Jacob Flees to Laban
1Before Jacob left, Isaac called for him, blessed him, and gave him these instructions: “I forbid you to marry any Canaanite woman. 2Leave at once for the land of your grandfather Bethuel in Paddan-Aram and find one of the young women there to marry, one of your uncle Laban’s daughters. # 28:2 Marriage with a cousin was acceptable in that day and continues to be common among people in the Near East today. 3May the God who is always more than enough # 28:3 Or “El Shaddai.” See second footnote on Gen. 17:1. bless you abundantly. May he make you fruitful and multiply your descendants until you become many tribes! 4May he impart to you and your seed the blessing of Abraham so that you may possess the land where you now live as a foreigner—the land God gave to Abraham.”
5Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way # 28:5 Jacob was in his seventies when he fled from his brother Esau, and the journey was about five hundred miles. to Paddan-Aram, the land of his grandfather Bethuel the Aramean, to the home of Laban, Bethuel’s son and the brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau.
Esau Takes Another Wife
6Esau had learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him away to Paddan-Aram to find a wife there, and that while blessing him, Isaac had instructed him, “Don’t marry a Canaanite woman.” 7Furthermore, Esau found out that Jacob had obeyed his parents and fled to Paddan-Aram. 8Esau, knowing that his father Isaac disapproved of Canaanite women, 9went to Ishmael’s clan and chose a woman named Mahalath to be one of his wives. She was the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, and sister of Nebaioth. # 28:9 Nebaioth was the firstborn of Ishmael (see Gen. 25:13) and is identified with Nabaiti, the possible ancestor of the later Nabateans.
The Stairway of Eternity
10Jacob left Beersheba and journeyed toward Haran. 11He encountered a certain place # 28:11 In the twilight, Jacob set up camp at Bethel. The Hebrew implies that it is “the Place,” a special place, or holy place. Indeed, it was, for God had also manifested himself there to Abraham (see Gen. 12:7–8). In Jacob’s helpless, lonely condition, a new revelation would be given to him. at sunset and camped there for the night. He took a stone # 28:11 Perhaps this was one of the stones of the altar erected by Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham. Jesus is the anointed Stone on whom we lay our heads. To lay your head (thoughts and dreams) on him is to discover the beauty of God (see Isa. 33:17–22). When the anointing of Jesus fills our heads (minds), we will see heaven opened with fresh revelation and perceive the visions of God. Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone, the Stone that killed Goliath, and the Stone of Daniel that conquers kingdoms (see Dan. 2:34, 45). from there, made it his pillow, and lay down to sleep. 12He had a dream # 28:12 Dreams are a valid form of divine communication in the Bible. God frequently spoke to people through dreams. See Gen. 41:1–7; Judg. 7:13–15; 1 Kings 3:5–14; Dan. 2:28; Matt. 2:12–13; 27:19. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter quoted the promise of Joel that those who received the Spirit would “experience dreams” (Acts 2:17; see Joel 2:28). of a stairway securely fixed on the earth and reaching into heaven. And there were messengers of God ascending and descending on the stairway. # 28:12 The steps of this stairway go up into the heavenly realm where our true riches are found. Each step is a progressive revelation of God’s purpose for our lives found in Jesus Christ. The stairway goes both ways, touching heaven and touching earth. Jesus Christ can be thought of as the Stairway that reaches from earth (his human nature) to heaven (his heavenly nature). Jesus spoke to Nathanael using the same terminology (see John 1:51). Jesus is the only valid entry into the spirit-realm, the true way into the heavenly realm. By him, we ascend and leave our lower life. This Jesus-Stairway was filled with messengers ascending and descending. Who are these messengers? Note the order: they ascended first. It does not say they were descending and ascending, which would be true if they were the angels in heaven. If they ascended first, they were leaving earth to go to heaven. These messengers might have been people or divine beings. If people, they were intercessors and promise-claimers. The Hebrew word translated “angel” is malak, which can also be translated “ambassador,” “deputy,” “messenger,” or “prophet.” The Greek word used in the New Testament for “angel” is angelos or “messenger.” It can refer either to a person or to a heavenly being. Paul wrote to the Galatians that they had welcomed him in their midst as if he were an “angel [messenger]” from God (Gal. 4:14). In Rev. 2–3, John was instructed to write to the seven churches and to the seven angelos of those churches. The angels were the human overseers of those churches. In Gen. 18:2, three angels came to Abraham and are described as “three men” (cf. Gen. 19:1). We are like angel-ambassadors who ascend and descend upon the Jesus-Stairway. See Isa. 35:8–9; 57:14–15; 62:10; Eph. 2:6; Heb. 12:22–24. 13And Yahweh stood beside him # 28:13 Or “above it [the stairway].” and said to him, “I am Yahweh, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. You are lying on the very ground that I will give to you and your descendants. 14They will become as numerous as the specks of dust on the earth, and they will extend their territory in all directions. Through you and your descendants, I will bless the whole world. # 28:14 See Gen. 12:3; Matt. 8:11; 28:19–20; Acts 15:17–18. 15Never forget—I am always with you and will protect you wherever you go. And one day I will bring you back to this land, for I will neither leave you nor fail to fulfill every word I have promised you.” # 28:15 What did God tell Jacob? Did he scold him for being a crafty deceiver? Did he rebuke him for his lack of faith? Not at all. He revealed himself to Jacob as the One who would never leave or forsake him. This revelation of grace was a steady stream of assurances that washed over wayward Jacob! The Lord gave these promises to Jacob while he still was unbroken, unreliable, and a deceiver. Our God is a confident, capable God who can subdue and conquer the most difficult of men. Our future blessing and usefulness depend on God’s strength, not ours. When God brought Jacob back to Bethel twenty years later, he was changed. God will change you. Your transformation may take more than a year, even more than ten or twenty, but your God will finish the work of changing you into the image of his Son (see Phil. 1:6). You will be his look-alike. You will carry the blessings of God to the next generation!
