Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 46:1-3

1 And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beer-sheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.

2 And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.

3 And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation:

Jacob has determined to go down to Egypt, but this is a big decision, and before actually following through he goes to Beer-sheba to commune with the Lord. Beer-sheba has shown up a few times in the biblical record before. It was where Abraham made a solemn oath of peace with the king of the Philistines, and the same place where Isaac made a similar pledge. More relevant to Jacob, though, Beer-sheba was the land that he left when escaping the wrath of Esau, suggesting that this was where he was raised.

While in this historical and spiritual place, Jacob has yet another special connection with God, instruction given through a “vision of the night.” God reassures Jacob that he should go down to Egypt, and dwell among the people there. God even promises that in Egypt He will finally fulfill his promise of growing a great nation out of the Israelites. This has been promised since back with Abraham, and now the family is finally coming to the place and situation in which it will occur.

And now we see that there was a special wisdom in how long it has taken for God to deliver this promise. It might have seemed strange that after such a grand commitment Abraham had only one covenant child, and that child also only had one covenant child. In essence, Abraham’s same situation was extended down two generations to Jacob, with no growth whatsoever.

But what if the family had seen explosive growth during those two generations? If that had happened, it seems less likely to me that Pharaoh would have been so willing to receive such a large party into his domain. By keeping the family small, they could be easily integrated into Egypt’s bounty, and once there they could grow unhindered.

When God made his promise to Abraham, He was always going to follow through on it, but He needed to orchestrate things so that the nation would come forth in the exact way that it needed to. With great care and control He led this fledgling household, preserving them as they were until this moment of great fulfillment.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 28:12-15

12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.

13 And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;

14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.

In this moment of lonely isolation Jacob lays down to sleep and has a heavenly vision. We have not been told what sort of spiritual encounters he had before this moment, but surely this was his first time experiencing anything quite like this.

Let us examine a few of the details from this vision.

First, the image of a ladder between heaven and earth and angels climbing up and down it is a wonderful testimony of God’s active interest in the world. This is showing a direct conduit between God and man, and God’s servants being constantly busy with carrying out God’s work among the mortals.

Second, God introduces Himself as the one who blessed and prospered Jacob’s father Isaac, and his grandfather Abraham. Surely Jacob was aware of how those men had flourished under the hand of their God, and now he knows that he is being welcomed into the same covenant that they enjoyed.

Third, God now gives to Jacob the same covenant that He instituted with Abraham and continued with Isaac. I have always loved this scene because it shows that God does not give a blessing to our ancestors and then leave us to assume that we have just inherited it also. There are no implicit or assumed blessings when it comes to God, all of them are made directly to each of his children when they are ready to receive it. Rather than being left to assume “God loved my father so he must love me,” Jacob has his own manifestation of that love directly.

Fourth, God speaks directly to Jacob’s worries in that particular moment. He concludes the vision by assuring Jacob that He is with him, that Jacob is not alone, that he will be preserved in this strange land, and that he will be brought back safely, all because he is safely held in the hand of God. What a sweet sign of God’s intimate knowledge of Jacob’s heart and His immense desire to comfort it.

Our Own Reality- Matthew 7:4-5

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

COMMENTARY

Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye
Are there beams and motes in peoples’ eyes? Yes. Do these foreign elements obscure peoples’ vision, give them faulty beliefs, and make them perceive a reality that is separate from truth? Yes. And when people believe these false paradigms are they going to be prone to behavior that harms both themselves and others? Yes.
Given all this, of course we want to help our brothers and sisters see more clearly.

First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye
But here we come to the great irony. Each of us might very well hold just as delusional a perspective as the person we are trying to help. In fact, those of us who have beams in our eyes very often believe that beams are what you are supposed to see when your vision is clear.
It’s not wrong to want to make the world a better place, but if that means just making it better “according to us,” then we might not be improving it at all. As we’ll see tomorrow, there is a better way.