Esau was not very happy with his brother Jacob, to say the least.
First, Jacob cheated Esau out of his birthright for a lousy bowl of soup.
Now Jacob had stolen his Fathers last blessing. Esau vowed that he would kill his brother Jacob as soon as their father died.
You must go! Rebekah told Jacob. Go away, back to your grandfathers homeland, and stay with your Uncle Laban until your brother cools off!
Now, it happened that Esau had married two of the young girls from the land where he and his family were now living. They were Canaanites, and they didnt follow the God of Abraham and Isaac. They were making life miserable for Rebekah.
So Rebekah came to Isaac and said, If Jacob marries one of these Canaanite women, I might as well be dead, I will be so miserable! Please send him to my brothers family to find a wife there.
It was a good excuse to have Isaac send Jacob away.
But before he sent Jacob to his uncle Laban's, Isaac blessed Jacob and said,
May El Shaddai, God Almighty, bless you!
May he bless your marriage and give you many children.
May he bless you as he blessed your grandfather Abraham.
May you possess the land he gave to Abraham,
and may you become the father of many nations.
May all nations be blessed because of you!
Early the next morning Jacob loaded his camels and set out for the Land of Haran, the home of his uncle.
As the sun was setting on the first day of his journey, Jacob stopped to set up camp for the night. He laid out his blanket on the ground, and found a stone to put under his head for a pillow.
Somehow, with a rock for a pillow, he fell fast asleep.
And then he had the most amazing dream.
Now, it seems that anyone who used a rock for a pillow would have a strange dream! But it wasnt that.
God let Jacob see a part of the world we never see, but a part that is there all around us.
In his dream, Jacob saw a stairway.
The stairway reached up all the way to heaven, and the angels of God were coming and going, up and down, back and forth from heaven to earth, and back to heaven again.
At the bottom of the stairway there was a glorious light.
There stood the Lord God himself!
I am the One Who Is, the God of your grandfather Abraham and of your father Isaac!
I am here to make this promise to you. I will give you and your family the land where you are now resting. You will have many children. Your children will have children, until one day, they will be as many as the dust of the earth.
You will possess this land, and because of you, all nations will be blessed. I will watch over you and protect you as you go, and I will bring you safely home.
And God finished, saying, All this I will do. Be sure of this, I am with you. I will never leave you or forsake you.
And then the vision was gone.
Jacob woke up, rubbing his eyes.
He could hardly believe what he had just seen. And he was more than a little bit afraid. Its not every day you see the glory of the Lord God Almighty! I have seen God - and lived to tell about it!
This is a fearsome place! he said. This must be the house of God, and the very gate to heaven itself!
The next morning, Jacob took the stone he was sleeping on and set it up as a marker for what had happened there. He poured oil on it and blessed it to God.
He named the place Bethel, which means the House of God.
Then he made this promise to God. If you really do watch over me as I go, and bring me safely back to my home, then you shall be my God. I will worship you here in this place, and I will return to you one tenth of everything you give me.
Then Jacob packed up his things and went on his way.
And God was with him.