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Genesis 28:10-22 1
10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” 18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the LORD will be my God 22 and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”

clip_image028Background

Genesis (Greek: “birth,” “origin”) is the first book of the Torah, the Tanakh, and the Old Testament of the Bible. Jewish tradition considers the Pentateuch to have been written by God.
Genesis recounts a history of the world from the Creation to the descent of the Children of Israel into Ancient Egypt. It contains some of the best-known stories of the Old Testament, including Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah’s Ark, the Tower of Babel, the biblical Patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob—and the story of Joseph. It also has important clues to ancient Israelite cosmology and theology, notably the Covenant linking God to his Chosen People and the people to the Promised Land.

Biblical Truths

28:10-11 On his journey north, his second or third stopping place was 50 miles, 80 km, north of Beersheba (later called Bethel, 28:19). As the night fell Jacob realized he was alone, and he was probably getting apprehensive realizing he had only come one tenth of the way to Haran. He slept on the ground, and used a flat stone as a pillow.

28:12-14 In a dream he saw a ladder going right up into heaven with angels moving up and down. Between him and the ladder he saw the LORD who introduced himself as the one who had been revealed to Abraham and Isaac (the second Person of the Trinity, see notes on 12:1, 7: 13:4, 14; 15:1, 7, 18; 17:1; 18:1, 22; 21:1; 26:2, 24). He repeated the blessing given to Isaac concerning the land (28:4) and concerning becoming a large nation (28:3). But he also reminded him of the third strand of the promise he had given of Abraham’s heirs being a blessing to all peoples of the world (given to Abraham, 12:3; and repeated to Isaac, 26:4).

28:15-19 The LORD also promised to be with him on the long journey to Haran, care for him there, and bring him back safely to fulfill all that he had promised him. Jacob woke up awed, and he named the place Bethel (beth-el meaning the house of God). He probably did not know that Abraham had built an altar and offered sacrifice in that very place (13:7-8). Being unable to offer animal sacrifice, he used the stone he had slept on as a altar and poured on it some of the olive oil he had with him.

28:20-22 Jacob then made a vow that if God protected him on the way, and brought him home safely, the LORD would be his God. Jacob also promised to give the LORD a tithe of all that God blessed him with (see Genesis 14:20; Numbers 18:21-24; Leviticus 27:30-33; Deuteronomy 26:12-14). God reminded him of his vow after twenty years in Haran (31:13, 41). We wonder if it was in his wrestling with the LORD that Jacob finally came to an assured faith in him (32:24-30). But at this stage he still seemed to be trying to gain an advantage by bargaining with God (as he had done in the deal he had made with Esau, 25:29-33).

Items for Discussion

  • What are your thoughts and feelings about our God communicating through dreams?
  • What direction was the ladder reaching, up or down and does this give significance to the story?
  • How is Jacob’s ladder like our Christ?
  • What might the steps represent?
  • Consider the humiliations of Christ
  • Who would the angels represent if we keep with our analogy of Christ as the ladder?
    • Consider this idea that the angels are God’s promises to the human race
    • Angels as ministers of God’s relationship with humans
  • How does Jacob respond to the dream (see verse 22)?

 

Luke 2:8-20
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Background

The Gospel of Luke is a synoptic Gospel, and the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels of the New Testament. The text narrates the life of Jesus, with particular interest concerning his birth, ministry, death, and resurrection. It ends with an account of the ascension.

The author is characteristically concerned with social ethics, the poor, women, and other oppressed groups. Certain well-loved stories on these themes, such as the prodigal son and the good Samaritan, are found only in this gospel. This gospel also has a special emphasis on prayer, the activity of the Holy Spirit, and joyfulness.

Biblical Truths 2

Angels were heralds of the new-born Savior, but they were only sent to some poor, humble, pious, industrious shepherds, who were in the business of their calling, keeping watch over their flock. We are not out of the way of Divine visits, when we are employed in an honest calling, and abide with God in it. Let God have the honor of this work; Glory to God in the highest. God’s good-will to men, manifested in sending the Messiah, redounds to his praise. Other works of God are for his glory, but the redemption of the world is for his glory in the highest. God’s goodwill in sending the Messiah, brought peace into this lower world. Peace is here put for all that good which flows to us from Christ’s taking our nature upon him. This is a faithful saying, attested by an innumerable company of angels, and well worthy of all acceptation, That the good-will of God toward men, is glory to God in the highest, and peace on the earth. The shepherds lost no time, but came with haste to the place. They were satisfied, and made known abroad concerning this child, that he was the Savior, even Christ the Lord. Mary carefully observed and thought upon all these things, which were so suited to enliven her holy affections. We should be more delivered from errors in judgment and practice, did we more fully ponder these things in our hearts. It is still proclaimed in our ears that to us is born a Savior, Christ the Lord. These should be glad tidings to all.

Items for Discussion

  • The job of shepherd was not a glorious job, sort of the bottom of the job-chain. Why do you think that the manifestations of our Christ would occur first to such a group?
  • Why would they have responded with fear?
  • How should their example of a response of interest relate to the world today?
  • Did they have a sense of urgency? Is that important in today’s Christian church?
  • The shepherds shared their new knowledge and story. What is the obligation that is expected of Christians today?
  • How did the shepherds worship Christ? Do we do the same today?

Discussion Challenge

  • What is the Christmas message we need to send to those who will come to our service this year who are not regular attendees?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
  2. Matthew Henry’s Commentary
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