Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community, and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the COVID-19. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
The LORD’S loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. (Lamentation 3:22-23)
Jacob achieved what he wanted for his entire life — getting the birthright of the firstborn son and received his father’s blessings reserved for the firstborn son. Jacob fought for the birthright from the inside of his mother’s womb, but he was ended up as the second-born son. What Jacob could do was at most to grab his older brother’s heal while he was born. Since then, he was not happy for the rest of his life. Jacob always looked for an opportunity to reclaim his brother’s birthright.
One day, his brother, Esau, returned completely exhausted and extremely hungry from his all-day long hunting. Jacob realized that the opportunity came. He lured his brother, Esau, to sell Esau’s birthright with a vowel of lentil stew, Esau’s favorite. Esau was unwise and showed contempt for his birthright as the firstborn. Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for one bowl of lentil stew. Esau ate the lentil stew, then got up and left as if nothing had happened. But it was not.
Later, Isaac, their father, blessed Jacob instead of Esau. Isaac gave all the blessings prepared for his firstborn son. Jacob and Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and the wife of Isaac, plotted together and deceived Isaac to stole the blessings reserved for Esau. As a result, Jacob got what he wanted — the birthright of the firstborn and the blessings reserved for the firstborn. Then what else could Jacob need? Jacob got everything that he wanted. Didn’t he?
No. On the contrary, Jacob lost everything. As soon as his brother, Esau, realized that Jacob stole his blessings, he decided to kill Jacob. Soon Jacob learned that his life was in danger. Jacob could not stay home any longer. He had to run for his life. That day, Jacob ran away from home to avoid his brother, Esau. And that night, he was in the middle of the wilderness alone. Jacob was on the way to his uncle’s house about 700 km, or about 440 miles away, which was not the distance lightly taken because there were neither automobiles nor highways. He was traveling alone in fear of Esau and wild animals and strangers, often hostile, along the way.
The Bible tells exactly about Jacob’s situation:
What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want (James 4:1-2a)
Jacob was the very man as described above. However, don’t quickly move on after reading the verse. Is the above verse applicable to Jacob only? No! Please carefully look back. Then we soon find that we are not much different from Jacob. Our jealousies and deceptions have been leading to suffering and destruction rather than making our dream coming true.
Are there any parents who let their children suffer in pain, although their pain is self-inflicted as Jacob did? No. Absolutely not!. All parents always care for their children. Most of all, all parents cannot see their children’s sufferings. Even so, there are some exceptions when any of the sufferings build up their children’s characters.
As the night fell, he searched for a place to spend the night. Jacob found a stone to rest his head against and lay down to sleep. He used to sleep in his warm bed on a comfy pillow. Now his head was on a cold stone under the cold night sky. He was truly helpless, and he begged sleep, but he could not fall asleep. He closed his eyes, but he could vividly see his brother’s face extremely angry to kill him, and his father’s face blessing Jacob while thinking he was blessing Esau. Especially, he saw his mother’s face worrying and concerning while sending away his favorite son, Jacob, who was about to take the dangerous and long journey to go to Laban’s house, Jacob’s uncle.
For Jacob, all things fell off, including Jacob’s dreams and desires. Jacob was comforting himself by telling himself it’s lucky to preserve his life from his brother. Jacob saw himself hitting rock bottom. Jacob achieved all things that he always wanted to have, but it threw him into a deep pit in his life. There was no roof over him, and Jacob was alone in the middle of the wilderness. Rather than having honor and blessings, he was suffering in pain. He became completely helpless, which was the product of the worldly things always occupying him — passion, desire, jealousy, greed, and deception
Indeed, God loved Jacob because Jacob was God’s beloved child. God waited for the moment that Jacob hit rock bottom of his life. Then Jacob’s stubborn heart was open to God’s voice. Jacob finally fell asleep after long struggling while begging for sleep. Then God came to Jacob’s dream and talked to Jacob about God’s plan. Jacob saw 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 28:13b-15)
Indeed, God blessed Jacob with the same blessing given to his grandfather, Abraham, and his father, Isaac. Jacob cunningly and deceptively stole the birthright of the firstborn and the blessing reserved for the firstborn to use for his own flesh desires and its satisfactions. However, Jacob was completely off. The blessing that he stole was of God, not of the world. Jacob did not know this fact, and God silently waited until Jacob hit rock bottom. God never forsakes His children. God always blesses His children and goes together with His children always and forever. God was with Jacob when Jacob cunningly deceived his father and brother with his worldly wisdom and desire. God was with Jacob when he was sleeping in the middle of the wilderness under the dark night sky, laying his head on a stone.
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” 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!”
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. He named that place Bethel (which means “house of God”), although it was previously called Luz.
Then Jacob prayed with this 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.”
For the first time, Jacob truly and authentically prayed to God in fear and awe of Him. However, Jacob was still of the world. He prayed worldly. In his prayer, he made a deal with God following the worldly principle — eye to eye and tooth to tooth. God’s math is not like worldly math. God’s love of math is infinite. Always infinite. There is no way to subtract all of His love to make zero or even a negative value. His love is always greater, stronger, wider, and deeper than anything we know, including our sins, transgressions, and all wrongdoings. Indeed, nobody can fathom how big, how high, how wide, and how long His love is.
Here is a Psalm praising God’s unfathomably infinite love:
I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me. (Psalm 139:7-10)
Then Jacob hurried on, finally arriving in the land of the east. He met God, and he was no longer in fear and despair because he found that God was with him. He traveled 700 Km as if he was walking to the next town.
