Introduction::A key idea in today's Sunday School material is God passes the blessings of Abraham and Isaac onto to Jacob. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to live by the promises of God.
Read Genesis 28:1a
I. Isaac Blesses. In our Sunday School material Isaac called for his son. His son's name was Jacob. Isaac blessed Jacob. The commentator does a good job of providing background for this part of a verse.
- Blessing our children. Notice in vs. 1a that Isaac blessed his son, Jacob. A point for us to live by is that parents ought to strive to bless their children.
Parents can bless their children by raising them to be mature Christian adults, praying for them, and leaving an inheritance to them and their children.
“Mature Christian adults” include nurturing good habits related to health, finances, relationships, and more. Let’s work on blessing our children.
Read Genesis 28:10-15
II. Jacob Dreams. In our Sunday School material Jacob set out for Haran. On the way, he fell asleep and received a dream. He saw angels of God going up and down a ladder from Earth to Heaven.
The Lord was at the top. The Lord assured Jacob that He would keep the covenant made with Abraham.
- Dreams. Notice in vs. 12 of the Sunday School material that God spoke to Jacob in a dream. On one hand, God can do whatever He wants to do including speaking by way of a dream.
On the other hand, since God is not the author of confusion and because He has inspired the writing of the Bible, we should be careful about putting more confidence in what we believe God is saying through a dream than what He is saying through the Bible.
The best way to know God and His will for our live is to prayerfully study the Bible. God may give us details about how to carryout out His will by way of dreams, advisors, circumstances, and the like.
But be careful of any idea that leads you contrary to God’s word. Let’s work on prayerfully discerning and obeying God’s will.
- Seeking God’s will. Notice in vs. 13 of our Sunday School material that as fascinating as the angels going up and down the ladder may be, the major point is that the Lord stands at the top of the ladder with a word for Jacob.
Since God wants us to be doers of His word, we should find ourselves looking for the “verbs.” That is, we should be looking for what does God want me to do, in light of what I discern to be His talking to me.
Let’s work on seeking God’s will for our lives, instead of being distracted by those things that we really don’t understand.
- The promises of God. Notice in vss. 13-15 of the Sunday School material that God reaffirms His covenant. First, God notes that He is the same God who was the God of Abraham and Isaac.
There ought to be some comfort to us, as we think about how the God that we serve is the same God who took care of Adam, Eve, Abraham, David, the Apostles, the Early Church, and our African and African American fore parents.
And He is the same God who will take of our children and children’s children.
Second, God will honor His promise to provide land, descendants, and blessings for others through Abraham’s decedents, which in this case includes Jacob and his descendants.
It is good to know that God keeps His promises, in spite of our human limitations. It is good to know that God can supply more than we need.
Third, notice that a part of God’s will was not only to bless Jacob’s descendants but to make them a blessing to others.
In like manner, God blesses us so that we can be blessed and so we can be a blessing to others. Let’s live like we appreciate the faithful promises of God. Such living should include obedience and enthusiastic praise.
Read Genesis 28:16-22
III. Jacob Reacts. In our Sunday School material when Jacob awoke, he was both amazed and afraid. He called the place Bethel, in honor of God meeting him there. He promised allegiance to God, if God would take care of him. He promises a tithe to the Lord.
- Overcoming fear. Notice in vss. 16-17 that Jacob was aware of God’s presence and he was afraid. On one hand, the awesomeness of God is fear inspiring. The power of God, the largeness of God, and the wisdom of God are all intimidating.
But on the other hand, we are called to walk by faith, not by sight or fear. The best way to deal with fear is to keep walking by faith, in spite of what you see and feel. Let’s work on overcoming our fear with faith-based actions.
- Reverence God more than place. Notice in vs. 17 that Jacob gives significant attention to the place. The place is important. Think about how the church house should be treated and maintained like it belongs to God. But the presence of God is even more important than the place.
When we put more emphasis on place than on God, we run the risk of making the place an idol. Let’s work on honoring places in ways that ultimately reverences God.
God is not pleased when we make a big deal out of being in His sanctuary and then dishonor Him by not worshipping Him, robbing Him of His tithes and offerings, and not giving our best in service.
- Renaming. Notice in vss. 18-19 of the Sunday School material that Jacob re-named the place called Luz to Bethel. In like manner, we have the marvelous capacity to rename, reframe, and re-interpret what happens in our lives.
We have the power to make today the first day of the rest of our lives. We have the power to make this Sunday the Sunday that we decided to trust and obey God at a higher level.
Let’s work on naming, framing, and interpreting what is going on in our lives in ways that glorify God. The symbolic stone memorials with oil are helpful to the extent that they help us obey God.
Symbolic rituals and wardrobes are not as impressive to God as simply obeying Him.
- Faithfulness instead of bargaining. Notice in vss. 20-22 that Jacob makes a vow unto the Lord. The essence of the vow is that if God would provide safety and provision then Jacob would provide allegiance to God, build a house for God, and tithe unto God.
On one hand, we should not bargain with God. We should not say that we will obey, if and only if, God does what we expect of Him. God is not obligated to dance by our music or meet our demands.
On the other hand, the more God blesses us, the more obligated we should feel towards obeying Him and giving to Him. Notice the tithe of gratitude and love, before the law and its requirements.
Let’s work on being faithful to God, instead of bargaining with Him. If God doesn’t do anything else we want Him to do, we could never repay Him for all that He has already done.
Conclusion: Let’s work on living by the promises of God. God has much for those who obey His will.
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