He’ll Be There

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.” (Genesis 28:10-17)

God came one dark night. Jacob was desperate, on the run, and everyone was against him. He was scared. Jacob knew he was in trouble. He’d deceived his old father in order to rob his brother of his birthright. Both his father and his brother were understandably mad at him. In fact, his brother had threatened to kill him and so that’s why he’d had to leave home. His mother had arranged his escape, just as she’d arranged for him to steal the birthright. Perhaps, as he lay down to sleep that night alone and forsaken, he wondered whether that had been such a good idea after all—and whether maybe heading off toward his mom’s relatives was such a good idea, either.

Sleeping with a rock for a pillow, he had weird dreams. And then God talked to him and promised him that everything would be okay. His response was to get scared again, since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. This was his first encounter with God, but would not be his last. Love casts out fear and eventually he would learn to love God instead of being afraid of him. But it would take his whole life. He promised God his devotion, responding to God as human beings always do: first with fear, then with love, knowing that though he was leaving his home, he wouldn’t be alone after all. Our lives teach us that we can trust God to take care of us.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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