Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

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Jacob and Esau: Round trip from Bethel

February 1st, 2009 by Vic

Genesis 25-36

God met Jacob at Bethel and promised to give him the land when he returns to this place.  But it takes over 40 years for Jacob to remember God’s promise.

Have you noticed that whatever goes around comes around?  It seems that God has tried to tell us many ways that whatever you sow, you also reap.  If you sow wild oats, the bread you make will be bitter.  When we ignore God’s laws of gravity, we hurt ourselves.  When we ignore God’s moral laws, we self-destruct.  When we forget God’s promises we are overcome with fear.  One stupid decision can change the direction of the rest of our life.

25:27  Jacob and Esau were unidentical twins.  Jacob was smooth GQ kind of man.  Esau was a Field and Stream kind of man’s man.

Jacob was cooking.  Esau was really hungry.

Jacob was planning.  Esau was focused on the immediate.

The eldest son received a double portion of the inheritance so he could take responsibility for the care of the family and servants.  Esau did not have any desire to take care of anyone else.  He despised his birthright and sold it to Jacob for a tasty meal.  But we will see in chapter 27 that he still wanted the blessing.  He did not care about the birthright, but he wanted the blessing.

There are a couple lessons here.

Esau represents the world.  They want the blessing of God without knowing the ways of God, without having a relationship with God.  This big tough Esau cried when there was no blessing for him.  (1) You can’t have the blessing without the birthright.  You must be born again.  You need Jesus in your heart to receive God’s blessing in your life.

(2) Esau traded a lifetime gift for a short term appetite.  Don’t be deceived.  All of Satan’s temptations are for the now.  You can have bread now.  You can have instant thrills now.  You can have power now.  The one little fling costs a lot more than you think.  Remember Samson?  He was a Nazarite from birth.  A dead lion carcass was unclean for him.  Wine for forbidden for him.  One little thing led to another.  And it cost him his life.

That one snide remark costs a lot more than you think.  But you can’t resist Satan on your own.  You can’t control your tongue.  You can’t control your appetite.  Paul asks the right question in Romans 7, “Who is able to deliver me?”

(3) Patience is hard to learn.  We don’t need to help God work things out.  Jacob and Rebekah should have let the Lord put the promises together in His time.

26:1-35  We looked at this chapter last week.  Isaac was trying to settle in the land of the Philistines, but God brought him back to Beersheba.

27:1  The last couple verses in 26 tell us that Esau married wives without his parents help.  Isaac and Rebekah failed to find wives for their elder son and they suffered for it.  Esau did not know that his parents were not pleased.

When the father dies, he is to call all his children to his side.

27:36  Jacob had bought the birthright and now he takes the blessing.

28:1  Isaac blesses Jacob and sends him off to Paddan Aram to get a wife.

28:8  Now Esau realizes Isaac’s feelings about his wives.  There was a tragic lack of communication.

Jacob had the birthright and the blessing, but had to leave town.  He leaves Beersheba and got to Bethel the first day.  He did not find a youth hostel.  He was a rich kid, but slept in an open field.  What had he brought along?  The Hebrew literally says he took some stones and put them round his head.  He uses one stone the next morning for a pillar, but not necessarily a pillow.  Stones hold the heat of the day.  Maybe the stones were a shield from the wind?  Maybe he was trying to punish himself and he did sleep on a rock.

He did not build an altar.  He did not pray and seek God.  He just went to sleep and had a dream.  He saw a stairway from earth to heaven.  Angels of God were going up and down.

Look at John 1:51.  Jesus is talking to Nathanael.  He promises Nathanael he will see the reality of Jacobs dream.  The Son of Man is the stairs.

Jesus came to Jacob like a ladder.  Jacob is running away from his brother, trying to get some rest and Jesus appears.  Jesus is the contact point between earth and heaven, God and man.  God said, I love you.  I am with you.  I am going to bless you.  You will be a blessing to all the families of the earth.  I will go with you and bring you back to this exact address.

Are you running from something?  Why isn’t God mad at you?  There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.  He was punished for your sin.  God wants you to receive His forgiveness.  He wants to bless you and make you a blessing.

Jacob woke up and declared that place must be the house of God, the gate of heaven, Bethel.  Jacob made a vow, confirmed the vow with a stone, and promised a tithe.

