Rev. Heys is a minister emeritus in the Protestant Reformed Churches.

What counts is not what man says, unless it is our God speaking through him. And what Jacob had said to his father, namely, that he was Esau and that he was seeking the blessing which his father had promised him, was a lie which called for God’s holy wrath upon him.

But because Isaac, the father of Jacob and Esau, in his blindness declared God’s blessing upon Jacob – even though he planned to bestow it upon Esau, the first of the twins born unto him- we with Jacob must hold on to the truth which God declared when Isaac blessed Jacob. What our God was then speaking to Jacob through Isaac assured him of receiving God’s covenant blessing. And that blessing is presented to us in Genesis 27:26-29.

That blessedness, which God promised Jacob through his father, became clearer in a vision or dream which God gave him when he fled from his brother Esau’s hand. According to Genesis 28:10-15 God promised Jacob and his seed the land wherein he had slept that night. That was in a section of the land which God promised Abraham and his seed. Having been promised this in his dream, Jacob called that place Bethel, which means house of God. Of that we read in Genesis 28:19.

Now, when Jacob says (in fact vows), “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace,” he does not thereby reveal that he is not sure that God will keep that promise. He does not present in those words what he will do only if God faithfully keeps His promise. Note the fact that Jacob “vowed a vow” according to Genesis 28:20. What is more, that word here translated as “if” does not present a doubt in Jacob’s mind as to what God promises him. Strikingly enough, in Jeremiah 23:38the same Hebrew word is translated as “since.” What Jacob then says here in Genesis 28:20 is, “Since God will be with me.”

Take note of the fact that in the original form and literally in verse 21 Jacob says, “Then shall Jehovah be my God.” That name Jehovah means I AM. Jacob correctly presents God as one who never, no never, changes. He is the I Am, not the I was, or I will be. Jacob is sure that what God said to him in that dream is absolutely true and will come to pass.

Still more, take note of the fact that in verse 22 we read, “And the stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” Jacob did not wait to see whether God’s promise is fulfilled. That day he set up a pillar for the building of God’s temple. He does not then say what he will do if God keeps His word. He, by Gods grace, states that he will reveal his trust and confidence in God. The expressions “Thou shalt” and “I will surely” in verse 22 deny any conditions which Jacob presents. By His Spirit God gave Jacob faith, and moved him into the confidence of His promise which he received from God through his father Isaac.

Indeed, in the rest of his earthly life Jacob did reveal much evidence of his sinful nature. As the Heidelberg Catechism states so correctly in Lord’s Day XLIV, we have “only a small beginning of this obedience.” In this life we have only a small beginning of the obedience our God has implanted in us by His grace. In this life we do not even receive fifty percent of the obedience which that new life will give us in the new Jerusalem. The awesome question for us also is: “How many of the 1,440 minutes in each day do we serve God? In fact, how often do we even have Him in our mind?” Do our hearts want to serve and glorify Him much of the day?

Of course, there are hours when we need sleep, and our minds are blank, so that for hours we think neither of God nor of sinful deeds that we want forgiven. The blessed truth, however, is that when Christ returns and raises our bodies from out of the graves in which they will be placed, and He glorifies them, so that we are in the new Jerusalem, there will be no night there. Of that we read in Revelation 22:5. Then, indeed, every moment in that everlasting life we will be dedicated with body and soul unto our God, and serve Him everlastingly without one smallest moment of ceasing to do so. The way and kind of work may differ. Sometimes we will sing God’s praises; and then afterwards we will speak and serve Him with our bodies as well as with our minds and will.

Yes, in the Old Testament dispensation the church was in the day of shadows. Christ had not yet come. The realization of salvation that came when Jesus on His cross cried out, “It is finished!” had its types and shadows; but what our salvation required was not yet a historical fact. For today, from a spiritual viewpoint, we have the wonderful fact of the finishing of that work which is so necessary for our salvation. And although we do have a new life by a spiritual rebirth, and the love of God is already in us, we have, as pointed out a moment ago, only a small beginning of that new obedience which will be ours for body and soul when Christ returns.

