And there was the LORD standing beside him. “I am the LORD , the God of Abraham and Isaac,” he said. “I will give to you and to your descendants this land on which you are lying. They will be as numerous as the specks of dust on the earth. They will extend their territory in all directions, and through you and your descendants I will bless all the nations. Remember, I will be with you and protect you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done all that I have promised you.” Genesis 28 vs. 13 – 15 GNB
It is very easy to say…. I will not leave you. I will not forsake you. We say it in some ways when we take our marriage oaths. We say it to friends and loved ones at the heights of emotions. We even say it to God as we are praying and worshipping. We use words like ‘forever’, ’till the end of my life’, ‘as long as I am living’, etc. All these words are wonderful; but then since it is coming from man (man who can disappoint and fail), we have reasons to be afraid when it is said.
But this really gets my attention…. God Almighty…. God the magnificent…. Jehovah the Lord of Hosts, turns to a mere mortal and says, “I will not leave you, until….” Wow! This is quite huge for me. It almost can move a man to tears.
After Jacob had been blessed by his father Isaac, he moved out in order to escape the wrath of his brother Esau, and started his journey to his mother Rebekah’s place.
Since he was moving on foot, he got to a point and the sun was going down and the night was about to catch up with him. So, he took a decision to rest his tired body and head. But a surprise awaited him that night.
As he laid down to rest… His eyes were opened and he saw a vision. Now, that’s making the thing sound too ‘spiritual’. Ok. Let me say it the way the Bible said it. He laid down to rest, and he had a dream.
Oh how many of us discountenance dreams. It is true that it may not be the primary way by which God speaks to us; and it is true that the dream world is quite open to satanic and fleshly manipulations. However, no genuine reader of the Bible will trifle with the possibilities embedded in a dream.
It was in a dream that Solomon was asked what he wanted and he asked for wisdom and was blessed exceedingly. It was in a dream that Joseph received instructions to escape with baby Jesus to Egypt. It was in a dream that Paul got to know that they should enter into Macedonia for ministry. So also, the Bethel encounter happened in a dream, while Jacob slept.
He saw a heavenly portal… Where angels ascended and descended on a ladder that stretched from earth to heaven. Then, he saw the throne of God and heard God’s voice. God spoke to him the words which were quoted at the beginning of this article…. You can go back and read them again. Great words!
Now, it is true that the Abrahamic blessings could be passed on from generation to generation, but each generation was to encounter the God of Abraham firsthand. There was no circumventing it. It is never enough that one had hands laid on him or blessings pronounced on his head. Each man must meet the God of Abraham personally, face to face. Isaac had his time, now Jacob was having his own time with God.
God promised to give Jacob the land, and God promised to be with him wherever he goes. Then God said, “I will not leave you, until I have fulfilled all my promises on your head.” This commitment from the Lord to Jacob was mind blowing. He did not even demand that Jacob should obey Him. He did not even give Jacob any conditions. He only promised to never leave him until His purpose for his life is fulfilled.
Now, that’s good news and bad news. It was good news because when God is with a man, surely He will protect that man from all the evil plans of the enemy. However, it was bad news because when God is with a man, He will deal harshly with that man; He will ensure that the man is kept humble, and He will not allow the man to prosper in his iniquity. So, for a man like Jacob who wanted to do his own thing his own way, this promise was not altogether good news. For in the coming days, we will see how God seemingly ‘frustrated’ Jacob, till Jacob became a worshipper.
When Jacob awoke from his dream, he knew he had had a meeting with God. So, he used the stone that was on his head to make an altar (like he had seen his grandfather and his father do), and he called the name of the place “Bethel”, the house of God. He went on ahead, as a funny man that he was, to try to strike a deal with God. For a man whom God had just finished saying those wonderful words to, instead of him to just worship and to submit his life to the king of all kings; he began to make his own promises to God.
Then Jacob made a vow to the LORD : “If you will be with me and protect me on the journey I am making and give me food and clothing, and if I return safely to my father’s home, then you will be my God. This memorial stone which I have set up will be the place where you are worshipped, and I will give you a tenth of everything you give me.” Genesis 28 vs. 20 – 22 GNB
Thus went Jacob’s first meeting with the God of Bethel- the God of his fathers; and in the coming days, it would become a reference point in his life.
AND SO? Do you know that God has made that same promise to you? See Hebrews 13 vs. 5-6.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Hebrews 13 vs. 5 – 6 NIV
This promise however is both good news and bad news. Good news if you continue in obedience to God; and bad news because whom the Lord loves, He chastises and punishes.