Read: Genesis 28:10-29:14
Focus: Genesis 28:13, 15, 20-22
13 At the top of the stairway stood the Lord, and he said, “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants.
15 What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.”
20 Then Jacob made this vow: “If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if he will provide me with food and clothing, 21 and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the Lord will certainly be my God. 22 And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me.”
Genesis 28 is an exciting chapter. I didn’t realize it at first (because I always combine these names together) but, we get to read through the origin of the phrase, “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” that we see so often in the Bible.
Starting in verse 10 we get to see Jacob encounter God in dream. When he wakes from that dream, he is not only amazed but somewhat frightened. That seems to happen often when people encounter God. Nonetheless, Jacob, in response to what God says, makes some conditional declarations at the end of the chapter. Specifically three. “I will…”
1. Make the Lord my God.
2. Worship God at the memorial pillar.
3. Give God a tenth of all He gives me.
If we read back, we’ll hopefully see that these three very interesting declarations are seemingly an echo of the lives of Abraham and Isaac.
Firstly, in verse 13, we see that God identifies himself to Jacob as “the LORD.” Rightly so. God is the Creator of the universe and that name is aptly applied. However, God clarifies who He is a little further.
“I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac…”
Notice that God didn’t say, “I am the Lord YOUR God.” No. He stated only that He was the God of Abraham and Isaac. (Note: God makes a similar statement to Isaac in chapter 26.) It’s apparent here, and confirmed by Jacob in verse 21, that Jacob has not yet chosen the LORD as the God he serves. His later declaration (that he will make the Lord his God) is conditional because he hadn’t had a chance to see God’s faithfulness in action. To give a couple short examples: Abraham was able to see God’s faithfulness in providing the ram. Isaac was able to see God’s faithfulness in providing a well. It was now Jacob’s turn to see God’s faithfulness in this journey and make a decision.
Secondly, we see Jacob’s declaration of worship. He takes the stone on which he laid and makes a memorial out of it. A place to remember the promise of God and worship Him for His faithfulness. We see the same thing happen with Abraham in chapter 22 after God provides the ram in Isaac’s stead. Abraham sacrifices the ram and names the place “Yaweh-Yireh” which means, “the Lord will provide.” And he does this to remember what God has done. We see a similar thing happen with Isaac when he names the well in chapter 26.
Lastly, the tithe. Now I’m not going to be getting into depth with tithing here. That’s for another time (and hopefully another writer). I will say, however, that this declaration is interesting because it was made before the Law was established. Why is that interesting? Because the idea of tithing had to come from somewhere else. Namely, Jacob’s father and grandfather. And although we don’t see too much regarding the tithe before the Law, we have to assume (simply because this account exists) that tithing was a somewhat normal practice – at least for this family.
So, what’s my point? Simply this: Our children, and/or those who look up to us, learn how to serve God through seeing us serve Him. Let’s teach them well.
Lord, help me serve You in a way that brings those around me closer to You. Let my children see Your faithfulness in my life as well as my response to Your faithfulness. Instill it in them and let them forever improve upon what they have seen. In Jesus’ name. Amen.