We find another blessing of Jacob by Isaac, now that it seems that the waters have calmed somewhat. Things are a bit more tranquil and maybe the Lord has spoken to both Rebekah and Isaac as to the role and the place that Jacob is going to take. Some see two different stories written by different authors here. I don’t, I see two different blessings, each one in its own unique context. Interesting how the major request that Isaac makes of his son is that he marry someone within the family. This is specifically in regards to religious background. We spoke to this point already earlier. Jacob does that, he heads towards his uncle’s house, Laban. Esau overheard this request and is probably sick of Isaac and Rebekah being really unhappy with his foreign wives, so he goes and marries someone at least within the extended family by going out to Ishmael’s kids. It works and it shows some penitence for the former marriages which were not pleasing at all to mom and pop.
In these Scriptures you find the classic tale of Jacob’s ladder.
It has traditionally been used as song for those who are persecuted in their society and culture. The approach is taken that Jacob is fleeing Esau and yet is a chosen one of the Lord. This attribute of being the chosen one, the chosen people, has been used throughout the generations. The earliest pilgrims saw themselves as the New Israel, the people of God who were driven from Europe to settle in the US as the chosen ones because of the persecution that they received back “home”. The whole black gospel genre came out of the understanding of a people chosen by God and blessed by God but who currently were in captivity but would soon be liberated. Their captivity did not diminish their choseness, actually in many ways it validated it. Jacob running from Esau, is a like to Jesus being persecuted by the religious leaders, and so would be a like to believers in the face of persecution and violence against them seeing themselves as the people of God.
Back to Jacob. He uses a rock as a pillow and has a dream of this ladder and the top of it reached into heaven and there were angels ascending and descending. It is in the midst of this dream that God reiterates Abraham’s promise to Jacob. I have given you this land. You will spread out from this land. Your family shall be blessed and all the families of the earth shall be blessed because of you. That’s pretty encompassing.
Jacob realizes that something pretty important has happened. Have you ever had something really important happen and you just kind of miss the meaning behind the message? Not so for Jacob here. In fact he says, God if you do all of this, then this very place will be the place for your temple. It will be a place where people will worship you for generations to come. He calls it Bethel which means house of God. This promise by Jacob is carried out.