#1 “The Lord Is With You” Series
"THE LORD IS WITH YOU IN THE LAND!"
TEXT: Genesis 28:10-22
INTRO: The story is told about a father who gave his son a difficult puzzle for a birthday present. Some of the pieces were dark and odd shaped, some looked like they would go together, but they wouldn't! The father watched for hours as his son tried to put the puzzle all together but the boy got nowhere! Finally frustrated, his son pushed the puzzle toward his father and challenged him to try it. To the son’s amazement the father put it together in just a few moments of time! Then his father explained why he was able to do it when his son couldn't ... "You see, son, I knew what the entire picture was suppose to look like already ... you only saw pieces, but I knew what the whole picture looked like."
This is so true about us too; we go through life only seeing pieces of our life at a time and we often can't figure out how our life in Christ goes together, we often can’t see how one part fits in with another part and we might even question whether God is good or cares at all! Yet, our heavenly Father sees the whole picture and He knows that it all fits together ... even when we throw up our hands and are discouraged and frustrated because we can't seem to put the pieces of it together into a coherent picture!
PROP. SENT: One of the great truths of the Bible is God's promise to be with us in everything, and everywhere we go! Even when we don't feel His presence or see how anything good can come from the trials we are undergoing He is being faithful to us and is very present in our lives ... trust Him even when you feel unsure!
I. WEARY REALITY! 28:10-11
A. Troubles 28:10
1. This trip by Jacob was hardly pleasant!
a. He was weary from the trip, a physically difficult time, and an emotionally difficult time.
b. He had left his mother because she had warned him that his brother Esau had plans to kill him! The long term jealousies that existed between he and his brother were coming to a head.
c. He had cheated and lied to his father and now was traveling to Haran for a wife to honor his father's request, his dad was not far from dying, he probably felt this would help restore their relationship and would honor his father’s dying request!
d. This trip likely meant that he never again saw his mother alive; it appears that she died before he returned home again almost 25 years later!
e. He came from a very dysfunctional family, his father favored his older brother Esau, and his mother favored him ... this caused terrible jealousies in the family and even hurt the marriage of his parents! It created a huge divide between them as brothers.
f. This was a home where family members lied to each other, stole from each other, plotted to hurt one another, and as a result they were afraid and on the run a lot!
2. To say the least, Jacob was a very troubled man facing very uncertain things, including an uncertain future!
3. He demonstrated the dynamics of fear, discouragement, disappointment, deception, etc. – life was hardly rosy! He is just trying to survive and make it in this life!
a. This was hardly the picture of vibrant faith we ascribe to him! What Jacob needed was a renewed sense of God's presence in his life!
b. This is true with us when we are facing troubles and find ourselves scared and unsure of what the future holds, when discouragement seeps in and pushes faith aside!
4. It just seems there are times when nothing goes right and we wonder what or where God is!
ILLUS: Like a bricklayer who had a tough day on the job and was hurt. His insurance company wrote him for more information about the incident since his injuries seemed so extensive. He wrote back the following: "I am writing in response for your request for more information, in block #3 on the accident report I put I was hurt because "I was trying to do the job alone." You wanted an explanation as to how this caused my accident ... I hope the following will help explain the situation: I am a bricklayer by trade, the date I was hurt I was working alone on the roof of a new 6 story building. When I completed my work I discovered that I had about 500 pounds of brick left over to carry down. Rather than carry them by hand in several trips, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley which fortunately was attached to the side of the building at the 6th floor. Securing the rope at ground level I went up to the roof, swung the barrel out and loaded it with the 500 pounds of brick. Then I went back to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tightly to insure a slow descent of the 500 pounds of bricks ... you will note in block #11 of the accident report that my weight is 135 pounds. Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rather rapid rate up the side of the building. In the vicinity of the 3rd floor I met the barrel coming down; this explains my fractured skull and broken collarbone. Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were knuckles deep into the pulley at the top of the 6th floor. Fortunately, by this time I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope in spite of my pain ... however at the same moment the barrel which had hit the bottom with the bricks in it had the bottom break out of it. Devoid of the bricks now the barrel then weighed only about 50 pounds. I again refer you to block #11 on the report that records my weight as 135 pounds. As you might have guessed, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building still holding onto the rope. In the vicinity of the 3rd floor I again met the barrel but this time it was coming up ... this accounts for the 2 fractured ankles and the lacerations of my legs and lower body. The encounter with the barrel slowed me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell onto the pile of bricks and, fortunately, only 3 vertebrae were cracked when I landed on them. I am sorry, however, to report that as I lay there on the bricks, in pain and unable to stand and looking at the empty barrel 6 stories above me that I again lost my presences of mind, and I let go of the rope I was holding still. The empty barrel weighed more than the rope so it came down upon me and broke both my legs. I hope this information you asked for explains how working alone caused so much extensive injuries. – Source Unknown
5. In reality, there are those moments in life when it seems that nothing goes right and life can press in on us.
B. Tired! 28:11
1. All the terrible trials Jacob had gone through must have left him tired and wondering about God and faith ... even though he was responsible for much of his own trouble!
2. Out in no-man's land he settles down tired and afraid. Perhaps he wondered, "Where is the God of my grandfather Abraham and my father Isaac?"
a. He had heard so much of how God had been with his Grandfather and his dad but he was wondering why God wasn't with him like He was with them?
b. Perhaps he wondered if God really was what he had been told all his life He is.
