top of page

Proper 11A Alt 1st Reading

Genesis 28:10-19a

Hannah Beers

The radio waves are full of the latest trends and quick fixes, which make driving to work rather overwhelming. Each day I am inundated with a message of “this product can make you thinner, smarter, more efficient at your job and all in less than 60 days”. No wonder individuals are experiencing higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. The universal message is how we must obtain seemingly unattainable goals. The desire to continually compare ourselves to others and try to obtain unrealistic standards will only drive people into further fighting or turmoil.

In Genesis 25, Jacob and Esau are first seen as fighting in the womb. They are introduced to the world as very different men and growing up to be favored by one of their parents. The narrative of Jacob and Esau drive the comparison analogy of how individuals continually strive to be something they are not. Neither brother was capable of being the other. Time and time again, Jacob and Esau went back and forth about birthright, cheating the other out of a blessing, and ultimately plots to destroy the other.

As Jacob is encountered in Genesis 28, he is fleeing from his brother Esau. Jacob departed from Beersheba and travel toward Haran. When evening arrived, he found a good place to camp and prepared for rest. As he slept, Jacob dreamed about a staircase leading to Heaven. He saw the Lord at the top of the staircase and the Lord spoke to him. The Lord made three promises to Jacob: God will give Jacob and his family the land, Jacob’s descendants will be numerous spreading in all directions, and God will bless all the families of earth through Jacob’s descendants. Each of these promises from God have been shared with Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham. God has been present with Jacob’s family throughout generations.

So, why would God once again reiterate these promises to Jacob? “Suddenly, the solitary Jacob, a refugee from his own community, is not only described in communal terms, but is portrayed as being the focus of the community, the interface between his community’s past and its future.”[1] The process of God’s blessings do not look like worldly blessings, rather in Jacob’s context Abraham was offered these promises as he was settling into the land and now Jacob is offered these as he is fleeing. These promises are reassured to Jacob in verse 15, “What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised to you.”

The Lord is affirming the faithfulness of the promises, which have been shared for generations. Jacob is leaving his family without the assurance of Isaac’s wealth or security of family. He is fleeing his family. The promises of God will not be wholly fulfilled until several generations of Jacob’s descendants have walked the earth. There is no instant gratification or fulfillment for Jacob in these moments. Rather, instead of seeking to whine or complain about the events leading up to his night on the road, his response is, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it! What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!”

If the local radio station was reporting on the events of Jacob’s encounter with God, I wonder what might be shared? Would the radio host seek to find a more instantaneous solution to Jacob’s troubles with his brother or current situation? Or would they try to recommend the latest solution trend? It would be encouraging to hear the validation of Jacob honoring God’s promise by placing a stone of remembrance. The promises of God do not fit the “instant trend solutions” of our current day, rather as