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The God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob

Jul 27, 2011, 3:17 PM | Article By: Galandou Gorre-Ndiaye

“O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.” (2 Chronicles 20:6)

Throughout Scripture, all those who had an encounter with God were able to do so because He introduced Himself to them. In the early pages of the Old Testament, whilst few people worshipped Him, they could not boast of any personal revelation of Him.

This was the case with Jacob when he fled from his hometown Beersheba because Esau, his elder brother whom he had cheated upon, threatened to kill him. He camped overnight on his journey to his uncle’s house in Haran, “at a certain place because the sun had set”. To have some sleep, he used a stone for his pillow.

That night he dreamt “he saw a stairway resting on earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it, stood the Lord and He said to him: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac.” (Genesis 28:13) Notice how God introduced Himself. He used the names of individuals known to that person so that they could be at ease. Abraham was Jacob’s grand-father and Isaac, his father. These were no strangers to Jacob. So if He was their God, there was no reason to fear. Jacob was in safe hands.

In his dream Jacob heard God pronounce these blessings: “I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like 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. 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.” (Genesis 28:13-15) Those words must have rung a bell in Jacob’s ears (supposing his father would have recounted the incident) for they are similar to what God had told his father, Isaac, in Beersheba one night. “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.” (Genesis 26:24)

After Jacob woke up from his dream he remarked, in a terrified state: “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it. How awesome is this place. This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” (verse 17) The next morning he used the same stone that served as a pillow to set up a pillar he called Bethel, meaning ‘God with us.’ (verse 18-19)

Earlier, his father had gone through a similar experience after God had spoken to him. He built an altar right there, dug a well and pitched a tent. To both father and son God had revealed Himself through a personal encounter. His name had been established in their hearts since. Jacob made a vow that if God should see him through to his destination and back and provide for him; “the Lord will be my God 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 a tenth.” (verse 21-22)

When it was time to introduce Himself to Moses God changed His style a little. He revealed Himself to Moses by attracting his attention to a burning bush which was in flames but which was not consumed. As Moses drew near to satisfy his curiosity he heard a voice which echoed:  “Moses! Moses! Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” (Exodus 3:6)  The experience was so awesome that Moses hid his face. Guess you would have if you had seen a burning bush that was not consumed by the fire and heard a voice without seeing a face. At each encounter God portrayed His awesomeness as God.

Starting on that mysterious note, God commissioned Moses to go and meet with Pharaoh and have the Children of Israel released. These people God called were to serve as spokesmen and intermediaries with His chosen people. He never dealt with them directly because they were not yet ready, spiritually speaking, to commune with Him.

When God called Samuel, who ‘ministered before the Lord under Eli,’ we are told that “In those days the word of the Lord was rare: there were not many visions.” (1 Samuel 3:1) So when Samuel heard the call he thought it was his mentor calling him. Thrice he responded to Eli’s call with: “Here I am; you called me.” It was only then that it occurred to the high priest that it was God calling Samuel. He said to him then: “Go and lie down and if He calls you, say; ‘Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:9) Samuel had never heard the voice of the Lord, nor would he have dreamt that God would speak to him; the reason why he mistook His voice for the voice of a man.

God is sovereign and supreme. He would call, and is still calling, whoever He pleases without regard to their background, personal record or their status.

Jacob’s life was not exemplary; he cheated his brother and his uncle Laban even after he had met God. Isaac out of fear lied about Rebecca being his sister and not his wife. Moses was a murderer who evaded justice prior to receiving his call. Samuel, as we have observed, was too young and inexperienced when he heard the voice of God calling him.

What is important here is whether we are ready to answer the call, because God has need of us? Do we have an attentive ear and are not blinded by either our circumstances or the environment? Whatever may seem a visible or invisible obstacle standing in our way there is an urgent mission God is calling us to carry out on His behalf and we have to make a move; not when it suits us, but NOW.

Are we ready to give up our valuable time and resources, leisure and ourselves for the accomplishment of His purposes? Let Him hear us say: ‘You called me? Here I am reporting for duty.’

“Who do you say the Son of Man is?”

“But what about you? Who do you say that I am? Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13,15)

“As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:3-4)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

“Who is He, this King of glory? The Lord God Almighty – He is the king of glory.” (Psalm 24:10)