Beginning of the End


Jacob’s Flight and Exile

This chapter is based on Genesis 28 to 31.

Threatened with death by Esau, Jacob went out from his father’s home a fugitive, but with the father’s blessing. Isaac had renewed the covenant promise to him and had told him look for a wife among his mother’s family in Mesopotamia. BOE 84.1

Yet it was with a deeply troubled heart that Jacob set out on his lonely journey. With only his staff in his hand he must travel hundreds of miles through a country inhabited by wild, roving tribes. In his remorse and dread he tried to avoid people, to prevent his angry brother from following him. He feared that he had lost forever the blessing God had wanted to give him, and Satan was at hand to press temptations upon him. BOE 84.2

The evening of the second day found him far away from his father’s tents. He felt he was an outcast, and he knew that all his trouble had come upon him because of his own wrong actions. Despair pressed upon his soul, and he hardly dared to pray. But he was so lonely that he felt the need of protection from God as never before. With weeping he confessed his sin and asked earnestly for some evidence that he was not utterly forsaken. He had lost all confidence in himself, and he feared that God had rejected him. BOE 84.3

But God’s mercy was still extended to His erring, distrustful servant. The Lord compassionately revealed just what Jacob needed—a Savior. He had sinned, but God revealed a way for him to be restored to divine favor. BOE 84.4

Tired, the wanderer lay down on the ground with a stone for his pillow. As he slept he saw a ladder whose base rested on the earth while the top reached to heaven. Angels were ascending and descending on this ladder. Above it was the Lord of glory, and from the heavens His voice was heard: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. ... In you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” This promise had been given to Abraham and to Isaac, and now it was renewed to Jacob. Then words of comfort and encouragement were spoken: “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” BOE 84.5

The Lord in mercy opened up the future before the repentant fugitive so he might be prepared to resist the temptations that would come to him when alone among idolaters and schemers. The knowledge that the purpose of God was reaching its accomplishment through him would constantly prompt him to faithfulness. BOE 85.1

In this vision Jacob saw the parts of the plan of redemption that were essential to him at that time. The mystic ladder revealed in his dream was the same to which Christ referred in His conversation with Nathanael: “You shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man” (John 1:51). The sin of Adam and Eve separated earth from heaven so that human beings could not have communion with their Maker, yet the world was not left in hopelessness. The ladder represents Jesus, the appointed way of communication. Christ connects us in our weakness and helplessness with the source of infinite power. BOE 85.2

All this was revealed to Jacob in his dream. Although his mind at once grasped a part of the revelation, its great and mysterious truths were the study of his lifetime, unfolding to his understanding more and more. BOE 85.3

Jacob awoke in the deep stillness of night. The vision had disappeared, only the dim outline of lonely hills and the heavens bright with stars now met his gaze. But he had a solemn sense that God was with him. “Surely the Lord is in this place,” he said, “and I did not know it. ... This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” BOE 85.4

“Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, and set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it.” He called the place Bethel, or “the house of God.” Then he made the solemn vow, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.” BOE 85.5

Jacob was not trying to bargain with God—the Lord had already promised him prosperity, and this vow came from a heart filled with gratitude for the assurance of God’s mercy. Jacob felt that the special evidences of divine favor demanded a return. BOE 85.6

Christians should often remember with gratitude the precious deliverances that God has given to them, opening ways for them when all seemed dark and threatening, refreshing them when they were ready to faint. In view of countless blessings each one should often ask, “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?” (Psalm 116:12). BOE 85.7