Personal Relationship – Genesis 28

Back to our story of Jacob – he’s on the run from Esau’s anger. His parents sent him to Rebekah’s brother, Laban, for safety and to hopefully find a wife who was not “bitter.” At the same time, Esau married another woman, this time a Canaanite. Instead of learning from his mistakes, he was repeating them.

So Jacob was on the 600 mile journey back to the land Abraham originally left in obedience to God. But instead of having a caravan of riches like Abraham’s servant had when he made the trip to find a wife for Isaac, Jacob was alone. His deception of Esau had cost him everything.

Can you picture Jacob, alone and cold, with only a stone for a pillow? A cold, hard stone. He must have been so very tired to be able to sleep. 

And then, Jacob has his own personal experience with God.

Up to this time, God has spoken to Abraham and Isaac and told them they would become a great nation. He had spoken to Rebekah, telling her about her children. They probably told Jacob of their encounters, but we don’t have any recorded conversations of God to Jacob. 

12 And he dreamed, and behold, 
there was a ladder set up on the earth,
and the top of it reached to heaven.
And behold, the angels of God
were ascending and descending on it! 
And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, 
 “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father
and the God of Isaac. 
The land on which you lie I will give to you
and to your offspring. 
Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth,
and you shall spread abroad to the west
and to the east and to the north and to the south,
 and in you and your offspring shall all the families 
of the earth be blessed.
Behold, 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.” 

Jacob was a changed man!

He was filled with the awe and fear of the Lord: “He 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.’ “

And he responded with a vow: “‘If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, 21 so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God.”

And he backed the vow with actions: “and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”

Jacob was no longer obeying his mother, trying to trick his father, or stealing from his brother. He was no longer alone. For the first time, he had his own relationship with God!

I remember when I first began a relationship with God. I had felt him wooing my heart, asking me to respond. I had to let go of all of my “self” in order to take hold of him.  I was in awe of his love, fearful of his might. I vowed to trust him for my future, whatever that would mean. And I followed it up with actions that demonstrated my faith.

And I was no longer alone. I had Jesus, God, with me. He promised to be with me, and I believed.

And I was a changed woman!

Servant – Genesis 24

Genesis 24 is a l-o-n-g love story. But instead of focusing on what is probably familiar to us, I’d like to focus on a more minor character, the servant.

This servant is probably Eliezer of Damascus, from Genesis 15:2, who would have been heir of Abraham’s house had the Lord not given him Isaac. Note his character: even after Abraham has his own son, he stays personally and professionally loyal to him.

 And Abraham said to his servant…
“Put your hand under my thigh,
that I may make you swear by the Lord,
the God of heaven and God of the earth,
that you will not take a wife for my son
from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell,
but will go to my country and to my kindred,
and take a wife for my son Isaac.”

Have you ever pictured where that hand must have been…in a culture where they don’t wear underwear? It demonstrates the kind of intimacy (and I don’t mean in a lustful way) these two men shared.

The servant replied on a practical level. What if the woman would not come back?

To which Abraham had an strong emotional response, “See to it that you do not take my son back there.” Abraham had spent years trusting God, leaving all he knew in his homeland. After the death of his wife, he could not bear the thought of his young son leaving, and maybe staying, undoing all Abraham had gone through to be in the promised land. That couldn’t happen!

Hearing his master’s passion, the servant made the oath (with his hand in the appropriate place). He faithfully journeyed 600 miles by camel to the homeland and then sat by a well.

Then reality hit – now what?

All of a sudden, living on his master’s faith wasn’t enough. He needed faith of his own. Like so many caught in that moment, he prayed.

“O Lord, God of my master Abraham, 
please grant me success today
and show steadfast love to my master Abraham.
Behold, I am standing by the spring of water,
and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water.
Let the young woman to whom I shall say,
‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, 
‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one   
whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac.
By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.”

It’s usually in a moment of crisis, when we are alone, when we realize our own need for a  relationship with God. As the women were walking towards him, the time of truth had come…

For me, it was in a dorm room at Illinois State University my sophomore year. I had been raised in a Christian home but had doubted my faith. Someone shared with me “The Four Spiritual Laws” which begin with “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” It stopped me in my tracks. Did I believe God loves me? If so, what was I doing trying to run my own life?

Like Eliezer, I prayed. The God of my parents, and their parents, needed to show up in my life, showing me that he loved me. 

And like Eliezer, God did not fail.

The story goes on how God provided a wife for Isaac, but I love watching the servant as he gets more and more excited and animated about what God was doing in and through him. Then there was the miracle of Rebekah’s response, to leave immediately with him. Over and over again, God let Eliezer see his provision. 

I’m sure he was never the same.

Eliezer is one person I’m looking forward to meeting in heaven! We’ve got a lot to talk about…