God Promises His Presence
Open Your Bible
Genesis 12:1-7, Genesis 17:1-8, Genesis 26:1-6, Genesis 26:23-24, Genesis 28:10-22, Genesis 32:24-30, Genesis 35:9-12, Acts 3:25
BY Jen Yokel
From the call of Abram to our inclusion as spiritual descendants, God’s promises to His people are marked by His presence.
Jacob had blown it. Maybe he felt shock and relief that he’d actually pulled it off, convincing Esau to surrender his birthright. Maybe he felt the knot of remorse in his gut as he laid down under the stars with a stone for a pillow. Perhaps he tossed and turned a little, regretting and second-guessing, as he drifted off to sleep as the new bearer of the family promise, his dreams filled with light and color.
Angels! Climbing a ladder, up and down. Hearing a voice his father and his grandfather spoke of so fondly, declaring, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac” (Genesis 28:13). And that same voice was repeating a litany of promises: good land, countless descendants who would bless the whole world (Genesis 28:10–22).
This promise wasn’t new. His father Isaac heard it when God told him to stay in a strange land and trust Him through a famine (Genesis 26:1–6). Years before, this same promise led Abraham away from everything he’d known in Haran (12:1–7), and he would continue to hear it for the rest of his life (17:1–8).
I can’t help but wonder about the apparent silences in between, the years of living off strange land and living with family who sometimes stirred up more trouble than blessing. In the midst of unfulfilled plans, God’s voice remained constant, repeating the promise. God still appeared, again and again, to unlikely, fallible people.
“Look, I am with you,” God assures Jacob as the ladder evaporates into the space between dreaming and sunrise. “I am with you, and will watch over you wherever you go” (Genesis 28:15).
Most of us aren’t holding out for a plot of land and kings in our family tree, but I wonder if the land was even the point. Over and over, as God repeated His promises, these men continued to live colorful lives, listening to God yet failing, repenting, and then breaking relationships, only to come home limping in shame—quite literally, in Jacob’s case.
Isn’t that all of us, though, in the great spiritual family of Abraham? We may not trace our blessings by bloodline, but we find them in Jesus, the one who lived a blameless life that only Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob could dream of. Jesus is the one who came to be God’s presence among us, showing us the way, sealing the promise, and blessing the whole world through His life, death, and resurrection.
Centuries after Abraham gazed at the stars and left his homeland behind, a former fisherman and friend of Jesus would repeat the promise one more time: “You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors, saying to Abraham, ‘And all the families of the earth will be blessed through your offspring’” (Acts 3:25).
The ultimate blessing is so much more than land, power, influence, or wealth. The blessing is found in Jesus, “God with us” (Matthew 1:22–23), living and dying and defeating death to reunite His family and live with us forever.