I know today’s not Tuesday and that yes, yes…I’ve been awfully delinquent with my Truth Tuesday posts. But I have been enjoying things in the Word; I just haven’t had time to write them down and before I know it, another Tuesday has come and gone.
So this portion of enjoyment is actually from a couple weeks ago. I’ve slowly been working my way through the Life-study of Genesis (I took a break for a while, but now I’m back on track!). I’ve read through the life of Abraham and Isaac and now I’m in the real meaty part of Genesis – the story of the life of Jacob. And what a story it is. I think Christians may sometimes tend to uplift people in the Bible like Abraham, Isaac, or Moses, but Jacob? Not so much. From the womb it was clear that Jacob was a clever trickster, hence his name which means “supplanter” or “heel holder.” Unlike David or Daniel, he wasn’t the kind of person you’d want your kids to emulate. He tricked his brother Esau not once, but twice, out of his birthright and his father’s blessing (although the second time he had some help from Rebekah, his dear mother). As a result he was forced to run away from home and ended up at the house of his uncle Laban. Unlike his father Isaac, Jacob’s life was a life of sufferings and dealings, some brought on by his own mistakes and some arranged by God’s sovereign hand. He suffered under the hand of Laban, who was even trickier than him. I’m sure you are all familiar with the story of how Jacob worked for Rachel but got Leah instead. He had numerous dealings when it came to his wives and children (can you imagine having twelve sons?). I would definitely not envy such a life. But at the end of the book of Genesis (which I haven’t gotten to yet), Jacob is a fully transformed person. In fact, he is no longer Jacob, but Israel. We see a maturity in this man that was not there in his father Isaac or even his grandfather Abraham. He started out a conniving and sly person who always had a back up plan, and ended up a transformed person who was fully accepting of his circumstances and environment. In the beginning he’s striving to grasp the blessings, but in the end, he’s the one who blesses even Pharaoh. What hope that gives us all! Our sufferings and dealings are not in vain, but if we love God, they will work together for good to produce more growth of the divine element in us (Romans 8:28).
Anyways, that’s just all background. What I really enjoyed a couple weeks ago in my reading was that a big turning point in Jacob’s life was in Genesis 28:10-22. Here Jacob had just run away from his parent’s house and is in a strange place by himself with no where to rest. When night comes, he takes a stone and lays it under his head as a pillow. Curious, isn’t it? Why a stone? Why not a pile of leaves or dirt, or some soft grass? A stone doesn’t seem to be that comfortable to lay your head on. But it’s very significant. A stone is solid, not man-made, and if you read in other portions of the Word, you’ll see that Christ is the real stone and God wants to transform us all from men of clay to living stones. Jacob realized that he couldn’t trust or find rest in his natural resourcefulness, his conniving ways, but that the only rest for him was to lay on this stone. In our experience we all come to a time when we’re lonely, out of ideas, don’t know where we are or where to go. It’s at this time that we need to lay our head on Christ as our stone. He becomes our real rest and satisfaction.
It’s at this point that Jacob also first meets God. He has a dream of a ladder with angels ascending and descending upon it and Jehovah Himself speaks to Jacob from above the ladder. God promises to be with him and to keep him as He was with his father and grandfather. When he wakes up, Jacob takes the very stone he rested on and sets it up as a pillar and calls the place Bethel, the house of God. How wonderful! The pillow becomes a pillar! The very Christ we experience as our rest and satisfaction becomes the material God uses for building His house. To us this stone is a pillow, but to God, this stone is a pillar for His house. As we journey on in our human life and Christian life, which may be full of sufferings and dealings as Jacob’s was, I hope we would all have this experience of meeting God at Bethel. If we know Christ as this stone pillow/pillar, then whatever happens to us will work for our good to make us the real Israel of God.