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. Melissa Graves says:

    I too am in a period of waiting on the Lord for answers and in the midst of my waiting, He surprised me by making His presence known in another completely unrelated aspect of my life. How kind and loving of my Savior to demonstrate that He is present and very much aware of each and every detail and “He will accomplish what concerns me.” Psalms 138:8

  2. Becky Rutz says:

    This commentary is fantastic, and I loved what Churchmouse said. Personally, I understand the idea of remembering, but I struggle with the idea of raising a memorial stone. What, in our modern times is the equivalent of a memorial stone in our lives? How do we mark those moments that God has revealed Himself specially to us? With so much information, so many things to remember, and being so forgetful, this can be hard for me.

    Perhaps part of “remembering” or “marking” an event is speaking about the promise of God to a friend. Saying things out loud to people makes those things more real…For me, that is probably more effective than writing them in a journal (good luck finding that again!) or tucking a note in my Bible (again…the chances of actually finding the thing to trigger my memory is small…).

  3. Stacey Wilson says:

    When I read this I often think of the song, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” and the line that I often have to explain to those around me: Here I raise mine ebenezer, hither by thy help I come.” An ebenezer was a memorial point, a moment to commemorate something God had done by placing monument of sorts in place so every time it was passed, the memory would be celebrated. I love the encouragement today to raise a stone of remembrance!

    1. Susan Merritt says:

      Me too! I want to be able to do this.

  4. Tasha Colley says:

    “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your hands have done. I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in you. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” – Psalm 143:5-10

  5. Searching says:

    Yes, Lord, what Churchmouse said! Help me to take my eyes off the chaos around me and the hecticness of life to look and see what you have done and are doing in my life. And to write it down and remember – You are always near.

  6. Rachel Anne says:

    This is such a timely message for me. I find myself in the midst of a long season of waiting. Sometimes the frustration and impatience comes and even doubt as to where God is. Sometimes I know that He is present but feel that He is absent. Setting up a memorial to my own encounter with God is a beautiful way to rethink my present circumstance. It’s easy to focus on the prayer you are waiting to be answered and not look at the memorial stones all around your life that indicate a pattern of already-answered prayers and God’s faithfulness.

    1. Melissa Graves says:

      So true, Rachel Anne, so true.

  7. Tricia Cavanaugh says:

    Thank you for your perspective Churchmouse. I certainly will “make note” every time I remember the Lord and His blessings. Even in the trials.
    Have a wonderful Monday everyone!

  8. Churchmouse says:

    Jacob has a dream of a ladder and he sees not only angels traveling back and forth between heaven and earth but he even sees the Lord standing beside him. This is awesome! Yes! Jacob, make note. Set up a memorial stone. You want to remember this.

    Jacob later wrestles “with a man” who leaves him with a limp. This is revealed to be an encounter with God. With a lingering limp (ouch), it is an encounter Jacob might want to forget. But no! This is awesome! Yes! Jacob, make note. Set up a memorial stone. You want to remember this.

    These accounts are not memorable because of the ladder or the limp. They are memorable because God made Himself known to His created. He revealed Himself and His plan. And oh yes it is wise to make note and remember. We too are wise to make note of our encounters with God. Encounters that may be mystical and marvelous like Jacob’s dream and encounters that may be hard and holy, a wrestling with God. In both (wait for it), there is a blessing. A promise. A name change. Because every time we have an encounter with God, we are changed. Let us too make note. Let us remember. Let us walk on in confidence, with renewed purpose. We are new creatures. We may have a bit of a limp but it doesn’t slow us down. We open His book full of promises, and we remember. How great is our God. How faithful and true. Make note. This is awesome.

    1. Karen J says:

      Thank you Churchmouse! I always look forward to your comments.

    2. Cynthia Foster says:

      Churchmouse, do you write any Bible studies? The Lord has given you such great insights and the ability to communicate them so well!

    3. Roberta Smith says:

      thank you!

    4. Susan Merritt says:

      I agree, this is very well said!

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