Lesson and Read: Genesis 28.10-22
Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place-- and I did not know it!” 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 (NRSV)
Esau was in enraged because, once again, Jacob had taken something for him. He planned to kill Jacob after Isaac’s death. So now both Isaac and Rebekah had a reason to send Jacob away. His father did not want him to marry a Canaanite girl and his mother wanted him distant and safe from his brother. They decided to send Jacob to Haran, to live with his kinsman (Rebekah’s brother) Laban and to seek a wife. Isaac blessed his journey (Genesis 28.3-4) and Esau, moved to consider his mother’s displeasure with his former wives, married a granddaughter of Abraham (27.46; 28.6-9). What did Jacob expect on this trip to Haran, his ancestral home—a temporary escape from trouble or a whole new life?
Jacob made his first stop in Luz. He took a stone for a pillow and slept. As he slept, he dreamed of angels ascending and descending on a stairway. What he saw resembled a Babylonian pyramid call a ziggurat. Egyptian pyramids had a flat exterior; ziggurats were constructed with step and a throne on the top. It symbolized a mountain with a place for its god to be seated at the top. In his dream, The God of Jacob’s father and grandfather spoke the same words of the covenant made with Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 28.13-14); God renewed that covenant with Jacob. The prophecy given to Rebekah was coming true (25.23). When Jacob awoke, he realized he was in an extraordinary place, a stairway to heaven. He anointed his sleeping stone with oil and named the place Bethel, the House of God. But then, as was his character, Jacob made a wager with God, a vow. If God will be with me . . . so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God . . . and of all that you give me I will surely give one tenth to you (Genesis 28.20-22).
Jacob is clever. Does Jacob believe he can set the terms for his covenant with God? Powerful lessons await him in Haran, in Laban’s house.
Reverend Steven B. Lawrence