Jacob’s life was marked by five encounters with God. Each of these encounters transformed Jacob and was important in bringing him closer to God. Just as God changed Jacob, He also changes the life of each believer over time.
These were Jacob’s five encounters with God:
1. At Bethel
The first time that God spoke to Jacob was when he ran away from home, after deceiving his father and stealing his brother’s blessing. Jacob fell asleep at Bethel and saw angels ascending and descending a ladder that reached to heaven. God appeared to him and promised to take care of him and bring him back to his homeland ( Genesis 28: 13-15 ).
Jacob was treacherous and was running away from the consequences of his actions but God blessed him. God’s love is unconditional. Jacob did not immediately change his behavior, but he promised to worship God if He took care of him on his travels.
See the story of Jacob here.
2. The order to return
God really cared for Jacob, giving him a family and many riches. Twenty years later, God spoke to Jacob again and sent him home. Jacob’s father-in-law Laban felt threatened by Jacob’s wealth. So Jacob obeyed God ( Genesis 31: 2-3 ).
Jacob fled Laban, taking his family and everything he had. Laban was angry at this cowardly attitude but God protected Jacob. Jacob recognized God’s protection in his life ( Genesis 31:42 ).
3. The struggle with God
Jacob was still afraid to find his brother. He sent his family ahead of him and spent a night alone. That night he fought a man who was actually an angel of God. The man dislocated his thigh but Jacob did not let go and demanded a blessing! – Genesis 32: 26-28
The man changed the name of Jacob (which means “treacherous”) to Israel (“he struggles with God”). In the morning, Jacob was a different man. He gained courage, went in front of his family and fixed everything with his brother, who was very happy to see him.
4. Jacob is dedicated to God
Some time after returning home, God spoke to Jacob again. It was time to keep his promise ( Genesis 35: 1 ). Jacob called his family and told them to cleanse themselves. He buried all the idols he had and returned to Bethel, where he built an altar to God. From that moment, Jacob dedicated himself totally to God .
5. The blessing to go to Egypt
When Jacob was very old and discovered that his son Joseph was in Egypt, he decided to move there. But, before going, he consulted God. Jacob had gone from a treacherous man who did everything he wanted to a man who tried to do God’s will .
God blessed Jacob once more and told him to go to Egypt without fear ( Genesis 46: 2-4 ). Jacob went and lived the rest of his days in peace, with his family. As promised, God blessed Jacob’s descendants, who became the nation of Israel.
Spiritual growth lasts a lifetime. Jacob’s transformation was a lengthy process and he made many mistakes along the way. But in the end, he became a man dedicated to God. Open your heart and God will also work in your life!