Main point summary
The promise to God's people is that He Himself will be with us and lead us into His presence. This promise is not based upon what (or what we do not) do. It is grounded in the covenant that He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Jacob left p Beersheba and went toward q Haran.
And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set.
Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep.
And he r dreamed,
and behold, there was a ladder 1 set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven.
And behold , s the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!
And behold , t the Lord stood above it 1 and said,
The Lord stood to give Jacob the promise Himself
u “ I am the Lord , the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac.
His introduction to Jacob is
v The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring.
Your offspring shall be like w 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 [Israel] and x your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed .
Behold , y I am with you
and will keep you wherever you go,
and z will bring you back to this land.
For I will a not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
Logical Connections The passage is tied together with an Id/Exp. These are reversed in the arc b/c I see Jacob leaving the land as the actual explanation of what is to follow, that is, God's appearing to him and the establishment of the covenant. The next outer arc is an Ac/Pur with the purpose for God's promise to establish the covenant being the main reason for Jacob's dream. Another Id/Exp fills in the next section. This time the main point, I believe, is the explanation portion. God's purpose was not merely to "introduce" Himself to Jacob but to assure Jacob of the promise of Abraham and Isaac. The explanation seems to be the best choice for the main piece as the context was considered for labeling it as such. The main proposition of the arc is the the Ac/Res of 15d, which is tied in by the Progression of the promise itself. Note, that God's promise is to (a) be with, (b) protect, (c) lead, and finally (d) to complete the promise. The entirety of the promise made to Jacob is built upon this very verse. Without the promise you would simply have God explaining to Jacob who He is and that he would eventually return to the land. The promise solidifies his dream and is therefore the main proposition. Expositional Connections The familiar story of Jacob & Esau can be viewed through the lens of the gospel as we see the elements present within this passage. Jacob has just fled from his home to escape his brother's wrath for stealing his birthright. The birthright belonged to the eldest son and was a place of privilege. As the recipient, the eldest son would not only be charged with the care and protection of the family but would also have a blessing of wealth and prosperity pronounced over him. It was truly a coveted thing. The passage picks up just as Jacob is instructed by his parents to go to Rebekah's homeland to take a wife. He left Beersheba to go to Haran. He stops to rest in Bethel, formerly called Luz, (v.19) as told to us by Moses. It is here that Jacob has his dream of angels upon a flight of stairs traveling upon it from Heaven to Earth. And Yahweh Himself stands above them at the top, ready to give the blessing of the nations to Jacob. Yahweh announces Himself as the God of Abraham, and Issac and gives him the same promises given to his forefathers: the promise of innumerable descendants. The promise is found in verse 15 and contains four elements: (1) the promise of personal presence , (2) the promise of personal protection, (3) the promise of personal guidance, and (4) the promise of complete fulfillment. The Promise of Personal Presence The very promise begins with the aforementioned Hebrew particle hin·nēh (behold). It's introduction at the offset of the promise is no surprise as it calls to attention the following promise spoken by God. And the promise is, "I am with you." It is the very real and personal NOW presence of God with Jacob. It is not contingent on future wanderings or later merits that Jacob may or may not accomplish. The establishment of God's covenant is based upon His very word. This is evident as we see the introduction of God to Jacob by announcing Himself as the God of Jacob's ancestors. Just as He had promised to be with Abraham and Isaac He is now passing on that same blessing to Jacob and his descendants. Just as His very presence was with them, Jacob, too, would experience that same presence of Yahweh. The Promise of Personal Protection The next portion deals with Jacob's protection. God has promised him that He Himself will watch over Jacob because he is the promised heir to the blessing. The word šā·mǎr is used here, denoting a personal aspect and the result of God's presence. This protection is physical as we later see Jacob's sons deceitfully persuading all the men of Haran to circumcise themselves and then killing all the men of the city at the height of their pain. God causes a "terror" to fall on the surrounding peoples so that they will not attack Jacob (Gen 35:5). Scripture is replete with examples of God's personal protection of His people. Remember that of the three youths, Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego, as they stood their ground against Nebuchednezer and Yahweh stood in the fire beside them, protecting them. When God protects His people not even the fires of Hell can scorch them. The Promise of Personal Guidance The promise now progresses from presence and protection to guidance. The land that Jacob has departed from is the land of promise, to which he seemingly has waved goodbye permanently. He is in fear for his life, and taking into account the deceitful nature of Jacob during this period of his life it is doubtful that he plans to return. Yet God had promised him that he will not only return but that his descendants will possess the land and live in it. Jacob, like many today may think that they are going where they lead themselves, but the Covenant God is the one who leads where He shall lead and where He has purposed to lead. The Promise of Complete Fulfillment The zenith of the promise is found in this last section: " for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you ." It was God's very intention and purpose to fulfill His promise of taking a people for Himself. Reading this passage my mind quickly goes to the conquest of Canaan near the end of Joshua's life where he proclaims, Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. 44 And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass (Joshua 21:43-45) Because the Lord had made the promise to Jacob it was certain to come to pass. The Gospel Connection Of all the things that stand out in this passage I am overwhelmed that although Jacob resorted to lying and trickery God still promised His presence with him. The promise was Jacob's to begin with (Gen 25:23) and no trickery was necessary. Perhaps he thought for sure Esau would renege on their deal and took matters into his own hands at little prodding from his mother. Either way, it is astounding that this very encounter with God, and the promise of God to him come right on the heels of his great sin! Christian, do not be despaired that your sin is too great for God to forgive you, nor that He should ever leave you in your sinning. For the covenant with His people has been ratified by the very blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. And Yahweh would not, no, not ever break His good promise towards you who have been redeemed through His Son's blood. Be certain that if you have called upon His Son in repentance and faith that you have God's personal presence with you, His personal protection over you, His personal guidance leading you, and that His promise to bring you into the Good Land, that is, His very real and physical presence, will surely be fulfilled. (Philippians 1:6) You see, the promise does not depend upon you, just as it did not depend upon Jacob. The promise is one God has already made in eternity past with the very people whom He has coveneted Himself with.