Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

 Title: Finding God for Yourself

 

Introduction

The last time we studied Jacob’s life we saw him doing one of the most despicable things a man can do. 

He did it at the request of his mother. 

You know, sometimes people excuse themselves for being mean by saying it was because their mother didn’t love them when they were little. 

Believe me, Jacob couldn’t say that. 

Jacob was loved and spoiled. 

However, when he was asked to do something that was not the honorable thing to do, he did it. 

He stole the birthright from his brother even though the birthright was already his. 

The formality of his father giving a blessing wasn’t necessary at all. 

Abraham hadn’t given the blessing to Isaac—God had! 

And it is God who gave it to Jacob. 

His trickery was not only unnecessary, but God will deal with him because of it, you can be sure of that.

It is because of this trickery that his brother hates him, so his mother conceives a plan to save him from his brother’s wrath.

The plan that Rebekah has now thought of is plausible and logical. 

It was probably the right thing to do in this case. 

She didn’t mention to Isaac that she wanted to send Jacob to her brother so that he would get away from the wrath of  his brother Esau, but she did mention the fact that he could choose a wife back there from among her family. 

Isaac liked the idea, so we read…

Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, and charged him, and said to him: “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan.”

All the way through the Old Testament we find that God does not want the godly to marry with the ungodly. 

And the New Testament tells Christians that they are not to be unequally yoked. 

For example, it says in 2 Corinthians, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” 

Intermarriage between believers and unbelievers is something that God strictly forbids. 

Then Isaac said to Jacob…

Arise, go to Padan Aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and take yourself a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother.  “May God Almighty bless you, And make you fruitful and multiply you, That you may be an assembly of peoples; And give you the blessing of Abraham, To you and your descendants with you, That you may inherit the land In which you are a stranger, Which God gave to Abraham.”

It is obvious now that Isaac understands that God had given the blessing to Abraham, that God had transferred it to him, and that the blessing is to be passed on to his son, Jacob.

So Isaac sent Jacob away, and he went to Padan Aram, to Laban the son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau.  Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Padan Aram to take himself a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan,” and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and had gone to Padan Aram.  Also Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please his father Isaac.  So Esau went to Ishmael and took Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife in addition to the wives he had.

Esau goes and marries a daughter of Ishmael. 

He thinks it will please his father.

But now let’s see how Jacob is doing.

Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran.  So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep.

The place he has come to is Bethel. 

The name literally means, “the House of God.” 

Bethel is twelve miles north of Jerusalem and the home which Jacob left was probably twenty-five or thirty miles south of Jerusalem. 

This means that Jacob covered at least forty miles that first day. 

You can see that he was really hotfooting it away from Esau. 

He wants to get as far from him as he can, but the farther he gets away from Esau, the farther he gets away from home.

Jacob is a man now, a pretty big boy, but I think he is homesick. 

This is the first time he is away from Rebekah. 

He has been tied to his mama’s apron strings all of his life, and now he is untied. 

He is out on his own and this is his first time away from home.

Notice what happens. 

He lies down and puts stones for pillows. 

Bethel is a dreary place. 

It has been described as highlands with large, bare rocks exposed. 

It’s twelve hundred feet above sea level, in the hills. 

Next, we are told that Jacob fell asleep…

Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.  And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.  Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Now God is giving to Jacob exactly what He had given first to Abraham; He had repeated it to Isaac, and now he confirms it, and He reaffirms to Jacob that He will do this.

Then God said, “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”

You can see that this would be comforting and helpful to a lonesome, homesick boy who really had to leave home in a hurry. 

He is on his way to a far country, and this first night God says to him, “I’m going to be with you, Jacob, and I’m going to bring you back to this land.”

The vision that God gave to him in the dream was of a ladder that reached up to heaven. 

What does the ladder mean? 

The ladder is Christ. 

The angels are ascending and descending upon the Son of Man. 

The angels ministered to Him; they were subject to His command. 

The Lord Jesus said, “…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me.” 

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the ladder—not one that we can climb, but one that we can trust.

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”  And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”

When Jacob ran away from home, he had a limited view of God. 

He thought that when he ran away from home, he was running away from God, also. 

But he found that he had not left God at home. 

He exclaimed, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 

 Next we read…

Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it.  And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously.

Now listen to Jacob. 

He has a lot to learn, and this is evidence of it.

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God.”

What is he doing? 

He wants to trade with God. 

He says, “Now God, if You will do this for me…” 

But God has already told him that He is going to do every one of these things for him. 

He already told Jacob, “I am going to keep you; I am going to bring you back to this land; I am going to give you this land; and I am going to give you offspring.” 

Then Jacob turns around and bargains with Him, “If you will do it, then I’ll serve you.”

God doesn’t do business with us that away. 

He didn’t do business that way with Jacob either. 