3. It is one thing to hear about God helping others and something else to experience Him helping you yourself! Nobody gets to heaven on someone else’s’ faith ... they must have their own!
4. With all the trouble Jacob was experiencing God was about to reveal Himself personally to Jacob – and Jacob needed it!!
II. WONDERFUL REVELATIONS! 28:12-15
A. Therapeutic! 28:12-14
1. God is about to change Jacob's life and faith, God allows him to dream a very special dream:
a. He sees a stairway resting on earth near where he is sleeping reaching all the way into heaven. On this stairway there were angels going and coming constantly, at the top stood the Lord Himself.
b. God then speaks to him personally.
2. God clearly tells Jacob of His intention to always be with Jacob throughout his entire lifetime: God says, "I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go,”
a. This was not just a promise from God about property or land!
b. It was assurance by God to be with HIM SPECIFICALLY and HIS CHILDREN no matter where they travel to or from! (Read verse 15)
B. Treaty 28:15
1. God makes a deal with Jacob, in spite of all Jacob's failures and sins God loves Him and has plans for Him, he just needs to trust Him as God!
2. This was a new understanding about God's love for him.
ILLUS: C.S. Lewis once wrote: "On the whole, God's love for us is a much safer subject to think about than our love for Him." How right he is! – Source Unknown
3. God's promise here is airtight! Jacob wasn’t running through life alone or without help ... the constant movement of the angels showed that! Though Jacob had never seen these angels ascending and descending before clearly this activity had been going on all the time.
a. It also revealed something new for
him ... God wasn't just some local god; He was anywhere we happen to be! Even here in the desert on the way to
b. He now too realized God was watching over him constantly, the top of heaven was open and God stood there watching him, he just never realized it so fully before!
c. Fortunately for him God still loved him and sought his best in life in spite of his many failures and fears!
4. No doubt new hope and courage came from this revelation; new security was built in his heart!
5. All the while he had struggled to flee from death, his brother trying to kill him, running from despair, leaving home, uncertain of the future ... and yet God was right there all the time, he just didn't realize God’s help was that close!
ILLUS: A young boy was doing his best to lift a huge heavy rock that was much too large for him. He grunted and puffed, but to no avail. He tried all kinds of methods and tricks and still nothing. Finally in frustration he said to his father who was watching all this nearby, “Dad, I can't move this thing no matter what I do, nothing works!” To this his father asked, “Are you sure you have tried everything ... have you used every resource at your disposal?” The boy couldn't believe his own father's comment, he said, “You yourself watched ... how can you ask that question? I've tried everything!” The father responded, “No my son you haven't, you haven't asked me for help!” Suddenly the boy realized how silly he was for ignoring his own father's strength even though he had been present the whole time ... how like this we are with God! – Source Unknown
III. WORSHIP RESPONSES! 28:16-22
A. Transformation! 28:16-17
1. Jacob WAKES UP! Both physically and spiritually!
a. God is actually there where he is, and he wasn't aware of God's presence before this vision!
b. He decides that this place should
be called, "
2. He is transformed from fear to faith, he takes the rock he used as a pillow and transforms it into a monument to God's presence, a visible reminder that this is God's House!
a. You will notice that building a monument called "God's House" isn't enough, he anoints it with oil too; no church is God's house without the Spirit's anointing on it!
b. Jacob will never be the same again from this encounter with God!
c. When you really encounter God you will never be the same again!
3. Jacob vows to follow God the rest of his life if God promises to be with him in the land!
a. Yes we live in tough times, sin
abounds everywhere, sometimes it seems like God no longer blesses
b. Jacob will always have a special place in his life for BETHEL, GOD'S HOUSE!
c. Jacob traveling to this territory now named Bethel would be more than just another stop ... GOD'S HOUSE will always be a dynamic place of meeting with God and being reminded that God will always be with him!
d. No longer is his relationship to God just something his family had ... it is something HE has now!
4. Jacob found transformation real ... a commitment to GOD, GOD'S HOUSE, and to GIVING!
a. Note that a commitment to God's House and God included giving a tithe!!!
b. This by the way was before the Law of Moses prescribes this figure!
c. Like his grandfather Abraham who also tithed in recognition of God's presence in the land, Jacob too honors God with a tithe as evidence that he really is transformed!
d. Transformed people don’t have a problem with giving!
B. Testimony 28:22
1. Jacob now has a TESTIMONY, HIS OWN -- HE HAS HAD A REAL EXPERIENCE WITH GOD HIMSELF!
a. Do you have a testimony about God ... or do you only have an intellectual idea about God?
b. Is your relationship with God only a family tradition, or is it your own?
c. Has being a Christian transformed your life into a really dynamic servant of God or is going to God's house just a social exercise?
d. GOD IS WITH US IN THE LAND!
2. Each of us can have our own testimony.
CONCLUSION: Jacob was running scared, unsure of his future, tired, and full of troubles. In this state of mind God reveals to him a great truth often missed by us too. God promises to be with him, no matter where he is at! Jacob discovers God in the most unlikely place under great duress ... and when he realizes God is with him in the land he is transformed into a great man of God!