But the critical question is this: “Is your activity on the Sabbath day a shadow of that coming life of perfection as a citizen of the kingdom of Heaven?” Those saints presented in Hebrews 11 have their faith in God and love for Him presented in Scripture. The question is not merely whether our life also manifests such a new life in us. The question is whether in our lives there is today a richer manifestation of that life than there was last year. Are we eager to have Christ come and give us that perfection as well as the perfection of our bodies, and freedom from the punishment we deserve?

An important truth which we must heed is one so widely ignored, and by our actions even denied. Our Sabbath days have so much lacking of what the born-again child of God is called to do, and of what is found in other of the members of our church. Jacob here speaks of Gods house. And indeed we are going to live with Him in His house of many mansions, where Christ is preparing a place for us (John 14:2). What is more, our Gods upholding of Jacob, and His keeping him spiritually alive, is a shadow of what we by God’s grace are called to do and can do.

As we saw last time, our God gave Jacob a blessed promise in that dream, which he had that first night of his flight away from Esau who planned to kill him. Let us go back to it a moment in order to appreciate Jacob’s confession and vow. Our God promised Jacob that He would be with him and keep him, that is, uphold him and prevent everyone from taking away his life. He promised Jacob that He would not leave him, but bring him to the promised land, and fulfill all of the promise which his father, Isaac, had made known to him.

That is a comforting truth not only for ourselves, but also for our children. We, and by all means our children need more and more in these days in which we live, and in the years just ahead of us, to grow in our conviction of the truth of what God said to Jacob inGenesis 28:15, namely, “And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest . . . for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.”

For we live in a time of wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes in diverse places, and pestilence and famine. We live in a time when more and more men want once more to build a Tower of Babel. The men of the world want one world of peace. An earthly peace looks good to them, at least to most of them. With inventions the world is practically becoming smaller and smaller. We are all getting so close to each other. And with airplanes we can in a few hours get where in the past men could not come for days and weeks. By means of television we can not only see, but also speak to and with men on the other side of the world. We not only see their lips move, but we hear every word which they speak. More and more we are getting closer and closer to each other, and to the situation of One World! The world’s unification threatens the church’s destruction, as it did at the Tower of Babel; and for the church’s safety our God then brought the confusion of speech. Read that carefully in Genesis 11:1-9. Today Satan has succeeded so greatly in getting the enemies of God’s church able and ready to do what is written in Revelation 13 about the antichrist in verses 11-18.

It is so necessary for us to take a firmer grip on what we are told in I John 2:15, namely, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” We do well to bear in mind that we do not simply have them who belong to no church hating us. Even as Jacob had his brother, even his twin brother, hating him, so we have – and will more fully see it and understand it soon-those who call themselves the church, and Christians, but who are tools of the antichrist hating us.

Now, today, Satan is not only succeeding in his efforts to get the seed of the woman to live like the seed of the serpent. He is very successful in getting the seed of the serpent to call itself the seed of the woman. We do well to consider all that which we find in the Old Testament Scriptures; and today is a day when there are very clear evidences of the return of Christ. But also there is very clear evidences that Satan is working hard, and with increasing success, in his attempt to establish on this earth the kingdom of hell, and to keep the kingdom of heaven from being realized.

But Christ came, and our salvation is sure. He will come again as surely as He came almost two thousand years ago. He brought the Old Testament day of shadows to its end. And because He is the way, the truth, and the life, we can be very, very sure that His everlasting kingdom of heavenly glory will soon come. We do have today clear evidences and encouraging shadows of His second coming, and of our full salvation. Soon we with body as well as soul will be with Him. And we will be fully saved from all our sinful nature, and be able to serve our God with all our body and soul. That important element of our salvation will surely come. That element we need, and by God’s grace we will enjoy it forever.