If you take a look back through Genesis, it’s absolutely absurd God didn’t give up on us long ago. Or that He created man in the first place, knowing full well he would sin. And not just sin a little, but a lot. Just six chapters into the Bible it says of mankind “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). Just let that sink in…every thought of every man evil all. the. time.
Devotional Scripture: Genesis 28:1-17
Key Verse: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
God should have been done with us then. Flat out done. (Just like I am after grocery shopping with four kids. Done. Done and Done.) But He wasn’t. He saved eight (Noah and his clan). And blessed them. And multiplied man yet again. Just to have His sovereignty remarkably rejected at the Tower of Babel, not long after the flood!
I would have thrown in the towel. “That’s it! These people are ridiculous. Forget them!” But God persisted. Calling a man from Ur, a city in modern day Iraq. An idol worshiper to be exact, whose name was Abram. Instructing him to go to the land He would show him. So he could bless him and multiply him and bring blessing to all the families of the earth.
Say what? Are you kidding me? Knowing full well the world would continue in rebellion – God planned for blessing. Wow!
Then He stuck with Abram, renaming him Abraham, though he made a mess of himself in Egypt and again with Hagar. Not to mention acted a fool in front of Abimelech, king of the Philistines. (Yes, yes I know Abraham had some pretty incredible faith too…but that’s not the topic today.) God’s completely illogical love is.
So we take note God then stood by Isaac, even when Isaac played favorites with his children, ignored God’s word, and sought to give the blessing to Esau. Though Esau cared little for spiritual matters and had already excluded himself by intermarrying with the Canaanites. Furthermore…he just plain didn’t get it. Which is blatantly obvious in our text today (v. 6-9) when he takes yet another wife – one from the daughters of Ishmael – to try and make up for disappointing his parents. (Wrong family tree there bud, but good try.)
Which brings us to Jacob. A deceiver. Probably not who I would have chosen to inherit the promises. But God did. Having left home with the full blessing of his father to go and find a wife (and escape his extremely angry brother), Jacob found himself alone on the first night of a month long journey to Haran (in modern day Turkey). A perfect time for God to chastise him a bit right? Afterall he deserved it don’t you think?
But God did nothing of the sort. No long lecture. No angry words. No “you should have listened to me” speeches. Just a dream. A comforting dream in which God spoke the Abrahamic promises to Jacob. Promising once again the land, a people, and a blessing to all the families of the earth through him. Along with the assurance of His presence and protection wherever Jacob went.
Yet it wasn’t just the words that left a powerful impression on Jacob. It was the vision he saw in his dream. A ladder or stairway extending from earth to heaven. And on it “the angels of God were ascending and descending” (v. 12). And at the top stood the LORD.
Now in order to best understand the impact of this dream we need to think culturally. The Canaanite societies often built a ziggurat (or tall tower with a staircase) next to a temple so the gods could descend from the heavens to receive the people’s offerings. It’s quite possible the Tower of Babel was a ziggurat. So the idea of a stairway would have been familiar to Jacob and well um pretty amazing.
I love his response upon waking,“How awesome is this place!” (v.17) To think God would come down and be with him wherever he went! I have no doubt Jacob marveled at the thought, especially in light of his previous behavior. But little did he realize the dream, the vision, the promise had far greater implications than just being a breath-taking affirmation.
It was the gospel in one marvelous vision. God’s extraordinary plan to dwell with man by sending his Son to atone for the sins of mankind. We know this because when Jesus was calling his disciples he made specific reference to Jacob and this dream to Nathanael, who had been pondering these things under a fig tree. Go read it…it’s amazing! (John 1:43-51) But until you have time I’ll paraphrase: “Nathanael, I am that stairway!” (Jn. 1:51)
Leaving me completely undone! Why? Because Romans 3 says “None is righteous, no, not one…no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (v. 10-12). And if that’s not enough it goes on to describe us in even more endearing terms. “Their throat is an open grave…their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery.”
Yet he came anyway. (Preposterous if you ask me!) To not only make a way for us to be with Him but to be the way! “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn. 14:6).
When really He should have done away with us long ago. Makes me truly thankful God’s ways are not my ways. And his thoughts not my thoughts. Because I just wouldn’t have. Not for people like us. Be He did. He really and truly did.
So don’t give up. Because God never did. His completely absurd and illogical love wouldn’t let Him! Instead, come to Jesus. And then…take the stairs.
Contemplate and Evaluate:
How do view God’s love? As something you deserve? Or don’t deserve? Or as something only few people get to experience?
Have you come to the Father through Jesus? It’s only by grace through faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice that any of us get to spend eternity in Heaven. Not by our good works, but by His perfect work on the cross.