, [Genesis:28:1-2]; [Genesis:24:2-4].
2. Isaac's prayer that Abraham's blessing be conferred upon Jacob; and Jacob sent to Haran, [Genesis:28:3-5].
3. Esau's attempt to please his parents by choosing a wife from Ishmael's daughters, [Genesis:28:6-9]; [Genesis:26:34-35].
III Jacob’s Dream on His Way to Haran
1. His lying down to sleep, alone in the field at sunset, with a stone for a pillow, [Genesis:28:10-11].
2. His dream of a ladder to Heaven with angels ascending and descending, [Genesis:28:12]; [Hebrews:1:14]; [John:1:51].
3. The renewal of the covenant made with Abraham, [Genesis:28:13-15]; Genesis:12:2-3]; Genesis:26:1-4].
IV Jacob's Fear and His Vow to God
1. His fear of God's presence when he awoke, [Genesis:28:16-17]; [Genesis:27:12].
2. His step toward God in setting up and anointing the stone for a pillar, [Genesis:28:18]; [Exodus:29:36].
3. That sacred place, where Abraham also prayed, named Bethel, "God's house," [Genesis:28:19]; Genesis:13:3-4]; [Isaiah:56:7].
4. Jacob's vow to pay tithes as Abraham had done, a result of God's covenant, [Genesis:28:20-22]; Genesis:14:20]; [Genesis:18:19].
The future destinies of both Jacob and Esau were determined in the plan of God, as is recorded in the prophecy of Malachi: "Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau." God, Who knows the hearts of men, saw the difference in the hearts of these boys, even before they were born. And the place that Jacob, the younger of the two, was to occupy in the line of God's chosen people was indicated by the name given him at the time of his birth: Jacob means "to lay hold of the heel" or "to supplant."
But it was not necessary for either Jacob or his mother to resort to cunning devices and subtle deceits to carry out God's plan to make Jacob the recipient of His promises and blessings. God is not dependent at any time upon the schemes of men to carry out His own plan, much less upon the dishonest practices of men to bring to pass His ends. God at no time tolerates sin in any manner, shape, or form. He carried out His plan, and renewed with Jacob the covenant made with Abraham, making the younger an heir to His covenant promises -- not because of the devices of Jacob and his mother, but in spite of their evil doings.
From the natural, carnal viewpoint, Esau was justified in the attitude he took toward his younger brother. It is only natural for a sinful man to seek revenge and strive for the mastery over his opponent. In this case, Esau planned to kill Jacob after their father died, because he did not know the Lord Who later on said, for the benefit of those who followed Him: "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." The example of Cain and his unrevenged killing of Abel should have been enough to show Esau the marvellous truth that the Lord's eye sees all the sins of men and takes note of them, and that in His own time He will bring every sinner to judgment.
Rebekah again resorted to deceit and obtained Isaac's permission for Jacob to leave the country, as well as a blessing upon him for the journey. So with circumstances as they were, the fear of death hanging over him, and the strained family relations that were always present, Jacob set out on his journey.
On the first night he stopped to rest in the open country. There were no comfortable accommodations there for him; and it is best that he was alone with God, for here an incident took place that was the turning point in his whole life.
In his sleep he dreamed a beautiful dream. He saw a ladder reaching from earth to Heaven and angels on it, ascending and descending. The Lord stood above it and spoke to Jacob, repeating the covenant originally made to Abraham, that through his posterity all the nations of the world were to be blessed. Included with this covenant was the added assurance to Jacob that God would be with him on his Journey, that there would be no time when the divine Hand was not over him, and that eventually he would be brought again to the land of his father, Isaac.
This assurance was to quell the natural fear that was in the heart of this fugitive from home who feared his brother's wrath and the trouble that would always be present between them. But while God's words were enough to cause that fear to vanish, Jacob found in his heart another fear. This was a fear of God -- a God Whom he had not taken into his plans to any great extent before this, and a God from Whom he could not flee nor escape. We may escape the consequences of our sins as far as our fellow men are concerned; but there is one thing sure: we shall never escape the all seeing eye of God.
To rid himself of this conviction of sin there was only one thing to do: he would have to acknowledge his transgressions and make a covenant with God. This he did, in erecting a stone for an altar and in praying the prayer that he made.
It is evident that God heard that prayer, for the Lord became Jacob's God. And Jacob called the place Bethel, which literally means the House of God. Jacob was saved; and we find his whole attitude changed from this time on. Marvellous are the workings of our God! In a moment of time the guilt and condemnation of sin is gone, the fear of a righteous God is removed, and a peace creating assurance of forgiveness is given, when a penitent sinner pleads for divine mercy and pardon.
Esau represents a type of people who are worldly minded, who seek after the present, temporal things of this life, and who do not look ahead to see the results of their rejection of spiritual blessings. Jacob reminds us of those who, not being content with their state and condition when in rebellion against God, seek for better things and are mindful of the benefits and blessings that could be theirs.
The ladder that Jacob saw, with its host of angels, is a type of the way by which man is brought into contact with God. Sin brought a terrible result in the beginning -- a separation between man and God -- and God ordained that all those who desired could be restored to the position of fellowship with Him. To do this it was necessary that there be a Mediator. No one could fill that place but Jesus, the Son of God; so it was ordained from the foundation of the world that He was to come and bruise the head of Satan and provide a means whereby man could be united with God.
Jesus came, in the proper time, and suffered for mankind and became the "ladder," so to speak, by which man could ascend to God and through which God's plan could be carried out. The angels are only incidental to the type, ministering spirits sent to minister to those who are heirs of salvation ([Hebrews:1:14]). Jesus alluded to this vision and its fulfilment in Himself, when He said to Nathanael: "Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man" (John:1:51). Nathaniel, through his spiritual perception, was to realise that Jesus was the "ladder," or the means of grace to fallen mankind, and that the angels were those who assisted in the great plan of God.
The Psalmist wrote of this, prophetically: "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven" ([Psalms:85:10-11]).
Song writers have tried to capture the rapture of this grand vision and its important significance in our redemption. One wrote:
"Though, like the wanderer",
The sun gone down,
Darkness be over me,
My rest a stone;
Yet in my dreams I'd be,
Nearer, my God, to Thee!
Nearer to Thee!
There let the way appear,
Steps unto heaven;
All that Thou send'st to me,
In mercy given;
Angels to beckon me
Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee!
"There let the way appear, Steps unto heav'n: All that Thou sendest me, In mercy giv'n: Angels to beckon me, Nearer, my God, to Thee, Nearer, my God, to Thee, Nearer to Thee!"
Another writer caught a more personal application, when he wrote:
"I'd rather walk with Jesus alone,
And have for a pillow, like Jacob, a stone,
Living each moment with His face in view,
Than shrink from my pathway and fail to go through."
1. Why was Jacob going to Haran?
2. What reaction did Esau's attitude produce in Jacob?
3. What reason did Rebekah give Isaac for Jacob's depar-ture?
4. What did Isaac do for Jacob before he left?
5. Where was Jacob's first night spent, and why was the place so named?
6. What did God say to Jacob in the dream?
7. Whom did Jacob fear when he awoke in the morning?
8. Tell what Jacob did after he awoke.
9. What did Jacob vow to do when he prayed?
10. What experience of grace did Jacob receive here?