Before you read: Esau was over it! The big reunion wasn’t scary at all. They hugged. Esau welcomed Jacob back. Jacob didn’t quite go back – not to where Esau lived. He tried to settle in Shechem, but his sons caused trouble and God told him to head back to Bethel, the place where he first heard God speak.
Read Genesis 35:9-29
A bunch of little things are happening here that will turn out to be big things: Jacob has twelve sons – these twelve sons are going to become the twelve tribes of Israel and most of the rest of the Old Testament will be about them.
Also, Rachel dies. Remember how much Jacob loved her? Her death will leave a big hole in his life.
“God appeared to Jacob again.” This of course is the main thing. Whenever an author speaks directly into the story we need to pay close attention. He’s giving clues about what He’s doing and where the story will go.
So what does He say?
Everything He’s said before: I’ve changed your name; I’m making a nation from your kids; and I’m going to give you the land I promised.
He adds more this time – you will father kings and nations – but mostly He’s repeating himself.
As if it matters.
As if He wants Jacob (and us) to remember that He is doing this thing.
As if it’s because of these promises that everything happens the way it does; everything that’s already happened and everything that’s going to happen.
As if through loss and struggle and confusion and homelessness God is writing a story.
And the story is good.
And He wants us to know it.
He certainly wants Jacob to know it. So He repeats himself, because He’s like that. He’s patient and kind and understands us. He knows it’s hard for us to see His plot when we hurt, or are tired, or disappointed, or lost. He knows how messy and confusing things can be for us.
He also knows what’s coming: He visits Jacob just before Rachel dies.
But before all this, before the promises are repeated, right at the start of God’s visit to Jacob – the first thing He does is bless. Look at verse nine, “God appeared to him again and blessed him.”
It’s good to know, in the mess of my own life, that God is doing something here and it will end well. But it’s even better when He comes right up close and I can feel his blessing.
I’m not just a project to Him.