Daily Devotional

Jacob: The Lord Builds on Failure

by Simon Whitton

14 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.
15 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.
Genesis 28:14-15 (NIV)

This promise was given to Jacob when he first encountered the Lord as a young man at Bethel.  However, many years later he must have had serious concerns about the behavior and character of his sons, and begun to doubt how his sons could be a blessing to anyone.  The scriptures record some of their wickedness, deception, lies, and sexual impropriety.

The most infamous of their deeds was when they plotted to kill their brother Joseph and then sold him as a slave; but the first recorded event was after a man from a local city defiled Jacob's daughter.  Jacob's sons then deceived the men of the city, two of his sons slaughtered them all in anger and then his sons plundered their wealth, capturing the women and children. (Genesis 34)

Jacob was distressed about what his sons had done and was concerned about the repercussions from the inhabitants of the land. The Lord directed Jacob to leave Canaan and travel to Bethel, where He had first encountered God as young man. Jacob then insisted his sons hand over all the foreign gods and charms they possessed and that they purify themselves.

When Jacob arrived in Bethel, his thoughts must have returned to the Lord's original promise to him, and it's likely he wondered how blessing could come through his children.  But when he arrived at Bethel, God appeared to him again and reiterated His promise that His blessing was upon his family and offspring.

11 And God said to him, "I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will come from your body.
12 The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you."

Genesis 35:11-12 (NIV)

Jacob's wayward and deceptive sons suffered consequences for their actions (Genesis 49) but the Lord still established his people through them.  They were the foundation on which He built.

The Lord still builds on failure within the church. Imagine a modern road as symbolic of the church.  All you see is the surface of the road; but now picture the road as a cross-section, with many layers of various materials going back many generations.  The earlier layers had been laid with what the builders saw as state-of-the-art materials at that time, but to us those layers now look like rubble or debris.

The old layers of road, which were once the useful and visible surface, fell into disrepair.  The previous layers failed, the materials broke where they had natural flaws or lacked integrity.  They failed and were covered over by new materials.  The rubble and debris became a firm foundation for subsequent layers.

It's not that God builds on an imperfect foundation, because beneath the layers of debris is the solid rock of Christ. He took all our imperfections and failures upon Himself. The church is built on the solid foundation of Christ.

We belong to the Lord, so let's not 'beat ourselves up' over past mistakes or failures of integrity.  Christ has covered those things.  He has used our failures as a foundation, and He will continue to build on them.  This is how it has been throughout history.

Spend some time in prayer...

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