This may be Jacob’s first night away from home.  He’s looking over his shoulder for his brother.  And for the first time in recorded history, God says, “I am really with you and will protect you and bring you back to this place.”  This promise of God was his motivation to worship.

God met Jacob at Bethel and promised to give him the land when he returns to this place.  But it takes over 40 years for Jacob to remember God’s promise.

29:1 Jacob finds a community center near Haran.  He is kind of arrogant and rash with the shepherds.  It doesn’t make sense to him that they were just hanging around the well, wasting time, and not accomplishing anything.  Jacob points out their problem.  They tell Jacob, “We have different ways of doing things here.”

In Trinidad, I stopped to ask a fellow walking along the road to confirm the address I was looking for.  He said, “First tell me hello.”  In New Zealand we had a major construction project and the Maori fellow in the church was just going around visiting with the people who had come from the states to help us build this church.  I noticed what was going on and asked Dennis when he was going to get to work.  He said, “I want to get to know these people first.”

Jacob takes charge.  He saw Rachel coming and single-handedly rolled the stone from the well.

Jacob hangs out with Laban for a month.  It sounds like Laban is being fair, but the words used in the agreement suggest that he was exploiting Jacob.  Jacob was in love.  Love is patient.  Lust is in a hurry.  His dad told him to get a wife.  He did not read the fine print in Laban’s contract.  Laban never names the daughter he intends to give Jacob.

29:20 Jacob works 7 years.  He is tricked.  Brides were heavily veiled.  He was frustrated and angry.  He had planted seeds of deceit with his brother and father, now he is reaping deceit.  He thought he was getting away from the consequences of his deceit.  Gal 6:7 says God is not fooled.  Whatever you saw, you will reap.

The seeds I plant in my life determine the harvest I reap.  What kind of seeds am I sowing?  Am I sowing to the flesh or the spirit?

Externally we can sow seeds of hatred and bitterness.  The harvest comes quickly on the freeway.  The sins you get most angry about in others may be in you.  We blame ‘them’ but what am I doing?  When we sin it messes us up.  Your sin will find you out.

Think of good ways to sow seed.  Write a kind note.  Do a random act of kindness.

Internally we sow seeds and display fruit in our attitudes.  What kind of seed are you taking in?  What fruit is that producing?  What do you do when no one will find out?  What songs are you listening to?  What words are sticking in your mind?  God’s word is good seed.  Your heart is soil.  Overcome evil with good.

29:26  We have different ways of doing things here.  Jacob, the heel grabber who wanted to be first, now receives the first.   When I read this story, I feel sorry for Leah.  She was handicapped.  She was hard to look at.  Leah assumed that having a son would heal her marriage.  But only God can heal your relationship.  Leah has 4 sons, then 2 more sons and a daughter.

30:1  Rachel envied her sister.  It is not always easy to rejoice with those who rejoice.  To blame her husband is a slap in God’s face.  Children are a gift from God.  She decides to help God and use a surrogate mother.  Leah says anything she can do I can do better.

Mandrakes were a rare yellowish plum sized fruit.  They were considered a love apple.  Maybe Rachel thought these would help her get pregnant.  But it is the Lord who gives children.  The one who did not eat the apples got pregnant.

30:22  It has been 7 years, then God remembered Rachel and she had a son, Joseph.  She asks God for another son and dies while giving birth to Benjamin.

God only gave one wife to Adam.  All the polygamous marriages in Genesis turn out to be trouble.

30:25  After Rachel had Joseph, Jacob had a longing to go home.  Laban says, “wait.”  He could see that God was blessing him through Jacob’s service.  Jacob did what he did well and Laban noticed.

30:34  They agreed on wages and Laban quickly sent his sons to get all the speckled, spotted and striped in the flock 3 days away.  Jacob did not panic at Laban’s trickery.  He just trusted God.

31:1  And God gave Jacob the strongest in the herd.  Jacob did selective breeding.  Laban realized he had made a bad deal.  Their relationship became strained.  Jacob heard the jealousy.  He had outstayed him welcome.  Laban had lowered his wages 10 times.

Jacob testifies that God did not allow Laban to hurt me.  God took away Laban’s cattle and gave them to me.  God did it.

31:13 God reminded him that He was the God of Bethel.  Return to me and live.  We do not have a Bethel experience every day.

