Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Then God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and said to him, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.” (Genesis 31:24)
Three days later, Laban, Jacob’s uncle, was told that Jacob had fled. So Laban gathered a group of his relatives and set out in hot pursuit. He caught up with Jacob seven days later in the hill country of Gilead. But the previous night God had appeared to Laban the Aramean in a dream and warned him in a dream, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.”
Laban accepted Jacob who fled from his brother, Esau. He stole the blessing of Isaac, his father by tricking Isaac. Isaac wanted to give his blessing to Esau, his first-born son. However, Rebekah, who loved Jacob more than his older brother Esau, made a plot to deceive Isaac. While Esau went out to hunt for his father, Rebekah sent Jacob to Isaac as if Jacob were his brother, Esau. Isaac who could not see well due to his old age blessed Jacob instead of Esau. He thought that he actually blessed Esau, and gave all blessings to Jacob including the Abraham’s blessing that he inherited through his father, Abraham. Soon Esau came and realized this deception done by Isaac, and Esau was so angle. He wanted to kill Jacob. Thus, Jacob had to flee to save his own life. His mother, Rebekah, sent Jacob to Laban, her brother and Jacob’s uncle. Jacob and Rebekah were pretty tricky people, who deceived his father and her husband as well as his brother and her son.
Jacob left his house and traveled toward Haran, where his uncle lived. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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.” (Genesis 28:13-15)
How comforting God was, who appeared in Jacob’s dream. Jacob was in a terrible situation. He was in fear of his brother because of what he had done to his brother. He had to flee from his home, and at night in a wilderness, he took a sleep while resting his head on a stone. He was at the lowest moment in his life, but God did not forget Jacob. God was with Jacob all the time, although he did not know about God’s presence in his life. God personally showed up in Jacob’s dream, and blessed him with the very same blessing that he gave to his grandfather, Abraham, and his father, Isaac: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3)
Although Isaac mistakenly gave the same blessing to Jacob, Jacob did inherit the blessing, not because of Jacob’s stronger faith to God than his brother nor his good heart toward others including his brother, but because of God’s absolutely sovereignty and His salvation plan to save His chosen people. Why Jacob was chosen over Esau will remain one of the deep mysteries to us. We, humans, cannot know the exactly reason until we see Him face to face. However, we can sure about how to receive the same blessing:
1. We need to put behind what we used to do and have before meeting God. Then follow God even though it might be counter intuitive or simply does not make sense. Bible tells “It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8)
2. Believe God’s promise without any doubts, although it might appear to be neither logical nor even plausible. How is it possible for one single person to become a great nation? After receiving the promise, Abraham waited long time. He could not have his own child till he became one hundred years old. Additionally, shortly after getting his own son, Isaac, Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac. In fact, Abraham followed what was told by God without any hesitation. Again Bible tells: It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead. (Hebrews 11:11-12)
Due to his dream, Jacob woke up from his sleep and realized God’s presence. Then the next morning, he got up early. He took the stone he had rested his head against, and built an alter for God. He worshiped God, and made a vow, “If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if he will provide me with food and clothing, and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the LORD will certainly be my God. And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me.” (Genesis 18:10-22)
God had to call Jacob in his dream. Jacob was so much fixated to the things on earth. From his greed, he stole the birthright and his father’s blessing. At the wilderness, he was paying the consequences of his sins. However, the gracious God with full of mercy and love found Jacob, and gave the amazing blessing. However, Jacob’s response was too earth-bounded that what God wanted. Jacob responded with three if’s (i.e., three conditions) to God. Even before God, Jacob’s heart was not change. He was demanding what he wanted – a safety of his journey, an earthly necessity (food and clothing), and his own wish of returning to his home. None of them was related to God and His dominion.
After listing out his own terms, then Jacob said “if you do all these things, then you will be my God, I will worship you, and I will give back 1/10 of my possession. “ This is simply absurd. Why? In reality, God chooses us, not the other way around. We worship God because God loves us, not because He answers my wish or prayer. Additionally, what we have is from God. That is, God owns everything that we have and our own lives too. We have no right to claim anything that we have as our own. We are a just custodian of what God owns as long as we are on earth. God provides earthly things to us, and with what we received, we glorify God and expand His kingdom on earth.
The gracious God made Jacob arrived safely to his uncle’s house. However, the tricky Jacob was deceived by his uncle, Laban by giving him a wrong daughter as his wife. Jacob also deceived his uncle to unethically accumulate his wealth. As a result, he had to leave his uncle’s house. One day, Jacob fled with his family. Three days later, Laban, his uncle found out this. Thus, he pursued Jacob, but God protected Jacob by appearing Laban’s dream prior night. Again, God protected Jacob not because he was a righteous man, but because God chose Jacob to bless and protect Jacob.
God is always faithful to His people unconditionally. Then God transform us by patiently carving out us to create His masterpiece. Later, God could transform the self-centered and deceptive Jacob to God’s new Jacob called “Israel”, the father of the twelve tribes of God’s people.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesian 2:8-10)