Beginning of the End


Jacob Relates His Earlier Bethel Experience

With deep emotion, Jacob repeated the story of his first visit to Bethel and how the Lord had appeared to him in the night vision. His own heart was softened; his children also were touched by a subduing power. He had taken the most effective way to prepare them to join in the worship of God when they would arrive at Bethel. “So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree which was by Shechem.” BOE 95.1

God caused a fear to come over the inhabitants of the land, so that they made no attempt to avenge the slaughter of Shechem, and the travelers reached Bethel safely. Here the Lord appeared to Jacob again and renewed to him the covenant promise. BOE 95.2

From Bethel it was only two days’ journey to Hebron, but it brought a heavy grief to Jacob in the death of Rachel. Twice he had worked seven years for her sake, and his love had made the toil light. That love had been deep and abiding. BOE 95.3

Before her death, Rachel gave birth to a second son. With her parting breath she named the child Benoni, “son of my sorrow.” But his father called him Benjamin, “son of my right hand,” or “my strength.” BOE 95.4

At last Jacob came to his journey’s end, “to his father Isaac at Mamre, ... (that is, Hebron).” Here he remained during the closing years of his father’s life. To Isaac, weak and blind, the kind attentions of this long-absent son were a comfort during years of loneliness and bereavement. BOE 95.5

Jacob and Esau met at the deathbed of their father. The elder brother’s feelings had greatly changed. Jacob, well content with the spiritual blessings of the birthright, resigned to the elder brother the inheritance of their father’s wealth, the only inheritance Esau sought or valued. No longer alienated, they parted, Esau settling in Mount Seir. God, who is rich in blessing, had given worldly wealth to Jacob in addition to the higher good that he had sought. This separation of Jacob and Esau was part of God’s plan concerning Jacob. Since the brothers differed so greatly in regard to religious faith, it was better for them to live apart. BOE 95.6

Both Esau and Jacob were free to walk in God’s commandments and to receive His favor, but the two brothers had walked in different ways, and their paths would continue to diverge more and more widely. BOE 95.7

Esau was not shut out from the blessings of salvation by some arbitrary choice on the part of God. Only one’s own decision can cause a person to perish. God has given in His Word the conditions on which every soul will be chosen for eternal life—obedience to His commandments through faith in Christ. God has chosen a character in harmony with His law, and anyone who reaches the standard of His requirement will enter into the kingdom of glory. Concerning our final salvation, this is the only election brought to view in the Word of God. BOE 95.8

Every person is elected who will work out his or her own salvation with fear and trembling, who will put on the armor and fight the good fight of faith. Every one is chosen who will pray earnestly, search the Scriptures, flee from temptation, have faith continually, and be obedient to every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. The provisions of redemption are free to all; the results will be enjoyed by those who have complied with the conditions. BOE 96.1

Esau had despised the blessings of the covenant. By his own deliberate choice he was separated from the people of God. Jacob had chosen the inheritance of faith. He had tried to obtain it by craftiness, treachery, and falsehood; but God had permitted his sin to work out its correction. Jacob never swerved from his purpose or renounced his choice. From that night of wrestling Jacob had come away a different man. Self-confidence had been uprooted. Ever after, in place of craft and deception, his life was marked by simplicity and truth. The baser elements of his character were consumed in the furnace fire; the true gold was refined until the faith of Abraham and Isaac appeared undimmed in Jacob. BOE 96.2

The sin of Jacob and the chain of events to which it led bore bitter fruit in the character of his sons, and these sons developed serious faults. The household revealed the results of polygamy—this terrible evil tends to dry up the springs of love, and its influence weakens the most sacred ties. The jealousy of the several mothers had embittered the family relationships; the children had grown up ill-tempered, impatient of control. The father’s life was darkened with anxiety and grief. BOE 96.3

There was one, however, whose character was widely different—the elder son of Rachel, Joseph, whose rare outward beauty seemed to reflect an inward beauty of mind and heart. Pure, active, and joyous, the lad possessed moral earnestness and firmness. He listened to his father’s instructions and loved to obey God. The qualities that later distinguished him in Egypt—gentleness, fidelity, and truthfulness—were already evident. His mother being dead, his affections clung the more closely to the father. Jacob’s heart was bound up in this child of his old age. He “loved Joseph more than all his children.” BOE 96.4

But this affection was to become a cause of trouble and sorrow. Jacob unwisely showed his preference for Joseph, and this inflamed the jealousy of his other sons. Joseph tried gently to correct them but this only increased their hatred and resentment. He could not endure to see them sinning against God and laid the matter before his father. BOE 96.5

With deep emotion Jacob begged them not to bring reproach on his name and above all not to dishonor God by such disregard of His laws. Ashamed that their wickedness was known, the young men seemed to be repentant but only hid their real feelings, which became more bitter by this exposure. BOE 97.1

The father’s gift to Joseph of a costly coat, usually worn by persons of distinction, fueled a suspicion that he intended to bypass his older children to bestow the birthright on the son of Rachel. BOE 97.2

The boy one day told them of a dream that he had had. “There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.” BOE 97.3

“Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?” exclaimed his brothers in envious anger. BOE 97.4

Soon he had another dream which he also related: “This time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.” The father, who was present, spoke reprovingly, “Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?” Despite the apparent severity of his words, Jacob believed that the Lord was revealing the future to Joseph. BOE 97.5

As the lad stood before his brothers, his beautiful countenance lighted up with the Spirit of Inspiration. They could not help but admire him, but they hated the purity that reproved their sins. BOE 97.6

The brothers had to move from place to place to find pasture for their flocks, and after the events just related, they went to Shechem. Some time passed bringing no news, and the father began to fear for their safety because of their former cruelty toward the Shechemites, so he sent Joseph to find them. If Jacob had known the real feeling of his sons toward Joseph, he would not have trusted him alone with them. BOE 97.7

With a joyful heart, Joseph parted from his father, neither of them dreaming of what would happen before they would meet again. When Joseph arrived at Shechem, his brothers and their flocks were not there. He asked about them and was directed to Dothan. He hurried on, forgetting his weariness in the thought of relieving his father’s worries and meeting the brothers whom he still loved. BOE 97.8

His brothers saw him coming, but in their bitter hatred they took no thought of the long journey he had made to meet them, of his weariness and hunger, or of his right to their hospitality and brotherly love. The sight of the coat, the token of their father’s love, filled them with frenzy. “Look, this dreamer is coming.” Envy and revenge now controlled them. “Let us now kill him,” they said, “and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, ‘Some wild beast has devoured him.’ We shall see what will become of his dreams!” BOE 97.9

But Reuben could not bear to think of murdering his brother and proposed that they throw Joseph alive into a pit and leave him there to die. He secretly intended, however, to rescue him and return him to his father. After persuading all to adopt his plan, Reuben left, fearing that his real intentions would be discovered. BOE 97.10

Joseph arrived, not suspecting the danger. But instead of the expected greeting, he was terrified by the angry and revengeful glances that met him. His brothers grabbed him and stripped his coat from him. Their taunts and threats revealed a deadly purpose. He pleaded with them, but they refused to listen. Those hate-filled men dragged him roughly to a deep pit, pushed him in, and left him there to die. BOE 98.1