Blaine Robison, M.A.
Delivered 29 November 2014
NOTE: The Scripture text is taken from Messianic Jewish Family Bible: Tree of Life
Version, © 2014 by Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.
Jacob woke up from his sleep and said, “Undoubtedly, ADONAI
is in this place—and I was unaware.” 17 So he was afraid and
said, “How fearsome this place is! This is none other than the House of
God—this must be the gate of heaven!” 18 Early in the morning
Jacob got up and took the stone, which he had placed by his head, and
set it up as a memorial stone and poured oil on top of it. 19 He
called the name of that place Beth-El (though originally the city’s name
was Luz). 20 Then Jacob made a vow saying, 'If God will be with
me and watch over me on this way that I am going, and provide me food to
eat and clothes to wear, 21 and I return in shalom to my father’s
house, then ADONAI
will be my God. 22 So this stone which I set up as a memorial
stone will become God’s House, and of everything You provide me I will
definitely give a tenth of it to You.'" (Gen 28:16-22 TLV)
In order to properly understand the significance of our text we need to
first consider the larger context.
The chapter begins with Isaac blessing his son Jacob a second time and
giving him marriage advice, instructing him not to bring grief to his
parents by marrying a Canaanite woman as Esau had done. Isaac realized that
Rebecca had saved him from embarrassment before God. That's an important
ministry of wives. The blessing Isaac intended for Esau rightfully belonged
to Jacob. After all, God had chosen Jacob to be preeminent and to be the one
through whom the promise to Chavvah in the Garden of a Saving Seed would be
fulfilled. So, before he sent Jacob away to Haran, Isaac expressed a wish
prayer in verses 3-4 that emphasizes the promises God first made to Abraham:
to wit, that El Shaddai, the All-Sufficient One, would make Jacob fruitful
in descendants and a company of nations, and that he would possess the Land
El Shaddai gave to Abraham.
In verse 10 Jacob leaves his home in Beersheva, in the far south of the Land
and in verse 11 arrives at the same place where Abraham had built an altar
when he first arrived in Canaan. The site is located about 10 to 12 miles
north of Jerusalem. In verse 12 Jacob has a vivid dream of a ladder
stretching from earth to heaven with angels ascending and descending on it.
Yeshua alluded to this event in the Besorah
[John], chapter 1, but
substituted himself for the ladder. It may well be that the ascending
represents going up to worship and descending refers to going out to serve.
verses 13 through 15 Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey
appeared to Jacob in the dream and informed him that Isaac's wish would be
accomplished in an extravagant manner and made important covenantal
promises. The use of the name
Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey, in verse 13, verse 16 and verse 21 is significant.
Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey is none other
than Yeshua, Son of God and Son of Man. No one knows, of course, how the
sacred name is supposed to be pronounced, so I'm pronouncing it by the
Hebrew letters Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey.
The translations of "ADONAI," HaShem and "LORD" do not actually translate
Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey, which means
"I AM." Notice that Jacob saw
Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey standing. Since the time of the global flood Jacob is
only the fourth person after Abraham, Isaac and Hagar to actually see
In verse 16 Jacob awakens from his dream and responds to the promises he
just heard. He declares, "Surely
Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey is in this place." Jacob knew the story of his
father's encounter with
Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey, and so now he rejoices in having his own experience.
In verse 17 Jacob concludes that the site of his slumber was a special place
to God, thus deserving his awe and respect. Jacob referred to the place as a
house of God and "a gate of the heavens." By "house" Jacob does not mean a
physical structure, but simply a dwelling-place of God. By "gate" Jacob
means a place where one may enter into the presence of God. The term "gate"
also has a special meaning in relation to justice since in ancient times
kings administered justice at the city gates. These descriptions reminded
Jacob that God's covenant expressed in verses 13-15 would assure justice for
him. In verse 18 Jacob set up his stone pillow as a memorial marker and
anointed it with oil, making the place holy to
Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey. Then in
verse 19 Jacob coined the name Beit-El for the place of his revelation.
In verses 20 to 21 Jacob makes a solemn vow. We might be tempted to think
that since the vow begins with "if" Jacob is trying to negotiate with God.
However, two facts argue against that perception. First, the root meaning of
the Hebrew particle "if" is "surely" or "truly." Second, Jacob had just
received irrevocable covenantal promises from
Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey. So, Jacob
does not make a counter offer. Rather, he means, "Surely if you're going to
be with me and keep me and provide for me and bring me back to Beersheva,
then the least I can do is to make
Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey my God and dedicate this place for worship and
present tithes here of all that you give me. By making
Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey his God Jacob
meant that he would seek that excellence of character
Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey demanded of
Abraham in Genesis 17 and live according to the commandments of
Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey as Abraham
With regard to the fulfillment of this vow, we learn from Genesis 35:7 that
Jacob did indeed build an altar at Beit-El after returning with his large
family and herds. We can also assume that he gave the tenth of his goods to
God, by which he preserved the altar, presented burnt offerings and thank
offerings and provided for communal meals.
How may we apply this story to us? Consider this question. Since
is Yeshua, will we truly make Yeshua our God and live by the New Covenant
instruction that came from his mouth? Will we maintain our homes as dwelling
places of God and gateways for prayer? Will we be like the heavenly
messengers that not only worship the God of Jacob but go out to serve in our
world? And, will we demonstrate our commitment by the investment of our
time, talent and treasure into His Kingdom work?
Jacob's example shows the way to answer these questions.
Copyright © 2014 by
Blaine Robison. All rights reserved.