The contrast between Esau and Jacob is illustrated in this section of the Bible. Both are 77 years old. Esau took wives from the Canaanites. Jacob remained unmarried. Isaac instructed Jacob to flee to Haran until his brother’s anger subsided. Also, Jacob was instructed not to take a wife from the daughters of Canaan but instead go to the homeland and take a wife from there. Jacob complied with his parents’ wishes. Esau took another wife, this time from the line of Ishmael, to further irritate his parents. This helps explain why we read, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Romans 9:13b).
Jacob fled Beersheba and the wrath of his brother Esau to go to Haran. He traveled along the ridge connecting Hevron and Jerusalem to the site we know as Bethel. At Bethel he rested for the night and God visited him. God restated the covenant which He had made with Abraham and with Isaac. The covenant provisions included the promise of blessing, land and ministry as God had promised Jacob’s father and grandfather. Jacob had become the instrument of God’s election at this point. It would take 20 years of labor under his uncle Laban before Jacob simply received God’s call on his life by faith.
Just as important as Jacob’s call to be God’s instrument of redemption is the site at which this calling occurred. The original name of the site was Luz. Jacob would rename the site according to his experience here. Jacob experienced a dream in which he saw a ladder set on the earth whose top reached into heaven. Angels were ascending and descending on the ladder.
“And he had a dream and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.” (Genesis 28:12)
God spoke to Jacob establishing His covenant with Him. When Jacob awoke he was amazed.
“Then Jacob awoke from the sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it”. And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” (Genesis 28:16-17)
Battle for the Holy Land
Jacob called the name of the place “Bethel” (the house of God) and “Shaar Hashamayim” (the gate of heaven). This latter name, the gate of heaven, indicates that this site or more generally, this area, is the crossover point between heaven and earth. In my book, “Israel – God’s Interdimensional Portal”, I cite many Biblical references of God, angels and men going from heaven to earth and from earth to heaven from the small area around this site. From a purely Christian perspective, Messiah Jesus ascended into heaven from the Mt. of Olives just south of Bethel and, of course, the angels declared that He would return to this same place.
The greatest controversy in the world today is the question of who will control this area. This question became most intense when the Jewish people returned to the land and established an independent Jewish state there. Initially in 1948, the state did not include this strategically important area, but in 1967, as a result of the “Six-Day War”, the area returned to Jewish control. I maintain that Satan is desperate to regain control over this area because Israeli control is a prophetic sigbn of the completion of God’s redemption process. The struggle to control this area is most likely the catalyst that will precipitate the final struggle between God and the nations at Har Megiddo (the battle of Armageddon).
After Jacob left Bethel, he fled to the region of his ancestors, Haran. Here, he would encounter his uncle Laban. God would use Laban to mold Jacob over the next 20 years. God saw the future man, Israel, and molded Jacob to become that man. Eventually the man of faith, Israel, would emerge.
This account can be considered the first dispersion. Jacob, God’s covenant partner, was driven from the land of Israel due to his sin (1) failure to trust the Lord to establish his calling, (2) manipulating his brother to give up his birthright and (3) deceiving his father in order to receive the blessing of the firstborn. As with subsequent dispersions, God promised to bring his covenant partner back to the Promised Land.
“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 promised you.” (Genesis 28:15)
Twenty years later, God fulfilled His promise and brought Jacob back. This is the pattern set for all subsequent dispersions. God will accomplish His purpose through His people. He will not fail.