“And I Did Not Know It”

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin

“Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it” (Genesis 28:16).

How we limit God! There is within our thinking a kind of dualism: God is in his heaven, and we are on our earth. Church buildings become a sort of meeting place between the two realms. Commonly called the “house of God” I wonder if we sometimes imagine them as some sort of divine holiday home? A place in our realm which God visits from time to time!

Today’s verse, which comes from the end of Jacob’s vision of a ladder extending into heaven, challenges this habit of thought. Jacob himself was not a man of solid, upright integrity. In fact his very name means supplanter, and he cheated his brother of his birthright. This deceitful man is sleeping in the open, with only a rock as a resting place for his head, and it is here that he encounters God.

Note that there was nothing promising about the scene prior to the vision. This was not a ‘holy’ place, and Jacob was not a ‘holy’ man. No altar had been built, and no priests were on hand to play their ritual. Here was a man sleeping rough, caught out by the sunset. Yet “the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it”.

Lest you fall into the same trap, let me assure you that there is no place where God is not. You are never beyond his gaze and his guiding hand. Your prayers are never so distant that they don’t reach the ears of God, his concern is not bounded by geography. Remember that the Lord is where you are right now. And let that be a comfort.

Before the Ending of the Day

Before the ending of the day, Creator of the world, we pray, that with thy wonted favour thou, wouldst be our guard and keeper now - Ambrose of Milan (340-397) is one of those greats of the church who makes you long for days of steadfastness, intellect and purpose. He was a defender of the faith, who spent many years battling those who denied the full divinity of Christ. When made bishop, he lived a life of simplicity and gave his money to the poor. The hymn, which takes the form of a prayer, asks for God’s protection through the night - a protection of both body and soul - before finishing with a verse calling upon the Trinity

The Order of Melchizedek

So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him. “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5:5-6) - If God is sovereign, then you are not. If God is a creator, then you are a creature. If God is infinite, then you are finite. He creates life, and your entire life is heading towards death. He is limitless, and you are limited. He is all-knowing, and your knowledge is small indeed. That is what is at the heart of the fear of God. It is that a great God makes us feel small indeed.

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