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Chapter 28 

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ch. 27:40-28:9   ch. 28:10-22

Jacob Flees To Laban (ch. 27:40 28:9)    


In verse 41 we see the rage of Esau.  He knew that Isaac's days were numbered.  He was old and close to dying.  His plan was to kill Jacob after his father died.  Once again we see fierce rage between brothers, as we did with Cain and Abel.  We also continue to see the nature of Esau. As the book of Hebrews says, he was a wicked man, and I'm sure God knew this. That's partly why God loved Jacob and hated Esau.  


Rebekah was told by someone, we don't know who, that Esau wanted to kill Jacob to consol himself.  So she tells Jacob the plans of Esau that was passed on to her.  I think Rebekah was constantly concerned with Esau and the things he did, especially when they affected Jacob.   She said that Esau "is consoling himself" with the idea of killing Jacob.  This means that in Esau's mind, he would feel much better about his life if his brother was dead, and so that was what he wanted to do and that scared Rebekah.  Remember, Rebekah not only favored Jacob over Esau, but God told her that the Abrahamic Covenant would be fulfilled through Jacob, not Esau.  This was in the back of her mind.  No harm, and especially not death could come to Jacob.     


In verses 43 and 44 Rebekah came up with yet another idea.  She seems to be the one with ideas in the family, especially when they relate to Jacob.  She wanted Jacob to flee to her brother's place back east in Haran.  Her brother was Laban.  Jacob could stay there until Esau's fury subsided. 


Verse 45 is a bit ironic.  Rebekah told Jacob that she would send for him when Esau's anger subsided.   She said that Esau's anger was based on the fact of what Jacob did to him.  Well, it was just as much Rebekah as it was Jacob.  Maybe Esau didn't even know that it was his mother's plan in the first place that would cause him to lose his blessing from Isaac.  That could well be the case.  He didn't seem to be angry at his mother, or at least there is no mention of it.


Rebekah asked, "why should I lose both of you in one day?"  I'm not totally sure what she meant.  If Jacob was killed, I understand how she would lose him.  But how could she lose Esau?  It is possible that she'd lose any relationship she had left with Esau.  Maybe she was not thinking in terms of Esau dying, unless someone else would kill him for killing Jacob.  That could easily be the case.  I'm not convinced she actually had a good relationship with Esau because of the favoritism she showed to Jacob.  


Verse 46 shows Rebekah's feelings concerning the Hittite women that Esau married.  For some reason she found them unbearable to live with.  She said her life was not worth living if Jacob ended up marrying a Hittite woman like his brother.   This might be another reason why she wanted Jacob to go to her brother Laban's household.  She might have thought that maybe Jacob would find a wife there and not marry a Hittite.  Remember, God did not want mixture in the family of Abraham.  Men were not permitted to marry outside the extended family of Abraham, as Esau did.


Isaac now comes into the picture in chapter 28 verse 1.  In verses 1 and 2 Isaac tells Jacob to take for himself a wife from his mother's brother's family.  In the last few verses it appears that the main reason why Rebekah wanted Jacob to go to Laban's place was for protection from Esau.  We don't know if Isaac knew of Esau's hatred towards Jacob and his desire to kill him.  Rebekah wanted Jacob to leave because she feared what Esau might do to him.  Isaac wanted Jacob to leave so he could find a wife in his father's family.    


It also appears that now Isaac has finally accepted the fact that God's choice for the family's leadership was Jacob, not Esau. 


Some people feel that Rebekah is conniving here.  She wants Jacob to leave because of fear for his life.  She doesn't really tell Isaac that.  She tells him that she is greatly disturbed over the idea that Jacob might marry a Hittite  woman.  That might have gotten Isaac concerned, so he blessed Jacob and sent him off to Laban's household.  Thus Rebekah gets her way without having to tell Isaac her real reason to send Jacob away.  This may or not be the case.  We certainly don't know the whole conversation Isaac and Rebekah had.  They could have talked all these things over.


In verse 3 we see the term "God Almighty."  The Hebrew for this is "El Shaddai".  "Shaddai" is the Hebrew word for "almighty" or "all powerful".  It's earliest usage seems to mean "the Mountain One", that might signify strength and the almighty nature of God. 


It is interesting that in Exodus 6:3 God told Moses that He appeared to the patriarchs, that is Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as "El Shaddai", not "Yahweh".   Well, we see the term "Yahweh" a lot in Genesis, but do not see the term "El Shaddai" that much.  Yet, although we don't see the term "El Shaddai" much, what we do see is that when God appeared to these men, He did appear as the Almighty One, although not so named. When God appeared to anyone in Genesis, He came to them as the almighty creator God of all things. 


Even though the term "Yahweh" is used lots in Genesis, it is highly thought that the term was not completely understood until Moses' day when God told Moses that "Yahweh" was His name.  Here we see the progressive nature of the understanding of God in he Old Testament.   


