Genesis 28:10 Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. 11 He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. 12 And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 And the Lord stood beside him and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; 14 and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth…20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, 21 so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, 22 and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that you give me I will surely give one-tenth to you.”
Jacob had fled his home because his brother Esau threatened to kill him. It would be fair to say Jacob was a bit of a scoundrel. He had conned his father and older brother, with help from his mother. Yet here we have God affirming in Jacob promises originally made to Jacob’s grandfather Abraham.
Despite Jacob’s flaws (and they were many), God showed him mercy.
Jacob is a character to whom I can relate. I haven’t conned my own family members, but I’ve made many mistakes in my life. I’ve made bad decisions. I’ve wronged others – intentionally and unintentionally. Had God dealt with me based on merit, I would be in a world of hurt, no question. And yet, the truth is, God has blessed me richly.
Ours is a God of second chances.
As a pastor I talk with people about their deepest joys and pains on a regular basis. One of the heaviest burdens I see in people is guilt. People beat themselves up over mistakes they made years ago – long after the “victim” has moved on. Truth? It’s often easier to forgive others than to forgive oneself.
I’m guessing there are some of you reading this blog post who know what I’m talking about. Like Jacob, you’ve done some things you’re not proud of. You regularly hear a voice on the inside that says, “You know what you did. If people knew the truth about you, they’d run from you. You’re not a real Christian. Real Christians don’t do the things you’ve done…” I could go on, but you know what I’m talking about.
First, this is not the voice of God speaking to you, but the voice of the enemy of God. Another name for him is “the accuser”. The enemy accuses people day and night and will not let you forget your mistakes. God’s voice sounds different. Read what God says in Hebrews chapter 8:
12 “For I will be merciful toward (the inequities of my people), and I will remember their sins no more.”
Heavenly Father, we give you thanks that you are a God of second chances. It is not your practice to remind us of the sins of our past, but rather to forgive and forget. Give us grace to put past mistakes behind us, that we might live as your servants now and forever more. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.