16When Jacob awoke from his dream, he was overcome with awe and said, “Yahweh is here! He is in this place and I didn’t realize it!” # 28:16 How many times have we been led to an uncomfortable place in life, only to encounter the Lord? Have you said, looking back over your life, “Truly, the Lord really was in all I went through, and I didn’t even know it!” We often discover that he is where we did not think he would be. You may have a divine visitation anywhere! Ordinary places can become holy places. 17Terrified and overwhelmed, he said, “How awesome is this place! I have stumbled right into the House of God! This place is a portal, the very gate of heaven!”
18Early in the morning, Jacob took the stone he had under his head, set it up as a pillar and anointed it by pouring oil over the top of it. # 28:18 Jacob built a pillar from his pillow. The church is described by Paul as the “pillar and firm foundation of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). By pouring oil on the stone, Jacob consecrated the pillar as a memorial to God. See Lev. 8:10–11. 19He named that place Bethel; # 28:19 Bethel means “House of God.” Jacob could see in a heap of stones the House of God that would arise. This is the first mention of God’s house in the Scriptures. The House of God was filled with his presence, a gateway to heaven, a stairway with angels, and revelation. One day, the House of God would be born among us, born of a virgin. Jesus came to be an example of the House of God, the dwelling place of God and men under one roof, living in one body. Jesus is the God-Man, the House of God. As the House, he invites us to dwell as one with the Father. But Jesus was the initial fulfillment of the House of God, not the ultimate fulfillment, which would include others incorporated into Jesus. Today, the House of God, the gate to heaven, is also a description of the church. We are God’s house (see 1 Cor. 3:16), for the Lord dwells among us as his people. And we become a gateway for others to come to God through our message of new life in Christ. though the city was once called Luz. # 28:19 Luz means “separation” or “departure.” God calls us to separate ourselves to himself, and when we do, we become the House of God.
20Then Jacob committed himself to God, saying, “If you will always be with me and protect me on this long journey, and if you give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, 21and if I return safely to my father’s house, then Yahweh, you will be my God! 22See! I have set up this sacred stone pillar and it will be your house, God. I promise to set aside a tenth of all that you give me as my gift to you.”
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Jacob Is Sent Away
1So Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and charged him, and said to him, “You shall not marry one of the women of Canaan. 2#The Hebrew verb “to stand” or “arise” is often used as an instruction to prepare to fulfill a command, somewhat similar to the military command “attention.”Arise, go to Paddan-aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and take from there as a wife for yourself one of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother. 3May #Heb El Shaddai.God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, so that you may become a [great] company of peoples. 4May He also give the blessing of Abraham to you and your descendants with you, that you may inherit the [promised] land of your sojournings, which He 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.
6Now Esau noticed that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him to Paddan-aram to take a wife for himself from there, and that as he blessed him he gave him a prohibition, saying, “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan,” 7and that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother and had gone to Paddan-aram. 8So Esau realized that [his two wives] the daughters of Canaan displeased Isaac his father; 9and [to appease his parents] Esau went to [the family of] Ishmael and took as his wife, in addition to the wives he [already] had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth [Ishmael’s firstborn son].
10Now Jacob left Beersheba [never to see his mother again] and traveled toward Haran. 11And he came to a certain place and stayed overnight there because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down there [to sleep]. 12He dreamed that there was a ladder (stairway) placed on the earth, and the top of it reached [out of sight] toward heaven; and [he saw] the angels of God ascending and descending on it [going to and from heaven]. 13And behold, the Lord stood above and around him and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your [father’s] father and the God of Isaac; I will give to you and to your descendants the land [of promise] on which you are lying. 14Your descendants shall be as [countless as] the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and the east and the north and the south; and all the families (nations) of the earth shall be blessed through you and your #I.e. Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is a descendant of Jacob.descendants. 15Behold, I am with you and will keep [careful watch over you and guard] you wherever you may go, and I will bring you back to this [promised] land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and he said, “Without any doubt the Lord is in this place, and I did not realize it.” 17So he was afraid and said, “How fearful and awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gateway to heaven.”
18So Jacob got up early in the morning, and took the stone he had put under his head and he set it up as a pillar [that is, a monument to the vision in his dream], and he poured [olive] oil on the top of it [to #I.e. dedicate or declare something sacred for God’s purpose.consecrate it]. 19He named that place Bethel (the house of God); the previous name of that city was Luz (Almond Tree). 20Then Jacob made a vow (promise), 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 clothing to wear, 21and if [He grants that] 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 (monument, memorial) will be God’s house [a sacred place to me], and of everything that You give me I will give the tenth to You [as an offering to signify my gratitude and dependence on You].”
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