I do believe there is a progressive revelation of God as seen in the book of Genesis that I believe carries on beyond Genesis.  One thing is important here.  I do not believe that God in this present age is still revealing Himself in a progressive way.  Some believe this to be true, and that is why we have Mormonism, and many other religions today.  Mormons would say that Joseph Smith has brought forth a new revelation of God to the earth.  I don't think so.  I believe that God revealed Himself in Jesus, and that revelation stands as the only revelation of God for our age. 


I'm not saying that God doesn't speak to people today, and reveal Himself and his plans for an individual life.  I'm not talking about that.  I'm talking specifically about a revelation of who God is, not what he wants of us.  For example, in Genesis we first see God as Elohim, then as Yahweh, and even that is partial.  Then comes Adonai and El Shaddai.   All these names tell us something about who God is.  The last revelation to tell us who God is was found in Jesus, and you can't get a better revelation than that.   


We are now about to see the Abrahamic Covenant once again.  We've seen the covenant spoken to Abraham.  God spoke it to Isaac, and now through Isaac it is spoken to Jacob.  The first covenantal promise that Isaac speaks of in the form of a blessing to Jacob is that his descendents would be many.  You might also remember that this was also part of the blessing when Isaac gave Jacob his birthright.  


In verse 4 we see the land promise restated.  The land was promised to Abraham, and Isaac blessed Jacob by saying that even though he is now an alien in the land, may he one day possess the land.   He never really did.  The word "he' is the corporate "he", who is Israel, who Jacob represented.  This promise will be fulfilled by Jesus when He returns to earth and gives the land to Israel at that time.  The Jews for the most part, have always been an alien in their own land, and to some degree they are today because of all the controversy, and the world desire to see Jerusalem divided. 


Verse 5 simply states that Jacob left on this trip.


In verses 6  through 9 Esau came back into the picture.  He had heard that Isaac blessed Jacob once again and had sent him off to marry a wife from Rebekah's family.  The text states that Esau knew that his Hittite wives displeased his parents.  I'm sure that this did not just dawn on him at this point.  But the fact that Jacob was now going to find a wife that would please his parents got him thinking, so he went and found another wife from the family of Ishmael, the son born to Abraham by his servant Hagar.  This was yet another attempt by a godless man to do something that looked godly, yet not understanding spiritual things. Esau got it wrong.   Wives were not to come through Ishmael's line, because that lineage was defiled since Hagar was an Egyptian.  And that is the way it is with secular man today.  When trying to speak about or imitate spiritual and Biblical things, they just get it all wrong.  They just don't understand.


This is also another example of how Esau seemed to always try to compete with his brother Jacob.  The competition began in Rebekah's womb and lasted throughout the brother's lives.   


Jacob's Dream At Bethel   (ch. 28:10 - 22)   


In verses 10 and 11 we see that Jacob is well on his way to Haran , Laban's place of residence.  He stops to sleep the night in an open field.  As was often the case back then, he picked up a rock to rest his head upon while he slept.  You might think this to be uncomfortable, but it was probably more comfortable than resting your head on the ground.  There would be less strain on your had and neck.


Haran is the place that Abraham lived after leaving Ur to go to the promised land of Canaan.  He stayed there until his father died. 


In verse 12 we see that God spoke to Jacob in a dream.   He saw a stairway that reached from heaven to earth.   Some translations use the word ladder, but stairway probably gives us a better picture.  The text also says that angels ascended  and descended  on this stairway.  Some Bible teachers make a point by noting that the angels first ascended into heaven before they returned.  They suggest that this signifies that these angels were already with Jacob, meaning he was in the will of God.  They would leave him, go to heaven, and then return to him.  I'm not sure we can really make this point, but many do. 


The words ascend and descend reminds me of what Jesus told Nathanael in John 1:51.  Jesus said the Nathanael would see what Jacob saw here, angels ascending and descending from heaven.  Somehow I believe that the dream Jacob had has something to do with Jesus and the anointing that He had.


In the dream we see in verse 13 that Jacob saw the Lord God,  That's "Yahweh Elohim", the God of his fathers Abraham and Isaac.  "Yahweh Elohim" means that Almighty Creator I Am".  There is a bit of discrepancy to whether God was standing at the top of the stairway or beside Jacob.  Both renderings seem to be somewhat acceptable, although the NIV favors the idea God as being at the top of the stairway. 


At this point, God re-affirms the Abrahamic Covenant to Jacob that relates to him and his descendents possessing the land of Canaan where Jacob was presently lying on.  The promise of this land is just one part of the Abrahamic Covenant, but is one aspect of the covenant that appears more often the other parts.   The promise of land and the promise of a great number of descendents is often stated when the covenant is spoken of.  So in verse 14 we see God saying that his descendents will be numbered as the dust of the earth. 


God also said that Jacob's descendents would spread out to the west, east, north, and south.  There are specific borders mentioned elsewhere concerning the boundaries of this promised land.  What might be spoken of here is that Israel's influence throughout the world will spread out in all four directions. 


