16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” 18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God 22 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 you a tenth.”
Two things today: “gate of heaven” and “then the Lord will be my God.”
Before this moment Jacob has been an “environmental” believer. He’s lived in a family with a history of God. He’s probably spent his life listening to, and participating in, family rituals of faith. That’s been his environment, his custom, but not necessarily his choice. He must have had some historical awareness of this area being the gateway to Heaven…maybe Eden fits in there too… but now it seems to come as a surprise to him that he hadn’t been aware of it before. God has been present but not “in” him until this awakening. He has been “not Godless but not Godly” either. He is just like us.
After he awakes it’s a whole new ballgame. Finally there is an inner understanding, not just a casual awareness. “How awesome is this place!” This is Jacob’s moment of redemption. Now it is more than the faith of Abraham or Isaac, it’s his own personal faith. Look at his response now – the If/THEN statement.
“If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household…then The Lord will be my God…”
A brand new awareness of God… awesome yes…but still needing the reassurance of the “IF” just like us!