Every sunset is an opportunity to reset | Genesis 28:1-22

October 11, 2021
Series: Jacob
Book: Genesis

Bible Passage: Genesis 28:1-22

Points Covered: A sermon based on Jacob’s dream that encourages us to trust God at difficult times of our life. God dis with you. A closer look at Jacob’s dream.

Are you going through a sunset experience in life? Maybe you had great expectations in life but now your dreams are shattered, you are far away from the promise and you are seeing the end of the day. I am here to tell you that in your dark nights God is still there. God is able to turn things around because every sunset is an opportunity to reset.

Turn your bibles to Genesis 28. Jacob deceivingly got the birthright from Isaac for which his elder brother is angry with him.

1. Jacob leaving his home.

Soon he is leaving his home, running for his life. He left home so quickly. It wasn’t the beautiful send-off he wanted.

Jacob is on a long journey, 800 KM from Beersheba to Haran. It was a journey backward in time for Jacob, backward because he was retracing the steps of his grandfather Abraham who came from Haran to the Promised Land many years ago. Abraham left behind him a settlement of people. So, it was natural that Rebekah thought of Haran for a safe haven for her youngest son.

It was far enough where Esau wouldn’t follow him, yet there was family there, Rebekah’s brother, so Jacob wouldn’t be alone. Rebekah’s plan was simple. She sent him to a safe place for a few months until Esau’s anger passed away. Then she would send word for Jacob to come home. In the meantime, she hoped that her son would marry one of her relatives in Haran and eventually return home. It was a good plan, and in fact it came to pass, but not exactly as Rebekah envisioned.

2. On the Road to Haran.

Jacob was quick to run from his circumstances but never knew that his journey would be stopped. Genesis 28:11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Remember no one can run from God. Today if you are sitting here with the sun setting down on you, you have nowhere to go, you see no light for the future, God has a plan for you.

Now, in the evening, as the sun sinks over the western horizon, Jacob stops for the night. He’s come to the outskirts of the city called Luz; a place unknown to him. Jacob was filled with fear. Jacob made his bed. In the gathering darkness, Jacob rests his head upon a stone.

I imagine he had a hard time sleeping that night, thinking what happened. He left behind an aging father whom he cheated on. He thought of the shameful deceit. He remembered waving goodbye to his loving mother. He thought of Esau and he would have been filled with the fear of death.

As the stars came out, and the strange sounds of night filled his ears, Jacob realized that for the first time in his life he was truly alone. Homeless, penniless, helpless, and alone. Jacob got what he wanted but that night he could reflect on the terrible price he paid for the thing he wanted so much.

He drifted off to an uneasy sleep. While he slept, he had one of the most famous dreams in history. Genesis 28:12-13a 12He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.13There above it stood the LORD.

3. The stairway to Heaven.

In his dream, Jacob saw a stairway or ladder descending from heaven to earth. Jacob sees this stairway resting on the earth right where he happened to be. On the stairway, Jacob saw the angels of God going up and down the stairs.

God had never spoken to Jacob before. God spoke to his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac. He heard about God from his father and grandfather. He was raised in their faith and believed their faith, but he had never had a personal experience with the God. The amazing point is that God now speaks to Jacob at the moment of his desperation.

Now that he is running for his life, now that he is leaving the Promised Land, now that he has disgraced himself, now that he finally reached the bottom, God speaks to Jacob. C.S. Lewis said “God whispers to us in our pleasure and shouts to us in our pain. Pain, he said, is God’s megaphone to rouse a sleeping world.” Now God moves to rouse Jacob even while he sleeps.

Not many people in the Bible saw angels. Jacob is one of those lucky few. What are the angels doing? They are taking messages from earth up to heaven and messages from heaven down to earth. They are heavenly couriers who report to God concerning the situation on the earth. They also carry out God’s will: Answering prayers, giving guidance, providing protection, fighting for the people of God, fending off the attacks of Satan. Today God’s angels are around you.

At the top of the ladder stood God himself. Just think about that. Jacob at the bottom, God at the top, a stairway filled with angels in between.

Listen, there was a reason why Jacob was a cheater. He cheated because he thought God was far away from him. He thought of a God in heaven having nothing to do with man’s day-to-day affairs. To Jacob, God was too big to ever be concerned about someone like him. Jacob viewed God as entirely great, but so far from the earth that God had no time for the details of human life.

We all feel that way sometimes. “I know God loves me, but in this big world how can God have time to care about me?” That’s how Jacob had lived for all these years. He cheated because he thought God either didn’t notice or didn’t care or was too busy to help him out. So, Jacob consistently took matters into his own hands.

But Jacob is wrong. Look at the message of the dream: Genesis 27:15 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.

God is telling: “Jacob, I’m nearer to you than you think I am. Although I am in heaven and you are on earth, there’s a stairway that reaches from me to you. And my angels are constantly watching over you. When you travel, my stairway travels with you. I was with you in Beersheba. I was with you when you tricked Esau. I was with you when you deceived your father. I am with you tonight. And I will be with you in Haran. Everywhere you go, I will go with you.”

