- Sermon Notes
Transformation at Heaven’s Gate
Genesis 28 is a lesson in transformation.The story centers on Jacob.He was the second born of twins, and as he was being born, he had hold of his brother
Esau’s heel, so they called him “heel snatcher,” or in other words, supplanter, one who trips people by catching them by the heel.
Unfortunately, he lived up to his name.When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a peaceful man, living in
tents.One day when Jacob had cooked stew, Esau came in from the field and was famished; and Esau said to Jacob, “Please let me have some of that red
stew there, for I am famished.”But Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.”
Now, it’s Esau’s bad here also, because he didn’t value his birthright and sold it far too easily.His birthright for a bowl of stew? Really? Jacob took
advantage of Esau’s hunger; he caught him by the heel, you might say, and took his birthright.
Then later, when their mother, Rebekah, overheard Isaac plotting to give the blessing that goes with that birthright to Esau, she hatched a plan
so that Jacob would deceive Isaac into giving the blessing to him instead.
When Esau discovered they had deceived Isaac and that Jacob had received Isaac’s blessing, he became enraged and made it known that as soon as
Isaac had passed away, he would kill his brother Jacob.
That’s where we pick up our story in Genesis 28.Rebekah knows Esau intends to kill Jacob, so she used her influence as a wife to convince Isaac to send
Jacob away that he might find a wife amongst her relatives 500 miles away in Haran.A perfectly rational explanation; a great cover for why Jacob must
run for his life.
Jacob, the supplanter, the heel snatcher, leaves behind the inheritance he took from his brother; he leaves his home, and his family with nothing.All his
conniving and heel catching has caught up with him.What he needs, what anyone needs who has been living by their own clever means, is an encounter
with God.That is the key to transformation and that is the lesson from this chapter.
I. Running from Troubles Doesn’t Work
- Jacob is on the run from Esau, but in reality, it’s God he’s been running from for a long time.
- Abraham was called the friend of God, Isaac was instructed by God, but Jacob has never known God for himself, and the results are clearly seen in his
- There’s an old saying; “God has no grandchildren.” It means that each person must have his own relationship to God.You can’t ride on the relationship
your spouse has with God, or your father or your mother, each person must have their own relationship to God.
A.We must come to the end of ourselves
- Jacob’s cunning was finally catching up to him.
- The consequences of what was in his heart were chasing him, and he was on the run.
- He had to leave the mother he loved, he deceived his father, and his brother wants to kill him. In other words, conflict and heartbreak was all around
him and he didn’t have the character to resolve anything, instead he kept making it worse.
- Jacob could not have felt good about himself when he was receiving that blessing from his father Isaac. That was a sneaky and deceiving thing to do
and you can be sure the Holy Spirit was convicting his heart. That’s what the Holy Spirit does…
- John 16:7-9, “but if I go, I will send the Holy Spirit to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness
- God allows us to come to the end of ourselves.
Illus – Many people are tempted at the thought of leaving their troubles behind and starting over. They say
to themselves, “Everything is so messed up that it would be better to throw in the towel and start over.”
The problem I have found with this approach is this; “wherever you go, there you are.” In other words, you take yourself with you wherever you
go and therefore, when you leave, you take the real problem with you.
App – Verse 11 says that he came to a “certain place.” It wasn’t just another place; it was where Jacob was going to come to the end of
himself. It was the perfect place.
- Just because times are bad doesn’t mean God isn’t doing anything. If God allows you to come to the end of yourself, then God is doing something important.
A.You can’t outrun God
- You can be sure that God had been working on Jacob’s heart, but Jacob wasn’t listening.
Illus – Jacob had been hitting ‘ignore’ on his cell phone for a long time. Cell phones were a great invention and when they first came
out they had an “ignore” button.When our kids started getting cell phones, however, I told them this one very important rule, “When I call, you don’t
hit the ‘ignore’ button.The most important call you’re ever going to receive is the one from your mom or me.You drop everything to take that call.”
- When God is trying to get your attention, it would be good to not ignore it. God tries to get our attention because He has a much better plan for our
lives, if we would just stop running from God.
Illus – One of the best illustrations of this is Jonah. Asked to go to Nineveh and bring the word of God, he went the opposite way toward
Tarshish in what is now Spain. The ship then encounters a terrible storm – time to meet God!
You think you’re running away from God, but God is there waiting for you!
Jonah 2:3-4, “All Your breakers and billows passed over me. So I said, ‘I have been expelled from Your sight. Nevertheless I will look
again toward Your holy temple.’”
