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The House Of God-The Gate Of Heaven

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The House Of God—The Gate Of Heaven

Genesis 28:10-22

       We want to thank God for the opportunity to participate in the dedication of this house of God.  On this esteemed occasion, I would like to look at the first time that the phrase “the house of God” is used in the Bible and make some application to this situation.

       The story that I want to consider is the story of Jacob.  Isaac, the son of Abraham took Rebekah to be his wife.  Rebekah was barren, but Isaac prayed for her and she conceived.  Rebekah was pregnant with twins that struggled within her womb.  This troubled Rebekah and she inquired of the Lord about what was going on inside of her.  The Bible says in

Genesis 25:23, “And the Lord said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples shall be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger.’”

After the boys were born, their struggle continued and Jacob, the younger, the supplanter, the cheater, bought the birthright from Esau for a bowl of lentil soup.  He would eventually also wrestle away from Esau the blessing of the first-born.

       In the “Family Mess” series we studied how mother and son, Rebekah and Jacob, conspired to trick their elderly, blind husband and father, Isaac out of the blessing.  Because of that act:

·        We saw Isaac trembling and shaken;

·        We saw Esau embittered and threatening to murder his brother;

·        We saw Rebekah bereft of both of her sons, and probably a good relationship with her husband; and

·        We saw Jacob have to flee from His brother, losing his family, his home, his country, and seemingly his destiny.  (FAMILY MESS!)

And Jacob went through all of this for a birthright and blessing that were already prophesied and promised to Him by Jehovah God!

This is where we pick up the story today, with Jacob fleeing from his brother, Esau.  Notice with me please Genesis 28:10-22?

       Here, while Jacob was troubled and on the run, God showed up!

       I am going to guess Pastor Glass, that you have been troubled and on the run about many things that have to do with providing a place of worship for this congregation, but God has shown up!!!

       God showed up in a dream!

       There are three prominent things communicated in the dream.  In the imagery of the dream is a metaphor of Jesus Christ.  He is a ladder whose foot rests on earth and whose top rests in heaven.  He is the Mediator between God and Man.  He is the Way into heaven.

       Secondly, God repeats the Abrahamic Covenant.

       Thirdly, God promises Jacob that He will keep him, bring him back to this land, and that He would not leave Him until He fulfilled the promise of the Abrahamic Covenant.

       Jacob said that Jehovah was in that place and he had not recognized it.

       God manifests Himself in places and sometimes we don’t recognize them.  Because they were not previously sanctified places, we often miss God’s visitation.

       God may not choose to show up at your shrine.  He will often make a whole new place.

       Who would have thought that God was in this place?

Notice that Jacob was afraid and he experienced awe, for he used the word “awesome.”  Holy reverence is one genuine response of worship.  We ought to get in touch with the awesomeness of God!

Out of this holy reverence arose an acknowledgement of God’s presence in that place.  This was not some place where God was just passing by; this was the house of God and the gate to heaven!  “You are awesome in this place Mighty God!”

       Here we are introduced to a new word.  The word ‘house’ comes into usage.  That is all I really want to deal with.  The Hebrew word for ‘house,’ bayith, differs from the preceding words that were used to describe a tent.  The word ‘house’ conveys the idea of a fixed, settled habitation.  Jacob said, because of God’s encounter with him there, this is the “place” or “house” of God.  It was the “place” or “house” of God in that God was omnipresent, i.e. present everywhere at the same time, but had chosen to manifest His presence at this time and place.


God is transcendent and yet immanent.  God is greater than and different from Humankind and creation, and yet God is immanent or inherent within Humankind and creation.

·        God is in the sun, but He is different than and greater than the sun.

·        God is in moon, but He is different from and greater than the moon.

·        God is in Humankind, from a creational perspective, but He is different from and greater than Humankind.

·        God is omnipresent, but chooses, for His own purposes and glory, to display His manifest presence at certain places and points in history.

·        God was with Jacob wherever he went, but He chose to encounter Jacob and this place and time in His life.[1]

We have lost this in America.  We treat these places with little reverence.  The local church place, property, and building are now treated as auditoriums and simple gathering places, rather than awe-inspiring, dreadful places.  But, this is the house of God and the gate to heaven.

Jacob was profoundly moved.  The voice, the words of hope, the actual presence of “El Shaddai” brought him around to worship, awe, and commitment.[2]

I.     The Memorial.

(In coincidence with this extraordinary revelation of God, he memorialized the spot and the event in his life.  He did this through three actions:)

1.     He set up a pillar.

“To make this a never-to-be-forgotten experience, he set up a stone pillar to indicate that this was a holy spot, a sanctuary where intimate fellowship with God would always be possible.”[3]  This pillar was an altar of remembrance to commemorate the revelation of God to Him through a dream.

       Jacob probably already believed in God.  He was the grandson of Abraham and the son of Isaac, the two progenitors of the Jewish race and faith.  They no doubt had taught him about Jehovah.  So, this is probably not initial belief in God or salvation, but a special encounter with God.

       Today, we are hear to set up a pillar right here, to indicate that this is a holy spot, a sanctuary, where intimate fellowship of God will always be possible!