It’s a message about the nearness and promise of God to a messed-up Jacob. In his brokenness and loneliness God is reassuring Jacob that God will be with Jacob.

4. The dream interpreted.

  1. God’s promise to Abraham reaffirmed.
    Genesis 28:13aThere above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac.

What was the promise given to Abraham?
i. Land. I will give you this land. Genesis 28:13b I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.
ii. Children. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth. Genesis 28:14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth.
iii. Blessings. Genesis 28:14 All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.
iv. I am with you. Genesis 28:15a I am with you.
v. I will watch over you. Genesis 28:15b I will watch over you wherever you go.
vi. I will not leave you. Genesis 28:15c I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.

  1. Met Jacob at the point of his need.
    For every thought of failure, he had that night, God spoke to him and assured him.
  2. Shame & Betrayal. Thoughts of shame of betraying his father. Genesis 28:13aThere above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac.
    b. Loss of homeland. Genesis 28:13b I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.
    c. Insignificance. Thoughts of feeling insignificant. Genesis 28:14 All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.
    d. Loss of family. Genesis 28:14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth.
    e. Fear of the future. Genesis 28:15a I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.
    f. Fear of Failure. Genesis 28:15c I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.

Jacob now receives the very same promise God gave his grandfather and his father. In addition, God promises to be with him while he is in Haran and to bring him back someday to the Promised Land.

In every situation of life God is already at work before I get there. So many times, I tend to limit my thinking to the fact that God is with me as I go through life. He’s not only with me now, he’s already way up the road ahead of me. While I am struggling with the problems of today, God is providing solutions for the things I am going to face tomorrow. He’s already there, working in situations I have yet to face.

Are you worried about tomorrow? He’s already there. How about next week? He’s already there. What about that job, relationship, sickness? Fear not. He goes ahead of you, clearing the way, arranging the details of life, so that when you get there, you can have confidence that God has already been there before you. Deuteronomy 31:8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Suddenly Jacob woke up from his sleep. Genesis 28:16-17 16When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

What was it that Jacob discovered? He discovered the omnipresence of God, that God is everywhere present all the time. God is everywhere. Wherever you are, there God is. And wherever you are, there is a stairway to heaven reaching down from God to right where you are.

When the sun sets, God is there. When you go through affliction, problems with your job, when children are sick, when you are betrayed, when your marriage is rocky, when dream fails God is there.

Illustration:  In the book called ‘The Hiding Place’ portrays the story of Corrie Ten Boom and her deliverance from a Nazi prison camp. The book speaks about how Corrie and her sister hid Jews in Holland, were eventually arrested, and sent to the Ravens Bruck Concentration Camp. Corrie’s sister became very sick and Corrie tried to encourage her not to give up. As they sang Christian songs and recited Scripture, the prison guards came in and beat them. In the midst of that unspeakable degradation, Corrie and her sister witnessed for Jesus Christ. However, in early 1945, through a clerical error, Corrie was released from the prison camp. A few days later all the women her age were put to death. Corrie survived and served the Lord. Corrie Ten Boom said, “I’ve been going all over the world, with one message: There is no pit so deep that the love of God is not deeper still.” Even a Nazi prison camp can become Bethel, the house of God, and the gate of heaven. God is everywhere but most of us meet him in the pit holes of life.

5. An Altar and a Vow.

Genesis 28:20-22 20Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the LORD will be my God 22and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”

6. Jesus Christ is Jacob’s Ladder.

Now, come with me to John 1. After Philip met Jesus of Nazareth for the first time to spoke about it to his friend Nathanael. John 1:46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip.

John 1:47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” “Israel” was the name given to Jacob by God. If “Jacob” means “cheater,” then “Israel” means “a noble person who prevails with God.” In essence, Jesus is saying to Nathanael, “You are a true son of the man called Israel.” To say it that way would remind Nathanael of the story of Jacob.

John 1:49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
John 1:51 He Jesus added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

What is Jesus referring to? He’s referring to Genesis 28, the history of Jacob’s ladder. In the New Testament, Jesus is the ladder to heaven. In Genesis 28 God was at the top and Jacob was at the bottom. In John 1 Jesus the Son of God is at the bottom of the ladder. What does it mean? It means that in the person of Jesus Christ, God has come down the ladder to join us on the earth.

Jesus Christ is himself the stairway that leads back to heaven. If you want to go to heaven, Jesus is the stairway, he is the ladder. John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Jacob’s ladder is Jesus Christ himself. He came down from heaven to earth so that we might have a way to go from earth to heaven. Now that Jesus has come, we know that God can never be far away from us. He is with us and he will lead us all the way to eternal life. Matthew 28:20 And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Conclusion: Today what is the sunset experience you are going through in life? Your difficulty and discouragement are part of God’s preparation for greater things to come. You may feel that there is no one with you but God is with you. Every sunset is an opportunity to reset. A new dawn is going to come. God will fulfill his promises. Jacob’s ladder reaches all the way down from heaven, down to the bottom of the pit of your condition. Prayer for a fresh start, new beginning in Jesus.