Genesis 28


‘So, Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him: ‘Do not marry a Canaanite woman. Go at once to Paddan Aram, to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.’ Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau. Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him, he commanded him, ‘Do not marry a Canaanite woman,’ and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram. Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; so, he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.’ Genesis 28:1-9

Although Isaac wasn’t aware of Rebekah’s deceitful plans, it seems that he is right with God again and so, he lets his son go to get a wife. Sadly, this was the last time Jacob was going to see his parents alive. The blessings and promise of land and a seed are passed on to Jacob, Genesis 12:1-3. Abraham, Isaac and then Jacob, the promises are being passed on as God promised.

For Esau, it seems like he always had a difficult time pleasing his father. He simply didn’t understand that it was because of his behaviour, he liked to keep company with ungodly people, especially ungodly women and because of this, he couldn’t live in faith as his father did. Esau adds to his wives by marrying others but notice that it seems he’s trying to get back into his father’s good books by marrying a non-Canaanite woman named, Mahalath.

‘Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD, and he said: ‘I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’ When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, ‘Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.’ He was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.’ Genesis 28:10-17

After a trip of around 300 miles, Jacob is about experience something miraculous, something he simply wasn’t expecting. I would imagine he’s feeling isolated and scared and tired from the long journey. He took a stone, using it as a pillow and fell asleep and whilst sleeping he dreamt of a stairway resting on the earth but reaching heaven.

The stairway was symbolising a connection between heaven and earth. This stairway is the access to heaven, Jesus uses this event to share the same important truth, John 1:51, Jesus is the way, he doesn’t show the way, John 14:6, Jesus is our access to heaven. God has provided us with access to heaven, through Jesus and Jesus only.

The angels who seem to act as messengers between God and man, or guardian angels, Hebrews 1:14, are ascending and descending. We would think that they would be descending and ascending, in other words, coming down from heaven to earth but they’re not.

The purpose of the event was to reassure Jacob that through him the promises made to Abraham would be continued, Genesis 12:1-3, but more importantly to remind him that God is present wherever he goes, Psalm 139:7.

God speaks words of comfort and repeats the covenant promises to Jacob and this was going to be a life-changing experience for Jacob, Philippians 1:6.

Jacob after he awakes proceeds to worship God and puts emphasis on this place, saying ‘this is the house of God’.

‘Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.’ Genesis 28:18-22

Notice that Jacob did three things after his dream

1. Jacob set up the stone he used for a pillow and anointed it with oil to memorialise the location.

Over the years all kinds of theories have come about concerning this stone. Some suggest it was taken to Jerusalem, some suggest it was taken to Spain, others suggest it was taken to Ireland, and still others claim it was taken to Scotland, upon which, the Kings of Scotland sat to be crowned.

Even today in Scotland they claim this stone is kept at the now-ruined Scone Abbey in Scone, near Perth, Scotland.

2. Jacob changed the name from Luz to Bethel.

A little later in Genesis God, Himself when he’s speaking to Jacob calls Himself, the God of Bethel, Genesis 31:13. Bethel was later to become a high place for idolatry, 1 Kings 13:32 / Hosea 10:15 / Amos 4:4.

3. Jacob made a vow to return to God a tenth of those blessings that would come his way by the blessing of God.

Interestingly, this is only the second time that tithing in the Old Testament has been mentioned, the other being in the instance of Abraham’s tithes to Melchizedek, Genesis 14:20 / Hebrews 7:2.

Notice that Jacob made a vow with God, after the event, in other words, it’s possible that he didn’t fully trust God up to this point. Maybe it’s now a case of seeing is believing, Philippians 4:13, Nahum 1:7.

God is teaching him and will continue to teach him lessons on humility.

Notice the following:

God’s Promise. Genesis 28:13-15 Jacob’s Vow. Genesis 28:20-27 I am the Lord your God If God will be with me I will give to you And keep me I am with you In this way, I am going I will not leave you Give me bread and clothing (Until all has been done) So that I come back to my father’s land

Please note that God is still willing to accept him, even after his worldly prayer. What a merciful and loving God we serve.

Go To Genesis 29



"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us."