Day 15


Genesis 28:10-22, Genesis 31:13, Genesis 32:3-32, Genesis 33:1-11, Genesis 35:9-15, John 1:43-51

BY Bailey Gillespie

Growing up in Northern California, I spent summers along the south fork of the American River in the tiny, blink-your-eyes-and-it’s-gone town of Coloma, the heart of the gold rush valley. Summers there were sticky. Tourists from every pocket of the world came for the whitewater and left baptized by sunshine, sunscreen, and coconut frozen yogurt from the shop down the street.

Along the river, you can spot towers of smooth stones called cairns balanced one or two feet high. Although these are now little more than artistic contributions from local river folk, in ancient times, cairns served as burial monuments or ceremonial landmarks. They marked something worth remembering.

Throughout Scripture, stones symbolize many different things. After Jacob’s dream, where God promises to watch over and provide for him, he is caught off guard and uses the stone lying at his head to memorialize the moment: “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it” (Genesis 28:16). Suddenly, that place was known as Bethel, the house of God, because the Lord had made His presence known there (v.19).

I love that Jacob was surprised by encountering God. Aren’t we always forgetting how close He is? Embedded in us is the classic tension between head and heart: we know God is with us, though sometimes it may not feel like He is. I can’t tell you often I’ve been surprised to find Him, just when I’d feared that His silence indicated His absence.

This stone was an important step in Jacob’s journey. Because of what the Lord revealed to him in a dream, he was able to carry forward the promise of returning to his “native land” with confidence (Genesis 31:13). But I admit, I’m a little confused by the plot twist.

Before Jacob makes it home, he meets and wrestles with God. Why was this the method for receiving God’s blessing? Why couldn’t Jacob have his homecoming without a disjointed hip? Despite the paradox of blessing brought from misfortune, Jacob is so moved by encountering God’s presence that he, once again, names the place to memorialize it.

Whether it’s owning a home or publishing a book or witnessing a reconciliation, my heart desires things that aren’t guaranteed. What God does promise is abundant life: new ways of thinking, of living, of being. We are no longer slaves to death. We don’t have to wait for God to inhabit a place now that His Spirit lives in us.

As we watch for the Lord together, let’s name the moment we see Him. Let’s raise a stone in remembrance. Let’s live from a place of blessing and abundance rather than scarcity, because our birthrights are no longer dependent upon our earthly lineage. Instead, we hold the heavenly birthright Christ gives us, “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” (1 Peter 1:4).

Post Comments (22)

22 thoughts on "Jacob"

  1. Amber Trimble says:

    Stones have so many meaning in the Bible. That is why Jesus is a stones man.

  2. Trystin Heinold says:

    This is such an amazing story and reminder that everything is in God’s timing. Jacob has to learn to trust God when he was led to go back to his homeland, despite the threatening fear of hatred from his brother. Just like Jacob, even though circumstances are trying and seem dauntless, God is my hope and my strength and I can lean on him for everything.

  3. Moriah Nichols says:

    This passage reminds me of the song “Here Again” by elevation worship. Particularly the bridge that says, Not for a minute was I forsaken, The Lord is in this place, The Lord is in this place, Come Holy Spirit, Dry bones awaken The Lord is in this place The Lord is in this place. The name Bethel means “house of God, or Holy place. Jacob named the place where he met with God the first time, Bethel as a reminder that the Lord met Him where he was. In his despair in dealing with his angry brother Esau, God came to him and spoke hope into his weary soul. Reminded him of His promise and called him upward. How kind God is to remind us of His promises to us and give us hope to carry on when situations seem impossible. ♥️

  4. Christine says:

    I need an “attitude” adjustment! Thank you for this reminder and Praise be to our Great God who never leaves or forsakes us!

  5. Allison B says:

    Beautiful perspective, indeed. Remembering our suffering often provides reminders of how God has met us in hard places. Places we never could have come out of without God’s strength.

  6. Jennifer Anapol says:

    I think I almost take the nearness of God for granted. Since as Christians we are taught that God lives inside us, i know that he is always with us, but that doesn’t mean that I always live like he is with me or am aware of his presence. I pray that I would find ways to worship God when he finds me where I am and not take his friendship for granted. He is not only my friend, he is the God of the universe and a very busy man.

  7. Bailey Braden says:

    “We hold to the heavenly birthright Christ has given us.” Amen! ♡

  8. PamC says:

    Thank you Bailey for a wonderful devotional. And Churchmouse thank you for expanding on it. I love all your comments, Ladies. Stacey I thank you for the hymn reminder. I look forward to them.

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