THE WAY BACK TO GOD

GENESIS 35:1-7

Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.” And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me in the way which I have gone.” So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands and the earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree which was by Shechem. And they journeyed, and the terror of God was upon the cities that were all around them, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. So Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him. And he built an altar there and called the place El Bethel, because there God appeared to him when he fled from the face of his brother.

  1. 1.JOURNEY WITH GOD

Jacob fled from his brother Esau and now nearly thirty years had passed since Jacob vowed to return to the place where God had revealed Himself to him and now Jacob had gone full circle in his journey to return to Bethel.

God’s journey with Jacob started at Bethel and now God was calling him back to Bethel.

GENESIS 28:10-22 10 Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. 12 Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. 14 Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. 15 Behold, 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 spoken to you.” 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 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!” 18 Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. 19 And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. 22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.

 

Jacob had not yet had an encounter nor met the God of Abraham and Isaac his grandfather and father because God is not referred to as the God of Jacob.

Jacob had purchased his brother Esau’s birthright who in his weary state exchanged his birthright for a bowl of lentil stew and now his mother Rebekah had assisted him in stealing his brother’s blessing and was now helping him to flee from his brother Esau by sending him to her family and she convinced her husband Isaac who after blessing Jacob charged Jacob to go to his mother’s family and obtain a wife.

Terah:     Abraham     (ISRAEL)         Nahor      (SYRIA)

                       Isaac (Rebekah)                     Laban - Rebekah  

                          Jacob                                         Rachel

Jacob’s journey starts where he is known as a mild man who at the age of 15 stayed in camp who cleverly obtained his brother’s birthright, through deception obtain his brother’s blessing from his father, who fled for his life, who did not know God but through an encounter at Bethel he dreamt of God, is deceived by his own uncle and then flees again for his life as he returns and makes his way back to God at Bethel and along the wrestles with God at Jabbok resulting in a permanent transformational change in his physical body with a new name Israel until he is transformed and becomes known as the God of Jacob.

  1. 2.LAW OF THE FIRSTBORN

GENESIS 28:1-5Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, and charged him, and said to him: “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. Arise go to Padan Aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and take yourself a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother. “May God Almighty bless you, And make you fruitful and multiply you, That you may be an assembly of peoples; And give you the blessing of Abraham, To you and your descendants with you, That you may inherit the land In which you are a stranger, which God gave to Abraham.” So Isaac sent Jacob away, and he went to Padan Aram, to Laban the son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau.

Jacob knew that if there was something that he desired more than anything else it was receiving the birthright of His firstborn brother Esau.

Firstly what do you desire from God and secondly what you are willing to after you have obtained it do all within your means to keep it and protect that which God has given to you, such as your calling, talents, spiritual gifts which God desires to give to fulfil His purpose and plans for your life.

GENESIS 25:29-34 29 Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.” Therefore his name was called Edom. 31 But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.” 32 And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?” 33 Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

Jacob and Esau had both grown up for the first 15 years of their life knowing their grandfather Abraham and both would have heard the oral tradition of stories passed down about Adam and Eve, Sin of disobedience, the Flood, Tower of Babel and God choosing Abraham their grandfather who would become the father of the nations and his son, their father Isaac the son of Promise through whom God would make a mighty nation.

What do you hear and see? For Esau this was just stories but for Jacob this was important and he wanted to be part of what God was going to do but unfortunately he was not the Firstborn.

The Law of the firstborn came with privileges that was highly valued and Jacob knew the spiritual and physical significance which would impact him and his descendants from generation to generation.

Esau despised his birthright – to despise is to feel a strong dislike for someone or something because you think that that person or thing is bad or has no value.

Is it not strange that Abraham died when both Jacob and Esau were 15 years old and in that same year Jacob seized the opportunity to lay hold of his brother’s birthright because he saw the significant important spiritual value it held….Why?

