5–11 March 2017.
In chapter 27 we read the heart-breaking story of how Jacob and his mother Rebekah tricked Jacob’s father Isaac. Isaac loved his eldest son Esau and planned to give Esau his fatherly blessing. But Rebekah’s favourite was Jacob. So she came up with a plan for Jacob to steal his brother’s place and his blessing. Jacob’s name sounds like the Hebrew word for “Deceiver”, and true to his name, Jacob deceived his old, blind father and stole his brother’s blessing.
When Esau finds out, he swears to kill his thieving little brother. So Rebekah urges Jacob to quickly run back to his uncle in Haran.
Hundreds of years later during Israel’s exile, priestly writers weren’t too happy with this history, so they wrote a different story of their own. The priests didn’t approve of Israelites marrying foreign women, so they wrote a story where Isaac happily blesses Jacob before sending him away to find a good wife from their own people back home. That priestly story is stuck in here from 27:46–28:9.
But in 28:10 we get back to the original story. Jacob is now a fugitive on the run, fleeing from his angry brother. Finally, when night comes he lies down on the ground to sleep with a rock as his pillow. Is this going to be his life now – a life on the run and with no comfort? As Jacob lay there, I wonder if he regretted what he did. Was it all really worth it? Jacob ruined his family, lied to his dying father, destroyed his relationship with his brother, and lost his mother forever. In one day, his whole life fell apart – and he only had himself to blame.
But as Jacob sleeps, something amazing happens: God comes to him in a dream. With the big mess that Jacob has made, we expect God to condemn Jacob. But instead God comforts him, giving him a promise that everything will turn out well.
Sometimes in our own lives, things also start falling apart and going wrong. And sometimes we know that it’s all our own fault; we made this mess. But when that happens, remember that God still won’t abandon us. Like a loving father, he promises to stay with us and to work with us until everything turns out well in the end.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis