We have been journeying through the lives of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of our faith over the summer. We met Abraham and Sarah, who made the original covenant with God and were promised to be the ancestors of a great nation. We met their son Isaac and his wife Rebekah, who were the parents of the twins Esau and Jacob. Last week, we focused on how Jacob tricked his twin Esau out of his inheritance and special blessing he was supposed to receive as the oldest son. This week, we pick up the story right afterwards Jacob’s betrayal of Esau. Jacob was on the run because he was afraid Esau would kill him. Yet, in our story this morning Jacob learns he will be the inheritor of the covenant with God. Listen to the story of Jacob’s dream as it is written in Genesis 28, verses 10 through 19:

Proclamation of the Scripture                                    Genesis 28: 10-19              

Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. 

When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 

He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 

There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 

Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 

He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 

He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.

Here ends this reading of the word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Let us pray: Gracious God, as we turn to your Word for us, may the Spirit of God rest upon us. Help us to be steadfast in our hearing, in our speaking, in our believing, and in our living. Amen

Message                              Jacob’s Dream

            On really clear mornings, I can usually remember my dreams for a few minutes. Lately, the involve babies. But, the babies sometimes are different people in different parts of my dreams….sometimes they are my sister, sometimes they are Lucia, sometimes they are the baby who will be born soon. I suspect babies loom large in my dreams because I am getting ready to have a baby soon – it isn’t some mystical message that is telling me that I am about to start something new or am stressed out.

            On the other hand, Jacob’s dream was highly symbolic.  When he had his dream, he was in the middle of a highly stressful journey. He was fleeing from his homeland and from his father’s house. He was heading to Harran, his mother’s homeland and the birthplace of his grandparents Abraham and Sarah.  He had been dishonest – he lied to his blind father and pretended to be his brother Esau. His father gave him the special blessing reserved for the oldest son. Jacob had to flee for his safety – Esau may have been justified in killing him – if Jacob was dead, then Esau’s father Isaac could have given him the correct blessing, the correct inheritance.

            Jacob’s dream was also a prophesy. He saw a stairway to heaven with angels climbing up and down it. The dream represented the connection between God and humanity – Jacob was the third generation to inherit the Covenant between God and Abraham – God was going to make Jacob the father of the Jewish people, and in turn the father of the Christian people. This dream established that the covenant would continue through Jacob’s lineage.  Jacob eventually became the father of 12 sons, and had many, many grandchildren. After a generation of an only child followed by twins, having 12 sons led quickly led to hundreds of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The descendants of Jacob took a detour to Egypt where they resided for around 400 years. By the time Jacob’s descendants left Egypt, there were thousands of people – thousands of people descended from Jacob.

            Sometimes, as in our example of Jacob’s dream this morning, God comes to us in unexpected ways and at unexpected places.  Jacob was in a weird “In-between’ place. He stopped on the side of a road. He slept using a rock as a pillow. I can’t imagine how uncomfortable his sleeping spot was…he must have been really tired…really worn down…really scared. And, in the midst of a long dark night, Jacob had a dream that was very comforting.  God told him: “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

            God is with us – God is with us even when we mess up – God is with us even when we hurt others – God is with us when we are scared – God is with us even when we make mistakes.

            Jacob eventually apologized to his brother Esau. The brothers reconnected many years later. Jacob lived a very long, complicated life. God kept God’s promises to Jacob – Jacob ended up with countless descendants….Jacob returned to the land of his birth…Jacob was able to receive refuge in Egypt when a terrible drought settled over his land….God kept God’s promises to Jacob.

            When we are struggling, it is sometimes hard for us to believe that God is on our side. We feel isolated…we feel scared…we feel alone. It is important for us to remember that no matter what we do, no matter where we go, God is with us. We can’t escape from God’s love. God’s Holy Spirit is here with us to support and guide our lives. And, God sends us messages – sometimes in dreams, sometimes in visions, sometimes in clues in the natural world, sometimes in messages from other people. God is with us no matter what we face. God keeps God’s promises to us.

            Thanks be to God. Amen.