The Rock and the Hard Place
Jacob was on his way to his mother’s family home. He stopped for the night to rest. During the night God confirmed the covenant that He made with Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham.
“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” (Genesis 28:13-14, NIV).
Interesting note that God didn’t say that He was the God of Jacob. He was, because He is God over all—and He wasn’t. Jacob wasn’t ready to submit to God yet. In fact, Jacob couldn’t have cared any less for the generational blessing that God was confirming with him. Jacob, typical of all that he had done to this moment in supplanting his brother and lying to his father, was only concerned about himself.
Jacob’s spiritual journey was beginning. This vision gained him a God-consciousness that he doesn’t seem to have had prior to this experience (Genesis 28:17). Here in Bethel, he built his first altar.
But he wasn’t “there” yet, fully committed, fully aware that he wasn’t the center of the universe. Notice his vow to God: “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 house, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth” (Genesis 28:20-22, NIV).
Jacob wasn’t concerned with the covenant or future generations. He only cared about himself. He bargained with God, demanding that God act first and then, if he was satisfied with the results, he’d respond accordingly. That isn’t the way it works with God. We obey and then God acts.The mercy of God caused the Almighty to overlook the impudence and He blessed Jacob anyway—for the sake of the future generations that Jacob was ignoring, and for Jacob’s sake too. His journey to faith and obedience was just beginning. It was going to be, as it had been, a rocky road—some people choose to live their lives out doing things the hard way. But God, patient and merciful, continued to move the man toward the goal.
He's faithful even when we aren't.