Esau's two Canaanite wives had brought grief to Isaac and Rebekah (26:34-35). Consequently, Isaac made it clear that Jacob was to marry a wife from the family line. Jacob was not to take a wife from the daughters of Canaan but from the house of Bethuel. Bethuel was Abraham's nephew, son of Abraham's elder brother, Nahor, and Milcah. He was also father of Laban and Rebekah, Jacob's mother. It appears that Isaac had no idea of the drama going on with Esau and simply wanted to keep the patriarchal line pure.
Jacob flees from two threats in his flight to Paddan Aram: persecution and accommodation. The physical threat from his brother may have seemed most obviously harmful, but the threat of accommodating to the Canaanite lifestyle was just as grave a danger. Accommodation is as great a threat as persecution to the community of faith.
(Waltke, Bruce K. Genesis, 385)Isaac gave the blessing from God that had been given to both Abraham and Isaac relating to prosperity and the land (28:3-4; 15:5, 18-20; 17:1-8). Jacob was to go to Paddan Aram.
In the meantime, Esau married a daughter of Ishmael, thinking this would please his father. Esau did not understand that the Abrahamic blessing would only come through the line of Isaac and not Ishmael.
|Jacob's Dream by Marc Chagall|
Jacob rested in the same place where Abraham had built an altar (Genesis 12:8; 13:3-4). It is 70 miles north of Beersheba (about three days journey). Here, Jacob had a dream of a stairway reaching from earth to heaven with the LORD at the top. God revealed Himself to Jacob directly by reiterating the covenant blessing to Jacob that He had made to his grandfather and father. This was the blessing of a land and descendants (13:6; 22:17) and that through him all the families of the earth would be blessed (12:2-3; 15:5, 18; 17:3-8; 22:15-18; 35:11-12). God also promised His presence and protection.
The Scarlet Thread of Redemption
This same imagery is seen in John 1:51! Jesus says to Nathanael, "I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
God's presence in that dream caused Jacob to respond in "awe" as he proclaimed, "How awesome is this place!" We throw the word awesome out so much when only God should inspire awe in us. Jacob responded by making his stone pillow into a pillar. He renamed the place Bethel which means "house of God" and promised to give a tenth of everything and make the LORD his God if he returned safely to his father. Notice that Jacob had still not made the LORD his God, but this encounter was the turning point of His life.
Encounters with God are turning points in our life. (Remember my experience in the attic and the rain?) Try some Loyola Method meditation on Jacob's dream and worship and praise God. He wants to reveal Himself to You if You stop to take the time to let Him! Respond in awe!
Lord, thank You for revealing Yourself to mankind. Please reveal Yourself to us today. Teach us to reverence You. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.