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The call of Jacob Genesis 28
The call of Jacob
Genesis 28

For the last couple of weeks we have been considering the life and call of Abraham. This morning we are going to jump forward and consider the life and call of Jacob (Abraham's grandson).

-The account of Jacob and his sons, stretches from Genesis 25 through Genesis 50.
-Jacob's birth, like his fathers, was a Divine work (for his mother was unable to have children. See Genesis 25:21)
-Jacob was a twin (he being the younger by mere minutes)
-Jacob's brother was named Esau (Esau was incredibly hairy-- and this is also what his name means). Esau was favored by his father. Jacob was smooth skinned and liked to stay amongst the tents with his mother.
-The Bible tells us that Jacob and Esau struggled in the womb (the Bible tells us that Rebekah inquired of the LORD about this and was told that two nations were in her womb and that they would be at odds with each other). This came to pass
-When Jacob came out of the womb he was holding onto his brothers heel - and so he got his name "Jacob" which means grasper of the heel. It also figuratively means deceiver (and that he was)

Before becoming a follower of God, Jacob was not a good guy.

The fact is, he was a low down, conniving, back stabbing, rip off artist.

For example, one day his brother came home empty handed from the fields-- having caught nothing. Being hungry - and in his mind, on the verge of starving --he asked Jacob for some stew. Jacob said to him that he would sell him some stew in exchange for the family birthright.

------The Birthright came with a double portion of the family estate, rule and authority over the other family members, one being the head of the house

-Esau despised his birthright and sold it for a bowl of stew! WORST DEAL EVER. Bad on both of them

Another example of Jacob not being a good guy, before becoming a follower of God is found in Genesis 27. In this passage Isaac- Jacob's father, thinking that he was old and might die soon, decides to pass on a special blessing to Esau. Rebekah (Isaac's wife) heard about this and decided that she wanted Jacob to receive it-- and so she cooked up a plan to fool Isaac (who was now blind) into giving the blessing to Jacob.

While Jacob got the blessing, his and his mother's conniving got him in big trouble with Esau. Esau was so angry that he was heard to say that when dad died that he was going to kill his brother Jacob. Hearing of this, Jacob's mother hatched a plan to save Jacob's life-- on the pretense of finding a suitable wife, Jacob was to leave and go back to her homeland to her brothers house to get a wife.

With Isaacs blessing (now freely given) Jacob was sent by his father to go back to Paddan Aram (500-600 miles away) to get a wife who was not of Caananite descendant (and here we remember that his father had done the very same thing for him)

Such leads us to the pivotal point of Jacob's life-- his being called and blessed by God in Genesis 28- occurring in a most remarkable fashion.


Note as reading: Esau's half hearted attempt to "right" his wrong of marrying two Canaanite women, by marrying a daughter of Ishmael was a fail (for Ishmael was not of the line of promise). Esau's action betrays where his heart was at but also sheds some light on the parenting of Isaac and Rebekah -- who obviously did not take enough time when Jacob and Esau were young, to instruct them in God's ways)


1. Jacob's call came at a moment of crisis in his life

His life was in danger. Such was self inflicted danger. Up to this point in his life, pretty much everything he did was for himself- and it always came back to get him.

Interesting: For some, their journey to Christ and faith is by a crisis, accompanied by their "hitting rock bottom". Such is not the case for all people though-- for God's call comes in all circumstances of life--- such is the work of the Holy Spirit.

2. As is the case for all people, Jacob did not deserve or merit the grace, mercy, forgiveness, promises, and love of God that was lavished upon Him

As for our unworthiness, Romans 3:23 says "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"

I John 4:10 also reminds of this; "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us exactly what we need to know about the salvation of any person, saying; "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast."

We all come to God as sinners and wretches who do not merit God's forgiveness and salvation-- and yet in Christ, he forgives and reconciles to Himself each one who calls in faith and repentance upon the name of Christ.