- Soon he is giving thanks to God!
Illus – Saul, later we know him as Paul – kicking against the goads; God had to knock him off his high horse; literally… Then came
Acts 9:11, And the Lord said to Ananias, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from
Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying,”
II.We Need an Encounter with God
- Jacob comes to a certain place and lays down to sleep, but God is there ready to reveal Himself to Jacob.
- This is what we need. We need to come to the end of ourselves and have a “come to Jesus” meeting!
A. His kindness leads us to repentance
- God shows Jacob a ladder between the earth and heaven with angels ascending and descending.
- He then gives Jacob the blessing He gave to Abraham and to Isaac. Through the descendant of Jacob, “All the families of the earth will be blessed.”
And, “I will be with you…”
- Notice he didn’t lecture, condemn, or rebuke…
Romans 2:4, Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads
you to repentance?
App – God knows that we must change the desire of our heart. Change comes when we desire what God wants for us. But we must willingly
- The problem for some, however, is that they would rather feel badly about themselves. It’s a form of self inflicted punishment…
Illus – In the old days people used to sit in a little round tub to take a bath. The problem was that they were sitting in their own dirty
water. It’s a picture of wallowing in self pity.
- There is something somewhat comforting in self pity, is there not?
Illus – I remember breaking up with a girlfriend, okay, she broke up with me, and wallowing in my “feelings?” I would take a long drive
and put in the 8-track of Engelbert Humperdinck singing, “Feelings, nothing more than feelings, trying to forget my, feelings of love… tear
drops, rolling down on my face.”
A.God has a wonderful plan for your heart
- There was a famous gospel tract called the Four Spiritual Laws and one of those spiritual laws said, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your
- The problem as I saw it was that people were looking for God’s plan for their lives more than they were wanting a personal relationship with God.
- The transformation of God in us is centered on what God is doing to bring us to a personal relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ.
- God has a wonderful plan for your heart, to transform you by His Word.
Romans 12:2, And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
Philippians 1:6,being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
- Jacob awoke and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”
- You think you’re in a hard place, a place filled with rocks, you even have a rock for a pillow, but you’re not alone; God is in that place.
Psalm 23:4, Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff,
they comfort me.
Psalm 139:5, 7-8, 10, You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me… Where can I go from Your Spirit?Or where
can I flee from Your presence?If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there… Even there Your hand will
lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me.
App- Jesus is the connection between heaven and earth and His Spirit is filling our hearts and moving in the church even now.
Illus – In John 1, Jesus was calling Nathanael…
John 1:48-51, Nathaniel said to Him, “How do You know me?”Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you are
under the fig tree, I saw you.”Nathaniel answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.”Jesus answered and said to him,
“Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe?You will see greater things than these.”And He said to him, “Truly, truly,
I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
A. Respond with sincere worship
- Jacob’s response is powerful to see. He rises early, filled with awe of God, and sets up an altar to worship God. He then calls that place Bethel,
or ‘house of God.’
- Worship is the right response of the heart to what God has done. We were made for worship because in worship we give a response to God for all He has
done for us.
- There were then three parts in Jacob’s responding in worship.
- First, he set up an altar – here’s my heart.
- Second, he looked to God to be with him and help him along the way – here’s my life.
- He committed a tithe of all that he had – here’s my worship in trusting you with all that I have.
App – when we receive tithes and offerings we make a point of reminding people that this is part of our worship in thanking God for His
blessing and provision in our lives.
- Lastly, in Genesis 29:1, it says, “Jacob lifted up his feet and came to the land of the sons of the east.”
- I love the picture that gives of Jacob now going forward in life convinced that God is with him.
Genesis 28:1-22 NASB
Arise, go to Paddan-aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and from there take to yourself a wife from the daughters of Laban your
mother’s brother. 3 May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. 4 May He also
give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and to your descendants with you, that you may possess the land of your sojournings, which God gave to
Abraham.” 5 Then Isaac sent Jacob away, and he went to Paddan-aram to Laban, son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, the mother of
Jacob and Esau.
that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and had gone to Paddan-aram. 8 So Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan displeased his father Isaac;
9 and Esau went to Ishmael, and married, besides the wives that he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth.
he took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head, and lay down in that place. 12 He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on
the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. 14
Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south;
and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go,
and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep
and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is
none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
called the name of that place I.e. the house of God Bethel; however, previously the name of the city had been Luz. 20
Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments
to wear, 21 and I return to my father’s house in safety, then the Lord will be my God. 22 This stone, which I have set up as a pillar,
will be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”