So Jacob has an amazing vision of a stairway between heaven and earth, and angels ascending and descending on it. And at the top was the Lord, who promises him the land, fruitfulness, blessing, protection, his presence and his favour.
Jacob is fleeing the brother whom he had effectively disinherited and deprived of the blessings of the first-born through deceit.
Hardly the best place to meet God and be promised his blessings, wouldn’t you say?
But God is gracious and compassionate, full of mercy and abounding in love.
* * *
So after Jacob’s sons Simeon and Levi disgrace and endanger him through slaughtering every male in Shechem and then looting it, Jacob is on the move again, back to the place of blessing.
God suggests that he returns to Bethel and settles there, building an altar.
In preparation, Jacob commands his household, “get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourself and change your clothes(Gen 35:2).”
When they do so, and bury all the foreign Gods, and the rings they wore as amulets or charms, God gives them safe conduct. “Then they set out, and the terror of God fell upon the towns all around them so that no one pursued them.”
And at Bethel, God blesses him, and promises him fruitfulness and the land, Eretz Israel.
Getting rid of foreign gods was a precursor of protection and blessing.
* * *
Why was this so important?
Because we can only be in one place. We are either in the waterfall of God’s goodness and favour, or we are not.
We are either relying on God, or on our own strategies for success, for wealth, or getting our own way, for example. (Nothing wrong with strategies. Strategy is fun–and strategic action is obviously more effective than random action. However, we have to continually ensure that our strategies either originate with God, or have been run by him, and have his approval.)
For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him (2 Chron. 16:9). Somehow being wholly committed to God, wholly in the river of his love, is necessary to being able to wholly access his ideas, and his inspiration, and to experience his undeserved blessings. Selling everything to buy that pearl.
All I have is yours, and all you have is mine, Jesus says. They are correlated. Perhaps all we have needs to be His, for all He has to become ours.
Our lunch must be handed over to Jesus for 5000 men to feed on it.
* * *
How do we reach this level of surrender?
Reaching total surrender to God and totally experiencing his blessings, ideas and provision, like everything else in life, is a matter of one step at a time, one step of obedience at a time. Practice, blow it; get up, practice again.
I have not reached total surrender, alas, though I want to–because I think living in Jesus is a more exciting place to live than following my own whims and strategies.
Here are some areas I am working on: turning to Jesus rather than food when in a low mood; not worrying about my work, but entrusting it to him and asking for his ideas; doing my fair share of house-running stuff.
But the real battleground for me is within. Forgiving and praying blessing on those who injured me. Blessing those I feel envious of, and asking God to bless me indeed, instead of lingering in envy. Not dwelling in the negative, but turning my thoughts and words to the positive. Praising and thanking God when I do not feel like doing so.
Tweak, tweak, tweak, until I am aligned with Jesus, and living in Jesus, with Jesus himself living in me.
Thank you, Adriana, for your hospitality.