GENESIS 25:27-28 27 So the boys grew. And Esau was a skilful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents. 28 And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

While Esau was out in the field hunting and seeking adventure, Jacob quietly sat in the tent listening to Abraham and planning how and when he could lay hold of the most valuable claim to the birthright of his brother.

What is valuable to you this morning that has significant spiritual value?

The importance of the birthright and the Law of the Firstborn

  • Larger inheritance – Jacob & Esau
  • Special paternal blessing – Every spiritual blessing      
  • Family leadership – responsible for & accountable to
  • Honoured place at meal times
  • Double portion

The firstborn had Paternal and Maternal significances

  • Father:  BEGINNING OF HIS STRENGTH
  • Mother: OPENER OF THE WOMB

Jesus is God's Firstborn.

Ps 89: 26-27 26 He shall cry to Me, ‘You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.’ 27 Also I will make him My firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth.

  1. 3.GOD OF THE HOUSE OF GOD

 

During a period of almost 20 years Jacob had worked for his uncle Laban who dealt with him corruptly and unfairly but God was with Jacob and through Jacob Laban prospered but God made Jacob more prosperous and his uncle was not happy with him.

Jacob married both Laban’s daughters’ first Leah and then Rachel whom he loved and the bridal price he paid for both were 7 years of labour.

GENESIS 31:1-7 Now Jacob heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, “Jacob has taken away all that was our father’s and from what was our father’s he has acquired all this wealth.” And Jacob saw the countenance of Laban, and indeed it was not favourable toward him as before. Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you.” So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field, to his flock, and said to them, “I see your father’s countenance that it is not favourable toward me as before; but the God of my father has been with me. And you know that with all my might I have served your father. Yet your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me.

 

What you sow you will reap in life

Jacob did not steal but he obtained something of such significant value from his brother in a sly way and he deceived his father to steal his brother’s blessing which accompanied the Law of Firstborn, and now he has had to experience for 20 years the spiritual law of cause and effect – Sowing and reaping at the hands of his uncle.

GENESIS 31:20-21 And Jacob stole away, unknown to Laban the Syrian, in that he did not tell him that he intended to flee. 21 So he fled with all that he had. He arose and crossed the river, and headed toward the mountains of Gilead.

After 20 years of service Jacob is fleeing again for his life, his journey started when he fled from his brother Esau and now he flees from his uncle, his father in-law.

Who are you running from?

However God was with him and told him to return to Bethel where his journey with God started but it is now 10 years later since Jacob left Laban and thirty years since Jacob had vowed to return to Bethel to fulfil his promise but God rich in His mercy and grace waited another 10 years before speaking again to Jacob to return to Bethel because Jacob wasn’t listening – are you listening to God this morning?.

GENESIS 32:24-30 Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. 25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. 26 And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” 27 So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.” 28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

From the time that Jacob had fled from his uncle 10 years earlier he met with his brother and dealt with his past, then travelled in the opposite direction first to Succoth and then to Shechem, then he had an encounter of wrestling with the Angel the Lord Himself but he was more interested in getting ahead in life and receiving the blessings of God than knowing the God Blessor.

Jacob was in no hurry to do what God had commanded and something needed to happen to get him to the place where God wanted him – Bethel.

GENESIS 34 God allowed something tragic to happen to arrest the attention of Jacob and to get him to listen when his daughter Dinah was sexually violated by Shechem the son of a Canaanite a Hivite prince which resulted in her brothers Simeon and Levi taking revenge by killing the men of Shechem.

This incident made it unsafe for Jacob to stay in Shechem and caused him to be willing to listen to the voice of God who reminded him to return to Bethel.

God had allowed Jacob to go his own way and to reap the consequences of his disobedience - God’s will vs. man’s will.

God will allow us to go our own way and reap to the flesh what we have sown to the flesh and in our desperation as we cry out He will hear us and because of the Covenant of His Son Jesus Christ He will speak and redirect our lives.

