“Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, and I return to my father’s house in safety, then the Lord will be my God. This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.” Genesis 28:20-22
Jacob was ill equipped physically and spiritually for the journey before him. He was the son who loved life in the safety of the encampment. Esau was the son who was wild at heart and had a spirit of adventure. Abraham was way out of his comfort zone. The life of faith always leads away from comfort and through danger.
Jacob had always been dependent on the faith of his father, and the comfort of his mother. Now he found himself separated from both. He turned to God with what he had in his heart, nothing more nothing less. That is all God ever expects from His children.
Jacob’s heart was filled with a conniving and striving spirit. He was always making a deal to give himself an advantage over someone else.
Jacob started out on this journey in obedience to his father. When the magnitude of what he had undertaken began to sink in, fear began to take over. He responded to God’s promise made to him in a dream, by talking about God, not to Him. What Jacob brought to God was a step in the right direction. It wasn’t much, but God heard him. He always does.
After a powerful promise from God, Jacob sought to make a deal with God. This may be the lowest form of prayer, but God condescends to meet His children where they are. Thank God He doesn’t leave them there. He raises them to embrace the life of faith, He intends for them to receive.
“If God will be with me, and will keep me on this journey…then the Lord will be my God.”
Jacob inserts into The Vow, his version of the “If…Then Clause.” By the time Jacob finishes his vow to God, he had transitioned from talking about God to talking to God.
“All that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.” V. 22b
The Vow of Jacob has never been given the same high profile The Prayer of Jabez received a few years ago when it became all the rage. Today those who pray it hardly make a ripple on the pond of prayer. Why?
There is a big difference between praying for God to expand your territory and vowing to return to God one tenth of everything He gives you. The world is still waiting for Genesis 28:22b to be stamped on a throw pillow at Hobby Lobby. Word to the waiting; don’t hold your breath.
The Vow of Jacob preceded The Law concerning the tithe. His willingness to return to God 10% of all God gave to him is still one of the best deals a man has ever tried to make with God. God provides 100% and man keeps 90%. Where is the spirit of sacrifice or the heart of generosity in that? But I digress.
In a dream God gave this fearful man His word. Jacob responded by making a vow to God, not by taking God at His word. Again. Big difference.
“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.” Genesis 28:15
Abandonment to the promise of God brings great joy when accompanied by an absolute surrender to the purpose of God. Jacob was still the man with the plan. He intended to hold God accountable for the promise He made to him, by making a vow to God, not by taking God at His word.
Jacob tried to cover his audacity with a cloak of generosity. He was so full of himself. He thought he could buy off God by paying a 10% surcharge on God’s own generosity. God planned to knock Jacob out of himself, and to fill the emptiness of his life with His Presence.
Jacob’s journey of faith was going to take lifetime. It always does. Praying and staying on course, eventually he received honorable mention in “The Hall of Faith.”
“It was by faith that Jacob when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff.” Hebrews 11:21
NOTE TO SELF: Anything that comes out of your mouth that resembles a conditional “IF…THEN” response is not an expression of unconditional surrender. When God says it, that settles it, whether you believe it or not. Making a deal with God deludes you into thinking you are an equal partner with Him. You are not. Talking about God is not the same thing as talking to Him. Talking about God leads to making a deal with Him, not to total abandonment to Him. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!