In Genesis 31:18, Jacob prepares himself to start on a journey from Paddan Aram and he decides to go to his father’s house. This journey of Jacob is analogous to our journey to our eternal Canan – our Father’s house where we will live forever with Him in eternal life.
Jacob was basically a cheater. He cheated on his brother; He gave him the stew and grabbed Esau’s birthright. The second time when Isaac, their father wanted to bless Esau, he cheated his father and grabbed Esau’s portion of blessings.
Jacob had been a cheater even at Laban’s place and he multiplied his flock that way. However, the Lord was with him because of certain characteristics he possessed.
There are 7 crucial places that Jacob crossed during his journey from Paddan Aram to his father’s place. And these 7 places stand as important points in our spiritual journey. Let’s see what those places are and what they mean in our spiritual journey!
Paddan Aram is the starting point.
Jacob started from Paddan Aram and he prepared himself to go to his father’s house. Paddan Aram is the place where Jacob started his journey. Padadan Aram means high grounds.
This represents worldly pride. When Jacob decided to go to his father’s place the first and the foremost thing he did was to prepare himself to leave Paddan Aram.
This means that we should leave behind all our worldly pride and the hope we place on worldly possessions and money behind us if we want to move ahead in our journey. This is what the Lord expects from us.
We will not be able to proceed forward to meet the Lord when He comes again if we hold on to our worldly pride and possessions. If we leave them behind, our journey will be in a very fast pace.
Hebron (or Kiriath Arba)
In Genesis 35: 27 we read that, Jacob came to Kiriath Arba (or Hebron). In Genesis 31: 47, we read that Jacob named the place Galeed, which means the pile of witness.
It is a place of covenant between Jacob and Laban. This represents our covenant with the Lord when we accept Him as our Lord and worship Him – our covenant that we will not worship foreign Lords and we will leave the worldly pleasures behind.
Also the pile of witness means that we should live as witnesses in our temporary life in this world.
In addition, as we read in Jeremiah 8:22, there is balm that heals in Kiriath Arba. Also there is a doctor (Jesus Christ). We must pass through His healing and seek His help in our journey to the eternal life.
Jacob met the angels of the Lord in his path and he named the place Mahanaim. We have angels who assist us in our journey. There are in general at least 3 major groups of angels.
The ones who are praising the Lord all the time in the heaven; there are also a sub-group of angels who represent us in the heaven and pray for us on our behalf to the Lord. The other group of angels are the ones who are here with us to protect us. The third group of angels are the ones who come as messengers from the Lord.
We will have to encounter Lord’s angels in our journey to be safe and peaceful throughout.
(Genesis 32: 30). Peniel means the Face of the Lord. No one can see the face of the Lord. Those who saw His face were dead. But Jacob saw the Lord face to face and still his life was spared.
Jacob went to Peniel because his brother Esau came to him in order to kill him. Jacob divided his belongings, stayed alone all night and prayed at the river side. He asked the Lord for blessings (even though he had all the worldly blessings) – he wanted the Lord to spare his life (from his angry brother).
But before blessing him the Lord asks him his name and Jacob utters the truth (even though he used to cheat others). The Lord expects us to be true and frank to Him. If we declare our sins frankly, He is ready to bless us right away. All we need to do is to seek the face of the Lord and His presence.
Where can we seek the face of the Lord?
We can do so while we pray, and also when we meditate on His words (the Bible). But in order to be more effective, we should seek His face where He has established His presence – in the Church.
This is a place of warning. The meaning of this word is camp or tent. But we learn from Genesis 33:16 that even though Succoth is supposed to be a temporary place, Jacob built shelters for his livestock as if he was going to stay there permanently.
The world is a temporary place in our spiritual journey. Even though we live in flesh and blood in this world we should not place our desire on worldly possessions and settle our mind in worldly passion.
We must realize that we are only passersby and that we have a much better and a permanent place waiting up there! As we read in Hebrews 11: 9-15, Abraham lived like a stranger in the foreign country. He lived in tents even though he was abundantly blessed by the Lord. He was looking forward to the eternal life.
The Lord reminds Jacob to go to Bethel (where he witnessed the Lord first) and to build an altar and worship the Lord (Genesis 35: 1-15). Initially Jacob made an agreement with the Lord at Bethel that if he returns in a blessed manner he will worship the Lord. He also added that he will offer tithe in all his earnings.
However Jacob forgot about this covenant with the Lord and the Lord Himself reminds Jacob. When Jacob prepared to go to Bethel, he changed clothes, get rid of the foreign gods, the ornaments etc. and buried them.
When he did so, the Lord spoke to him in Bethel. And He gave Jacob the name Israel (even though Jacob got this name after fighting with the Lord in Peniel). At Bethel Jacob did not even ask the Lord for this name.
The Lord really expects us to leave the foreign gods and also the desire on worldly possession behind in our journey.
Eprath is another name for Bethlehem which means that the rule of Israel will rise from its origins. If we go to Eprath (Bethlehem) we can witness the Lord.
Two groups of people witnessed the Lord in Bethlehem – the Magi and the shepherds.
Just like the shepherds we must spread the Gospel everywhere. And just like the Magi, we must follow the star (the Lord’s guidance). Those are two simple things we learn from Eprath.
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