Do You Have an Intentional Father?

Some of us know our biological fathers or grandfathers. Others do not.

Regardless of which camp you are in, would you describe your biological or other father figures as intentional?

An intention can simply be a determination to act in a certain way.

Intentions can be good or harmful. 

Which end of the spectrum would you place your father or father figure on regarding their intentionality? Mostly good? Mostly harmful? Other?

Did your father figure receive their intentional traits from their own father figure?

13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring.” [1]

In the verse above, the Lord is speaking to Jacob, the son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham.

Prior to this moment, Jacob was traveling to Haran for two reasons.

The most significant reason was Jacob had not only bartered to win his older twin brother’s birthright, but he had also deceived his father to win the blessing Isaac had intended to speak over Esau. Thus, Esau was consoling himself with the plan to murder Jacob after their father died. (Gen 25:29-34 and Gen 27:1-45)

The second reason, proposed by his mother Rebekah to gain time for Esau’s anger to subside and protect Jacob, was for Jacob to get a wife from Rebekah’s brother’s family who lived in Haran. Isaac agreed to this proposal and blessed Jacob further before sending him on his way. (Gen 27:46-28:5

Interestingly, Abraham, Jacob’s grandfather, was called out of Haran by the Lord to see the land of Canaan with a promise of being made into a great and blessed nation. (Gen 11:31-12:5)

The Lord did not promise the land of Canaan to Abraham’s offspring until Abraham was physically in Canaan. (Gen 12:6-7)

Also interesting, Jacob’s father Isaac never set foot in Haran. Instead, Isaac was not only born in the land the Lord promised to Abraham’s offspring (Gen 12:6-7) but Abraham kept Isaac from going to Haran (Gen 24). Later, even the Lord prevented Isaac from leaving the land of Canaan (Gen 26). 

But now Jacob is escaping the wrath of his brother Esau by traveling to Haran with both his mother’s and father’s encouragement. 

While on his way to Haran, Jacob stops to rest. 

11 And [Jacob] 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.[2]

Why did Jacob stop for the night?

Jacob had not arrived at a predetermined destination. He simply stopped because the sun had set, and he wanted to sleep.

Further, verse eleven uses the word “place” three times to emphasize the location Jacob stopped has great importance.

12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring.”[3]

The Lord had promised the land of Canaan to Abraham and then Isaac. Now, the Lord is speaking this same promise to Jacob through a dream.

What is the significance of the Lord identifying himself as the God of Abraham, your father, and the God of Isaac to Jacob?

Describe the place Jacob slept, as revealed in verses 12-13.

What does the Lord tell Jacob about this place?

Consider Jacob’s response to this dream.

16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” [4]

Describe Jacob’s emotions following this dream.

How does Jacob now describe this “place” he slept simply because the sun had set?

Scripture never describes the Lord as speaking to Abraham or Isaac through a dream. Rather, scripture simply says the Lord appeared to them. 

Why did the Lord use the method of a dream to communicate with Jacob?

Perhaps, appearing in dream form was the best way to get Jacob’s attention at this point in his life.

Jacob’s character development at this stage is far from his earthly father figures of Isaac and Abraham. Not to say Isaac or Abraham were perfect in their intentions every moment of their lives. Jacob, at this point in his life’s journey, is intentionally opportunistic and deceptive against his immediate family members. 

Yet, the Lord still appears to Jacob and formally transfers the promise of land, offspring, and protection from Abraham and Isaac to Jacob. 

What are the Lord’s expressed intentions? (See Gen 15; 25:21-23; and 26:1-5)

Abraham’s intentions for Isaac were to keep him in the land of Canaan because the Lord had stated that Isaac was to inherit the covenant from Abraham. 

Isaac’s intentions originally were to pass things on to his favored son Esau (Gen 25:28), but after Jacob stole the birthright and blessing, Isaac did not change the blessing he had spoken over Jacob (Gen 27:37). He offered Esau a different blessing (Gen 27:39-40). Clearly, Isaac now accepted the covenant he had received from Abraham was to pass to Jacob, even though Jacob claimed it through deceitful means.

Then Isaac, agreeing with his wife Rebekah, sent Jacob away from Canaan to get a wife from Haran. 

Is it possible Isaac also knew about Esau’s intentions to kill Jacob? Why or why not?

Even though Isaac favored Esau, do you think it was hard for him to send Jacob away? Why or why not?

What is the Lord teaching Isaac? Esau? Jacob?

While Jacob is still in the land of Canaan, the Lord appears to Jacob in a dream. The Lord promised to bless, protect, and return Jacob to the land of Canaan as the one who would inherit the covenant the Lord initially made with Abraham and then Isaac.

Why do you think the Lord chose Jacob over Esau to receive the covenant blessing? (See Gen 25:34 and Heb 12:16)

Who is truly in charge in the family line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?

How have Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s intentions aligned with or strayed from the Lord’s covenant offer?  

Did you know we can also define intention as a process or manner of healing incised wounds?

An incised wound is a wound that has a deep and sharply notched margin.

What wounds exist in the family of Isaac, Esau, and Jacob?

Describe the deepest wound that exists in humanity according to the Lord. (See Genesis 3)

What solution to this deepest wound in humanity did the Lord provide? (See Hebrews 5:7-10)

In Genesis 28:10-18, the Lord is in the process or manner of healing humanity’s incised wound.

It may look messy and confusing at this point in scripture and even in our own situations today. 

Still, the Lord is at work as our intentional heavenly Father, just as he was in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. [5]

How is the Lord, your heavenly Father, intentionally equipping you?


Barbara Lynn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 28:13.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 28:11.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 28:12–13.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 28:16–17.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Heb 13:20–21.

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