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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, March 15, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Genesis 28:10–22

Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the Lord stood beside him and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that you give me I will surely give one tenth to you.” (NRSV)

Jacob is ready for a good night’s sleep. He traveled a long distance from Beersheba on his way to Haran. He finds a stone upon which to place his head and rest.

In today’s familiar text, God selects this particular evening to come to Jacob in a very vivid and far-reaching dream. A ladder with God’s angels ascending and descending extends from the earth where Jacob rests up to heaven where God speaks to him.

God gives Jacob a huge promise that God will freely hand over to Jacob and his descendants the land upon which Jacob is resting and that they should spread through the vast earth. God pledges that God will bless them, be with them, and watch over them. In the end, when Jacob’s work is done, God assures him that God will bring Jacob back to the land where he currently rests.

The next morning, Jacob is surprised that God was in this place and came to him in this amazing dream. How incredible is the promise that God made! Jacob anoints the rock upon which he rests and names the place Bethel. He trusts the Lord with the formidable task he is given and sets forth with an end goal of returning one tenth of which he has been given.

This seems like a huge leap of faith for God to impart such a widespread command on a servant who was going about life. Do we need a similar jolt from God? Do we need to become more aware of the Lord’s strong confidence in us and of God’s desire for our becoming God’s greater servant?

Dear God, please awaken me with a gentle nudge or a stronger message to learn of your will for my greater service in your kingdom. Amen.

Written by Pamela Block, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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