Photo by Tuce on Unsplash
If you are a parent you know the if/then scenario, the child comes in and says if I clean up my room then I will be able to play Xbox. Maybe it is the other way around, the parent says if you read these books then you will get $50. Let the negotiations begin!
If you are a parent, you no doubt have come across these if/then scenarios, some are ridiculous, some worth considering, but it is inevitable. The human condition wants something in return for something accomplished or desires the motivation to accomplish something.
You know what’s interesting, this is nothing new. As I was reading in Genesis I came across the time when Isaac & Rebekah sent Jacob away to find a wife from their homeland. They also sent him away because Esau wanted to kill him for stealing his blessing. On his journey Jacob dreamed about the stairway to heaven, the angels were ascending and descending and the Lord spoke to Jacob saying,
And behold, the LORD stood above it 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. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” (Genesis 28:13–17 ESV)
The Lord gives the patriarchal promise, the promise given to Abraham and Isaac, he now gives to Jacob. God tells them He is with him always, He will protect Jacob and will bring him back to the land of promise.
When Jacob wakes up and he is astounded by the dream and the words the Lord has spoken to him, so awe struck by the presence of God he names the place Bethel, which means the house of God. The God of heaven invaded the life of Jacob and breathed life, purpose, calling into him.
So what does Jacob do? What would you do?
I have never experienced anything like Jacob, but I have had several holy moments in my life, moments when God has spoken to me through his Word, through a sermon, a conversation, a moment so holy it plants purpose and calling, it begins to transform and define you.
Have you had a moment like this?
What’s interesting in the life of Jacob is he realizes he is in the presence of God, he memorializes the place and even changes the name of it. Yet at the same time Jacob’s response amazes me. Instead falling before the Lord in submission and full surrender, Jacob enters negotiation mode, Jacob gives God an if/then,
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, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God, 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 give a full tenth to you.” (Genesis 28:20–22 ESV)
Did you catch it?
Jacob tells God if you are with me, feed me, clothe me and bring me back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. What is interesting is God just told Jacob he was going to do all this and in Jacob’s mind he says if and when you do this then you will be my Lord and God.
To be honest, I feel like Jacob more times than not. God if you give me a better job then…, God if I just received a raise then…, God if you take away my problems then…, what is your if/then to God?
God has made the same promises to us as believers that he has made to Jacob,
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37–39 ESV)
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6 ESV)
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5 ESV)
God has promised us that nothing can separate us from His love, he promises he will complete the good work he has started in us, he promises to never leave us and forsake us. God speaks these promises to us, through His Word, like he has spoken them to Jacob and many times our response is an if/then to God. If you do this, then you will be my God.
I thank God we serve a patient and merciful God, who doesn’t do a Thanos snap when we respond to His greatness with an if/then. He patiently brings us to a place of surrender and places in us a desire to desire Him above all. God help us move beyond the if/then scenarios to a place of wholehearted submission to your purposes and plans, no matter where they take us.
Until Next Time
Soli Deo Gloria