Genesis 28:10-19a Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24 Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 Romans 8:12-25
Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary
Pure and holy, tried and true
With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living
Sanctuary for You
There is nothing like meeting God. When our lives are torn up, meeting God changes our view of our lives. No longer are we trying to man-handle every little piece of life. We are able to see the blessings that God has for us.
For Jacob, he found a sanctuary when he was running toward his future. Yet, this was also the time that he was running from his past.
A. Jacob had reason to run from his past (Genesis 25 & 27)
He cheated Esau out of his birthright (Gen. 25:29-34). He stole Esau’s blessing from Isaac (Gen. 27:1-40). Esau was furious with Jacob (Gen. 27:41) – enough to want to kill Jacob! And their mother, Rebekah wanted to save Jacob from Esau, so she plans to send him away (Gen. 27:42-45). Rebekah does this by telling Isaac that the local women were not good enough for Jacob! (Gen. 27:46). So, Isaac sends Jacob to Paddan-aram to get a wife from Laban (Jacob’s uncle).
Yes, Jacob’s life was torn up. We can read in the Bible how it was his choices that got his life torn up. Of course, when he is aided by his conniving mother, Jacob’s life becomes a mess. He is trying to get away from suffering the consequences for what he did to his brother. We know times like this in our lives. We have said something to get others all stirred up. We may have done some actions that have caused others to be furious with us. Yet, we find out that it may times just like these that God gets our attention.
B. God stands beside Jacob (Genesis 28:10-17)
Jacob is traveling from SW of Hebron, Paddan-aram, to the headwaters of the Euphrates. He stops for the night – with a stone for a pillow! There Jacob has a dream. In this dream, there is a ladder/stairway/ramp between earth & heaven. Angels were ascending & descending on it – going about heaven’s business on earth & earth’s business in heaven. I need to say this about angels: they are not our dearly departed loved ones! (We do not become angels when we die!).
The Lord himself stands beside Jacob & talks with him. God tells Jacob that he is the God of Abraham and Isaac. Then God gives Jacob an 8-fold promise (land, many descendants, posterity throughout the land, blessing to others through Jacob’s family; presence; keeping; homecoming; & not leaving Jacob). Through this we learn that all families being blessed through Jacob’s offspring. As we find out in Matthew 1:2-15, Jesus Christ is a descendant of Jacob, via Joseph. That is, as we believe Jesus is the Son of God who has come to save us, we are blessed. We are believing a promise from God. The blessing for all families from God is that He makes it possible for all families to live their fullest in God’s creation.
As Jacob wakes up, he realizes that the Lord had been in this place! He figures out that he is in God’s house. That is what Bethel means.
Bethel! The House of God is a place where we meet God. Is this place we are in now, is it a house of God? Have we met God here? If we have met God here, then what significance does this place hold for you? It is by knowing that he has met God that Jacob is able to take the next steps in his life.
C. Jacob heads into his future (Genesis 28:18-22)
He set the stone up as a pillar & poured oil on top of it – he marked the place with the stone & marked the stone so that others could know God had been met in that location, He calls it Bethel – house of God/doorway or gate to heaven. Jacob vows to follow God, if God will be with him. So if God can keep Jacob’s way, bread & clothing, peace, then this stone is God’s house and God will be Jacob’s God. He even tells God that he will give a tenth of all he has to God!
We cannot stay in one spot our whole lives. We meet God, then we move on. Yet, we do not forget what God has done for us or where we have met God. In essence, Jacob met God in a place of sanctuary. A sanctuary is a place where we gain sustenance for life. As we meet God here in this place, this sanctuary, we too go into our future. We go into our future knowing that God has blessed us and will continue to bless us.
If we are anything like Jacob, we know that our past not only haunts us, but we know that our past will catch up with us. As Jacob needed to escape in order to live, we too need to escape our past.
It is when we meet God that our future changes. We find forgiveness for our past and peace for our future. For this world today, meeting God involves following Jesus Christ. By knowing Jesus, we are blessed by God. It is in the meeting of Jesus that we find a place of sanctuary. We have our very own Bethel.
As you leave this sanctuary today, may you have met God. And whatever vows you have made to God, then may you live them. For we know that God is with you, wherever you may go.