I didn’t see it before and maybe it’s not so significant to the many, but it is a comfort to my own heart. And a conviction.
You know the story. Jacob deceives his father and claims his brother’s blessing and because of it, he had to flee. So he left to go back to his mother’s land of Haran to find a wife. On the way there he has a vision of angels ascending and descending a ladder and Yahweh at the top of the ladder. Yahweh reaffirms the covenant made with his grandfather and his father and now with him. He also reaffirms his care over Jacob as well.
What I didn’t see before though was how fearful Jacob was of the unknown. He feared not having enough provision and he feared for his safety. He feared the unknown and his future. Yes, his mother said she would call for him to come back, but when? And would she? And how about his brother who literally wanted to murder him?
So he made a vow to God:
“If God will be with me and watch over m on this journey, if He provides me with food to eat and clothing to wear, and if I return safely to my father’s house, then the Lord will be my God. This stone that I have set up as a marker will be God’s house, and I will give to You a tenth of all that You give me.” Gen 28:20-22
When we’re afraid it’s common that we make vows to God. Especially under great duress. Haven’t you done the same?
And here was Jacob, under duress. Uncertain of the future. God had just said to him,
“Look, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go” (v. 15).
Yet there was still that nagging fear in his heart of the unknown. But Jacob made a vow that if God kept him safe, he would serve him forever. He set up a stone as a reminder and as a marker that this place would be God’s house. As an aside, I think it is good that we have concrete reminders of our decisions.
And then Jacob did something that is interesting. As an act of worship he committed to the tithe, the tenth of all that God gives. That’s an amazing thing as it reminds us that the tithe is a joyful act of worship.
I was taught to tithe from my youth so that’s been a blessing. It’s something that comes natural to me. Although in recent days for the first time in my life I’ve been tempted to not tithe due to my financial situation. And yet I persist and I’m glad. For this reminds me that tithing is joyful gratitude to God for his provision, and protection.
Perhaps for me I think of this Scripture because the future is so very unknown. And it’s ok to be afraid as long as we contextualize our fear in the arms of the God who tells us, “Look, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.” This care has been emphasized throughout Scripture. Never will he leave us. Never will he forsake us (Heb 13:5). It’s interesting that the Hebrews verse is in the context of money, the place of our fear of lack:
5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”[a]
6 So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?”[b]
God is with us. God is with me. God is with you. We are his treasured possession.
As a world we are entering some of the greatest unknowns in life. The greatest uncertainties are upon us in ways we have yet to even fully comprehend. But he has not checked out. He is still in charge. And most importantly…
He is still with us.