A Wayward Wayfaring Pilgrim…
Jacob didn’t deserve for God to show up. He didn’t, by his actions, present a case of acceptance or even of remorse for his previous actions. No, no, he was on the run, he was fleeing, and his fractured family was left to wonder, “…what’s next?” His life had taken a turn for the worse, and his journey was beginning to be one of desperation. Now, it’s true, he did bring this upon himself. In fact, his mother was just as culpable as him in their scheming and deceiving. Nevertheless, he was on the run, anxious, and fearful of what could be–what might happen to him in the next leg of his journey. You see, his brother was at the end of Jacob’s deceit. He was not only angry, but vengeful. He was on a tare, and the only resolve would be his brother’s expired life. Esau was not a happy man. After all, he was the oldest brother, his father’s favorite, and one who could really practically provide for the family, anyhow. He was a hunter, one who could harvest the animals that his father, Isaac, so enjoyed. But, that was not the issue. Previously, God had chosen Jacob. God had made it clear that Jacob would carry the blessing through to the family He chose to bless the nations and live as conduits of His character. However, the scheming, the devising of plans, the manipulation, and the deceit had left this family in shambles. Jacob was on the run–attempting to escape his brother’s murderous wrath–and his family only had hope to hold on to as Jacob left Beersheeba on his way to Haran to find a wife from Abraham’s family.
The die was cast, the decision was made, and the deceiver or supplantor–as his name means–was on a journey that was riddled sin, but he was nevertheless chosen. And that was enough. That was enough for God to make His presence known. That was enough for God to make His promises clear. That was enough for God’s nearness to be with this unrighteous man. Despite his sin, despite his deceit, despite his conniving and manipulation, God had made promises, and God was going to keep them.
Because God’s promises were not based upon Jacob’s righteousness, nor were they made on Jacob’s character, but on His own. In other words, God made promises to bless this family of Abraham, He had continued it through Isaac, and He was now about to restate it to Jacob. Never mind his sin, never mind his lies, never mind any of his faulty character. The promises were made by God, on the basis of God, and by God they would be fulfilled. Incredible.
“Then Jacob departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and spent the night there, because the sun had set; and he took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head, and lay down in that place. He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth 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 promised you.”
Here’s the key, however…HOW DID JACOB RESPOND?
He worshipped God. He worshipped by building an altar, and he worshipped by vowing a tithe of his possessions.
How Does This Apply To Us Today?
- First, a reflection upon the promises of God ought to lead you to a heart of worship…
- Jacob didn’t deserve God’s promises. Jacob didn’t earn God’s promises. No, God’s promises were given to him, because His promises were not conditional and based upon the recipient(s) of His promises.
- As Christians, Christ accomplished for us–through His life, death, and resurrection–all that is needed to be reconciled with God. This promise of reconciliation is offered to anyone who would receive it in faith. In other words, have you ever felt like Jacob? You’re on your journey of life, and it has only been full of sin, deceit, and waywardness–or through patches of good times, there have been some pretty dark times as well. Are you a wayward wayfaring pilgrim who knows full well you don’t deserve the promises of God, and you sure haven’t earned them? Then the promises of God–through His Son–are for you. It’s for you, because you recognize your need for Him.
- And that truth–that promise–ought to lead you to worship God!
- Second, your worship ought to lead you to a life of sacrifice…
- Jacob’s tithe was costly. He made a vow to give a tenth of all his goods to God. What Jacob was realizing was that God would be his Provider, and therefore, God would receive his tithe–or worship through sacrifice.
- Paul told the church in Rome, “…I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” In other words, because of what God has done in reconciling you to Himself through the finished work of Christ–and which you received through your faith in that truth for you–therefore, offer your life as a sacrifice to God as an act of worship.
- The practical application is simple, who/what controls you? Is it your job? Is it your boss? Is it your spouse? Is it your children? Is it your possessions? Is it your dreams or visions of this world? Or is it your faith in Christ’s work on your behalf? The best way to know how controlled you are by the things of this world is to simply consider how you respond when any one of those things are out of your control.
- Step one in living a life of worship as a life of sacrifice is to relinquish control of the things of this world. Their outcomes are not in your power.
- Step two in living a life of worship as a life of sacrifice is to order your life in accordance with the Word, which means living a life of confession and constant dependence upon God as you fall continually short of His standards.
- Step three in living a life of worship as a life of sacrifice is to find time in your day to reflect upon what God has accomplished for you, thank God for them, and then go about your day.
May you reflect deeply and often upon God’s promises for you, and may that lead to a life of worship! Not perfection, but a relinquishing of control and a perspective of rest in what God has done for you and will continue to do through you!!!— December 8, 2017