Also in verse 14 is another aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant.  All people's of the earth would be blessed through both Abraham's descendents and his offspring.  As we have noted many times, because Paul in Galatians 3 defines the word "offspring" here as Jesus, that is how we need to think of it.  So what God is saying here is that through Jesus and Israel , all nations of the earth will be blessed.  Many people see this fulfillment as being the cross of Christ.  I believe it is more.  I believe the cross is just the beginning of the fulfillment of this promise.  All nations have the opportunity to be blessed, but not all nations have accepted this blessing.  Yet, when Jesus returns to earth, He will make Israel the predominant nation on earth.  Jesus Himself will rule the earth from Jerusalem.   At that point, both Jesus and Israel will be a blessing to every nation throughout the thousand year rule of Christ that also carries over into the era of the new earth.  What an unbelievable time that will be.


Verse 15 is interesting.  God tells Jacob that He will watch over him.  The word "him" refers to Jacob.   God is encouraging Jacob, but I think the word "him" has farther reaches to its meaning.  God also said that He would bring "him" back to the land, and not leave "him" until this promise is fulfilled.  Who is the "him" spoken of here?  As I said with the word "he" earlier, the word "him" refers to the "corporate him", that is Israel. The promise will be fulfilled when Jesus returns to earth.  It has to be in the future, because it hasn't happened yet.  That is why 1948 is so significant.  The Jews are back in their land.  For this reason, I believe the word "him" refers to Jacob as seen in Israel that would be in Jacob's future.  That means that God has always kept and eye on the Jews, whether they were in their land or not in their land.  That tells me that God has His eyes on them right now, even though they are not living for Him.  At the end of this age, when Jesus returns, a spirit of repentance will be poured out on the Jews and they will acknowledge their Messiah as He returns in the clouds.   This is what I believe is the meaning of this promise.


So we now have the Abrahamic Covenant passed on not only to Isaac, but also to Jacob.  Throughout the Old Testament we will be reminded of this covenant. 


I think it is a bit interesting to note that the Abrahamic Covenant was passed on to Jacob and not Esau.  We already knew this would be the case.   The lineage of Jacob would produce the offspring, that's Jesus, the Covenant spoke about.  


We see Jacob being amazed in verse 16.  He said, "surely the Lord was in this place and I was not aware of it".  It seems to me that Jacob thought that God was there all along, because of the angels ascending and descending.  Some might suggest that was just Jacob's thinking.  God only appeared to Jacob there.  He wasn't always there. 


If Jacob is correct, that is, if the angels had been there before he got there, I find it interesting.  This place, this land was special to God, so special that angels would move back and forth from heaven.  It makes one wonder that if this has not always been the case throughout history.  It makes one wonder if it is not the case now.  God appears to be protecting this land, keeping an eye on it for the future promised land.  This reminds me of the time when the devil showed Jesus all the land around Jerusalem.  The devil acted as if this was his land.  He said that Jesus could have the land if He would serve him.  I'm sure the devil wanted, and still wants the promised land for himself. That's pretty ironic.  The land belonged to Jesus anyway.


If Jacob was right, then there's a Sunday morning message here.  How many people are in, or have been in the presence of God and have not known it.  We've all been in meetings where the Lord's presence is extremely powerful, but not everyone experiences it, and you wonder how this could be.  Well, if Jacob is right, it can be.  It's a matter of God's sovereign choice and possibly a matter of the heart of the person not experiencing  His presence.


We see in verses 19 and 20 that Jacob took the stone that he rested his head upon  and used it as a memorial and called the place Bethel.  Bethel means, "the house of God".  Jacob felt that this is where God lived, or at least where He lived on earth, or, at least was one of his earthly dwelling places.


In verses 20 to 22 Jacob promised God that if He did look after him on the trip he was taking, that this stone would be a memorial to God, and that he would give to God a tenth of all he had.  Clearly a tenth is a tithe.   It is thus fairly clear that in Jacob's day there was some kind of understanding about giving a tithe to God, although to date in Genesis we've only seen the concept once before, and that was when Abraham gave a tenth of his spoils of war to Melchizedek.   What we need to understand here in Genesis 28 is that it was Jacob's idea to give a tenth. We can't say conclusively that it was God's idea, although some might think it was God's idea.  Still, we do not know for sure whose idea it was here in Genesis 28.  I will not get involved in the discussion here since I've done so elsewhere, but I do not believe tithing is for New Testament Christians, and I also don't think you can use this verse to support tithing for New Testament Christians.  Tithing was incorporated into the Law of Moses, and we know from Paul that Christ is the end of the Law as seen in Romans 10:4.  The Law of Moses was nailed to the cross with Jesus, and that includes the tithing laws, and I say "laws" plural, since there were many. 


Any discussion concerning tithing prior to the Law of Moses is based on much speculation.  We do have a couple instances where tithing is mentioned, but there is not enough said about it to draw any real conclusions other than it was practiced on a couple of occasions.  So you cannot prove tithing for New Testament Christians based on a couple passages in Genesis. 

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