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God’s Providential Care: Genesis 28:10–22

Saturday, September 28, 2013, 6:00
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God’s Providential Care

October 27, 2013

Lesson: Genesis 28:10–22

Key Verse: Genesis 28:15

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Introduction

When the Westminster Confession expresses the mediatorial work of Christ, it reveals, not just a cold theological idea, but a personal relationship that Christ has with His Church: “To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, He doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same; making intercession for them, and revealing unto them, in and by the Word, the mysteries of salvation; effectually persuading them by His Spirit to believe and obey, and governing their hearts by His Word and Spirit; overcoming all their enemies, and ways, as are most consonant to His wonderful and unsearchable dispensation” (VIII. 8.)

This saving and teaching relationship of Christ with His Church are revealed in His relationship with His servant, Jacob: “And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of” (Gen. 28:15). In salvation, His promise is His presence: “And I will give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28). In our obedience to our Lord, His presence is promised: for we are to teach others “to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). And, in our discipleship, He promises His presence in the Spirit: And the Father “will give you another Helper that He may abide with you forever” (John 14:16).

Discussion: How important is it to know that the Lord is present with us?

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Jacob’s Dream—Genesis 28:10–15

Esau hated his brother Jacob because of the blessing Jacob received from their father; and it made his heart to desire to kill his brother (Gen. 27:41). Rebekah heard of this plot and told Jacob to flee to her brother Laban’s home (27:42–43). Her plan was to have her husband Isaac to send Jacob away with the hope of finding a wife who was not of the heathen land (27:46–28:1). This was God’s plan to save Jacob and his seed. Thus Isaac asked that the Almighty God would bless Jacob and make him fruitful that he might “be a multitude of people” (28:3–4).

Then Jacob started on his way to Haran. At a certain place, “he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.” The dream that was given to him was that of a stairway “set up on earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels of the god ascending and descending on it.”

When Nathaniel saw Jesus, he cried out, “Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God! Thou art the King of Israel!” Christ answered, “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” (John 1:49–51). His holy angels are his ministers. Jacob’s ladder is but a divine revelation of these ministers revealing the communion of God the Father, through the Son, to His people. As Calvin wrote in his commentary, “It is Christ alone, therefore, who connects heaven and earth; he is the only Mediator who reaches from heaven down to earth; he is the medium through which the fullness of all celestial blessings flow down to us, and through which we, in turn, ascend to God.”

All the graces and love of God are communicated to Jacob, and to us, through the Son. The Lord God Almighty stands above all, giving a covenant which would bring His people into His presence. From the heavens the Lord spoke to Jacob, saying, “I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac.” As He does every time He speaks to His servants, He reveals Himself as the covenant God who has made covenant with His people, and as the Lord who is able to keep His covenant. Therefore, He said, “the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed.”

The seed of Jacob will be like the dust of earth, spreading to the east, west, north and south. In this seed of Jacob “shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” Jacob becomes an heir of the covenant promised to Abraham and Isaac. All nations will come to the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Zion, the Church of Christ the King) for blessing. “So here God promises that in Jacob and his seed all nations shall bless themselves, because no happiness will ever be found except what proceeds from this source.”

Verse fifteen gives the promise of the presence of the Lord. For without His presence, Jacob cannot receive the promise or be a blessing. The Lord declares, “I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest.” There is much joy in this promise. Psalm 146:5 declares, “Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.” This hope is contrasted with the trust men put in princes whose very thoughts will perish (146:3–4). The trust of which the Psalmist speaks is to that which man attaches himself. Only they who “trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth forever” (Psalm 125:1).

Discussion: What was revealed about the Lord and His promise to Jacob?

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Jacob’s Vow—Genesis 28:16–22

When Jacob rose from his sleep, he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.” It was the Lord who sought him out. Consequently, wonder filled Jacob’s heart. The wonder of our salvation is that, in our Lord calling us to Himself, we suddenly realize that He is truly near to us. It is always a wonder to the heart of the child of God that He is ever present with us. “Now, if each of us would reflect how feeble his faith is, this mode of speaking would appear always proper for us all; for who can comprehend, in his scanty measure, the immense multitude of gifts which God is perpetually heaping upon us?” (Calvin).

From this thought of God’s presence, Jacob becomes afraid, saying, “How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” It is a glorious thought for each Christian to have as they fellowship one with another, as His Church. The words, ‘afraid’ and ‘dreadful’ are of the same Hebrew word. Jacob bows his heart in fearful reverence, in a place filled with the awesomeness of a sovereign God. He, therefore, calls the place, “the house of God,” which is but “a gate of heaven.” The Church, as it gathers together, is the house of God, a gate of heaven, Christ Himself being the door, the entrance into the very presence of an awesome Creator and Father.

Jacob, seeing the place to be the house of God, a place where the Lord dwelt, set up a pillar. And, having “poured oil upon the top of it,” he called the place Beth-el, meaning ‘house of God.’ Jacob then made a vow (a promise, a votive offering). His vow was, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God.” This vow contains a statement of faith or trust in the Lord who keeps His promises. Jacob was not questioning the promise of the Lord, but embracing that promise (which is faith) as totally reliable. When we speak of our faith, saying, “If the Lord will keep His promise, and we will truly know forgiveness of sins, and have eternal life in Christ, then surely He will be our God,” we are then resting our faith squarely upon Him. There is no doubt in this ‘if’ statement, as there would be if we would place our faith in man and say, “if man will keep his promise he will be my god.” Jacob bound himself to God in his vow. For God will surely keep His promise, and surely God would be his God.

At the beginning of the coming of darkness Jacob had set for himself a stone upon which to lay his head. He set a stone upon which would be said that this place is “God’s house.” Where God is, there is His house. In His house, where God is, Jacob would give God a tenth for praise and thanksgiving. Thus, we worship God in the same manner. We declare that He is our God, for He keeps His promise in Christ our Savior. We worship Him in His very presence. We are the house of God. Therefore we are where God is. And we praise and serve Him, and give Him our tithe of gratitude and love, for He first loved us.

Discussion: Why did Jacob call the place Beth-el, the house of God?

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Lessons are based on the International Sunday School Lessons for Christian Teaching, copyright © 2013 by the Committee on the Uniform Series.

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