“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’” (Gen. 28:20-22)
How do you feel about your faith in God? When you read about some of the great men and women of faith in the Bible such as Abraham and Sarah, do you come away thinking, “I wish I had that much faith in God”? Do you sometimes wonder whether or not your faith in God will grow?
In the Old Testament, Jacob, like Peter in the New Testament, is one of my favorite Bible characters. He grew up in a dysfunctional family where his parents Isaac and Rebekah each had their favorite child (cf. Genesis 25:28). He grew up letting sin dominate his life. For example, he coerced his brother Isaac into selling him his birthright (Genesis 25:33-34). Furthermore, later, he worked together with his mother Rebekah to deceive his father Isaac into blessing him with the blessing his father intended to give to his brother Esau (Genesis 27:1-29). Jacob’s sin caught up with him and he was forced to leave home to escape the wrath of his brother Esau (Genesis 27:41-28:5).
Can you imagine how you would have felt if you were in Jacob’s shoes at this point in his life. He is leaving home all alone on a journey having no idea what will become of him. There were no loved ones to offer him support. He must have felt very alone and scared. He is in a perfect position for God to start working on him. As Jacob sleeps on his way to his uncle’s house in Haran, in a dream God shows him a vision of a ladder stretching up to heaven with angels ascending and descending upon it. God tells Jacob He will bless him (Genesis 28:10-15). As the opening verses above show, Jacob makes a vow and begins to place his faith and trust in God (Genesis 28:20-22).
His faith in God at this point is far from perfect. His statement above almost seems like he is trying to bargain with God. Moreover, later, when he returns back home, he is scared to see his brother Esau and tries to pacify Esau with lots of gifts (cf. Genesis 32:13-20). However, this decision of Jacob to turn to God in faith during a time on His journey to Haran to see his uncle, when he felt so desperate he did not know where else to turn, was a starting place. God would take him from this starting place and help Jacob to develop a much deeper faith in God. Later in his life Jacob as he tells his son Joseph that his offspring would face their own challenges in the land of Egypt, Jacob would say, “Behold, I am dying, but God will be with you and bring you back to the land of your fathers” (Genesis 48:21). His confidence and faith in God’s power had grown over the course of his life.
Like Jacob there have been multiple times in my life where I have made a terrible mess of things by my own sin and poor choices. I have felt feelings of desperation being uncertain of where to turn. I thank God for His great faithfulness because I can always turn to Him. He is my Rock! Like Jacob, although my faith is not always perfect, I rejoice that God is willing to work on me to have me grow and develop a greater faith in Him. It is a great blessing to live a life of faith in God. Like Jacob let God work on you to help you develop a greater faith in Him. Continue to turn to God in faith!
“I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them” (Psalm 34:4-7).