I Grew Up In Church But, ...
I Grew Up In Church but, Jacob Meets His Father’s God
The Patriarch Jacob was like many who grew up in the church. He knew about God. He'd watched his parents worship and build their lives around the biblical faith. He wasn't opposed to it. He kind of believed it too. But in reality, Jacob had not really come to God himself. If the truth were told, he was simply coasting off his father's faith.
Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran.  And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep.  And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!  And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring.  Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.  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 promised you.”  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.” So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it.  He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first.  Then Jacob made 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 clothing to wear,  so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God,  and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.” Genesis 28:10–22 (ESV)
Do you fear God? Do we as Christians and as a Christian church fear God? Should believers fear God? Didn’t Jesus die so that we wouldn’t have to fear God anymore? What does it mean to fear God? Are there different kinds of fear toward God? Can we fear God and rejoice in His love simultaneously?
Expositors generally agree that the central theme in this story is the reality of the ongoing activity of God on earth for His glory and the good of His people. This work of God is ever-present. God’s invisible supervision on behalf of His people never ceases. God never sleeps nor does He pause His work in this world. His angelic agents are furiously and faithfully executing, defending, answering, protecting, and carrying out the will of the King of Heaven twenty-four hours a day.
Jacob, as well as every one of us, never left or ceased to be in God’s presence but he (Jacob) was very often unaware of it. Nor had this lack of awareness made his belief in the God of his fathers, Abraham and Isaac, be invalid or insincere. But, as with Job, Jacob had not, up to this point, experienced the presence of God as intimately as he did here at Beth-el. Scripture says here that when Jacob awoke he was “afraid” and exclaimed that this place was “awesome” because God was there and he did not know it. At once let us acknowledge together that the importance of the place was secondary to the Person. This spot was important to Jacob because the “Almighty God” had met with him there. The terms “afraid” and “awesome” literally mean “dread” in the sense of trembling awe and veneration.
Whether or not this is Jacob’s conversion remains to be proven but what we can agree on is that it was emphatically here at Beth-el that Jacob met God, “the Fear of Isaac” his father (Genesis 31:42). After truly meeting God, for Himself, his worship of God was forever changed. Perhaps you have worshipped God from afar, through a parent or grandparent when if you were, to be honest, you really haven’t come to God yourself. When we are young, we learn about God from the adults in our lives but there comes a time when we must meet God ourselves to be saved. It is fearful but it is life-changing.
Genesis 28:10-22; Psalm 31:19; 128; Acts 9:31
Love you all,