30 September 2015

“Know that 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.” (v. 15)

Psalm: Psalm 100


Jacob's deception in chapter 27 has meant he needs to stay away from his brother, and his parent's desire that he marry a girl from within the family stock means that Jacob is travelling alone on a journey to find a wife and a new life. When he settles down to sleep for the night, with his makeshift pillow, his life is at a turning point. In a strange dream, God seems to reveal to Jacob the present invisible reality of God's realm - he sees God's aides and agents (angels) going back and forth from heaven to conduct God's work (on a sort of heavenly escalator). Uncertain of his life's path, and probably reflecting on the actions that led to this exile, the Lord gives Jacob the assurance that God is near him. God is the God of Abraham and Isaac - reminding Jacob of his family, but also assuring him that this is no other random deity wandering in the wilderness. God gives Jacob a promise, that echoes his father's blessing, and the promise of God to Abraham. Finally, Jacob is given the blessed assurance that God is truly with him, and will keep on being with him. Jacob declares that this place of encounter is none other than the house of God and the gate of heaven!

Once again, this seems odd to us, knowing the misdemeanours of Jacob's past. But what the Bible is keen to tell us is that 'God being with us' is nothing to do with our righteousness or faithfulness - rather it is confirmation of the righteousness and faithfulness of God. If we are committed to God's plans and his covenant family, then God will not easily leave us or forsake us, though we might often fail. Assured of God's presence, Jacob responds by renewing his own personal covenant with the Lord: to confess that this is God, to worship, and to tithe.

To Ponder

  • When have you felt assured that God was 'with you'?
  • What do you make of the angels ascending and descending on the heavenly escalator? Do you dare to imagine that God has armies of angels, unseen but very-much involved with the workings of this world?
  • Jacob awoke and committed himself anew to God. How do you respond to God's grace in your life?

Bible notes author: The Revd Andrew Murphy 

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