sexta-feira, 4 de setembro de 2015


When Jacob awoke from his sleep,
he thought,
“Surely the Lord is in this place,
and I was not aware of it.”

Genesis 28:16 (read 28:10-19) – NIV

In ancient narrations names are often descriptions of their bearers. The name, Jacob, meant Thief. In this story Jacob was running away from his twin brother, Esau, from whom he had stolen Esau’s part of their father’s inheritance (25:27-33, 27:1-12). In addition to material wealth, this heritage included a very special blessing of God. This is a strange story in which God seemingly ignored moral principles and approved acts of deception and theft. It seems that anything goes for those whom God likes. In our view, Jacob was wrong and deserved rebuke and punishment, not a blessing. Was God wrong? Before we condemn or acquit Jacob and God let us try to see the story in a larger context (Genesis 25:19 to 49:28).

Instead of Jacob receiving a fair punishment (justice) he was receiving an undeserved blessing (grace). Grace disturbs us. We are repulsed by so much evil committed on a daily basis that goes unpunished. Impunity disturbs us. We are sad when we see people of evil character taking advantage of others and thriving without contributing anything in return.

But on the other hand, how many of us have at least a little of Jacob in us? To what extent are our motives pure and our actions full of love for others? To what extent do we defend our "piece of cake", small as it is, and strive to increase it a little bit more? Have we never harmed another person by our actions or our lifestyle? How many of us receive all the punishment we deserve and deserve all the blessings that we receive? Grace is part of everyone's life.

The blessing that Jacob stole from his brother and that God seemingly approved came at a high price for him. He continued to cheat others and steal from them for a long time. But life itself gave him the change! In his struggle with God he became crippled and hobbled along for the rest of his life. The stolen blessing included the passage of twenty years of mourning for his favorite son (Joseph of Egypt) who he thought was dead but who was really alive (the deceiver was deceived). The blessing of God did not include a life without suffering and pain. It ended up by Jacob becoming a blessing, but he became a bent and wounded instrument.

The Bible is not a story of great deeds of great heroes of faith. It is a witness to the grace and mercy of God in spite of their flaws of character and weaknesses. The only perfect one was Jesus who refused to be called "good." His perfection was so great that He came to confirm, not to condemn.

The great reality of life is that we are all "bent and wounded." We have no moral right to point our fingers of condemnation at anyone. We all have our weaknesses and shortcomings. We exist only by the grace and mercy of God. How can we say that God condemns someone because of this or that sin when our sin is only different from his or hers? Are our sins little and forgivable while theirs are big and unpardonable?

Grace and mercy are good when they apply to us, but are often disturbing when we become obsessed with the sins of others that go unpunished. The remedy for this disorder was given by Jesus. We should concentrate on the grace and mercy of the Father rather than the sins of others. The Pharisees saw those who were different from them as sinners while Jesus saw in them possibilities of the Father's love. By being bent and by hobbling along in life our hope is in this strange grace of God that applies even to us.



Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 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. 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.”

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.

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