The Seeker Is Sought
“The Seeker is Sought”
Background Genesis 28:1-9
God has a way of shaping the lives of His children even before they have entered into a
relationship with Him. Today, I am inclined to look at the life of Jacob because it is through this
biblical experience and my personal walk with God our church is named:
When observing Jacob’s story we see no evidence of his conversion before Genesis 28. In
Genesis 27:20 Jacob referred to God as the God of Abraham and of Isaac, using the phrase
“your God.” It is here in chapter 28 that Jacob affirmed, “The Lord will be my God (Gen.28:21).
Jacob appears to be on the road to Haran much as Saul of Tarsus made his way to Damascus
(Acts 9:1), religious but not related to God by a personal faith and commitment. Both Saul and
Jacob were stopped short by a vision which was to change the course of their lives. First, I want
us to look and examine three significant details to this change of course. They are (1) Jacob’s
farewell and Esau’s frustration, (2) Jacob’s departure and his dream and finally (3) Jacob’s
declaration. Now, let’s begin with the first one:
Jacob’s Farewell and Esau’s Frustration (28:1-9).
While the consequence for failure to pull off the deception of Isaac had been
carefully considered, neither Rebekah nor Jacob had weighed the cost of
success. Isaac had been deceived and mocked due to his age (27:12). Esau was
deeply resentful, looking forward to the time when he could kill his brother
(27:41). Due to the deception that was motivated by Rebekah now perceived
that Jacob would have to leave until emotions cooled, although she had no
conception of how long this separation must last. It was her that expedite the
plan which would lead Jacob to leave home to escape the passions of his
brother. Jacob was to spend time with his mother’s brother, Laban, far from
Esau. The final verse of chapter 27 describes the skillful manipulation leading
Jacob to be sent away to Haran.
II. Jacob’s Departure and His Dream (28:10-17).
On his journey, Jacob had with him only his walking cane (28:10) and his
thoughts. It would not seem difficult to speculate with fair accuracy as to what
these thought were about. Surely he must have considered the wisdom of his
actions in deceiving his father. He should have felt guilt at the thought of his
treatment of his only brother. And he undoubtedly grieved at having to leave
his mother. Whatever his thoughts must have been, I believe that Jacob was
finally at the end of himself. I believe that he came to realize that he would
never prosper on the basis of his schemes and trips. His self-assurance was
at a all time low. However This was the ideal time for God to break into his life,
for now Jacob knew how much he needed God in order to be blessed as his
father had been.
Night had seem to have overtaken Jacob before he arrived at the city of Luz. The
city gates would have been closed for the night, so Jacob, as shepherd did, slept
under the stars. He found a suitable spot, took a stone for a pillow and propped
himself up for the night. In his sleep however, he had an awe-inspiring vision.
He saw a ladder reaching from heaven to earth, with angels ascending and
descending upon it. Above this ladder was God, who spoke these words to him:
(13) “And, behold, the LORD stood about it, and said, I am the LORD God of
Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee
will I give it, and to thy seed; (14) And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth,
and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and
to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be
blessed. (15) 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.”
The words spoken by God are very similar to previous declarations to Abraham
and to Isaac. Isaac’s pronouncement that passed on the blessing of Abraham to
Jacob (verse4) was now confirmed by God Himself. While there are various
aspects to these covenant blessings, foremost seem to be the references to the
land: …….and you shall spread out of the west and to the east and to the north
and to the south…….. (verse 14) …….and I will bring you back to this land (v15).
Jacob perceived the significance of the place too, for he immediately narrowed
his thinking to the awesomeness of the place where he lay: ……surely the LORD
is in this place, and I did not know it (v16). …….How awesome is this place! This
is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven (v17). Later
on in his life Jacob looked back upon this vision, still realizing the manner in
which God signified the special nature of that place: …….”I am the God of
Bethel, where you anointed a pillar, where you made a vow to Me; now arise,
leave this land, and return to the land of your birth (Gen. 31:13).
As Jacob, in obedience to this command, approached the land of promise, he
received a report that Esau was coming to meet him with four hundred men
(Gen. 32:6). Jacob prayed for protection as he went forward, based upon the
promise of God in the vision at Bethel:
11) “Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau:
for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.
12) And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of
the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude (Gen. 32:11,12).”
These statements of God and Jacob fit together nicely, especially in the light of
the context of the vision. Jacob was about to leave the land of promise for a
twenty year sojourn in Haran. He might be tempted never to return to the land
again. By means of this dramatic vision God impressed Jacob with the
significance of this land. It was the place where heaven and earth met. It was
the place where God would come down to man and where men would find
access to God. It was as Jacob asserted, “the gate of heaven.’ Throughout those
twenty years Jacob would never forget this dream. He would realize that
ultimately to be in the will of God, he must be in the place of God’s choosing, the
land of promise. It was at that place God’s blessing would be poured out upon
III.Jacob’s Declaration (28:18-22).
Jacob’s response to this dramatic disclosure of the divine purposes and promises
of God can be summarized by three incidents:
A. Jacob Sets Up A Pillar (28:18,19).
So Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under
his head and set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on its top. And he called the
name of the place Bethel (28:18,19). The pillar was to serve as a memorial.
It marked a place to which he would return to build an altar and worship.
B. Jacob Made A Profession of Faith (28:20-21).
Some are inclined to view the “ifs” of these statements as evidence of
Jacob’s bargaining nature. It is as though Jacob is striking a deal with God.
While Jacob’s faith is certainly immature at this point, I am inclined to view
the “ifs” more in the sense of “since.”
C. Jacob Made A Promise (28:22).
Jacob planned to return, consistent with the thrust of the vision he had seen.
At that time he would build an altar and give a tithe to God. While the
scriptures record the building of the altar (35:7), no reference can be found
to the giving of the tithe. It maybe, however, that this tithe was involved in
the sacrifices which would be offered upon the altar. There was no
command to tithe; this was a voluntary act on Jacob’s behalf.
In addition to these three points, however there are two further lessons from this text that
should be pointed out. First, place is important. It surely was important so far as Jacob was
concerned. Experiencing the blessing of God meant being in the place where God has promised
to bless. I hear people say things such as, “I can worship God just as well out in the lake as I can
in a church.” But the Word of God tells us “not forsaking our own assembly together, as is the
habit of some…..(Heb. 10:25). There are surely certain places where it would be difficult, even
impossible, for a Christian to be for the glory of God. Second, a profession of faith does not
mean immediate entrance into blissful experiences with rose petal pathways. For twenty years
after this conversion experience Jacob was to live away from his parents and away from the
land of promise. For twenty years Jacob was to be administered a large dose of his own
medicine, dealt out by a uncle who was even more deceitful than he. Entering into a
relationship with God does not guarantee only good times and happy experiences but it does
assure us of the forgiveness of our sins, the hope of eternal life, and the presence of God in our
In conclusion all of Jacob’s efforts to achieve the blessings of God were in vain. It was only by
entering into a relationship with the covenant God of Abraham and Isaac that Jacob could
experience the blessings of God. The basis for such a relationship was the revealed Word of
God. It is amusing to me that while Jacob could not find God by striving, he was found by God
while in his sleep. Surely God is trying to tell us something. It is resting in God and His Word
that we can be blessed. This does not mean the absence of activity on our part, but is does
mean that self efforts without the blessing of God will always be futile (fruitless).
“Lord prepare me, To be A Sanctuary
Pure and Holy, Tried and True,
With Thanksgiving, I’ve be a Living
Sanctuary for You!”