Sermon: “The Stairway into Heaven” (Genesis 28:1–22)
Up to this point, Jacob has been a taker. With two meals, Jacob took his brother’s birthright (Gen. 25:29–33) and blessing (Gen. 27:1–25). In this, Jacob’s fault has not been what he has wanted, since the text of Genesis places most of the blame on Esau, who “despised his birthright” (Gen. 25:34) and married two Hittite women (Gen. 26:34). Instead, Jacob’s guilt lies in how he has sought after these things. Whether by cold negotiation or outright fraud, Jacob is willing to do whatever it takes to gain the inheritance and blessing of God. The consequences of his ruthlessness will be costly, as Jacob must now go into a twenty-year exile (Gen. 31:38, 41) to avoid being murdered at the hands of Esau (Gen. 27:41).
If God has indeed set apart Jacob from the womb (Gen. 25:23), how will God rein in this rebellious man? How will God work to sanctify Jacob’s cunning, manipulative, scheming heart? Surprisingly, God transforms Jacob from a taker into a giver by promising to give Jacob everything he promised to give to Abraham and Isaac (Gen. 28:13–15). God is not rewarding Jacob; rather, God is building his kingdom through Jacob. Far from spoiling Jacob, God’s generosity will ultimately break the power of greed in Jacob’s life. God continues the same work today by bestowing the riches of Christ’s kingdom upon an unworthy people in order to put our greed to death. As Genesis 28 demonstrates, God generously blesses his people to make us into a generous blessing.