Genesis 27-28: Encountering God
January 11, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Jacob, the deceiver, well-named, now deceives Isaac at the prompting and urging of his mother (27:1-29). Is this a mother playing favorites? Or is it a mother trying to ensure that what God had promised regarding Jacob as the seed-bearer for the promise of God would actually come true? Either way Isaac is wrongfully deceived, as is Esau (27:30-41). It is arguable that having randomly despised his birthright, this blessing—the blessing given to the oldest son and attached to the birthright—had already in effect been removed anyway. Perhaps Isaac was trying to give Esau a blessing through the back door to inappropriately reinsert Esau’s heritage after he had despised it.
At any rate, old and blind Isaac (27:1) is readily deceived (27:35). He blesses Isaac (27:27-29), has no blessing of primogeniture to give to Esau afterwards (27:37-40), and Esau is naturally enough furious (27:41). He does not quite understand his own anger, nor is he quite honest when he says that Jacob had taken away his birthright (27:36)—he had lamely surrendered all on his own (Gen. 25:29-34).
Rebekah learns of Esau’s fury and counsels Jacob to flee and go to live with her brother Laban (27:42-45). She maneuvers to get Isaac to send Jacob on his way with a blessing (27:46-28:5). Esau realizes belatedly that it matters to his parents whom he marries, and whether they are part of the covenant, decides to marry in the line of Abraham, but still through Ishmael (28:6-9).
Then we come to the famous “Jacob’s ladder” (28:10-17) The best interpretation of this is by Jesus. In John’s Gospel, Jesus says that on the “Son of Man” (himself) there will be angels descending and ascending (John 1:51). In other words, Jesus is the true “Jacob’s ladder,” the portal to heaven, the holy place, the place where we can access God. The LORD stood above or beside the ladder (28:13), this ladder which Jacob did not ascend by his own efforts of moral perfection, but by which God graciously descended to him. Jacob responds in worship and remembrance, and the journey of his maturity is beginning (28:16-22). He has encountered God.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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