Long ago Jewish prayers often started, “Blessed be he . . .” Prayer began with blessing God. The irony is that God, who deserves all the blessing, has blessed us (Ephesians 1:3-14). Surely we experience difficult days on this sin-stained planet. But often day after day after day we experience God’s special presence in blessed times. Let’s be honest. Life is pretty good for many of us.
Our text today concerns God’s blessings to Jacob. In his earlier years this famous patriarch (whose name appears alongside the name of God more than any other human being) is only slightly better than Samson (Judges 13–16). His name meant “heel grabber” or “cheater” (Genesis 25:19-26). While Clovis Chappell called Jacob’s brother Esau “The Sensualist,” Jacob was no epitome of virtue either. He cheated Esau out of the birthright and the blessing. But he who deceived others would be deceived (Galatians 6:7) by his father-in-law Laban (Genesis 29–31). Jacob must have been a challenging individual for the Lord to bless. At a crucial point in his life he even wrestled a blessing out of God (32:22-32). But God did bless Jacob with his presence in some very blessed times.
The Blessing of Worship
Jacob was now an old man and called by another name, Israel, which defined more of his new reality. He had fathered 12 sons and one daughter. He had established himself as a man of prominence in the land of Canaan. God had blessed him with riches. He originally set out from the southern tip of the land of promise, Beersheba, to travel north to make his fortune (Genesis 28:10-22). God promised to be with him, and Jacob promised a tithe of everything that God gave him. Now he returned to Beersheba, where everything for his adult life had started.
The original stop at Beersheba (well of seven oaths) had involved worship—and a special dream of a ladder reaching to Heaven. Now Jacob would once again worship the Lord—this time by offering sacrifices. This worship no doubt included the sacrifice of a sheep. He surely had heard the story of how his grandfather had gone to sacrifice his father only to have an angel stay the hand of his grandfather and substitute a ram for his father’s life (Genesis 22:1-19). Beersheba was the place from which Abraham had left to journey to Moriah for the sacrifice. Biblical history often comes to us in layers and with some repetition.
The Blessing of Assurance
As God had originally promised his presence when Jacob left Beersheba, so he renewed that promise here. God spoke to Jacob once again in a vision to assure him that God would be with him in this new journey to Egypt. God called his name twice, “Jacob, Jacob.” The repetition indicated urgency. Jacob responded as did his forefathers, “Here I am” (Genesis 22:1). The Navigators organization suggests that after a person is saved their biggest need is assurance of salvation. Now that Israel was well along in years, he was in need of God’s assuring presence before believing that his son Joseph was really alive and was serving in Egypt.
Several things aided Jacob’s assurance. God identified himself as the God of your father. This underlined heritage. Next Jacob was told that he need not be afraid because God would make him into a great nation (goy—so think of the promise of God being advanced, Genesis 12:1-13). Finally God assured Jacob of his presence and his promise that not only would he be brought back to Israel (albeit in a casket, 50:12-14), but that his son Joseph would be present at his death (50:1-3).
The Blessing of Togetherness
Genesis 46:5, 6; 47:27
When Joseph’s brothers lied about his death (Genesis 37:32-36), Jacob believed he would never see his favorite son again. When Benjamin was taken to Egypt with his brothers (43:14), Jacob despaired of life itself. Who would have guessed that Jacob would be reunited with his whole family one day? But from the Lord’s fullness have we received grace upon grace (John 1:16).
Jacob traveled with his entire clan and his carts (wagons) from Beersheba to Goshen (literally, “drawing near”) in the land of Egypt. In fact, the government even picked up the bill for the move. Famine might have driven the family to Egypt, but their possessions were still many. Once in Goshen their wealth continued to increase and they multiplied greatly (Genesis 1:28; 9:1). Jacob, the man who was a taker, learned that his God was a blesser, because every good and perfect gift comes from him (James 1:17).
Dr. Mark Scott teaches Preaching and New Testament at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri.
Lesson study ©2018, Christian Standard Media. Lesson based on The Lookout’s Scope and Sequence ©2018. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.