-Isaac blesses Jacob and sends him to Haran, to Paddan-aram, to the house of Laban to find a wife from his wife Rebekah’s brother (Laban). The text assures us at this point that Isaac fully realizes the prophetic word given to his wife that Jacob is the heir of the promise to Abraham (Genesis 28:4). Jacob obeyed his parents in going to find a wife that was not Canaanite, but Esau went and married another wife, one of the daughters of Ishmael, and further dishonored his parents’ wishes out of spite and rebellion.
-So Jacob departs from Beersheba toward Haran and comes to a certain place, which he would call Bethel (House of God). This place was previously called Luz and was about 10 miles north of modern day Jerusalem, 60 miles north of where his trip started in Beersheba. It was here at this special place that the LORD appeared to His servant and gave Jacob, in a dream, eyes to see a ladder set on earth with its top reaching to heaven with angels of God ascending and descending on it (Genesis 28:12). God gives Jacob His Name as “I Am” and relates to him the fact that it was He who was the God of his father Abraham and Isaac. God also reiterates His promise of the land to the north, south, east, and west and an innumerous amount of descendants. Also, the Messianic promise is re-given to Jacob that will bless all the families of the earth. These are important reoccurring themes in the text of Scripture concerning God’s salvific plan.
-God promised to be with Jacob in relationship wherever he went, and He promised to bring him back to the land in fulfillment of all His good promises. What a comfort and awe this must have produced in Jacob’s spirit as he experienced this incredible God and began to see his destiny unfold. No wonder he exclaimed, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it (Genesis 28:16).” This expression reminds me of the moment when we trust Christ for salvation and all things become new in our life. We have an epiphany of change that realizes that things will never be the same again (2 Corinthians 5:17, John 3). A new spiritual birth has been established!
-This awe produced a natural and healthy fear of God in Jacob as he proclaimed this extraordinary place as the house of God. Bethel had been a place where Abraham had first offered sacrifice to the LORD (Genesis 12:8) upon receiving his promise anew from the LORD. It would be a holy place in future times for judges and kings in the land of Israel. Unfortunately, the place would be profaned by much idol worship and deception. This is one of the places King Josiah cleans up, among other things (2 Kings 23:15).
-Jacob rises from his incredible dream and vision and takes the stone he was using as a place to rest his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on its top (Genesis 28:18). This was an alter to worship the LORD of the universe. It is here that Jacob makes his vow to the LORD that he will return as the Holy One takes care of him to bring him back to this place (which He will, Genesis 31:13; 35:1-7). This is not a bargain with the LORD as I see it, but an affirmation that he trusts in his God to accomplish these things. He swears a tenth of all he receives at this point, which is indication of one of the first tithes in Scripture given as a freewill offering (Leviticus 27:30, Malachi 3:10).
Verse to Memorize: Genesis 28:12