What an awesome place this is! It is none other
than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven.
My pastor, Cal, talked about this passage on Sunday. He said that when Jacob left home, he probably wasn’t on the best terms with God. Was he a prodigal or indifferent to God? We don’t really know. We know that his parents were Isaac and Rebekah and that he had a twin brother, Esau. We know that his grandparents were Abraham and Sarah. He had a rich spiritual heritage. We also know that his father favored Esau, the oldest son, and by birthright he would receive the inheritance. Except he sold his birthright to Jacob one day for some stew because he was famished. Rebekah may have remembered what the Lord said to her before the twins were born, “The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son (Gen. 25:23). When she told Jacob to deceive his father was she trying to take matters into her own hands and do the work of God for him? It looks like it.
Regardless of how it all came about, Jacob had to leave because when Esau found out what Jacob had done, he began plotting how he would kill him. Esau had sold his birthright so I’m not sure why he was so upset. When he sold his birthright, he gave up all rights as the firstborn (25:33). But now it seems as if Isaac was plotting to give the blessing to Esau. So much deception going on in one family. So I would say it’s a fair assumption that Jacob was not on the best terms with God when he left, but make no mistake, he knew about God. Think about the story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac, Jacob’s father. I’m sure he was familiar with that story. Just like many of our prodigals, he was raised to fear God; Jacob knew God could be known. But was he living on the faith of his parents? Had he ever truly made that faith his own? Had he ever experienced God for himself? Maybe not.
But that was about to change. When he left, he began his journey to his Uncle Laban’s house in Paddan-aram. It was approximately 600 miles away and would have taken him about a month to get there. About four days in to his journey, he stopped for the night at a place called Luz. And there he had an encounter with God that changed his life. He renamed the place Bethel which means ‘House of God’. He said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” (28:16). This place was a gateway between heaven and earth. This encounter was how God chose to visit Jacob.
Today, we are the gateway because Christ lives in us. And every time we pray or reach out in love in the name of Jesus, we bring heaven to earth. It is our part to stay connected to God so He can live through us. It’s always tricky to know how best to connect with our prodigals. We already love them, but what do they see? What do we see when we look at them? Ask God to show you what He had in mind when He created them. He will show you. He wants to reveal His truth to you. He wants to use you to encourage your prodigal, but we must be willing to listen to God and realize it might look different than we think it should. For some of you, it might mean persevering in prayer or accepting them for who they are at this point in their journey without ever bringing up the spiritual. God may have someone or something else in mind or there may still be work going on behind the scenes softening their hearts. But for some of you, God might want to use you to speak into their lives—He may have a message He wants them to hear from you and you will only know what to say or do if you are listening and staying connected to the One who has the right message. Believe that God wants to release His goodness through you but again, it might not look the way you think it will so staying connected to God and listening to Him is of utmost importance. God knows what He is doing and since He loves them more than we do, we can trust Him.