Good Cheer in the Vale of Tears Genesis 28:10-22 Pastor Dan Matasovsky

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1 Dear Friends in Christ Jesus; Good Cheer in the Vale of Tears Genesis 28:10-22 Pastor Dan Matasovsky In thinking about an introduction to this message I typed in Jacob Ladder to see what I would get. All I got was a series of ads for selling me a ladders. So I typed in the words. Stairway to Heaven. There were about 11 pages of listings. One of them said this: If this is not your favorite song and if you are between the ages of 17 and 50 You re probably to out of it to care. I didn t know it but there is a Song entitled Stairway to Heaven but it was written 40 years ago. Back in 1971 Robert Plant, a guitarist and Jimmy Page, a vocalist composed this song. This Rock and Roll song has been played many times. What caught my attention is that among Rock and Roll stations they claim that this song is the number one tune requested of all songs played. In fact there is a lot of controversy about the song because some claim that it is an Evangelistic song with hidden meaning. To this day it has drawn a lot of discussion. Let me share with you The opening line. There s a lady who s sure all that glitters is gold and she s buying a stairway to heaven. When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed, with a word she can get what she came for. That sounds pretty bland. (But some argue that the gold is the streets of gold talked about in Revelation and the Word is Jesus Christ as indicated in John 1:14 The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.) I am not going to get into a discussion of the song but all you have to do is type in Stairway to Heaven in your computer and see the discussion. This morning we want to look at another who saw in his dream a Stairway to Heaven. And that was Jacob and what he saw proved to be GOOD NEWS IN A VALE OF TEARS. A LITTLE BACKGROUND TO THE TEXT Isaac and Rebekah had twin boys. The first born was Esau.. Jacob was the second son out of the womb. Now you have to understand in their culture the firstborn was to receive the Birthright. Or to say it another way.. The first born was to receive a double portion of the inheritance and since he was to carry on the family name his blessing would involve what God would do for him. So Esau was to receive a double portion. Esau and Jacob were twins but very different. Esau was born with his whole body like a hairy garment, Jacob was not. Esau loved the out doors Jacob was a mama s boy. They got along like brothers with great difficultly. One time when Esau came in from hunting and was very hungry he saw that Jacob was cooking some red stew. Esau was hungry and asked Jacob for some but Jacob replied: First sell me your birthright. Esau said.. Well I m going to die anyway so I swear the birth right is yours. Jacob gave him some of the stew. Esau had very little concern for his birthright, and Jacob schemed against his brother to try to get the birthright. Both attitudes were displeasing to God, for one despised his birthright and the other tried to steal it. But it certainly shows us that by our sinful nature and our actions, we are all unworthy of any blessing of this life, for we 1 P a g e

2 need to understand that in the entire Bible there is only one good person AND THAT PERSON IS GOD. So it is not a matter of whose right or whose wrong for both boys are wrong, even the parents are wrong, and so are you and me. Years later we see the same kind of deception going on. Isaac, the father, was blind and near death and so he called in Esau and told him to go out and get his father s favorite animal for food, cook it for him, and bring it in so he could bless Esau with the birthright. But Rebekah heard Isaac say this and she wanted Jacob to get the birthright so she set in motion a plan to deceive Isaac. In Genesis 27 & 28 you can read all about Rebekah s plan to deceive Isaac, her husband. First she covered Jacob arms with the skin of an animal.. and around his neck so if Isaac touched his arm or neck area it would feel like the hair of Esau So Jacob goes in with the food his mom has fixed and although Isaac was suspicious saying the voice is Jacob but the skin is Esau and so without hesitation he give the blessing of the first born to Jacob. Shortly thereafter, Esau came in to his father. His father is surprised and tells Esau that the blessing has been given to Jacob. Esau demands that Isaac give him a blessings. So he tells Esau that he will serve Jacob, be a wild man, live far away from there and have to live by the sword. Isaac says I have already given out the blessing and it can not be taken back. Esau is angry and says. The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob. Wow! There is a dysfunctional family. So dad and mom have to come to the rescue of Jacob and decide to send him to his uncle Laban in Haran. This was an unsettling time for Jacob. He now leaves home as a fugitive. He is alone on the run, tired, confused and he has been sent to his uncle Laban, someone he probably has never let and didn t even know if Laban would accept him. So he lays down, near Luz, probably in tears, frustrated, confused, wondering what will happen next. Can you identify with this whole situation?? Maybe there is tension in your family right now and your wondering--- what will happen next..maybe you have done something against another family member or deceived a friend or maybe you are deceiving your parents. Maybe the economy has turned your family upside down- whatever the situation you re not sure what will happen to you. This is why it is good for you and me to hear and see what God does with Jacob. God s Grace reaches into this vale of tears. God reaches down to this broken young man. Even though he had lied, cheated, and stolen the birthright; God promises to be with him. He didn t want Jacob to despair of His love! Jacob had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting from earth to heaven, with angels ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD. Suddenly the Lord speaks: I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give to you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth further You will spread out to the north, south, east and west All people on earth will be blessed through you. I will go with you I will be your God.. I will not leave you.. What a marvelous dream and vision for Jacob. 2 P a g e

