Genesis
1-5 Isaac Sends Jacob Away 6-9 Reaction of Esau 10-15 The Dream of Jacob 16-19 Jacob’s Reaction to the Dream 20-22 The Vow of Jacob
Isaac Sends Jacob Away

1So Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and charged him, and said to him, “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. 2Arise, go to Paddan-aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and from there take to yourself a wife from the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother. 3May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. 4May He also give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and to your descendants with you, that you may possess the land of your sojournings, which God gave to Abraham.” 5Then Isaac sent Jacob away, and he went to Paddan-aram to Laban, son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau.

Jacob’s departure is not presented as on the lam here as in verse 43 of the previous chapter. His departure is presented here as an assignment that Isaac gives him to look for a wife. The wife of Jacob, like that of Isaac (Gen 24:2-32Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he owned, “Please place your hand under my thigh,3and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live,), may not come from the nations around him, but must come from the family that is in communication with God.

On his departure Jacob receives a blessing from Isaac that is greater than the one he has been given through his deceit. So he leaves the land, from which Isaac never left, to go to his mother’s family. Rebekah is here called “the mother of Jacob and Esau”. Jacob is mentioned first, not because he is his mother’s darling, but because he is the heir.


Reaction of Esau

6Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan-aram to take to himself a wife from there, [and that] when he blessed him he charged him, saying, “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan,” 7and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and had gone to Paddan-aram. 8So Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan displeased his father Isaac; 9and Esau went to Ishmael, and married, besides the wives that he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth.

At first sight, it seems as if Esau is concerned about everything he has heard about the choice of a wife. He takes someone from Abraham’s family. But in the first place it is an additional wife. That is never God’s purpose. Secondly, it is a wife from a family sent away by Abraham (Gen 21:10-1410Therefore she said to Abraham, “Drive out this maid and her son, for the son of this maid shall not be an heir with my son Isaac.”11The matter distressed Abraham greatly because of his son.12But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named.13And of the son of the maid I will make a nation also, because he is your descendant.”14So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave [them] to Hagar, putting [them] on her shoulder, and [gave her] the boy, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered about in the wilderness of Beersheba.). Ishmael represents the works of the flesh. With that Esau connects himself.


The Dream of Jacob

10Then Jacob departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11He came to a certain place and spent the night there, because the sun had set; and he took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head, and lay down in that place. 12He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. 14Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15Behold, 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.”

When Jacob is on his way, he gets his first encounter with God. That happens in a dream. It is intended as an encouragement. While Jacob lies there lonely, possibly regretting his past conduct, he sees how the earth and the heaven are connected by means of a ladder. At the top of the ladder stands the LORD, who says Who He is and what He will do for Jacob.

What he sees and hears makes it clear to him that heaven oversees him and goes with him wherever he goes on earth. Angels rise up to bring the needs for living on earth to God, after which God’s help and protection for man is given from heaven.

About the connection between heaven and earth that Jacob sees, the Lord Jesus speaks to Nathanael (Jn 1:5151And He *said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”). This connection will become a reality in the kingdom of peace when the Son of man, the Lord Jesus, is on earth. The Lord Jesus also says there, as Jacob sees in the dream, that the angels of God first ascend to heaven and then descend from heaven. The earth shall be united with heaven, the Son of man shall reign, and his servants, the angels, shall maintain the connection between the earth and the heaven.

The LORD appears unto Jacob, and makes him four promises:
1. He will give him and his descendants the land on which he lies.
2. His descendants will be like the dust of the earth.
3. In him and his descendants will all nations be blessed.
4. He will be with him and bring him back into the land.

God does not say that His offspring will be like the stars of the heaven. He said this to Isaac. He said both to Abraham. Because the fulfillment of the promises lies in the far future, the LORD assures Jacob that until that time He will save him by being with him and not departing from him. We may also apply the promise Jacob receives here to ourselves, especially if we are tested in our living conditions (Heb 13:55[Make sure that] your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”).


Jacob’s Reaction to the Dream

16Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” 18So 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. 19He called the name of that place Bethel; however, previously the name of the city had been Luz.

When Jacob wakes up, he is frightened. This is the reaction of someone who is not accustomed to the presence of God and who is not standing right before Him. He realizes that he is in the presence of God. He even says he is in God’s house. That is why he also calls this place “Bethel”, which means “house of God”.

Today the church is the house of God (1Tim 3:1515but in case I am delayed, [I write] so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.). In the house of God there is no place for the flesh. For the flesh, the presence of God is a terrible place. Only faith feels at home there.

Jacob wants to hold on to this meeting with the LORD. At the place where he was, he erects the stone that served as a pillow. He makes it a sacred place by pouring oil on it. It is good if we too erect spiritually such stones as a memorial. All that the Lord has said to us should be held by us. This is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit, of which the oil is a picture.


The Vow of Jacob

20Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, 21and I return to my father’s house in safety, then the LORD will be my God. 22This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

After God made His promises to Jacob, Jacob still presents his conditions. He is “so good” to recognize God as his God if God will behave in the way Jacob thinks it is proper.

In this way, many Christians enter into ‘negotiations’ with God. They are reluctant to accept God’s gift in His Son in faith and offer God to earn His favor through their works. Jacob bases himself on the law: if God keeps His conditions, Jacob will also do what he has promised.


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