Jacob, who ran from his older brother, Esau, had a doozy of a dream, too, which came on the heels of his father’s blessing (“May God give you of heaven's dew and of earth's richness—an abundance of grain and new wine. May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.”)
At the end of a weary day of running, the sun settled on the fugitive. Jacob plumped up a stone and rested his head, drifting into a fitful sleep, his father’s blessing fresh in his mind. He dreamt of a stairway rising to heaven with angels ascending and descending on it. And then God spoke to the sleeping Jacob:
"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.”
Think about it. Jacob had maliciously stolen his brother’s birthright and blessing, and yet, God chose to bless him—unconditionally.
"Surely the Lord is in this place and I was not aware of it,” uttered an awed Jacob. “…This is none other than the house of God…the gate of heaven.” Jacob then took the stone on which he had rested his head, set it up as a pillar, and named the place Bethel (House of God).
Unable to fully comprehend God’s grace, nor fully trust the divine promise, Jacob made his commitment to the God of Grace conditional: "If God will:
· be with me,
· watch over me on this journey,
· give me food to eat and clothes to wear, and
· return [me] safely to my father's house,
then the Lord will be my God.”
How often do I put conditions on my commitments to God? More often than I would like to admit—like, maybe, 99.9% of the time!
“You are a chosen people…a people belonging to God.”
1 Peter 2:9 NIV