Sermon Outline On Genesis 28:10-19
Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the Lord stood beside him and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that 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.” Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place–and I did not know it!” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called that place Bethel;
We are climbing Jacob’s Ladder. Isn’t it strange that the song speaks of us climbing Jacob’s ladder. The story we just read doesn’t mention Jacob climbing that ladder. It tells us about angels — messengers from God and messengers to God, coming down & going up that ladder.
Our first thought might be this is a strange story. A strange story about using a rock for a pillow. A strange story about a strange dream. Strange because of the ladder between heaven and earth. Strange because of the angels moving up & down the ladder. But the strangest part of all is God speaking to Jacob!
God spoke to Jacob. God made a covenant with Jacob which was almost word for word the covenant God made with Abraham. Jacob! Can you believe it? Jacob! Jacob?
Who is this Jacob anyway? Well, Jacob is the twin brother of Esau. As a matter of fact at the moment of the dream Jacob is running from Esau to keep Esau from killing him. Jacob is the son of Issac and Rebekah. Jacob is the grandson of Abraham & Sarah.
God has chosen Jacob to continue the covenant first made with Abraham. God promises to Jacob the land promised his Grandfather. God promises that his descendants, Jacob’s descendants will be like the dust of the earth. And get this, “and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” All the families of the earth blessed because of Jacob! God said to Jacob, “I am with you and will keep you wherever you go.”
Jacob was the second son of Isaac & Rebekah. Esau was born & Jacob followed holding onto the heel of Esau? There he was named Jacob, which means “heel catcher.” The name also means “trickster,” and Jacob lived up to his name.
Jacob was sort of the home body, and his brother, Esau, was the rugged, not too bright hunter. One day Esau came in from hunting absolutely starving. Jacob had a fresh pot of stew boiling & Esau wanted some. If he didn’t eat he would just die. So trickster Jacob, offered a trade – Esau’s birthright for a bowl of stew. And Esau said, “It’s a deal. My birthright is worthless if I starve.”
So trickster Jacob cheated Esau out of his inheritance. Later, when Isaac was near death, Jacob tricked Isaac into giving him a blessing intended for Esau. Jacob stole Esau’s inheritance. Jacob stole Esau’s blessing. Jacob was a scoundrel! And now Jacob was on the run.
You might think this is a story about Jacob. BUT this isn’t a story about Jacob. This is a story about God. This isn’t a story about a strange dream. This is a story about God’s grace. This isn’t a story about Jacob doing his thing. This is a story about God working His divine will through a motley crew of human beings.
Yes! even a motley crew like you and me. God’s divine will is worked through you and through me. Now you may find this hard to believe, BUT I’m not perfect. And yet God can use this imperfect vessel.
You are not perfect, and I am not perfect. So why do we sometimes treat each other as if we were. Why do we become impatient with others? Why do we have unrealistic expectations? Why do tensions rise between members? Why do we get angry at each other? Why do we demand perfection from others? Why are we so intolerant?
Paul Bauermeister said: “The church is not the community of the perfected. The church is the community of the forgiven, those who rejoice not in their own perfection, but in God’s grace in Jesus Christ.”
Jesus calls us to strive for perfection and a part of that striving for perfection is loving our neighbor in their imperfection.
So the story of Jacob is a story of God’s transforming grace — a grace that is at work in his life, molding him into a father of the nation Israel. That same transforming grace is at work in your life. God’s love is working on you at this very moment to transform you into a child of God, an eternal heir. You are on the potter’s table. God is molding you into the image of Jesus Christ. God loves you that much.
Jacob woke from his dream and said, “This is an awesome place!” “Surely the Lord was in this place & I didn’t know it.” “How awesome is this place!” WHY? Because God was there? No, not because God was there, BUT because Jacob recognized God was there. That’s what made it awesome.