Each week on Thursdays we highlight a trustworthy discipleship resource that can help you in your mission to make disciples. This week’s post is from Explore the Bible: Adults Personal Study Guide Winter 2019, Session 2—Not Alone. Fill out the form at the end of this post by Friday, November 16th at 11:59pm to enter for a chance to win this free resource!
Not Alone (Gen. 28:10-22)
Loneliness is more than location. We can be in a familiar place, yet still be alone. We can feel alone in a room full of people or walking down a city street surrounded by a mass of people. The feeling of aloneness can be overwhelming.
Jacob knew loneliness. After tricking his father Isaac into giving him the patriarchal blessing, Jacob was forced to flee his home. Leaving behind his worried mother, angry brother, and deceived father, he left Beer-sheba and set out for Haran, the home of his mother’s brother. When the sun had set, he stopped to rest at a certain place. This place was far from home, far away from his mother’s tender touch, and far away from the luxuries afforded him as Isaac’s son. In this place, alone, there was no need for deception or trickery. Most likely, his thoughts were now filled with fear. Would Esau follow him and kill him? Would he have enough food or water? Would he find his way to Haran? Would his uncle welcome him under these circumstances? His deceptive actions brought him to this uninviting and uncomfortable place with only a stone for a pillow. Alone and exhausted, he watched the day turn to night as he lay in that place.
The consequences of our sinful actions often take us to places we did not imagine. We fantasize of riches and fame, but sin offers no such reward. Like Jacob, we may find ourselves without family and home if we bite at Satan’s temptations.
In this solitary place, sleep overtook Jacob and he dreamed. In his dream, Jacob saw a stairway that reached from earth to heaven. God’s angels were going up and down on it. The stairway reminds us of God’s personal involvement in the affairs on earth and in the hearts of humanity. While people, like Jacob, may leave God out of their lives, God never deserts them. Notice the movement of the angels on the stairway. They were already on earth, traveling up to heaven and then coming back down to earth again. God’s angelic army had been busy on earth, long before Jacob’s time. Not only were the angels accomplishing God’s purposes on earth, but by ascending up the stairway, they were in constant communication with heaven. Nothing on earth escapes the watchful eye of God. Even in this solitary place, Jacob learned God was at work.
As far as Scripture reveals, this was Jacob’s first encounter with God. Introducing Himself, God used the name Yahweh, the personal name for God, meaning the self-existent, eternal God. Just as God appeared to Jacob’s grandfather and father, He appeared to Jacob personally. Jacob was about to learn that hearing the stories of God is not the same as having a personal relationship with Him.
God extended to Jacob the covenant He made with Abraham and Isaac, promising him offspring, land, a blessing through him, divine protection and presence, and that He would see Jacob safely home. God would appear to Jacob several more times, but this first meeting was significant because Jacob learned God was interested in him and was at work in his life.
As God approached sinful Jacob, Jesus comes to us in spite of our sinfulness. He loves us as we are and blesses us though we are undeserving. By placing our faith in Jesus, our lives will never be the same. We can be confident in knowing that God is with us and guides us to fulfill His purposes in and through us.
This article was adapted from Explore the Bible: Adults Personal Study Guide Winter 2019, Session 2—Not Alone. Explore the Bible is a book-by-book group Bible study that encourages participants to let the Word dwell in them and challenges them to live it out in their own context. Preview one month free at lifeway.com/ExploreTheBible
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