Abraham had Isaac. Isaac had Esau and Jacob. God’s plan to fill the earth with Abraham’s descendants has begun.
Now Esau and Jacob did not get along with one another. Esau was a hunter and dad’s favorite. Jacob was more the artistic type and mom’s favorite. Even though Esau was the firstborn, Jacob tricked Esau out of his birthright (inheritance) and his blessing from dad. When Isaac grew old and died, Jacob got out of town before his brother could kill him (literally). He travelled to a land where there was extended family and he might be able to find a wife.
Along the way, he stopped to sleep for the night. He used a stone as his pillow and had an amazing dream.
As he slept, he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway. 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." (Genesis 28:12-15 NLT)
God encouraged Jacob and gave him a glimpse of his future. The glimpse was not only of his future, but of the future for his children as well. Jacob was encouraged by the dream and the words of the LORD God.
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I wasn't even aware of it!" But he was also afraid and said, "What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!" The next morning Jacob got up very early. He took the stone he had rested his head against, and he set it upright as a memorial pillar. Then he poured olive oil over it. He named that place Bethel (which means "house of God"), although it was previously called Luz. Then Jacob made this vow: "If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if He will provide me with food and clothing, and if I return safely to my father's home, then the LORD will certainly be my God. And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything He gives me." (Genesis 28:16-22 NLT)
The stone in that spot, many years in the future, would mark the site of God’s Temple in Israel. The ten percent (tithe) would become his descendants’ way of fulfilling Jacob’s promise that day. The nation of Israel would remember God’s communication, God’s promises, and Jacob’s promises that day, even until today.
How about you? Have you had any encounters with God that were encouraging, challenging, and drove you to your next steps in your walk? Do you remember those encounters? How?