If He had, Jacob would never have made it back to the land. 

God brought him back into the land by His grace and mercy. 

When Jacob did finally come back to Bethel, he came back a wiser man. 

Do you know what he came back to do? 

To worship and praise God for His mercy. 

God had been merciful to him. 

Now, here is the rest of his vow…

“And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

So Jacob erects this stone. 

He is trying to make a deal with God! 

And a great many of us are trying to make a deal with God. 

But listen friends, He just wants to become your Father through faith in Christ.

That is the story of Jacob’s first encounter with God, and it changed the course of his life. 

That is the background for today’s message.

I want to ask a question, “Do you find God or does God find you?” 

In a sense it works both ways. 

When an outstanding evangelist asked a young boy, “Have you found Jesus?” the lad replied, “Mister, I didn’t know Jesus was lost.” 

Of course, Jesus is not lost. 

But on the other hand, Jesus is lost to us if we don’t know Him. 

Today’s scripture reading tells how a young man, away from home for perhaps the first time, discovered God for himself—an experience that surpassed any previous knowledge he may have had of the Lord. 

Jacob may have made it all the way to Bethel his first night away from home. 

Remember, he is fleeing from Esau and he is a young man. 

He probably traveled light and fast.

The spot he chose to spend the night was the sight of an old Canaanite worship place. 

God, however, used this location as a sanctuary for His glory. 

Our Lord can always give new meaning to old things, and He delights in transforming the ungodly into something or someone that will bring praise to His name.

Jacob had a marvelous dream that night and awoke to find that his life had new meaning. 

For perhaps the first time in his life, God was real to him. 

This firsthand experience transformed him and sent him on his way to Haran with a new attitude toward life and changed goals. 

Some great lessons come to us from this great experience.

The first lesson is that we often find God in unlikely places.

Moses found God in a burning bush, but Jacob found Him in an old Canaanite sanctuary. 

We usually associate the occasion of being born again with a formal church meeting, a revival, or some other religious assembly. 

Indeed, these are all good places. 

On the other hand, people have also been convicted of their sins while they were at a place that was seemingly not conductive to spiritual encounters. 

Of course, a previous experience at worship or a previous testimony by a friend may have paved the way for this experience occurring in an unlikely place. 

The point is God can speak to anyone anywhere He chooses. 

We cannot limit God nor rigidly define how He will do His work in the world.

The second thing that we can learn from this story of Jacob is that sometimes it helps to get away from home.

Jacob’s family environment was not the best. 

His mother, as best as we can understand the biblical record, tried to do his thinking for him. 

When this happens, a young person often needs to get away for a while and become his or her own person. 

We should remember, of course, that leaving home is not necessary for all children because not all parents “operate” the same way. 

In Jacob’s case, however, he needed to find out “who he was”; and what better way than a quiet place where God could speak to him.

Third, we can see from this story, that making a hasty commitment can be immature.

We generally don’t like to find fault with the great biblical characters, but the Bible presents them as they were, “warts and all.” 

We must be honest enough to admit that Jacob’s vow was not a completely mature Christian commitment. 

For instance, it was too “iffy” and was based on the fact that God would bless him. 

He said, “If God will be with me, and will help 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.”

Mature Christians know that you do not bargain with God in promising to be dedicated. 

God does not always give us the things we want and think we need. 

Our promise to be faithful to God should not be based on the fact that God gives us plenty. 

Some great Christians have been called to suffer tremendously but have still maintained their faith in God. 

If we take Jacob’s vow literally, he would not have been obligated to serve God or bring the tenth to Him until God brought him back safely to his father’s home, which did not happen until twenty years later. 

We should be careful about what we promise God.

The last thing to see is that God accepts us as we are.

The glorious thing about Jacob’s experience and our own is that God is willing to receive us and bless us even when our understanding of Him is inadequate or immature. 

Someone has said that becoming a Christian is surrendering as much of ourselves as we understand today to as much of Jesus as we understand today. 

How true! 

God blessed Jacob even though his understanding of divine things was far from perfect.

 

Conclusion

All of our motives are mingled. 

A lost person cannot expect to understand everything about the Christian faith at the beginning. 

Spiritual birth requires growth and development much the same as physical birth. 

Jacob learned much about God at Bethel, but he had more to learn as he faced the experiences before him. 

So do we!

 

Contact Us

 There are 5 websites by this author:

http://harmonyofthegospels.yolasite.com (Life of Christ)

http://teachingsermonsforpastorsandlaymen.yolasite.com (sermons)

http://theepistlesofpaul.yolasite.com (Titus and Jude)

http://paulsepistletotheromans.yolasite.com (Romans)

http://theperiodofthejudges.yolasite.com (Judges

Please review them and use them as the Lord leads you.

May God bless His precious word!!

Make a Free Website with Yola.