Jacob was called to return to the place where his journey with God began – Bethel and

learn what it meant to come into the presence of God by being aware of foreign gods and then to react by putting away and burying the false household gods under the oak tree and therefore deal with the idolatry in the camp of Israel.

BETHEL=House of El or House of God

Bethel = God of Bethel or the house of God is where Jacob had the vision of the ladder, and where he erected an altar and Bethel lay only thirty miles from Shechem where Jacob lived.

EL-BETHEL = Consists in Hebrew  of three parts - El – Beth – El = God of the House of Bethel

GENESIS 35:7 And he built an altar there and called the place El Bethel, because there God appeared to him when he fled from the face of his brother.

Bethel means the house of God and as we begin our Christian journey we learn about the house of God and the things of God in the house of God and involve ourselves with the things in the house of God.

However as we progress in our spiritual journey we get to know and are confronted by El-Bethel who is the God of the house of God as He reveals to us more of the knowledge of Himself so that we may know Him personally as the God of the house of God.

This experience is a very personal intervention in our life which will result in God humbling us as we obtain a greater knowledge of God.

At El bethel we are no longer busy with the things of God in His House in this life but we come to the knowledge of and we become busy with the God of the House and it is here where we are confronted with God who gives life.

At Shechem where Jacob lived he was physically so near to God but yet spiritually so far from God – you can be in church every Sunday so near to God but yet so far from God.

  1. 4.TRANSFORMED CHARACTER

The character of Jacob can be seen in all of us from time to time because we are all a little like Jacob who represents the carnal nature of man, the Adamic sinful nature that exists in all of us – schemer, deceiver.

The name Jacob in Hebrew means:

  • He grasps the heel.
  • Supplanter

Jacob grabbed the heel of his twin brother Esau in the womb of their mother Rebekah.

GENESIS 25:22-26 22 But the children struggled together within her; and she said, if all is well, why am I like this? So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23 And the Lord said to her: Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger.” 24 So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb. 25 And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob.

A supplanter refers to governments and rulers of countries which comes from the verb supplant and evolved from the Latin word supplantare which means to trip up or to overthrow.

A supplanter takes over or takes the place of someone else or something that existed first such as governments and rulers of countries who overthrow other countries or governments.

Jacob stole Esau’s birthright and blessing and in doing so took over the position of firstborn and inherited everything that Esau was meant to have and still possess to this day in the land and country of Israel.

We know that in God is infinite and omniscient and therefore in infinite wisdom and knowledge He chose Jacob before the foundations of the world for His divine purpose as He has chosen you in Christ before you were born, and before you were formed in your mother’s womb for His divine purposes and plans.

Jacob’s first encounter with God was through a dream he had at Bethel and this made him aware of the living God of his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac but God had not yet become the God of Jacob.

Outward and physically Jacob was not that far from God—only thirty miles from Bethel, but spiritually Jacob was not near to God nor to understanding God’s divine purpose and plans for him and his family.

  1. 5.WHERE TO FROM HERE?

 

  • REMEMBER ME

JUDGES 16:28Then Samson called to the Lord, saying, “O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!

 

  • TURN YOUR HEART TO GOD

PSALM 27:8 When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”

 

  • CONSIDER YOUR WAYS

HAGGAI 1:7-8 7 Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! 8 Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the [b]temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,” says the Lord. 9 “You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the Lord of hosts. “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house.

 

  • HEAR AND OBEY THE VOICE OF GOD

JAMES 1:22-2522 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

 

  • CLEAN OUT YOUR HOUSE

ACTS 19:18-2018 And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. 19 Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totalled fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.

DEUTERONOMY 23:14-1614 For the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that He may see no unclean thing among you, and turn away from you

  • SET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER

2 KINGS 20:1-2 In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.’ ” Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord

 

JESUS IS COMING SOON - JUDGMENT BEGINS AT THE HOUSE OF GOD – FIND YOUR WAY BACK