On the Run
January 21 - No 21
Jacob was shrewd and impatient. He was always looking for ways to get what he wanted when he wanted it. But his selfish impatience almost cost him his life. His efforts “to help God out” by stealing Esau’s blessing, enraged his twin brother. Esau vowed to kill him, and Jacob had to flee. Rebekah took over and tricked Isaac into giving Jacob some of his inheritance early. (She couldn’t imagine Jacob fleeing through the desert with only the clothes on his back.) She mentioned that it was time for Jacob to get married, but she did not want him to marry any of the pagan women who lived around them. To prevent this, they should send him back to her hometown to find someone godly from her family. Isaac fell for her story and prayed that God would help Jacob on his long journey. Then he repeated the blessing that had originally been meant for Esau and sent him on his way. However, instead of becoming the family leader (the position granted in the blessing), Jacob became a fugitive. When Esau discovered that Jacob had left home and that Isaac had blessed him again on his way out the door, he was even angrier. Hearing that his parents had spoken badly about the women in Canaan, he purposely chose a wife who would be very offensive to them. He married the daughter of Ishmael—his father’s estranged brother. Jacob put as much distance as he could between himself and his brother that first day. Exhausted physically and emotionally, he finally lay down to sleep. While he slept, he had a dream. In the dream a ladder reached from heaven to earth and angels climbed up and down on it. God spoke to Jacob from the top of the ladder and made the same three promises He had made to Abraham: this would become Jacob’s land; he would have many descendants; through him everyone on earth would be blessed. God also promised that He would stay with Jacob, protect him, and one day bring him back to this Promised Land. When he woke up, Jacob realized that he had just had a rendezvous with God. Despite all the wrong things he had done, God still loved him and had amazing plans for his life. He turned the stone he had slept on into an altar and worshiped God. He called the place Bethel, meaning “house of God.” Jacob made a deal with God, “If You protect me and help me return home some day, I will always worship You and give You one tenth (or a tithe) of everything I own. And Bethel will be the place where my descendants will come to worship You.” Despite his craftiness, Jacob was forever changed by this encounter at Bethel. The memorial stone he set up reminded everyone what God had done in his life.
Have you ever had an encounter with God—an experience that you know He arranged just for you? Find a way to acknowledge it tangibly. You can record it in the back of your Bible or start your own rock collection with dates and experiences written on them. Memorializing God’s encounters will help you remember His love.