This blog post will cover the devotionals #129, 130 for Genesis Chapter 28.
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 Genesis 28:1-9
Isaac told Jacob not to marry a Canaanite, just as Abraham had told Eleazar not to take a Canaanite woman to be Isaac’s wife. When Esau heard Isaac tell Jacob not to marry a Canaanite (which Esau had already done), he decided to take a wife of Ishmael’s daughter, Mahalath, who was his ‘first cousin’ (there’s a ‘half’ in the relationship, since Isaac and Ishmael came from Abraham, but not the same matriarch). We know that Ishmael had married Egyptians, and that they brought much idolatry into the household, so we can imagine how Esau’s household would’ve been affected by his union with them. They mixed with the other heathen Canaanite women he’d already married, and his home was a recipe for falling further away from God’s ideal. He went down a path, never to return. Jacob, on the other hand, was determined to obey the commandments and requirements that were connected to the spiritual birthright he’d received. He had to marry within his own people—not idolaters. As we saw in devotional #127, Isaac sent him to the same house that his father had sent their servant to get himself a wife. He was very specific that he was to marry one of his cousins. In devotional #131, we’ll see if he did that or not. Before he sent Jacob away, Isaac repeated his blessing to include a multitude of offspring and the inheritance of the land—as was promised by God Himself.
 Genesis 28:10-22
Jacob left Beersheba and headed towards Haran. When night fell, he used a stone as a pillow. Even though he was the inheritor of his father’s wealth, and Isaac himself sent him on his journey, he didn’t take tents, blankets, or anything of comfort for his travels. This brings my mind to Matthew 8:20, where Jesus said, “Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Even being God (and the Son of God) Himself, Jesus had no place of physical rest—no soft pillow, bed, or even house to call His own. In devotional #128, we saw Jacob’s state of mind after leaving his father’s house. He felt like a condemned outcast, though he was the greatly blessed head of his home. He felt forsaken by God, even though he wasn’t. This too, reminds us of Jesus’ experience just before and during His crucifixion. In Jacob’s time of desperation, he cried out to God for forgiveness and assurance—and God revealed that he had exactly what he needed—a Savior. In his dream, he saw a ladder that connected Earth to Heaven. It connected him to God. That ladder represented Christ—and He was the One that made it possible for Jacob to speak with God and be ministered to by angels. Jacob was revealed the plan of redemption in his dream. While he viewed the symbolism, he also heard a clearly spoken promise that the very same land where he was sleeping would be given to him and his offspring, which would be countless. What he also heard was maybe even more important to him at that moment. God would be with him and protect him wherever he went—and would return him to his home. When Jacob awoke from his dream about the ladder, he was deeply impacted. In Genesis 28:16, 17 “…he said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place; and I did not know it…How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of Heaven.” Jacob recognized, with fear and awe, that God was abiding in Jacob’s presence (hence, he called it ‘the house of God’). The closeness to Heaven he felt at that time was yet another reflection of the easy access he had to Heaven in his dream (which is why he called it ‘the gate of Heaven’). When he got up, he used his stone pillow as a pillar (a memorial) and poured oil on it. He called the city (once named ‘Luz’), ‘Bethel’, which is defined by Strong’s Concordance as ‘house of God’ and ‘strength’. Both meanings were connected to his experience there, as he awoke with renewed comfort, hope, peace, and strength to continue his once intimidating journey. He clung to the promise he’d been given, to be accompanied and protected by God, fed, and clothed, so he could return well to his father’s house. He vowed that if it was fulfilled, the Lord would indeed be his God, and a tenth of all the wealth He would give him would be returned to the Lord (a vow to tithe—which his grandfather, Abraham, had done). In devotional #144, we’ll see that this is the very same promise that Jacob will claim in his struggle with the Heavenly Being on his dreadful return home.