“Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the 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.” (Genesis 28:10 – 11)
The furor over Jacob taking his brother’s birthright and then the blessing that their father was supposed to bestow on Esau had reached a climax. Under the advice of their mother, Jacob fled his home and journeyed to their mother’s family. I want to remain mindful, beloved reader, that Jacob and Esau were brothers and came from Isaac, son of Abraham and therefore inheritors of their grandfather’s covenant with the Divine. Or should I say potential inheritors. What did it mean that Jacob slotted himself in the spot of being the eldest? Esau was older only by a few minutes. But Jacob in so many ways forged ahead in being the descendant that the covenant passed to.
“And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the LORD stood beside him 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; and 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 all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that 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.” (Verses 12 – 15)
Do you know your place in life, beloved reader? Do you know your earthly forebearers and your spiritual forebearers? Have their visions and dreams passed down to you? Isaac favored Esau, who I imagine he thought would be the future of the nation promised to his father Abraham. After all Esau was strong and ruddy, a natural leader of men, was he not? But we have no record of Esau hearing the voice and seeing the vision of the Divine. What set Jacob apart that the Lord God set to work in him? We might ask that of ourselves.
I know I have asked that of myself. What drives me in my life? What motivates me and moves me forward, especially when the way does not seem clear. Who am I that the Divine would look upon me and call me out?
“Then Jacob woke 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 Jacob rose early in the morning, and he 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 that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first.” (Verses 16 – 19a)
I think, beloved reader, part of the answer is that we seek out the Divine. Or we seek out the signs of the Divine. Jacob heard that his brother was threatening his life! He was not calmly setting out on a trip. He was running for his life! Might have he desired his brother’s birthright and his father’s blessing because he desired to be used by the Divine to further the vision given to his grandfather? What do you think, beloved reader? Supposing further, what do you think Esau would have made of such a dream? Knowing what little we know about him, do you think he would have set up an altar in recognition of such a dream? Or would he have passed it off as a mere nothing and continued hunting game? The Holy Spirit is all around us, beloved reader. It takes desire and intent to catch the glimpses of the Divine Presence, and endurance and stamina to pursue them. Jacob’s time of testing was still in the making.
So is our, beloved reader. These days are a time of testing. What will we hold on to? What will we let go of? And what, and where, will we raise an altar to in recognition of the Divine’s message to us? Shalom & Selah!