3. God's call of Jacob was accompanied by some amazing promises v.13-15

God's amazing promises to Jacob

Protection, Presence, Provision, Promises for the future

a. This land v.13
b. Many descendants v.14
c. All peoples on earth blessed through him and his offspring. Fulfilled in Christ and his coming v.14
d. His presence "I am with you" "I will not leave you" v.15.
e. His protection "I will watch over you". v.15

Interesting: Before leaving, Isaac had prayed that Jacob would receive these promises-- the very ones given to him and to Abraham before him (Genesis 28:4).

God's giving of these promises to Jacob showed him to be the seed and line of promise.

Further application

-God keeps his promises. They do not fail. Have faith in God. Esau's anger and murderous intent did not thwart God's promises. Jacob's future father in law did not hinder God. The opposition of the Phillistines did not stand in God's way.
-With God's call in a persons life comes many great and precious promises. To us today- we are promised the forgiveness of sins, eternal life, Heaven as our home, Christ as our Advocate, the help and protection of God, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the meeting of all our needs, strength to overcome temptation, comfort and peace that passes all understanding when we look to Him

4. God's call of Jacob bore fruit. v.16-22

In James 2:17 we are told that faith without works is dead. Hence, spiritual fruit-wrought by the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit- in a person's life is a mark of true salvation.

God's personal encounter with Jacob wrought immediate fruit. The fruit of awe, fear, wonder, worship, action, and commitment.

Note: He set up the stone he had slept on as a stone of remembrance, renaming the place "Bethel"-- which means the house of God

Side note:

-For many 100's of years Bethel was a worship centre. In the end it became corrupted though.
-Jacob's anointing of the stone became a practice copied in other religions. People came to think that such was a means of inducing their gods to take up residence in such places. Furthermore, Kings often sat on seats of polished stone. The stone was anointed to invite the deity to reside there that true judgment might be given and a righteous sentence pronounced.
-While Jacob thought of Bethel as the gate of heaven, the fact is that God is omnipresent, He is not a local deity. He is all powerful, all present, the Creator and sustainer of all and He reveals Himself where He wants and to whom He wants

More on Jacob's transformation

In Christian speak, we would call this moment in Jacob's life his conversion. Such was when he went from being apart from God to personally following God and knowing him

A note on his vow of commitment

Some quibble with Jacob's phraseology "if God will be with me...." thinking that Jacob's declaration of faith is a conditional one

-It's possible to insert the word "since" in the text.
-either way, Jacob's life was forever changed by God that day. Before, it was all about Him, now God is part of his life

Note how tithing is not just a matter of the law. v.22

-Giving ten person of ones increase in the worship and service of God is a practice that pre-dates the law and was not refuted by Christ. Such is our reasonable act of worship to God.

God is not to get the scraps when it comes to our giving. Giving to the Lord's work is not to be an afterthought on our parts. We are to offer him the first portion of our earnings and increase-- given in praise and worship.

5. The transforming work that God did in the life of Jacob: God does the same today in the lives of those whom He calls to himself

-Over the rest of his life God trained and shaped Jacob into a great man of God
-When a person is "born again" (John 3) they become a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
-No longer are we the same person.
-Our eternal destination is very different (Heaven, not Hell).
-By the Holy Spirit's indwelling, combined with our intake of the Word and cooperation with God-- we are fit for Heaven.

While God's work takes the rest of our lives and sometimes takes a bunch of twists and turns-- our standing in Christ is secure--- for He who began a good work in us will carry it on to the day of completion. Philippians 1:6.

6. Jesus is the fulfillment of Jacob's dream

Read the account of Jesus Calling Philip and Nathanael in John 1:43-51

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, "Follow me." Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote-Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. "Come and see," said Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit." "How do you know me?" Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you." Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel." Jesus said, "You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that." He then added, "Very truly I tell you, you will see 'heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on' the Son of Man."

The connection between Jacob's ladder and Jesus' words to Nathaniel is this

-it seems that Nathaniel had been meditating on the call of Jacob and wondering about the meaning of the ladder from Heaven
-***Jesus' point to the Nathaniel is this: He is the ladder. He is the means by which Heaven comes down to us and by which we can go to Heaven. He is the bridge between God and man. He is the way to Heaven. Hence in John 14:6 Jesus says; "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Point: Jesus is the way to Heaven. He is the only way and the only Savior-- put your faith in Christ as Savior and Lord.