Athlete, God Provides

*This devotional series was written by the AIA staff team at the University of Virginia

Read Genesis 27:41-28:22

Rebekah and her son Jacob are deceptive, but Esau is driven by impulse and revenge. First, he plans to kill Jacob. Second, we learned at the very end of chapter 26 that he married two women who were Hittites, one of the people groups in the land of Canaan. When Esau finds out that they were a "source of grief" to his parents, he goes out and marries a daughter of Ishmael to intensify their grief.  In contrast, Jacob's avoidance of women who would become his spiritual downfall is the only good move he has made to this point.  Nevertheless, God has chosen Jacob to be his instrument of grace, and God goes to work on him.

As He did for Isaac, God reaffirms the Abrahamic covenant blessings to Jacob. Jacob has been seeking to garner these blessings for himself, but through the vision God shows that He comes down to Jacob (cf. John 1:51), Jacob does not ascend to God (cf. Genesis 11:4). Notice Jacob's reaction. It's not every day that God spoke to people through visions, but Jacob seems particularly surprised and fearful that God would speak to him (28:16-17). He certainly sees it as a monumental event in his life, but he is still not all-in.   He still wants God to prove himself. He has an "if ... then" faith (28:20-22).  

Questions for Reflection & Prayer

1. "If ... then" vows are not necessarily looked down upon in Scripture, but Jacob seems to be basing his entire commitment and faithfulness on a sort of bargain with God. Are there any areas of your life in which you have an unhealthy "if ... then" faithfulness?  

2. Ask God to show you ways that you may be seeking to garner blessing for yourself, as Jacob did, rather than trusting God to provide.

3. The importance of marrying well could hardly be emphasized more than it has been in Genesis.  As much as Isaac, Rebekah, and Jacob stumbled, this is one thing they got right. If you desire to be married, are you wholeheartedly committed to pursuing only people who will draw you closer to Jesus?  While marriage is a great gift, so is singleness, and only God can satisfy our souls.  Pray for yourself and your friends. 

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