Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Genesis. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses you through this material.
Take a few minutes to savor Genesis Chapter 28. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…
28:1-9 – A time of transition. How well do you like change? According to 35:3, this was a day filled with distress for Jacob. Have you ever taken a leap of faith in response to God’s speaking to you? What did you learn?
28:1 – Isaac called for Jacob because Rebekah manipulated her husband to send her son to his Uncle Laban in Paddan Aram, about 500 miles away. They probably discussed Esau’s rage toward Jacob.
blessed – greeted. Explore the Bible Adult Leader Guide says it means “empowered” or “enabled”. Perhaps this was a formal means of giving permission to perform a task.
Isaac commanded Jacob: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman” – see Deuteronomy 7:1-4. This spoke to the urgency of the request.
28:2 – “Go at once” reiterates the urgency of the command. This is actually 2 Hebrew commands: “arise” and “go”. This would support the idea that Rebekah shared Esau’s intent toward Jacob with her husband.
Why did Jacob get to leave the promised land? Because it was God’s plan to teach Jacob a few lessons (including that the characteristic of deception does not belong in a patriarch). Because he was running for his life! God is directing Jacob to a different way of life for the sake of serving Him. Has God ever done this with you? How did you respond? Why?
28:3-4 – Jacob receives another blessing from Isaac. Is this the blessing mentioned in verse 1?
28:3 – El Shaddai – God Almighty. This name “emphasized God’s total sufficiency to accomplish all He promised to do.” (Explore the Bible Adult Commentary, Spring 2008, Genesis 28-50)
28:5 – Rebekah is identified as the boys’ mother, not Isaac’s wife. Perhaps because she wasn’t the good wife who comforted her husband, but was the strong mother who sacrificed everything – including her marriage – for her son.
28:6-9 – Esau’s participation in this story involved taking another wife. To calm his anger? To deliberately anger his parents who now seem to be siding with Jacob since they have given him everything and sent him away. Notice he is doing exactly what his father told Jacob not to do.
28:9 – Esau going to Ishmael’s family for a wife would have been a slap in the face to Isaac. Was polygamy allowed back then?
28:10-15 – sometimes God needs to get us away from everyone and everything that holds our attention so that we can hear Him for ourselves.
28:10 – Has God called you to take a journey of faith in response to His claim on your life? As mentioned above, this was a day of distress for Jacob. See 35:3. How do you feel when you are on an unfamiliar road traveling (apparently) alone? Does that feeling change when you realize that God really is with you?
28:11-15 – Taking in God’s Message - Can you identify at least 4 promises made by God? The land, many offspring, all peoples blessed through Jacob and his offspring, God is with him and will stay with him wherever he goes. In what ways would each of these promises have provided assurance for Jacob during this transition?
28:11 – a certain place – Bethel.
Taking one of the stones – could Jacob have picked up one of the stones his grandfather, Abraham, used to build the altar in 12:8? No. Abraham built his altar to the North of this place. How do you think Jacob felt as he laid down to sleep? (Vulnerable, afraid, lonely, guilty for how he treated Esau and Isaac, angry with his mother?) Would these feelings lend themselves to a good night’s sleep?
28:12 – God often used dreams to reveal Himself in the OT. How else might God reveal Himself to us, today? Scripture, other people, miracles, nature, dreams and visions, circumstances, prayer, worship. Be sure to verify all messages that you believe are from God with the Bible.
see John 1:51 – Jesus is the “ladder” on which the angels ascend and descend. He is the “bridge” between God and man.
an appearance by God was the last thing Jacob was expecting. God never promises it will be easy.
28:13 – God identifies Himself as The Lord – Yahweh, “derived from the verb ‘to be’.” (Explore the Bible Adult Commentary, Spring 2008, Genesis 28-50) This is the Great “I AM.” He also called Himself by this name in 15:7. This is the covenant name of God.
“Abraham…Isaac” – God was dropping names.
By dropping names this way, “the Lord intentionally placed the encounter within the framework of His covenant relationship with Jacob’s family.” (Explore the Bible Adult Leader Guide, Spring 2008, Genesis 28-50)
28:14 – God is reiterating to Jacob the promise He made to Abraham.
28:15 – God didn’t accuse. “until” – God won’t ever leave. Jacob learned, “I’m a sinner, I’m loved, I’m forgiven.” (Loved by God – Higgs)
God promised to be with Jacob and watch over him and bring him back to this land.
I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you – huh? God never leaves or forsakes us. And this promise wouldn’t be fulfilled during Jacob’s lifetime, so God would never leave Jacob. Is this God’s way of saying that a day would come when He would no longer be accessible to Jacob’s descendants? Is this God’s way of saying that He would complete His promise when Jesus Christ came to earth and that the only way to God the Father would be through Christ the Son? Can you think of another Bible passage that makes a similar promise to us, today? See Hebrews 13:5 (Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:5).
28:16 – God is in this place – how did Jacob know that? From the dream? Maybe Jacob felt God. Maybe God gave him peace where there was fear before.
God is everywhere, so we should not fear taking steps of faith.
28-17-22 – What steps did Jacob take in response to God’s message? Acknowledged God, memorialized the occasion, made a commitment. Consider your response to God’s direction in your life. What steps of faith do you need to take as a result of God’s speaking to you?
28:17 – “awesome” – terrifying. (Loved by God – Higgs)
“gate” – see John 10:9; Matthew 7:7 – Jacob perceived he was at the entrance to heaven.
28:18 – oil consecrated the memorial. Do you have any personal Bethels? How do you remember what God has done for you?
28:19 – the mention of a ‘real’ city’s name anchors the experience in history.
28:20-21 – Jacob is like his mother. He’s making requests for provision. Then he confesses his faith.
28:20 – if – this word may also be translated “since,” making Jacob’s vow seem less conditional.
Jacob’s vow is unsolicited. God’s promise to him was unconditional. He repeats God’s promise and adds provision for food and clothes. How can you respond to God’s messages to you?
28:22 – give you a tenth – a way of acknowledging God’s lordship over Jacob. See 14:20. “Tithe” comes from the word for “tenth”.
What attributes of God have you observed in your study today? How will this change your relationship with Him?