Devotional: God’s Promises

Published 10:12 am Friday, August 4, 2023

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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.” (Genesis 28: 20-22)

These words from Genesis are familiar. Jacob is running from the mess he has made at his father’s house, to his uncle’s home in Haran. After seeing and hearing God in a vision/dream, Jacob vows that if God will do what God says will be done for Jacob, then he will worship God and commit one tenth of his wealth to God.

Even after cheating his brother Esau and tricking his blind, deaf father, Jacob is still bargaining with God. One almost expects the next line to be that, “God, in his rage, wiped Jacob from the face of the earth!” Nevertheless, the fact is, God knows how all this will play out and knows that Jacob is a “trickster” even as he is comforting and encouraging Jacob in his dream.

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God does not think or act like we as humans do. He does not see Jacob’s atrocious behavior as anything more than what it is: his sinful nature coming out. God blesses Jacob to further the providential plans for God’s people. After all, Jacob will be the father of the twelve tribes of God’s people. He will father Joseph, the future King of Egypt and the one who will grow the tribes in a large nation. God does not see just today, but sees all of eternity, and acts accordingly to make God’s plan come to fruition.

We are often shocked at those whom God chooses to use to further God’s cause. We also are too quick to excuse ourselves from ever needing to work for “God’s plan” because we feel ourselves as just “sinful old us”. When we do that, we are reversing how we should see things. No, we should not bargain with God to get preferential treatment. Instead, we should seek to hear God’s plan and be readily used for God’s plan. For God’s promises are sure!

Keith Leach is Pastor of College Church and College Chaplain at Hampden-Sydney College. He can be reached at