But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
Jacob left like an eagle soaring high up and ran like a horse without getting weary or tired. He met God, and he got God’s strength and hope. He knew God was always ahead of him and guided him. Nothing would harm him because God prepared all things ahead of him.
As arriving the land of Harran where his uncle, Laban, lived, he saw a well in the distance. Three flocks of sheep and goats lay in an open field beside it, waiting to be watered. Again, God prepared all ahead of Jacob to the place and the people.
Jacob went over to the shepherds and asked, “Where are you from, my friends?”
We are from Haran,” they answered.
“Do you know a man there named Laban, the grandson of Nahor?” he asked.
“Yes, we do,” they replied.
“Is he doing well?” Jacob asked.
“Yes, he’s well,” they answered. “Look, here comes his daughter Rachel with the flock now.”
It was the custom there to wait for all the flocks to arrive before removing the stone and watering the animals. Afterward, the stone would be placed back over the mouth of the well. But the stone covered the mouth of the well was heavy.
Without knowing God’s plan and their custom, Jacob said, “Look, it’s still broad daylight—too early to round up the animals. Why don’t you water the sheep and goats so they can get back out to pasture?”
“We can’t water the animals until all the flocks have arrived,” they replied. “Then the shepherds move the stone from the mouth of the well, and we water all the sheep and goats.”
Again, God prepared the way ahead of Jacob. Jacob was still talking with them when Rachel arrived with her father’s flock, for she was a shepherd. Rachel was his cousin—the daughter of Laban, his mother’s brother—and the sheep and goats belonging to his uncle Laban. For Rachel, Jacob quickly volunteered to move the heavy stone covering the mouth of the wall.
Jacob went over to the well and moved the stone from its mouth. Then he watered his uncle’s flock. God prepared the moment and opportunity beforehand for Jacob. As watering the sheep, Jacob was melting down because he saw his uncle’s flock and Rachel, his uncle’s daughter. Especially, Rachel greatly appreciated what he had done for her and her sheep.
Jacob then approached Rachel and kissed her. Jacob made the long and dangerous 700 Km Journey to Harran. Suddenly he remembered many lonely nights, which he spent alone in the middle of wilderness under the night skies while hearing the howling noise of wild animals. He was now safe and met Rachel, his uncle’s daughter, 700 km away from his home. Jacob wept aloud. It was the first one that he truly cried. Jacob was always cunning and tricky. He made others cry, not himself. There was no reason for him to cry, and Jacob watched his victims crying after being tricked and hurt by Jacob. His brother, Esau, was one of the victims. Esau really suffered and cried while begging for the blessing Jacob stole from Esau by deceiving his father. For the first time, Jacob truly experienced the feeling of helplessness throughout the journey to Harran. Even the friendly, smiley face of Rachel alone was enough to make him emotionally cry.
Jacob explained to Rachel that he was her cousin on her father’s side—the son of her aunt Rebekah. However, Jacob did not explain why he had to come to his uncle’s house. He completely hid his shady past. Rachel was just so happy to meet his cousin from far away. Rachel never expected to see any relatives from that far. For Rachel, it was yet another day shepherding her father’s flock. As she just came to the well to water the sheep, she kept worrying about how to move the heavy stone that blocked the well’s mouth. She prayed to God to meet someone kind enough to move the heavy stone for her and the flock as getting to the well. Again, it was God’s appointment prepared by God.
As soon as watering the flock is complete, Rachel quickly ran and told her father, Laban.
As soon as Laban heard that his nephew Jacob had arrived, he ran out to meet Jacob. Jacob could not believe his eyes as seeing his uncle, Laban, was running out from his house. Jacob was not sure whether his uncle would accept him well or not. As running toward Jacob, Laban opened his arms wide. Laban embraced Jacob. Then Laban kissed Jacob and brought him home. Yes, God prepared all things beforehand for Jacob, who hit bottom as he became completely helpless.
Laban exclaimed, “You really are my own flesh and blood!” Laban welcome Jacob, and Jacob stayed with Laban. God, who dearly loved Jacob, brought Laban into Jacob’s life.
God is good, always good. His goodness will never fail. When Jacob hit rock bottom in the middle of the wilderness alone under the dark night sky, God was there with him. Jacob was alone, fearful of the wild animals howling. God was there with Jacob. Yes, God was always with Jacob, but Jacob did not know this truth. God revealed Himself to Jacob. As soon as Jacob realized God’s presence, Jacob regained his strength and ran to his uncle’s house with the power of God as an eagle soaring high into the sky with its wide-open wings. With the power of God, he could run. As running, Jacob experienced who God was — always faithful to and caring for Jacob. Indeed, God is faithful. He is always faithful to His children. Praise God, who prepares all things beforehand for His children in His love, which is so vast that nobody can fathom.
- Nearer, my God, to thee, Nearer to thee!
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me.
Still all my song shall be nearer, my God, to thee,
Nearer, my God, to thee, Nearer to thee!
- Though like the wanderer, The sun gone down,
Darkness be over me, My rest a stone,
Yet in my dreams I’d be my God, to thee,
- There let the way appear, Steps unto heav’n;
All that thou sendest me, In mercy giv’n;
Angels to beckon me. Nearer, my God, to thee,
- Then with my waking thoughts, Bright with thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs, Bethel I’ll raise;
So by my woes to be, Nearer, my God, to thee,
- Or if, on joyful wing, Cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, Upward I fly,
Still all my song shall be, Nearer, my God, to thee,
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)