Vayeitzei is the name of this week’s parsha and it means: he left. The parsha this week begins and ends with Jacob offering a sacrifice to the Lord. Last week Jacob ended up in some hot water with his brother Esau for tricking their father Isaac into giving Jacob the blessings for the firstborn. And now, this week finds Jacob on the run and setting up a new life away from his family and the anger of his brother Esau. When Jacob settles down for the night, God comes to him and reconfirms his promises to Jacob and his hand on Jacob’s life.
Genesis 28:11- 17 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the 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: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the 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.” When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 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.”
Jacob is in a bad place when the parsha begins, but God is with him. God appears to Jacob in a dream and repeats his faithfulness to him. God promises Jacob land and descendants and a future. He promises to watch over Jacob and bring him home. Jacob’s response is to mark the occasion of God being with him when he wasn’t expecting it and to worship the Lord.
The rest of the parsha deals with Jacob finding a wife…and then another one. Jacob has struggles with his wives and his father-in-law Laban, but still God is with him. Jacob’s wife Leah gives him children and then Jacob’s wife Rachel gives him a child as well. They all live on Laban’s land and deal with Laban’s trickery until Jacob can take it no more. In Genesis 31:3 God tells Jacob to gather up with family and their belongings and to go back to the land of promise. God tells Jacob that he will be with him. God will be with Jacob because God has always been with Jacob. When Jacob was on the run from Esau, God was with him. When Jacob recognized God and brought a sacrifice, God was with him. When Jacob was making foolish decisions about his spousal selection, God was with him. When Jacob was wrongly showing favoritism, God was with him. When Jacob’s wives are fighting, God is with him. When they all flee from Laban, God is with them.
God isn’t with Jacob because Jacob is so great. God isn’t faithful to Jacob because Jacob is so good at remembering God or looking to him for guidance. God is with Jacob because God is faithful. God is with Jacob because God keeps his promises. God is with Jacob because God promised Abraham to bless all the nations of the earth through Abraham’s family line. God is with Jacob, because it is through Jacob’s family that the Messiah (Y’shua) will come and bless the whole world so that we can be saved and reconciled to God. Jacob isn’t great at being reconciled to anyone in this parsha, but God is going to use Jacob’s family to reconcile the whole world to himself. At the beginning of the parsha, Jacob recognizes the the Lord is in the place where he is and he hadn’t recognized it. This week, let’s be looking at how God is at work in our lives and be looking at him to be keeping his promises and reconciling people to each other and people to himself.