Editor's Note: Two installments ago, we talked about the covenant God, particularly as He dealt with Abraham and his son, Isaac. Last week, we looked at God as Creator. We now continue with Isaac's son, Jacob, and apologize for the reversed sequence. See links at the end of this article for other installments.

Jacob

While Esau was the favored child of Isaac, Jacob was the favored child of their mother, Rebekah. Jacob was also the favored one of God.

Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He 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.  There above it stood the LORD, and he said: "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. (Genesis 28:10-13)

Maybe you've already heard of Jacob's ladder...or at least learned how to "make it" with a piece of string woven between your fingers. But, this is the real story of the real ladder and the very real God making a very real promise with a real man. (I know I keep using the word "real," but I'm hoping you catch my point: this truly happened and is not just the stuff Sunday school stories are made of.)

Here's where the covenant between God and Abraham blossoms and begins to bring forth much fruit. First, God changed Jacob's name to Israel.

"Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, [Israel means "he struggles with God"] because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome." (Genesis 32:28)

 Then, He blessed him with twelve sons.

These were the sons of Israel [Jacob]: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. (1 Chronicles 2:1,2)

From these twelve sons came the twelve tribes of Israel whose number is as vast as the unlimited stars in the sky.

The Covenant God of...YOU (and me)!

Did you know that within the covenant God made with Isaac and Jacob is a covenant made with you...and me? Look back to Genesis 26 and 28 where God spoke to these two men. Note these words:

...and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed...

All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.

All nations...all peoples.... That's us.

And how should that be?

By the life, death, and resurrection of God the Son, Jesus the Christ, who was born out of the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

What About You?

Let's make this applicable, shall we? What can we learn from the covenants God made with the Patriarchs of the Jewish faith, which is the foundation of our faith as Christians?

God is a keeper of His word.

God not only brought a mighty nation through the seed of Abraham, that nation produced the Messiah of the whole world. This wasn't necessarily in Abraham's timing...and in fact, he never saw the end result while on living on earth...but God kept that promise.

It's important for us to remember that God won't let us down. He never has and He never will. We may not see all the promises, but He will live up to His end of the bargain. When we hear Him speak to our hearts about the circumstances and concerns we face, we can believe in whatever He tells us.

Even when we get it wrong, God still gets His end of the deal right.

Abraham jumped the gun. Lying with his wife's handmaiden in order to have a son wasn't what God had in mind. Still, the promise was fulfilled when Sarah gave birth to Isaac.

So often we hear specifically from God, then say, "Okay, Lord! I'm going to trust you! I'm going to hand over the reigns of this horse and buggy and let you lead...I am...I really am...right after I take the reigns back and try it one more time on my own."

If that sounds like you, don't worry. We've all been there...and the wonderful news is this: God can handle the reigns. In fact, He created the leather they were made from. But first you have to release them. And when you do...He promises to get it right!

We have no reason to fear the future, or even get wrapped up in our earthly failures. God is our shield and our great reward.

In spite of the fact that both Abraham and Isaac were fatherless, God's promise was to give them descendents. In the days of these two great men, being childless was like a curse. No matter their other successes, they felt like failures in the one department that seemed to matter most. After all, if God was going to make such a covenant with them, the least they could do was produce the child, right?

Wrong. God is going to take care of everything here. As the song goes: God is in control. He will take care of those who trust in Him.

God's promise to you may result in an even greater promise to your descendents.
Allow me to tell you a little personal story. When it comes to athletic ability...I have none. Zero. Zilch. Well, I used to be pretty good at hitting softball, but then I'd have to run around the bases and I was so slow at that...well, what was the point?

In high school the BIG thing within my group of peers was to go skating. But, guess who couldn't pick her feet up once she slipped them into the boots of the skates? It felt like those things weighed a ton!

Years later, however, I stood in a roller skating arena, biting my nails as the winners of the nine-state regional figure skating competition was being announced. You see, my thirteen-year-old daughter was standing in the "pit" with the other competitors. She was dressed in a flaming red costume and earlier that morning she'd skated to "Scott & Fran's Paso Doble," from the movie Strictly Ballroom. She'd done fabulously!

Third place was called. It went to a young girl from South Carolina.

Second place was called. It went to another young girl from South Carolina.

First place.... I chewed a bit harder on my nails. I looked over at my daughter who stood with straight shoulders. I stopped breathing....

"From Central Florida," the announcer said to the thousands of us sitting in the stands, "Jessica Everson!"

Well, let me tell you something...I was more excited at that moment that my child could skate than I would have ever been that I could skate. My daughter's awards and rewards (and they were many in the coming years) were of more value to me than any award or reward I've ever received.

God understands that! What He has in store for you is good. What He has in store for your descendants...even better.

You got questions? God's got answers!

When Rebekah didn't understand what was happening within her womb, she asked the Creator. God wasted no time in answering her.

He will do the same for us. Just this morning I was praying for a young man who has been on my heart a good deal lately. In my mind's eye, I could see a baby learning to walk, taking a few tenuous steps, then dropping to his fanny and crawling a bit. Once again, pulling himself up by a piece of furniture, taking a few steps and falling one more time. This is what's happening, I heard God whisper to my heart. He's learning to walk...he's learning to love.

God answered my question and gave me something new and exciting to pray about!

It gives God great pleasure when we keep our eyes on His promises, rather than our circumstances.

Take note of God's words to Isaac:

I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws."  

In spite of what you see around you, obey God. That's your end of the deal. 

It's easier to hear God speaking to us when we're resting in Him rather than fretting and working.

Jacob heard from God when he was sleeping, not when he was working or walking or even when he was doing whatever one might need to do to "make descendents."

Rarely do I speak to audiences but what I don't share my story of learning about resting in the silences of God. I tell them of the afternoon that author and speaker Robert Benson said to me, "You are the only one who knows what God has whispered to your heart...but you won't hear Him if you don't hush."

In spite of what society would lead us to believe, there is absolutely nothing wrong with our resting, especially when we rest in Him, in His word, and in His promises.

Be still, He says in Psalm 46, and know that I am God.