The die had been cast. The plans had been laid. The end of a brother would soon come.
He wasn’t alone in his deceit. His mother was right there with him. Beside him in their concoctions. Her previous assurance of God’s plan once again was not sufficient. She caved. Her will be done. Her hand be forced. Together they will accomplish God’s mission.
With precision. With craftiness. With guile. They succeeded. His promised portion realized. His promised birth-right obtained. Now, enjoy the bounty? Now, enjoy the reward?
No. Heartache. Betrayal. Grudge. Anger. Revenge. Justice.
A brother slighted has become a brother ravenous.
His stomach will not be satisfied. His thirst will not be satiated. Not until his brother, Jacob–the heel grabber–is eliminated. Not until he gets what he deserves. Not until his sleep is eternal and the breath in his nostrils expires. He will die. He must die. A brother offended. A brother’s vengeance. A brother out-of-his-mind.
What must this wanted man do? What must a mother say?
Flee. Leave. To another country. To your future spouse.
With the blessing. With the birthright. He left. He fled.
And it was into this context that God appeared to Jacob. He was alone. He was fleeing the wrath and vengeance of his brother, Esau. His journey was set and his destination was secure. To Haran. To the place of Abraham’s people. To the expansion of God’s chosen.
Fatigue sets in. Exhaustion ensues. He sleeps. But, he’s not alone.
God’s promises will not be thwarted. God’s covenant with His Abraham will not fade nor falter.
God does what God does. He appeared to Jacob in a dream. He showed him the ladder and bridge from heaven to earth. Angels. Myriad angels ascending and descending. God standing above saying…
“I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your descendants. Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
To this man? The promise continues to this man? Absurd. Unthinkable. Undeserved.
Yes. And much more, but for God’s promise. A covenant not made conditional upon this man or his mother’s actions. No. The security and fidelity of the promise is based solely on the character of God. Therefore, God’s promise stands. Period.
And so, this fleeing and fearful brother dreams a dream of hope.
How does he respond?
How would you respond?
He doubts. He puts a condition on God. His audacity…stunning. His ostentation…laughable. His presumption…remarkable.
“Jacob also made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and give me food to eat and garments to wear, and I return to my father’s house in safety, then the Lord will be my God.”
And so it is with all humans. Conditions, thus constraints. Carelessness, thus confusion. Near-sighted, thus challenged.
Nevertheless, God’s will be done…on earth as it is in heaven. This fleeing brother will one day walk with a limp. His pride penetrated. His faith tested. His strength in God assured. His family line expanded.
The 12 tribes will arise from him. The Messiah will come from his loins. The promise of God will continue despite him…despite his doubt…despite his deceit…despite his fear.
God’s will will be done. Amen.
How Does This Apply To Us Today?
- Take comfort in the fact that God uses broken people to accomplish His unbroken will.
- Logic: If God can use a broken–sinful man–like Jacob to move His mission in this world, then He can use me–a sinful man or woman.
- In other words, you’re never too far gone!
- Let your doubt be turned to trust.
- Logic: If doubt means I’m forced to consider truth and reality, then pray like the man who requested that his son be healed by Jesus, “…I do believe; help my unbelief!“.
- In other words, doubt means you’re human–broken and nearsighted requiring faith–and so you need to transfer your trust from what you can measure to what the Bible has displayed as the object of your salvation–Jesus Christ.
- Offer God a sacrifice of praise.
- Logic: If God has provided everything to me, then He deserves everything from me.
- In other words, “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Romans 12:1
We press on!