Enraged by Jacob’s deception, Esau plots to kill him. Rebekah warns Jacob, who flees to distant Paddan-aram. Along the way, he has a dream . . .
At the top of the stairway stood the Lord, and he said, “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions—to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.”
Bethel was sixty miles north of Beersheba, where Jacob left his family. This was where Abraham made one of his first sacrifices to God when he entered the land. Early on, Bethel became an important center for worship; later it was a center of idolatry. The prophet Hosea condemned the evil practices of its people.
God’s covenant promise to Abraham and Isaac was offered to Jacob as well. It was not enough to be Abraham’s grandson; Jacob had to establish his own personal relationship with God.
Was Jacob’s vow a bargain with God? It is possible that he, in his ignorance, thought of God as a servant who would wait on him for a promised tip. More likely, Jacob was not bargaining but pledging his future to God. He may have been saying, in effect, “Because you have blessed me, I will follow you.” Whether Jacob was bargaining or pledging, God blessed him.
God has no grandchildren; each person must have a personal relationship with him. Even if you have a godly heritage, simply hearing wonderful stories about Christians in your family is not enough. You need to become part of the story yourself (see Galatians 3:6-7). You are a link in your family’s chain of faith. Ask God to show you what you can do to pass on the faith to the next generation.