3 We really don t get a good idea of what this is all about until we get into the New Testament to the story of Jesus and Nathaniel from (John 1:51). Nathaniel says about Jesus: Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? Jesus responds to Nathaniel: you will see greater things. I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man. Heaven opened in Jacob s dream at Luz and also at Jesus Baptism. It tells us that God does speak to us In the case of Jacob in the dream of a ladder to heaven and to us as He reveal Himself through Jesus, the Word made flesh. Jacob gets the message straight from God about the blessing that will be his. Just as through Jesus Christ, you and I receive the blessings that God has in store for us. WHAT A CHANGE COMES OVER JACOB. When Jacob laid down to sleep he despised this place, using a rock for his pillow; but when he awoke in the morning his whole attitude had changed. The more he pondered God's wonderful promise, the more he was stirred to make a VOW OF GRATITUDE TO THE LORD.. He says: Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it. How awesome is this place. This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven. v So he promises three things to the Lord 1. The Lord shall be my God. 2. I shall build God's house in the place of this stone. 3. I will surely give the 10th unto the Lord of all that He will give to me. This is not bargaining with God.. It is a joyful response in that Jacob gets it. God will be there for him all the time. With that assurance, Jacob knew that even though he had a great distance left to go through a completely foreign and heathen country, God would be with him. Jacob could rest easy for the journey that was before Him. He had God not only looking over Him and protecting him, but God promised that He would get to Haran and also return to this place. It would be good for you and me to remember this when we are struggling to get through life. Parents are you have difficulty with your children? Husband and wife are you struggling with difficult decisions in life, Has there been a divorce or separation in the family structure or is there separation by distance. Sometimes the structure of society has turned us upside down. The upside down economy has put major pressure on families. People at all levels of the economic scale are hurting. Many find themselves stretched to the limit. Then we hear and feel the pain of what happened in Tucsan Arizona and it puts even more pressure on us as a society. Some feel its there own fault and others feel it is the fault of others. Maybe right now you feel a little like Jacob when he was trying to go to sleep before the dream wondering what has happened to your great plans. How are we going to meet our budget? How are we going to get out of this mess? Will the family survive? What is next for us? 3 P a g e