Jacob called a family meeting with his wives.

31:16  Whatever God has said, do it.  Do what God told you.

It is easier to listen to other people and influences rather than God.  Don’t listen to teachers, doctors, counselors, pastors, talk radio, etc.  If you are weak and heavy laden, come to Jesus.  He gives rest to your soul.  Seek God.  Does he give you peace about doing what you are thinking about.  Before taking medicines, pray.  Don’t leave God out of your decisions.  Our culture is trying to tell us what to do and what is acceptable.  Have you ever met a happy homosexual?  You won’t.  There is pleasure in sin for a season, but it turns to gravel in the stomach.  God did not make us that way.  It will hurt you.

The world says, if it feels good, do it.  What a mess we are in.  Be sure your sins will find you out.

Cults effectively create group numbing.  They do not listen to God nor want to.

Whatever God says, do it.  Search the Scriptures.  Is it in harmony with God’s word?

In Acts 5:29  The leaders were saying, don’t preach in Jesus name.  Don’t pray in schools.  Don’t spank your kids.  Accept homosexuality.  These leaders were afraid and said stop preaching.

How many of you remember the last words of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the Bible?  John 2:5, “Whatever He tells you, do it.”  Do what God says.  There will be joy.  People around you will be blessed.  We are clay pots that receive living water and become a source of blessing to many.

31:20  They left while Laban and his sons were sheering the sheep that they had moved 3 days away in their attempt to cheat Jacob.

It took 7 days for Laban to catch up, but then God threatened him in a dream.  Laban had no intention of letting his daughters go, but tricky people will try to make you look wrong.  This is probably one of the top 10 stupid events in history.  The real God appears to Laban.  He has lost his idols and works hard to find them.  And Rachel is sitting on them during her menstrual period, making them as unclean as they could be.  If a god can be stolen, sat upon, and can’t speak, why worship it?

Do you have idols that can be stolen?  Do the chairs face any shrine in your home?

31:43  Laban had to get the last word it.  They built a warning witness to keep each other from cheating each other in the future.  The 3 turning points in Jacob’s live are marked by pillars, one here and 2 at Bethel.  Despite Jacob’s failures and self-seeking, God is keeping His promises.

32:1  Jacob prepares to meet Esau.  The Lord promised to protect him, but Jacob divided his family, hoping ½ would survive.

32:24  After making all his plans, Jacob wrestled with a man all night.  It is kind of like a dad wrestling with his kids.  When dawn came, the playing was over and God broke Jacobs will.  He put his hip out of joint.

When do you argue and wrestle with God?  Who’s going to win?  When will you stop fighting?  God wants to change your name.  He changed Jacob’s name and He softened Esau’s heart.

33:17 Jacob started to build houses, but God had called Abraham to be a pilgrim not a settler.

34:1 Jacob’s family is living in a place where they should not be living.  Shechem was not a godly city.  Jacob had a lot of time on his hands and did not know where his kids were.  Dinah was defiled and he did nothing about it, so Dinah’ brother’s took it upon themselves to bring revenge.

35:1 God says “Go back to Bethel.”  Go back to where you first met the Lord.  Go back to your first love.  Separate yourself from the world.

They had just destroyed a city and had all this loot.  Jacob tells his family to get rid of all the ungodly stuff you have collected.  Clean yourself up a bit.  Get rid of all those little sayings and ways that you have learned from hanging around ungodly people.

35:5 Jacob buried the gods and goods.

35:8 Jacob buried Deborah

35:19 Jacob buried Rachel

(35:22 Reuben defiled Rachel’s maid so Jacob would love his mom more)

35:29  Jacob is buried

36:1 The family of Esau settled in the area of Petra.  The Herod’s were the last of the Edomites.  Some Jews are planning to flee here during the tribulation.

Laban – we don’t hear about him again.  He was concerned about success, power, and money.

Rachel – was concerned about herself.  She sat on idols hoping they would prosper her.

Esau – still spontaneous, but more mellow.

Jacob – had to be disciplined by God to get back to Bethel.

Do you realize how stupid we can be?  Do you realize how forgetful we can be?  We celebrate communion to remember the new covenant.  Bethel, God’s house, can now be in us.  We remember the promises of God.  We remember the forgiveness we have received.  We remember the blessings we have received and the blessing we have been to others.  Let’s give thanks.

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