Jacob: only if…

Cover to Cover

Reading: Genesis 26:1-29:30

Focus: Genesis 28:20-22

How often are we tempted to say, or do we hear people say, “God if you do this in my life, I’ll believe in you!” It defies the very nature of faith, and yet, this is what Jacob said to God. “If God will be with me … then the LORD will be my God.” Yet, it is the very sort of faith we attempt to appeal against, the testing of God, trying God out, money back guarantee—buy now and return in 60 days if you don’t like it…

So how do we reconcile what Jacob said? To be perfectly honest, I don’t know. However, there are a few things that I would point out. Firstly, God had already made His promise to Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham, and his father, Isaac. Secondly, Jacob would have been well aware of this promise and all it entailed likely to have been taught by Isaac. Thirdly, he would have seen the relationship between his father, Isaac, and God. So what? So, for Jacob, it is not the reality of God that is in question, rather it is a question of personal faithfulness for Jacob and whether God would prove himself to live up to the Name which Isaac shared in his bedtime stories. Rather than God proving His existence, Jacob was asking God to prove the continuity of the Promise made to his grandfather, Abraham.

With such a perspective, I am inclined to find no problems with Jacob’s little test. However, there is also one danger that I must caution. Jacob made a vow. A vow which would be binding for life. Jacob knew the cost and requirements which would follow if and when God showed Himself faithful. Jacob knew that his life would take a radically different direction should God continue His faithfulness to the Promise. For the most part, as Jacob’s story continues and Jacob was convinced, he was sold out on God.

The same principles apply to us today, those who follow Jesus must know what they are getting themselves into. Yes, it is one thing that Jesus came to die for our sins and save the Lost; but it is an entirely different thing to accept His Lordship over us and follow Him. Jesus’ words ring loud and hard to those who are simply looking for an easy way through life: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24-28) Many people have tested God throughout the ages, those who are serious find Him and cannot deny Him; those who take it as a joke, become a joke before they even begin. Only if…

Next Reading: Genesis 29:31-31:55