As He Slept, He Dreamed

Genesis 28:10-19

10 Meanwhile, Jacob left Beersheba and traveled toward Haran. 11 At sundown he arrived at a good place to set up camp and stopped there for the night. Jacob found a stone to rest his head against and lay down to sleep. 12 As he slept, he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway.

13 At the top of the stairway stood the Lord, and he said, “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. 14 Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions—to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. 15 What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.”

16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” 17 But he was also afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!”

18 The next morning Jacob got up very early. He took the stone he had rested his head against, and he set it upright as a memorial pillar. Then he poured olive oil over it. 19 He named that place Bethel (which means “house of God”), although it was previously called Luz.

Reflection

Several chapters later in Genesis we see already the outworking of God’s promise to Abraham. Not only did God deliver the promised son in Isaac, but he is also unfolding the promise of intimacy and divine connection with Abraham’s bloodline. At this point in the narrative Jacob is fleeing the wrath of his brother from whom he has managed to steal the blessing of his father Isaac. It’s likely that Jacob was in a difficult place as he set out across the countryside on his own, unanchored from his family and uncertain of his future. As the day draws to a close he sets up camp and it’s in this place, under the cover of night, that God visits him and speaks to him in his dream.

Despite the conflicted origins of Jacob’s blessing, the authority of his father passed on to him the promise that God gave Abraham. Again we see that Jacob is both the outworking of Abraham’s blessing and also a co-heir to the same promise. In this place of isolation and uncertainty, God visits Jacob with a profound word of encouragement and power, promising a home, a legacy, and an outpouring of blessing through the coming generations. Indeed he tells Jacob “all the families of the earth will be blessed through you”. This encounter strengthens Jacob but most importantly it opens up his awareness of the presence of God in his life.

Hundreds of years later, on another starry night, the complete fulfilment of this promise arrives in the form of the birth of Jesus Christ, the ultimate covenant of blessing and redemption for all the “descendants” of Abraham. How awesome is this place.

Prayer:

If you find yourself in a place of isolation or confusion let God visit you in the intimacy of your dreams and edify you with the continuing faithfulness of his promise.

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