Genesis 28 - Outline of Genesis (MENU page)
28:1 And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him,
Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan.
28:2 Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother's father;
and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother's brother.
28:3 And God Almighty bless thee,
and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people;
28:4 And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee;
that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.
28:5 And Isaac sent away Jacob: and he went to Padanaram
unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob's and Esau's mother.
Isaac apparently was still unaware of Esau's plot to murder Jacob.
However, his awareness that God has chosen Jacob over Esau is evidenced by-
  1. his charge to Jacob regarding a wife.- Just as Abraham had ensured that Isaac would obtain a godly wife (24:3,4), so Isaac now strictly commanded Jacob in this matter. cp. 2Cor 6:14
  2. his restatement of his blessing upon Jacob as 'the blessing of Abraham' (12:2,3,7).-
    Strictly speaking, Isaac's blessing was not necessary. God Himself had established the Covenant with Abraham and with Isaac. God had already chosen Jacob (25:23), and He would soon confirm the Covenant with him (v.13,14).
Padanaram - Padan Aram (the plain of Aram) in which the city of Haran was located,
in the northwestern region of Mesopotamia (the Tigris & Euphrates river drainage).
28:6 When Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob,
and sent him away to Padanaram, to take him a wife from thence;
and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying,
Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan;
28:7 And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Padanaram;
28:8 And Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father;
28:9 Then went Esau unto Ishmael,
and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath
{also called Bashemath, 36:3}
the daughter of Ishmael Abraham's son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife.
Esau married a woman from the line of Abraham because
he thought it would please his parents, and restore him to favor in their sight.
This action only underlined his lack of spiritual perception. He did not comprehend that Ishmael was no more acceptable before God than the Canaanites.
28:10 And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran.
28:11 And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set;
and he took of the stones of that place, and put [them for] his pillows,
and lay down in that place to sleep.
28:12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven:
and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
28:13 And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said,
I [am] the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac:
the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;
{cp. 12:2,7}
28:14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth,
{cp. 13:16}
and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south:
{cp. 13:14}
and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
{cp. 3:15; 12:3}
28:15 And, behold, I [am] with thee, and will keep thee in all [places] whither thou goest,
and will bring thee again into this land;
for I will not leave thee, until I have done [that] which I have spoken to thee of.
Jacob went out...-
Jacob traveled on foot from Beersheba to Bethel in one long day (about 50 miles).
Apparently he was anxious to put distance between him and Esau.
His flight from Esau became necessary because of his own foolish act of unbelief, in attempting to do, by the flesh, what God had promised to do by Himself.
How much easier might his path have been if he had waited for God. cp. Psa 46:10; Php 4:5-7
Yet, God would direct even this difficult path to reveal Himself to the wanderer.
stones for pillows - Jacob finds himself homeless and a wanderer:
without the comforts or protection of his father's house, unsure of the future, and alone,
in the weakness of the flesh, and in the vulnerability of sleep.
While he was in such a condition, the Lord spoke words of comfort and assurance:
''I am with thee... I will not leave thee...'' v.15; cp. Deu 31:6; Heb 13:5
The vision revealed both Jacob's total inadequacy, and God's all sufficient grace.
a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven...
the LORD stood above it, and said...-
At the top of the ladder, the LORD proclaimed His Covenant.
  • But Jacob could not ascend to Him.
    Jacob had no right to claim the Covenant blessings... -
    1. not by his birth- The right belonged to the firstborn.
    2. not by his righteousness- He was a sinner, a deceiver, and a liar.
  • God alone would establish the Covenant with him.-
    1. it was His prerogative alone to exclude Esau and to establish Jacob (25:23).
    2. it was His righteousness alone that would make the sinner acceptable.
    3. it was His action alone that would fulfill the promises:
      'I am the LORD... I will give... I am with thee... I will keep thee... I will bring thee... I will not leave thee... until I have done [what] I have spoken.'
a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven...
the angels of God ascending and descending on it...-
About 1800 years later, the Lord Jesus Christ explained that this ladder spanning the gulf between God and man, is a picture of Him (Joh 1:45-51). In Christ, God's grace came down to earth, in order to carry men up into His presence & glory, and in order to bring to completion His covenant promises to Israel. Jesus explained these things to a group of men who were looking for the fulfillment of those promises. Among them was Nathanael, ''an Israelite... in whom is no guile {ie., no deception}.'' He was not a deceiver like Jacob. Nevertheless, even for him, there was only one Way of approach to God (Joh 14:6).
28:16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said,
Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew [it] not.
28:17 And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful [is] this place!
this [is] none other but the house of God, and this [is] the gate of heaven.
28:18 And Jacob rose up early in the morning,
and took the stone that he had put [for] his pillows,
and set it up [for] a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.
28:19 And he called the name of that place Bethel:
but the name of that city [was called] Luz at the first.
28:20 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying,
If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go,
and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,
28:21 So that I come again to my father's house in peace;
then shall the LORD be my God:
28:22 And this stone, which I have set [for] a pillar, shall be God's house:
and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.
{cp. Gen 14:20}
Jacob's response shows how little he knew of God.
  1. he was afraid, and said, 'How dreadful is this place.' (v.17)
    The presence of God is a dreadful place for the sinner. Jacob was not at home there.
    In contrast, the heart that is broken by sin, and redeemed by the Savior, longs for His presence. cp. Psa 26:8; 27:4; 84:1,2; 1Joh 4:18
  2. he performed religious ritual.-
    The flesh wanted to do something, though it was not sure what.
    • Bethel would never become the location of God's House, although it would become the site of idol worship about 800 years later (1Kin 12:32). True religion is not contained in ritual.
    • However, this meeting with God made a lasting impression upon Jacob. It became the first milepost in his walk with God. Jacob would return to this place years later to give thanks for the Lord's grace to him. 35:6,7
  3. he bargained with God (v.20-21)-
    ''If God will... then I will...
    1. make the LORD my God.'' [Yet, the God of his fathers had said ''I am with thee.'']
    2. make a house for God.'' [Yet, God had promised to establish his seed.]
    3. give a tithe.'' [Yet, God had promised to give him everlasting possessions.]
    The wanderer's mind was occupied with food, raiment, and a desire to return home.
    • Jacob ''measured God by himself, and thus utterly failed to apprehend Him. In short, Jacob had not yet really got to the end of himself; and hence he had not really begun with God.'' [CHM]
    • Jacob placed conditions on what God had stated unconditionally.
      Jacob did not yet realize the total inability of the flesh to please God.
    • But God had established a relationship with Jacob by His grace.
      He would cause him to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Him. cp. 2Pet 3:18

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