Genesis 28:10-17 (ESV)
Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 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.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” And 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.”
Now it’s Jacob’s turn to have an attitude adjustment. Remember, Jacob is running away from his brother, who threatened to kill him. But before he gets far, God gives him a big wake-up call.
Up to this point, Jacob has pretty much been a complete loser. Besides all the lying and stealing, he couldn’t care less about God. He made this clear when he explained to his dad how he (disguised as Esau) got the wild game so fast.
But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “Because the LORD your God granted me success.” – Gen 27:20 (ESV)
“Your God”?? No doubt, Isaac taught his children about their heritage and all the wonderful things the Lord has done. Jacob’s explanation was disrespectful of all this – and he did it reflexively, without thinking, while he was concentrating on faking being Esau.
So God fills Jacob in on where he is, who He is, and what’s going to happen next. But the important thing is that Jacob has the classic “discovering God” shock – a retroactive loss of privacy. He realizes that he’s not alone and that he’s never been alone.
And he was afraid.
The doctrines of God’s omniscience and omnipresence are just peachy, as long as we don’t talk about the impact they have on our privacy. That sort of talk sounds like legalism, and we know that legalism wrong.
But it’s not legalism. In fact, it’s one of the keys to the gospel of grace. If God’s forgiveness is based on His not knowing the whole truth, then it’s not really grace.
Accepting God’s love is hard. We can think, “If He knew all the things I’ve done, there’s no way …”
God is not ignorant, and He makes interesting choices. Praise Him for that.
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