(Not only did he set up a pillar, but:)

2.     He poured oil on its top.

He anointed that pillar with oil.  Anointing this pillar with oil set it apart for sacred purposes.  He would never allow this spot to be used for any profane or unconsecrated purpose.

       We anoint this place tonight and set it apart for sacred purposes!!!

       This was “the ceremony then used in dedicating their altars, as an earnest of his building an altar later, when he had more time and opportunity.”[4]  Although this was just a pillar, it was the down payment upon an altar.  Jacob would return to this spot and build an altar in the future.  The Bible says of Jacob in

Genesis 35:7, “And he built an altar there, and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed Himself to him, when he fled from his brother.”

We are not only anointing this place, but promising to turn this place into an abiding altar, where God will be worshipped through sacrificial offerings.

(Not only did He set up a pillar and pour oil on it, but:)

3.     He gave the place a new name.

Jacob renamed the place of this tremendous event.  The nearby town was called Luz, meaning “almond tree,” probably because there were almond trees growing there.  But Jacob changed the name of the place to Beth-el, meaning the House of God.  God had chosen this place, of all places, to reveal Himself to Jacob, and Jacob renamed the place to reflect its special significance in his life.  Beth-el was the place that Abraham camped, when He left his father’s house.  Bethel became, in time, a place of worship for the 10 tribes of Israel.

       The place where God chooses to give us a special revelation of Himself ought have a different meaning than all other places in our lives, and perhaps be assigned a new name.  And every time you return to that place, it should strike a chord of worship in your heart.

(Jacob not only set up a memorial to this supernatural occasion in his life, he also vowed a vow.  Let’s explore this vow for a few minutes.)

II.    The Vow.

Vowing has long been recognized as a form of religious expression.  To vow is to promise or assert with one’s mouth to do something, because of some religious reason.  Under the law, the principle of vowing was recognized as in itself a suitable expression of religious sentiment.  There were even what was called “votive” offerings, which were recognized under the sacrificial system.  Vows were entirely voluntary, but once they were made they were regarded as compulsory.

       It is altogether human, if not biblically prescribed, to vow something to God when a significant religious experience has occurred.

       What do you want to vow tonight to commemorate this significant religious milestone?

(Let’s explore Jacob’s vow and try to learn from it:)

1.     The prerequisites or conditions.

Jacob prescribed a number of prerequisites or conditions on his vow.  These conditions were far below the level of the dream that he had just received, but Jacob was not yet ready to fully trust the God of Abraham and Isaac.  Notice the prominent “if” in verse 20.  “Spiritually, Jacob still had a long way to go, but he made progress in this encounter with God.”[5]  At least he was ready to try trusting God at this point in his life.  Jacob’s conditions were:

1)    If God would be with him;

2)    If God would keep him on the journey;

3)    If God would give him food to eat;

4)    If God would give him clothes to wear; and

5)    If God would bring him back to his father’s house in safety.

It is somewhat sad that Jacob does not fully trust God and sets conditions on things that God had already promised him in verses 13-16.


(Nevertheless, Jacob vowed three vows or promises based on the given conditions:)

2.     The Promises.

1)    Yahweh will be his God.

You might wonder whether Jacob is really saved, as you consider what is going on here.  But I think that is a misinterpretation of what is happening here.  Jacob believed in Jehovah God, but He did not believe that Jehovah God was his God.  He did not believe that Jehovah God would bless him, a trickster and swindler who had no legitimate claim to the inheritance nor the blessing.  Why?  Because, he had purchased the birthright and stolen the blessing.

       After experiencing a special revelation of God, we should seek to make Jehovah God our God, in the name of Jesus, through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. 

(But there is a second promise.)

2)    The memorial will be God’s house.

Jacob is saying that this place which he has consecrated will become a place of sacrifice.  If God is God, then He demands and deserves a sacrifice.

       This is a monumental truth and principle of the Old Testament, which is still true in the New Testament!  There can be no true worship without sacrifice!  Old Testament worship revolved around the sacrificial worship ritual and system.

(This leads naturally into a particular form of worship or sacrifice.)

3)    He will acknowledge and worship God by giving a tenth of all of his possessions.

This stone that He erected would be a reminder of the vow that he had made.[6]

       Since God has revealed Himself to you all in the blessing of this building, I would like to suggest that one biblical way to acknowledge and worship Him is to give a tenth of all of your possessions as a vow.

       If you study the life of Jacob, you will find out that God kept his vow and Jacob kept his vow.  Both God and Jacob were happy and fulfilled in each other.

       Pastor Glass I trust that you are happy and fulfilled in God and that God is happy and fulfilled in you.

       So, we come to dedicate this house!!!

(Now is the Day of Salvation.  Come to Jesus, now!)

Invitation

Call to Discipleship


----

[1]Walvoord, John F., and Zuck, Roy B., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press Publications, Inc.) 1983, 1985.

[2] Charles F. Pfeiffer & Everett F. Harrison, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Moody Press, Chicago, 1962, p. 32.

[3] Charles F. Pfeiffer & Everett F. Harrison, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Moody Press, Chicago, 1962, p. 32.

[4]Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.

[5] Charles F. Pfeiffer & Everett F. Harrison, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Moody Press, Chicago, 1962, p. 32.

[6] Charles F. Pfeiffer & Everett F. Harrison, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Moody Press, Chicago, 1962, p. 32.

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