Matthew 22:31b-32a, ESV
...have you not read what was said to you
by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham,
and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?
by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham,
and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?
Genesis 27:41-45, NIrV
41 Esau was angry with Jacob. He was angry because of the blessing his father had given to Jacob. He said to himself, “The days of sorrow over my father’s death are near. Then I’ll kill my brother Jacob.”
42 Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said. So she sent for her younger son Jacob. She said to him, “Your brother Esau is planning to get back at you by killing you. 43 Now then, my son, do what I say. Run away at once to my brother Laban in Harran. 44 Stay with him until your brother’s anger calms down. 45 When he forgets what you did to him, I’ll let you know. Then you can come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”
Our last look at the adventures of Isaac's family ended in a humongous mess! With his mom’s help, Jacob fooled his father and swiped his big brother’s blessing. But Jacob the blessing burglar didn’t get away with his scheme for long. When Esau found out, boy, was he mad! “I’m going to kill that little pipsqueak!” he grunted. And he wasn’t kidding! As a mighty hunter, killing was the thing Esau did best! Rebekah knew her favorite son was about to be on the wrong side of one of Esau’s arrows. So she sent Jacob to live with his faraway uncle until his angry big bro could take a long timeout.
+ What did Esau say to himself? (vs. 41)
+ When did Rebekah say that Jacob could come back home? (vs. 44-45)
Genesis 28:1-5, NIrV
1 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him, “Don’t get married to a Canaanite woman. 2 Go at once to Paddan Aram. Go to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Find a wife for yourself there. Take her from among the daughters of your mother’s brother Laban. 3 May the Mighty God bless you. May he give you children. May he make your family larger until you become a community of nations. 4 May he give you and your children after you the blessing he gave to Abraham. Then you can take over the land where you now live as an outsider. It’s the land God gave to Abraham.” 5 Isaac sent Jacob on his way. Jacob went to Paddan Aram. He went to Laban, the son of Bethuel the Aramean. Laban was Rebekah’s brother. And Rebekah was the mother of Jacob and Esau.
As Jacob packed up his things to go live with his uncle, old Isaac knew this might possibly be his last chance to talk to his boy. Even though he’d been a victim of Jacob’s tricks, Isaac spoke kindly to his son before he departed. First, he warned Jacob, “Don’t marry a woman from the land of Canaan.” That’s what Esau had done and his two wicked wives made Isaac and Rebekah miserable! Second, Isaac prayed that God would pass the precious promises of Abraham down to Jacob. Little did Isaac know that, before Jacob even reached his uncle’s house, his prayer would be answered!
+ Who did Isaac tell Jacob to marry? (vs. 2)
+ Why did Jacob have to run away from his home?
Genesis 28:10-12, NIrV
10 Jacob left Beersheba and started out for Harran. 11 He reached a certain place and stopped for the night. The sun had already set. He took one of the stones there and placed it under his head. Then he lay down to sleep. 12 In a dream he saw a stairway standing on the earth. Its top reached to heaven. The angels of God were going up and coming down on it.
In modern times, we have hotels with comfy beds to sleep on when we travel to far off places. But when Jacob stopped for the night on his journey to his uncle’s house, there was no hotel to be found. As he drifted off to sleep, he had to use a rock for a pillow! That night, Jacob dreamed of something strange: a tall ladder whose top reached all the way to heaven. The steps of the ladder were swarming with angels, some going up, others going down. Normally, dreams are just our minds working away as we snooze. But we’ll soon see, Jacob’s weird dream was actually a visit from the Lord God himself!
+ Why did Jacob decide to stop? (vs. 11)
+ What did Jacob see in his dream?
