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Lessons From The Old Testament

“That We Might have Hope” (Rom 15:4)

Genesis Chapters Twenty-seven Through Twenty-nine

Jacob’s Ladder

The Lord is forever faithful to His promises — that we might have hope. Believers, yet in their sinful flesh and in this sinful world, are not always faithful in believing His promises. They become weak in faith and hope, and begin to doubt that the Lord can keep His promises without their clever interventions and devices.

God’s Will Is Always Done

The great promise of a Savior from sin was passed from Adam and Eve down through Noah and Shem; then through Abraham and his son, Isaac God chose to withhold the blessing of children from Isaac and Rebekah for twenty years. In addition to their natural desire for children, they also knew that the promise of the Savior was to pass on to the next generation through their son. In connection with their prayers to the Lord for His blessing, He revealed to Rebekah that she would be the mother of twins. He also revealed His will that, contrary to the customary order, her firstborn twin would serve the younger (Gen 25:19-26).

In chapter 27 we are surprised to read that the aged Isaac called his elder son Esau to prepare a special meal and bring it to him to receive the blessing of the first-born. Surely Isaac remembered the Lord’s will concerning the son who would receive the savior-promise. And, if aged Isaac was a bit forgetful, surely his faithful, believing wife, Rebekah, would consider it her sacred duty to remind her husband of the Lord’s will and promise — to Jacob, not to Esau.

Instead of such expected behavior, we are confused and dismayed by Isaac’s determination to do otherwise than the Lord had said; and by Rebekah’s deceitful plot to gain the precious savior-promise for her son Jacob. Furthermore, where was Jacob’s trust in the Lord’s will and its fulfillment? Did the Lord need the deceitful and lying assistance of mortals to accomplish His will?

We blush with shame to read of the account of our believing ancestors as they go their way and use their devices to circumvent the will of the Lord. (Yet, the blush quickly fades to a lack of color as we remind ourselves of the many, many times we have chosen to “go our own way” to “do our own thing”, and somehow circumvent the will of the Lord concerning us. Oh Lord have mercy!)

Believers pray: “Thy will be done” and indeed the will of God is always done. So with Jacob of old. Because of Esau’s anger and intention to kill Jacob, Rebekah arranged to have him go to her brother’s house in distant Haran. Isaac also called for Jacob and blessed him with the blessing of Abraham, directing him to go to Haran. There Jacob was to find a believing wife to be his helper as they together carried on the promise of the coming Savior.

To equip Jacob for this journey of faith, the Lord would teach him anew that he could trust God’s promises. To that end the Lord repeated the words of the Messianic promise through Isaac: “May God Almighty… give you and your descendants the blessing of Abraham!” (Hebrews 11:20 adds the note that “by faith Isaac blessed Jacob.”)

The Lord would also repeat the promise directly to Jacob on his way to Haran (a journey of some 500 miles). As Jacob was along his way to Haran, tired and alone, he stopped to rest. With a stone for a pillow he went to sleep. And the Lord prepared an audiovisual lesson for him: “He had a dream in which he saw a stairway set up on the earth. Its top reached up to heaven and Gods angels were going up and down on it. And the Lord stood above it. ‘I am the Lord’ He said… and in you, that is in your Descendant, all the people on the earth will blessed.”

Jacob woke and named the place Bethel (the house of God). He arose to continue his journey to Haran with the added security from God: “…I am with you and watch over you everywhere you go and will bring you to this country”.

Learning To Despair Of Self

The account of Jacob’s arrival at Haran and his life under Laban is recorded in chapter 29. There Jacob learns to despair of self and look to the Lord. Laban was a greedy man and sought to take advantage of Jacob at every opportunity. He deceived Jacob after he worked for Laban seven years to gain the hand of Rachel, Laban’s daughter in marriage. Laban gave him his daughter Leah instead. Jacob worked another seven years for his beloved Rachel and won her. When the Lord observed that Leah was the less-loved wife He blessed her with four sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. The name Judah signifies “praise”. Judah became the ancestor of King David and of the Savior, Jesus.

Jacob was being taught to know by faith: despite the treachery of evil Laban, God’s will was always done. The Lord was with Jacob! — No matter what Laban did to take advantage of Jacob, the Lord saw to it that Jacob always came away the the material blessings.

Thus the Lord was training and schooling Jacob to trust in His gracious promises, to lean upon Him in every time of need, and to avoid resorting to his own schemes for accomplishing what God had already promised. All this was done for the sake of the savior- promise, that generations to the end of time “might have hope”.

Hallelujah to Jesus who died on the tree And has raised up a stairway of mercy for me!

— Prof Gordon Radtke

As Jacob with travel was weary one day, At night on a stone for a pillow he lay; He saw in a vision a stairway so high That its base was on earth and its top in the sky.

This stairway can never no never be made By man with his might for his cunning is vain; But God in His love has revealed the One Way By which man can leave darkness and come to God’s day.

The love of the Father invites to ascend; His spirit gives faith through the Word to this end, That mankind so base might arise from the dust To the mansions prepared by the Savior above.

O joy We arrive at the stairway to Home, Tis Jesus who is the One Way to that goal. With hearts full of love with the angels we sing: Praise God for His stairway we live now with Him!