"THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD UNRECOGNIZED"
Intro. Jacob is fleeing for his life. He has deceived his father and received the blessing that his father intended for Esau, his twin brother. Esau has consoled himself with the thought that as soon as his father dies, he will kill Jacob. The evening of the first day of his flight has brought him all the way to Bethel. Bone tired and weary, he uses a rock for a pillow and immediately falls into a deep sleep.
I. THE DREAM OF JACOB.
A. A long hard journey, a guilty conscience, and a rock for a pillow these are the ingredients that make for dreams.
B. There was a ladder set up on the earth and the top of it reached into heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending upon it.
1. The Lord stood at the top of the ladder and He spoke to Jacob these words.
2. "I am Jehovah, the God of your father Abraham, and the God of Issac. I will give to you the land where you are laying and to your descendants. Your descendants will be in number as the the sand of the sea. You will spread to the West and East, the North and the South. And through your seed, all of the nations of the earth shall be blessed. Behold I am with you, and will in all keep you in all places, I will bring you again into this land, and I will not leave you until I have accomplished all the things I have promised to you."
a. Basically God is repeating to Jacob the covenant that He had made with his grandfather Abraham. And even adding to it.
b. The promise of the land.
c. The promise of an incredible number of descendants.
d. That the Messiah would come through his linage.
e. The promise to be with him in this journey he is taking.
f. The promise to bring him one day back into this land.
g. The promise not to leave him until he had accomplished all these things.
3. Peter speaks of the exceedingly rich and precious promises.
II. JACOB'S AWAKENING CONSCIOUSNESS. "TRULY THE LORD IS IN THIS PLACE, AND I KNEW IT NOT."
A. Last night when I arrived at this rocky barren desolate place, there was nothing here to suggest to me the presence of the Lord.
B. Let me say that Bethel is one of the most rocky desolate places I have ever seen.
C. Usually we are reminded of the Lord's presence when we watch how He paints the sky with beautiful colors at sunset.
D. We are reminded of the presence of the Lord when we watch the pounding surf on one of the beaches of Hawaii.
E. When we stand in the forest looking at the thundering waterfalls in Yosemite.
D. Nothing like that at Bethel. It looks like a god-forsaken place.
F. Note the "I knew it not."
1. Last night when I arrived I was not conscious of God's presence.
2. I was filled with fear and anxiety.
3. Behind me, hopefully far behind me is a brother who wants to kill me.
4. Ahead of me is a long journey with an uncertain future.
5. He was sort of stuck between the fear of the past, and the fear of the future.
6. Up to this point, this was probably the darkest hour of his entire life.
G. It is significant to me that in the darkest night of his life, that God chose to reveal Himself to him.
1. It is sad but true, that often we do not really find the comfort of the presence of God until all of our earthly crutches are taken away.
2. That horrible dread of the future. I cannot see how I am ever going to survive. I feel so helpless, my life seems to be spinning out of control, I am weary, I am tired, I can't take another step. Often that is the hour that the Lord chooses to reveal Himself to us.
H. I wonder why it is that it often takes some great tragedy in our lives to bring us the consciousness of God?
1. Jacob was a very resourceful person.
2. He was willing to take advantage of another persons weakness.
3. He was able to pull off a ruse to get what he wanted.
4. It seemed he didn't need God, he was able get by on his own.
5. But God brought him to the end of his resources, he could not bargain his way out of this situation.
6. All of the cunning in the world will not appease the wrath of his brother.
H. Jacob must have felt quite forsaken. He must flee from the security of his family, there is nothing that suggests the presence of God in this desolate place. Perhaps there was the thought, "How can I, when I am so sinful and guilty ever hope to touch God?"
1. The dream of the ladder that reaches to heaven, angels ascending into heaven from the earth and descending from heaven to the earth on this ladder.
2. Jehovah stands at the top of the ladder to speak to him words of assurance, comfort and hope.
3. Jacob said, "How awesome is this place, this is the house of God, the gate to heaven."
I. In the New Testament we have interesting words of Jesus that relate to this dream of Jacob. Jesus was speaking to Nathanael.
And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
1. Jesus is saying that there is a ladder that links heaven with earth, and that he is that ladder.
2. Through Jesus access has been opened for sinful, guilty man to reach heaven.
III. WHERE ARE YOU TODAY?
A. Like Jacob, have you been trying to run away from your problems?
1. Has the past finally caught up with you?
2. Have you come to the end of your resources?
3. Are you weary and tired of running?
4. Does it seem that God is far removed from your life?
5. That is just where Jacob was when he had his first true encounter with God.
6. He had known of God, his father and grandfather had walked with God, but he had never had his own personal encounter with God.
7. It took the darkness of his circumstances for him to see the light.
8. It took the despair and fear to bring him to the hope.
B. Does he live happily ever after?
1. No, he is still Jacob, he will still use his cunning to take advantage of others.
2. Even here, he strikes a deal with God.
And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put [for] his pillows, and set it up [for] a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.
And he called the name of that place Beth-el:
And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,
So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:
And this stone, which I have set [for] a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.
3. There is still more work to be done in his life to root out the old nature of Jacob and bring him to a full surrender that he might become Israel.