And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat…
There were three steps in God's dealings with this mean and crafty spirit; and in one form or another they have a universal application.
1. To begin with, God revealed Jacob to himself.
2. In the next place, God permitted Jacob to suffer the loss of all earthly friends and goods.
3. Finally, God thrust into Jacob's life a revelation of His love. That ladder symbolized the love of God. All through his life that love had surrounded Jacob with its balmy atmosphere; but he had never realized, or returned, or yielded to it. But now it was gathered up and crystallized into one definite appeal, and thrust upon him; so that he could do no other than behold it. And in that hour of conviction and need, it was as welcome as a ladder put down into a dark and noisome pit, where a man is sinking fast into despair; he quickly hails its seasonable aid, and begins to climb back to daylight. The revelation of God's love will have five results on the receptive spirit.
I. IT WILL MAKE US QUICK TO DISCOVER GOD. Jacob had been inclined to localize God in his father's tents: as many localize Him now in chapel, church, or minister; supposing that prayer and worship are more acceptable there than anywhere beside. Now he learned that God was equally in every place — on the moorland waste as well as by Isaac's altar, though his eyes had been too blind to perceive Him. In point of fact, the difference lay not in God, but in himself; the human spirit carries with it everywhere its own atmosphere, through which it may see, or not see, the presence of the Omnipresent. If your spirit is reverent, it will discern God on a moorland waste. If your spirit is thoughtless and careless, it will fail to find Him even in the face of Jesus Christ.
II. IT WILL INSPIRE US WITH GODLY FEAR. "He was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place!" "Perfect love casteth out fear" — the fear that hath torment; but it begets in us another fear, which is the beginning of wisdom and the foundation of all noble lives; the fear that reveres God, and shudders to grieve Him; and dreads to lose the tiniest chance of doing His holy will. True love is always fearless and fearful. It is fearless with the freedom of undoubting trust; but it is fearful lest it should miss a single grain of-tender affection, or should bring a moment's shadow over the face of the beloved.
III. IT WILL CONSTRAIN US TO GIVE OURSELVES TO GOD.
IV. IT WILL PROMPT US TO DEVOTE OUR PROPERTY TO HIM. "Of all that Thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto Thee." There is no reason to doubt that this became the principle of Jacob's life: and if so, he shames the majority of Christian people — most of whom do not give on principle; and give a very uncertain and meagre percentage of their income.
V. IT WILL FILL US WITH JOY. "Then Jacob lifted up his feet" (Genesis 29:1, marg.). Does not that denote the light-hearted alacrity with which he sped upon his way? His feet were winged with joy, and seemed scarcely to tread the earth. All sorrow had gone from his heart; for he had handed his burdens over to those ascending angels. And this will be our happy lot, if only. we will believe the love that God hath to us. We, too, shall lose our burdens at the foot of the Cross; and we shall learn the blessed secret of handing over, as soon as they arise, all worries and fears to our pitiful High Priest.
(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,