Jesse Tree: Day 7 Jacob (Gen.28:10-22)
For many years God chose to be known as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (see e.g. Ex.3:6). These great Patriarchs tower by grace over the ancient history of the Church. Few have understood the heart and ways of God more deeply than they. And few have been granted such encounters with Him. The last of the patriarchs of the Christian faith is for many the most enigmatic. So desperate was Jacob to be the one through whom the Christ would trace His descent, that he was prepared to cheat both his brother and his father. Deceit and cunning would mark much of Jacob’s life - even his pursuit of God.
There are many questions we would want to ask of Isaac, Rebekah, Esau and Jacob, in the light of Gen.25:19-28:9; but in the aftermath of the whole tragic and ambiguous series of events, Jacob flees for his life. We may feel that one so obviously lacking in moral virtue would be, spiritually speaking at least, beyond the pale. Surely God isn’t interested in men like Jacob… But we are constantly surprised at the lengths to which God’s grace will reach. Even as he flees, Jacob is found.
And now, as He had done with Abraham (Gen.18:1) and Isaac (Gen.26:2), the Promised Offspring appears to Jacob. The promise made to Jacob’s father and grand-father is re-iterated… and incredibly Jacob’s deceitfully gained blessing remains nonetheless a blessing: ‘All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring’. It would be almost two decades before that same Lord would meet with Jacob again on the banks of the Jordan and, and after wounding him, would change his name to Israel (Gen.32:22-32). Israel sounds like ‘He struggles with God’, but in fact means ‘Let’s God rule’. Jacob had come a long way in his understanding of the ways of God (though note that the Lord had to re-visit this in Gen.35:10). God’s truth holds fast in the face of human deceit.
When that Promised Son finally appeared on the pages of human history, He called Nathanael ‘an Israelite in whom there is no deceit’ (Jn.1:47). Nathanael’s confession of faith - You are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel - elicits from a Jesus the memory of the night He had appeared to Jacob, the deceiver. ‘You will see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man’ (John 1:51).
The work and office of that Promised Blessing becomes clear. He is the sole means through whom all relationship between heaven and earth is transacted; the one mediator between God and mankind (I Tim.2:5-6). To claim to know anything of heaven, or of God without reference to Christ is quite simply delusional, an act of self-deceit from which we might never recover, unless, like Jacob we are found by the grace of God.
How awesome is this place. This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven… (Gen.28:17)
Ideas for Family Devotions:
Seeds family Worship, ‘Rock Eternal’. This is a song based on Is.26:3-4. It’s a great way to learn some of the Bible. A good version of the lyrics video can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMdcLPie594
Write a Christmas letter to one of our Mission Partners and spend some time as a family praying for them. A list of our mission partners and suggestions about how to pray for them can be found at mie.org.uk/global
Make an angel to hang on your Christmas Tree. Imagine an angel coming to do the will of God. What do you think he’ll be doing (Heb.1:14)?