Genesis 28:13-15, NIRV
13 The Lord stood beside the stairway. He said, “I am the Lord. I am the God of your grandfather Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your children after you the land you are lying on. 14 They will be like the dust of the earth that can’t be counted. They will spread out to the west and to the east. They will spread out to the north and to the south. All nations on earth will be blessed because of you and your children after you. 15 I am with you. I will watch over you everywhere you go. And I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
Who did Jacob see in his dream standing at the top of the angel-covered ladder? None other than the Lord God himself! Just as he had done with Jacob's grandpa (Abraham) and his dad (Isaac), God appeared to Jacob, too. If God's message to Jacob sounded familiar, it's because you've heard it two times already! The promises God made to Jacob were 100-year-old promises he'd already given to Abraham and Isaac! Away from his family and on the run from his big brother, I'm sure Jacob felt lonely. But after this dream, he could be sure he wasn't alone. The Lord God was right there with him!
+ List all the promises God made to Jacob. (vs. 13-15)
Genesis 28:16-19, NIRV
16 Jacob woke up from his sleep. Then he thought, “The Lord is surely in this place. And I didn’t even know it.” 17 Jacob was afraid. He said, “How holy this place is! This must be the house of God. This is the gate of heaven.”
18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head. He set it up as a sacred stone. And he poured olive oil on top of it. 19 He named that place Bethel. But the city used to be called Luz.
As Jacob opened his eyes the next morning, he knew this had been no ordinary dream. It was a visit from the Lord God, the maker of the whole universe! Jacob wanted to do something to mark this special spot so he would never forget it. Back then, they didn't have cameras, so he couldn't take a picture. And they certainly didn't have GPS, so he couldn't mark down the location, either. Instead, he took his rock pillow from the night before and stood it up like a pillar. When he passed that way again, the strange standing stone would be a reminder of the night God spoke to him.
+ What did Jacob pour over the rock to mark it as a special place? (vs. 18)
+ Jacob named the place “Bethel.” Look back at what Jacob said in verse 17. What do you think “Bethel” means? Hint: “Beth” meant “house” in Jacob’s language.
Genesis 28:20-21, NIRV
20 Then Jacob made a promise. He said, “May God be with me. May he watch over me on this journey I’m taking. May he give me food to eat and clothes to wear. 21 May he do as he has promised so that I can return safely to my father’s home. Then you, Lord, will be my God.
By the time we've finished breakfast and brushed our teeth, most of us have usually forgotten our dreams from the night before. But Jacob couldn't get his dream of a ladder to heaven out of his head. That's because Jacob's nighttime vision was much more than a dream; it was a visit from God himself!
During that dream, God took the same promises he had made to Abraham and Isaac and repeated them to Jacob. God promised to be with Jacob, to grow his family into a great nation as uncountable as the stars, to give his family a great land to live in, and to use his family to give a great blessing to the entire world. When Jacob woke up, he made a promise of his own. “If God will be with me, if he keeps his promises to me,” he pledged, “then I will be with him, too. I’ll worship him as my God.”
Why should it matter to us that God made promises to some guys named Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob thousands of years ago? Here’s why: though Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are long dead, that same promise-making God is alive and well. And as we journey through the big story of the Bible, we’ll watch in wonder at all the amazing things God did to keep his promises to these three long-dead dudes!
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was the same God who grew Jacob’s family into a great big nation called Israel. He was the same God who did mighty miracles to rescue the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt. And he was the same God who knocked down the walls of the city of Jericho so his people could conquer the land he promised to give to them.
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob fed his people bread from heaven. He made the sun stand still to win a battle. And he used a little shepherd boy to slay a mighty giant! The rest of the Bible details the amazing deeds done by God to keep his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Best of all, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob sent his only Son Jesus to be born as part of Abraham’s family. To rescue us all from the forever fiery death of our sin, God's Son let himself be killed on a cross. And on the third day after his death, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob raised Jesus back from the dead!
Here’s the good news: the promise-keeping God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has also made a promise to you and me. If we believe this good news about Jesus, God has promised that we’ll live with him one day in his forever kingdom. If we believe this promise of God, we can truly say that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is also the God of you and me!
+ What promise did Jacob make to God? (vs. 20)
+ What did the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob do to save us from our sins?