4 What does God say to us today? He may not give us a vision of his angels. He may not give us a stairway to heaven but He does give us his promises in the Scriptures.. God says to us yet today - "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac God has promised us in Hebrews 13:5, Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. Note the confidence the writer his in these words - that God would continue to provide for His people. God has NEVER forsaken his children. EVER! Even when Jacob was running away from home due to his own lies, God stayed with him and assured him of his love, forgiveness, and presence. Our God is a FAITHFUL God. He remains faithful to us, even when we are facing the difficulty of family life, or the downfall of a depressed economy, or even as a congregation who are in the process of calling a Pastor. Cling to God s promises and trust Him when he says that He will provide. The same Savior that promised Jacob and in whom Jacob placed his trust has come. We not only have the promise but we have been to Christmas and Lent and Easter in which we can see that Christ lived a perfect life, died once for all mankind and victoriously rose as the first fruits of all of those who believe in Jesus Christ. Don t lose faith! Cling to God s promise! Hear God say to you, I have GOOD NEWS FOR YOU EVEN IN THIS VALE OF TEARS. II. OUR RESPONSE TO THE GRACE OF GOD Look at Jacob s response to the Lord: 18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He took time out to worship God. That stone which he used as a pillow he sets up as a pillar and anoints it with oil as his worship Then NOTE WHAT HE called that place Bethel, the city used to be called Luz. The word Bethel means House of God. This place is awe-some, it is the gate of heaven where God was. Then he makes a vow, "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father s house, then the LORD will be my God. 22 and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth." These last verses can be misread... so they must be taken in the context of the whole of scripture. He is not bargaining with God. HE IS NOT SAYING: "GOD YOU DO THIS AND THEN I WILL DO THIS...No, Jacob suddenly realizes that God is in charge.. He is saying: "Since God has promised that He will guide me.. Since I believe Him, Here is my respond I will trust Him, I will follow Him, and I will depend on Him as long as I have life. Should that not be our response also. We cannot be thankful to God just by hearing someone tell us: YOU OUGHT TO BE THANKFUL TO THE LORD.' Thankfulness comes from the heart. Real thankfulness comes from the heart that is convinced that God is God He will keep His promises when he says: I will be your great God.. I will not leave or forsake you.. The greater the conviction on our part will move our own response to God.. This vow includes the ideas of a lifelong faithfulness to Him, not as a bargain which we will offer God on the condition that He grant us His blessings, but as the humble expression of a heart filled with gratitude because we know that God will do all that He says unto us. 4 P a g e

5 We are asking Him to do with us as He pleases It might be that we have to go through some trials along the way which will involve even difficulties in our family structure. Don t lose heart! The Apostle Paul says: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose. In 1964 I was on my vicarage from the seminary. The pastor I served under I would characterize as a crusty hard nosed preacher. (I hope I don t become one) One of our main Sunday School Teachers came down with a problem which proved to be cancer and they just didn t have the kinds of treatment that we have today. The pastor said to me... Since you have been working with the Sunday school I want you to regularly visit Mrs. Koproski a couple times a week. I worked hard at writing a devotion so I could build her faith in the Lord. But when I walked into the room she began to talk about how fortunate she was to have cancer for she was looking forward being with Jesus in eternity. Although she was hurting she caught me by surprise. The Lord has now called me to witness to every person that comes through that door and Vicar you just came through that door. When she was finished telling me about Jesus, His love, his forgiveness, and his care for us, she finished by saying: God loves you and so do I. (I was the one with tears not her.) All she said then was I can t wait for the next person to come through that door. Have you ever thought about the fact that God has chosen you and me to be part of His Kingdom? John puts it this way in his gospel: You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will last. JOHN 15:16 To me, that is the most amazing thing in our life. Out of the millions of people in this world, God has chosen you and me. Think about that!!! God s grace has caused us to see the light, to confess our sins, to hear His Word that our sins are forgiven and cause us to hold on to Jesus Christ as our Lord and our Savior. When I think of Mrs. Koproski, and what she had resolved to do, I am reminded again that our response should be: YES, THERE IS GOOD NEWS regardless of the circumstances in life today. Think about this in relationship to your life. Are you in the midst of difficult times? One of those times when everything seems to be going against you? Don t lose sight of the fact that God in His mercy holds each one of you in HIS HANDS. It is true he does not grant us the dream that Jacob had but the end result is the same, isn t it? God send His Son who offered Himself to fulfill the demands of God's Law and also to bear the punishment of our sins.. God is a God of love and through His Word still reaches out to us in our sinfulness. In Christ He forgives our sins, strengthened our faith, and guides us all of our days. Listen again to what he said to Jacob because these words are for you and me...i am the God of Abraham... Behold I am with you and will watch over wherever you go, I will not leave you until I have done what I promised to you. That s Good News for you and you and you.. Do you agree? Then say: AMEN. 5 P a g e

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