Proper 11, Year A, Old Testament Lesson
Scripture: Genesis 28:10-19
The Book of Genesis provides the foundational stories of our faith: God’s calling of a people; their often failed responses to Him; and God’s steadfast love throughout. The Abraham saga tells of the formation of the nation of Israel, beginning with the faithfulness of its patriarch, Abraham. Although disillusioned with the wickedness of men, God separates out one family line to bring divine blessing to all subsequent families of the world. Abraham, the model of absolute faithfulness, trust, and obedience, is symbolic of Israel’s idealized self. At the request of God, Abraham leaves his homeland travels to a promised land. God promises him an heir even though Abraham and his wife Sarah are long past childbearing age and Sarah gives birth to Isaac. Isaac marries Rebekah who gives birth to twins, Esau and Jacob. Jacob tricks his brother Esau out of his birthright and blessing. Jacob then leaves his home for two reasons: Esau wants to harm him and his parents want him to take a wife from among their own people. This is also an etiological story that explains the significance of Bethel as an important place of worship. Bethel means ‘house of God.’ The phrase ‘the gate of heaven’ suggests the ancient view that a sanctuary was a place where God came down to meet the people.