Bible Devotions

Genesis 28 – An Encounter with God

There is a process described in this chapter. It seems like the process of coming to know God. Let’s take a look together.

Running for his life under the false pretense of finding a wife, Jacob is alone with time to contemplate all that happened recently. Alone on his way to his uncle’s Jacob has a dream.

Genesis 28:13-15 NKJV “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. 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. 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.””

This may be Jacob’s first encounter with God. Oh sure, he probably heard his dad, Isaac, praying many times before. This was different. This was so real, so personal and vivid. It caused a change in Jacob.

Did you notice how the first part of the process? Jacob was on the run. He was out of his comfort zone. Things transpired that forced him to leave his home. All the distractions of every day life were temporarily on hold.

He had time to reflect. The Bible doesn’t tell us what he thought about, but we could guess. He could have thought about stealing his brother’s birthright or manipulating his dying father or how his brother now wanted to kill him. Being alone causes us to think.

Genesis 28:16-17 NKJV “Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.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!””

Did you see the next step in the process? Notice how Jacob didn’t realize God was near? Recognition of God’s presence is the next step. Do we realize God is always near? Or do we operate like He is far away? God is always with us. All we need to do is seek Him and He will make Himself known.

Genesis 28:18-19 NKJV “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. And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously.”

The third part of this process is reverence and worship. Notice how Jacob worshipped the Lord. Through this encounter Jacob recognized his own sin and starting seeing God’s presence. This led him to worship God by setting up the pillar and calling the place “Bethel”, which means house of God. Have you noticed how reverence and worship follow your own encounter with God?

The last step in this process is a personal commitment. Look at Genesis 28:20-22 NKJV:

“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, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God. 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.””

Notice how Jacob made a vow to the Lord after his experience? Notice how an encounter with God compels you to want to give back to Him. After your own experience with God, what vow did you make?

In summary the process of coming to the Lord may contain the following steps:

  1. Time alone to think about our sin
  2. Recognition of God’s Presence
  3. Reverence and worship of God
  4. A personal commitment to God

How about you? Did your journey to the Lord follow similar steps as these? Rejoice with me as we celebrate God. He is the God of order and not chaos. He is a loving and tender God who leads us gently to the place where we will trust Him.

Lord God Almighty, thank you for leading us gently to you. Thank you for opening our eyes to our sin and to your mercy through Jesus Christ’s forgiveness of our sins. Thank you for always being near. You deserve all worship and honor. Help us take the next step in committing our lives to you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade. Author of and websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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A Hasty Oath Has its Consequences

Back in Genesis 25 we read about Esau, Isaac’s firstborn, being so hungry he traded his birthright away for a bowl of stew. Esau thought nothing of it then.

Now in Genesis 27 we see the fruit of that deal played out. Isaac is old now and doesn’t see well. He calls Esau in, tells him go hunt, make savory food he loves and to come back so he can bless him. Remember Esau was Isaac’s favorite son.

Meanwhile Rebekah, Esau’s mother, is listening in. Her favorite son is Jacob. So she concocts this plan to dress Jacob as Esau to fool Isaac into blessing Jacob instead. The plan works.

Esau comes with the savory food, but finds Jacob got their first. Isaac has already given the blessing. Esau knows he we cheated by his own brother. He pleads with his dad to bless him too. So here is the blessing his dad bestows on Esau:

Genesis 27:39-40 NKJV “Behold, your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above. By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; and it shall come to pass, when you become restless, that you shall break his yoke from your neck.”

Not so encouraging is it? So Esau hated his brother and planned to kill him after the mourning period for his father’s death ceased. Resentment leads to bitterness. Bitterness leads to hatred. Hatred leads to murder. Not a healthy path to be on. All of this occurred because Esau was impatient and driven by his fleshly desires.

We can’t put 100% of blame on Esau. After all he did live with parents who played favorites and a scheming and manipulating mother and brother. However, the bottom line is God wants us to recognize the value He gives us. If we cheapen it by improper living there will always be consequences.

Esau didn’t see value in his birthright until it was too late. How many women give their virginity away before marriage? How many of us give into our feelings? How many of us deny God’s plan in our life by choosing to live our way?

The end is not pretty for those who don’t value what God values. Remember you were created in God’s image. He has great plans for you. Choose to walk with Him today. Let your mind be renewed by the word of God. Let His Holy Spirit lead you every step of the way.

God Almighty, thank you for forgiveness of our sin through Jesus Christ. Thank you for your word to provide godly instructions for living. Thank you for your Holy Spirit to lead us into your truth. Help us live for you and recognize our value in you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade. Author of and websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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God’s Protection

There was famine in the land so Isaac starts looking for help from a near by king. God visits him saying do not go down to Egypt, but live in this land. I will be with you and bless you. God continues telling Isaac all the ways he plans to bless him in Genesis 26:2-5.

In the next scene, we see Isaac responding in fear and acting just like his dad, Abraham did. As Isaac’s wife was very beautiful, Isaac decides to lie and say she is his sister. Sound familiar? Abraham did that twice!

But what I love about this story is how God used Isaac’s insecurity and fear to protect him. That’s right. As we read further, the king saw Isaac showing endearment to Rebekah, so the king knew she was really Isaac’s wife. Not wanting guilt to be upon his people and to ensure no one touched or layed with Rebekah, the king charges his people “He who touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”

This encounter is a reminder God’s protection is based on the covenant He made with Abraham rather than on Isaac’s behavior. This covenant ensures that nothing will happen to Isaac until the covenant is fulfilled. God is faithful to His promises. What He says, He always does.

God swore to Abraham that this land would be Isaac’s and his descendants. He also said He would multiply Isaac’s descendants and make them as many as stars in heaven. In Isaac’s seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. Therefore, Isaac had nothing to fear. God would carry out His promise. God would complete His oath to Abraham despite Isaac’s fear.

What has God said to us?

John 3:16 NKJV “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Ephesians 1:13-15 NKJV “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Despite our insecurities or fear, God will complete His promise to us. He is faithful and just and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He will even grant us wisdom when we ask for it.

To our Father in heaven who loves us, thank you for caring for us and leading us in the way everlasting. Thank you for your word that is good for training in righteousness and correction to equip us in the way leading to eternal life. In Jesus’ name Amen.

©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade. Author of and websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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