The story of Jacob fleeing his family situation and his subsequent encounter with God forms the backdrop to the gospel lesson we will look at on Sunday. As we shall not be reading it, I thought it would be nice to look at it today.
Of all the figures of the Hebrew Scriptures, few showed less initial promise than Jacob. He comes across as an opportunist, a cheat, callously tricking his older brother Esau out of his birthright, and then compounding this with shameful deception of his father. As he makes his way to related family in Haran, it was no doubt, with a smug sense of self satisfaction at having secured the prospect of a highly prosperous future. It was there that Jacob would eventually get a taste of his own medicine at the hands of his relative Laban. Jacob, after waiting seven years, was tricked into marrying Leah, Laban’s eldest daughter and not Rachel, whom Jacob wished to marry. That’s one reason a veil is always lifted at a wedding ceremony today. But as he set off the last thing on his mind was probably an encounter with God.
God, though, had other ideas, confronting him during the night in a vivid unforgettable dream, the first of several such encounters. It was the beginning of a gradual change in Jacob’s life. No-he didn’t change overnight – far from it. He continued in many ways to be the wily schemer of old. Yet the seeds had been sown; God had met with him and opened up a new perspective on life and the beginning of a relationship. It was one, ultimately, that would see Jacob revered as one of the founding fathers of the Jewish faith and a celebrated ‘man of God’.
I wonder if there have been times in your life when you have been suddenly aware of God’s presence? Is God trying to break into your life in some way today? It may not be in such a dramatic way as with Jacob, but it may be you have sensed God’s presence in a very real way? We are reminded in Chronicles that God searches the mind, and understands every plan and thought.
Perhaps this could be your prayer this week?
Living God, I thank you that before I ever thought of seeking you, you came looking for me. I praise you that you had time for me even when I lived only for myself. Teach me that you are always at work in my life, ready to confront me with your searching presence when I least expect it, and challenging me to consider who you are and what you mean in my life. Grant me then eyes to see you and a heart to respond. Through Jesus Christ my Lord, Amen.