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Surely the Lord Is in This Place
Dr. Tony Chute, Lead Pastor
Overview: The departure of Jacob from his father’s home and the departure of Esau from his father’s ways illustrates two very different paths of life. Jacob left with his father’s blessing while Esau married a Canaanite woman despite his father’s warning. As Jacob begins his journey, he receives a vision of the sovereign Lord with angels ascending and descending between heaven and earth. The Lord assures Jacob that he is the inheritor of Abraham’s blessings and promises to accompany him wherever he goes. Jacob responds with astonishment and worship, marking the location as holy ground and pledging from that time forth to serve the Lord. Like Jacob and the original audience, we too can be comforted by embracing the promises of God in all circumstances and recognizing the presence of God in all places.
01. The promises of God belong to the people of God from the moment they are mentioned until the day they are accomplished.
02. The presence of God sustains the people of God in manifold ways even when we are not sensible or mindful that He is with us.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION & DISCOVERY
1. What accounts for Isaac’s change of heart in Genesis 28:1-5 as he gives the blessing to Jacob? Why didn’t he bless Jacob in the first place? How much time and effort could we save if we believed and obeyed the Lord from the very beginning instead of at the very end?
2. Why did Esau marry a Canaanite woman? Why were marriages between Israelites and Canaanites prohibited? What does Esau’s continued disobedience to God’s commands and his negligence of the things of God reveal about the condition of his heart? How do such actions illustrate the teaching of Jesus when He said, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33)?
3. Was Jacob seeking the Lord when the Lord appeared to him in a dream? What does the Lord’s pursuit of Jacob suggest about the relentless grace of God in pursuing sinners? Would you say that you were seeking God when you became a Christian, or that God was seeking you, or both?
4. What is the significance of the vision in verses 12-15? What does the ladder, or stairway, suggest about the connection between heaven and earth? Is God removed from the world? Is God unaware of the concerns of the world? How does John 1:43-51 bring additional insight into God’s activity in this world?
5. Comment on Jacob’s statement, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it” (verse 16). In what ways are you aware of God’s presence in your life? What circumstances tend to shake or challenge your belief that God is present? How does the designation of the area as the “house of God” point to the importance of sacred space for places of worship, such as a church building?
For Further Reading: Allen Ross, Recalling the Hope of Glory: Biblical Worship from the Garden to the New Creation (Kregel, 2006).