I tried contact lenses for the first time this week and it was weird. The optician asked if I’d ever thought about it and then asked if I’d like to give it a go and then suddenly I was adjusting to a lens under my eyelid. It took a few minutes to get used to the sensation but then for the first time in years, I could see without glasses. It was so strange, without having my vision framed by edge of the lenses I could see everything and then I looked in the mirror. For years I had been looking at my face without glasses through the soft focus of uncorrected vision but now there I was looking at my own face with perfect clarity; oh dear! ‘Can I have my glasses back now please?’
I wonder if Isaac had experienced a similar experience, not in terms of his eyesight, but in the way he had come to see the situation he was in. The penny seems to have dropped.
Isaac’s opinion of Jacob and Esau changed somewhat between him giving the blessing and Jacob leaving home. The family account of Isaac and Rebekah’s meeting must have been well known so Esau’s decision to marry local women may have opened Isaac’s eyes to the truth. Esau had little regard for God’s promises and was guided by fleshly appetites. Whatever it was that brought about the change of heart, by the time Jacob was about to leave, Isaac blessed him praying that ‘blessing given to Abraham’ (28:4) would be given to Jacob. He had come to see that just as he had been the one to carry the promises and not Ishmael, his older brother, so Jacob would carry the promises and not his older twin, Esau. He had been wrong in his earlier dealings with the boys but now he can see where God is leading him. When we make mistakes we can sometime stubbornly carry on with the course even when it becomes obvious we are in the wrong; we dig in. It’s better to be an Isaac and be prepared to change course and be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
For Jacob, things would never be the same again. This quiet man who loved to stay among the tents (25:27) was heading out on his own into hostile territory. As he slept, exhausted from the journey, he had a dream of a stairway reaching from earth to heaven with angels ascending and descending. It shows us that there is a way to heaven, that what happens on earth matters to God. In the New Testament, Jesus told Nathanael, who may well have just been reading the account of Jacob’s dream;
“You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that…I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:50-51)
Jesus is the ultimate fulfilment of the promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob since he is the one, descended from their line, that blesses all nations (Genesis 12:3, 22:18, 26:4, 28:14), and is the only way to the Father.
“‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
The vision was wonderful but it was the word from God that must have stirred Jacob’s heart. God made the same promises to him as he had made to Abraham and Isaac but with a personal assurance for Jacob;
“I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (28:15)
God was in control and would have his hand on Jacob and would bring him back into the Promised Land.
Jacob’s response was to worship the Lord and make a promise to him, all be it, a conditional one; ‘If God will….then the Lord will be my God’ (28:20-21)
I’m not sure whether Jacob was in any position to make a bargain with God. After all, he hadn’t exactly been a devout worshiper of the Lord; in fact he was a disaster but the Lord had plans for him. For Jacob, he may have come a long way but there was a very long way to go.
You’ve called me,
I will follow, your will, for me I’m sure.
Let your heartbeat be my hearts cry,
Let me live to serve your call.
Heaven and Earth cry out your name,
Nations rise up and see your face.
And your Kingdom is established,
As I live to know you more.
Now I will never be the same,
Spirit of God, my life you’ve changed.
And I’ll forever sing your praise,
I live to know you Lord, I live to know You Lord.
(I Live To Know You – Darlene Zschech)