Jacob's Conversion
Genesis 28:10-15
And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran.…

I. JACOB'S IMPRESSIONS. First time of leaving his father's home. When night came on, and there was no tent to repose under, and no pillow but a stone on which to lay his weary head, then a feeling of loneliness came over him, then tender thoughts awoke. He felt remorse, tears came unbidden. He felt, "I shall never be in my father's house the boy I was." In all this observe —

1. A solemn conviction stealing over Jacob of what life is, a struggle which each man must make in self-dependence.

2. But beside this conviction of what life is, Jacob was impressed in another way at this time. God made a direct communication to his soul. "He lay down to sleep, and he dreamed." We know what dreams are. They are strange combinations of our waking thoughts in fanciful forms, and we may trace in Jacob's previous journey the groundwork of his dream. He looked up all day to heaven as he trudged along, the glorious expanse of an Oriental sky was around him, a quivering trembling mass of blue; but he was alone, and, when the stars came out, melancholy sensations were his, such as youth frequently feels in autumn time. Deep questionings beset him. Time he felt was fleeting. Eternity, what was it? Life, what a mystery! And all this took form in his dream. Thus far all was natural; the supernatural in this dream was the manner in which God impressed it on his heart. Similar dreams we have often had; but the remembrance of them has faded away. Conversion is the impression made by circumstances, and that impression lasting for life; it is God the Spirit's work upon the soul.

3. Jacob felt reconciliation with God. There is a distance between man and God. It is seen in the restlessness of men, in the estrangement which they feel from Him. Well, Jacob felt all this. He had sinned, overreached his brother, deceived his father. Self-convicted he walked all day long; the sky as brass; a solemn silence around him; no opening in the heaven; no sign nor voice from God; his own heart shut up by the sense of sin, unable to rise. Then came the dream in which he felt reconciliation with God. Do not mind the form but the substance. It contains three things:

(1)  The ladder signifying heaven and earth joined, the gulf bridged over.

(2)  The angels signifying the communication which exists between earth and heaven.

(3)  The voice which told him of God's paternal care.

(4)  The last impression made on Jacob was that of the awfulness of life.


1. The first of these was a resolution to set up a memorial of the impressions just made upon him. He erected a few stones, and called them Bethel. They were a fixed point to remind him of the past.

2. Jacob determined from this time to take the Lord for his God. He would worship from henceforth not the sun, or the moon, not honour, pleasure, business, but God. With respect to this determination, observe first" that it was done with a kind of selfish feeling; there was a sort of stipulation, that if God would be with him to protect and provide for him, that then he would take Him for his God (ver. 20, 21). And this is too much the way with us; there is mostly a selfishness in our first turning to God. A kind of bargain is struck. If religion makes me happy then I will be religious. God accepted this bargain in Jacob's case; He enriched him with cattle and goods in the land whither he went (Genesis 31:18): "for godliness has the promise of the life that now is." Disinterested religion comes later on. Observe, secondly, what taking God for our God implies. It is not the mere repetition of so many words; for as our Lord has said, "Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of God." To have God for our God is not to prostrate the knee but the heart in adoration before Him. God is truth: to persist in truth at a loss to ourselves, that is to have God for our God. God is purity: resolve to shut up evil books, turn a countenance of offended purity to the insult of licentious conversation; banish thoughts that conjure up wicked imaginations; then you have God for your God. God is love: you are offended; and the world says, resent; God says, forgive. Can you forgive? Can you love your enemy, or one whose creed is different from your own? That is to have God for your God.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran.

WEB: Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran.

Jacob At Bethel
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