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From Eternity Past

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    Jacob Relates His Earlier Bethel Experience

    With deep emotion, Jacob repeated the story of his first visit to Bethel and how the Lord had appeared to him in the night vision. His own heart was softened; his children also were touched by a subduing power. He had taken the most effectual way to prepare them to join in the worship of God when they should arrive at Bethel. “And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.”EP 134.3

    God caused a fear to rest upon the inhabitants of the land, so that they made no attempt to avenge the slaughter of Shechem. The travelers reached Bethel unmolested. Here the Lord again appeared to Jacob and renewed to him the covenant promise.EP 134.4

    From Bethel it was only two days’ journey to Hebron, but it brought to Jacob a heavy grief in the death of Rachel. Twice seven years’ service he had rendered for her sake, and his love had made the toil light. Deep and abiding that love had been.EP 134.5

    Before her death, Rachel gave birth to a second son. With her parting breath she named the child Benoni, “son of my sorrow.” But his father called him Benjamin, “son of my right hand,” or “my strength.”EP 135.1

    At last Jacob came to his journey's end, “unto Isaac his father unto Mamre,... which is Hebron.” Here he remained during the closing years of his father's life. To Isaac, infirm and blind, the kind attentions of this long-absent son were a comfort during years of loneliness and bereavement.EP 135.2

    Jacob and Esau met at the deathbed of their father. The elder brother's feelings had greatly changed. Jacob, well content with the spiritual blessings of the birthright, resigned to the elder brother the inheritance of their father's wealth, the only inheritance Esau sought or valued. No longer estranged, they parted, Esau removing to Mount Seir. God, who is rich in blessing, had granted to Jacob worldly wealth, in addition to the higher good that he had sought. This separation was in accordance with the divine purpose concerning Jacob. Since the brothers differed so greatly in regard to religious faith, it was better for them to dwell apart.EP 135.3

    Esau and Jacob both were free to walk in God's commandments and to receive His favor; but the two brothers had walked in different ways, and their paths would continue to diverge more and more widely.EP 135.4

    There was no arbitrary choice on the part of God by which Esau was shut out from the blessings of salvation. There is no election but one's own by which any may perish. God has set forth in His Word the conditions upon which every soul will be elected to eternal life—obedience to His commandments through faith in Christ. God has elected a character in harmony with His law, and anyone who shall reach the standard of His requirement will have an entrance into the kingdom of glory. As regards man's final salvation, this is the only election brought to view in the Word of God.EP 135.5

    Every soul is elected who will work out his own salvation with fear and trembling, who will put on the armor and fight the good fight of faith. He is elected who will watch unto prayer, search the Scriptures, flee from temptation, have faith continually, and be obedient to every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. The provisions of redemption are free to all; the results will be enjoyed by those who have complied with the conditions.EP 135.6

    Esau had despised the blessings of the covenant. By his own deliberate choice he was separated from the people of God. Jacob had chosen the inheritance of faith. He had endeavored to obtain it by craft, treachery, and falsehood; but God had permitted his sin to work out its correction. Jacob never swerved from his purpose or renounced his choice. From that night of wrestling Jacob had come forth a different man. Self-confidence had been uprooted. Henceforth, in place of craft and deception, his life was marked by simplicity and truth. The baser elements of character were consumed in the furnace fire; the true gold was refined until the faith of Abraham and Isaac appeared undimmed in Jacob.EP 136.1

    The sin of Jacob and the train of events to which it led revealed its bitter fruit in the character of his sons. These sons developed serious faults. The results of polygamy were manifest in the household. This terrible evil tends to dry up the springs of love, and its influence weakens the most sacred ties. The jealousy of the several mothers had embittered the family relation; the children had grown up contentious, impatient of control. The father's life was darkened with anxiety and grief.EP 136.2

    There was one, however, of a widely different character—the elder son of Rachel, Joseph, whose rare personal beauty seemed to reflect an inward beauty of mind and heart. Pure, active, and joyous, the lad gave evidence of moral earnestness and firmness. He listened to his father's instructions and loved to obey God. The qualities that afterward distinguished him in Egypt—gentleness, fidelity, and truthfulness—were already manifest. His mother being dead, his affections clung the more closely to the father. Jacob's heart was bound up in this child of his old age. He “loved Joseph more than all his children.”EP 136.3

    But this affection was to become a cause of trouble and sorrow. Jacob unwisely manifested preference for Joseph, and this excited the jealousy of his other sons. Joseph ventured gently to remonstrate with them but only aroused still further their hatred and resentment. He could not endure to see them sinning against God and laid the matter before his father.EP 137.1

    With deep emotion Jacob implored them not to bring reproach upon his name and above all not to dishonor God by such disregard of His precepts. Ashamed that their wickedness was known, the young men seemed to be repentant but only concealed their real feelings, which were rendered more bitter by this exposure.EP 137.2

    The father's gift to Joseph of a costly coat, usually worn by persons of distinction, excited a suspicion that he intended to pass by his elder children to bestow the birthright upon the son of Rachel.EP 137.3

    The boy one day told them of a dream that he had had. “We were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.”EP 137.4

    “Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us?” exclaimed his brothers in envious anger.EP 137.5

    Soon he had another dream which he also related: “Behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.” The father, who was present, spoke reprovingly, “Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee?” Notwithstanding the apparent severity of his words, Jacob believed that the Lord was revealing the future to Joseph.EP 137.6

    As the lad stood before his brothers, his beautiful countenance lighted up with the Spirit of Inspiration. They could not withhold their admiration, but hated the purity that reproved their sins.EP 137.7

    The brothers were obliged to move from place to place to secure pasturage for their flocks. After the circumstances just related, they went to Shechem. Some time passed bringing no tidings, and the father began to fear for their safety on account of their former cruelty toward the Shechemites. He therefore sent Joseph to find them. Had Jacob known the real feeling of his sons toward Joseph, he would not have trusted him alone with them.EP 138.1

    With a joyful heart, Joseph parted from his father, neither the aged man nor the youth dreaming of what would happen before they should meet again. When Joseph arrived at Shechem, his brothers and their flocks were not to be found. Upon inquiring for them, he was directed to Dothan. He hastened on, forgetting his weariness in the thought of relieving the anxiety of his father and meeting the brothers whom he still loved.EP 138.2

    His brothers saw him approaching; but no thought of the long journey he had made to meet them, of his weariness and hunger, of his claims upon their hospitality and brotherly love softened the bitterness of their hatred. The sight of the coat, the token of their father's love, filled them with frenzy. “Behold, this dreamer cometh.” Envy and revenge now controlled them. “Let us slay him,” they said, “and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him; and we shall see what will become of his dreams.”EP 138.3

    But Reuben shrank from the murder of his brother and proposed that Joseph be cast alive into a pit and left there to perish; secretly intending, however, to rescue him and return him to his father. Having persuaded all to consent to his plan, Reuben left, fearing that his real intentions would be discovered.EP 138.4

    Joseph came on, unsuspicious of danger. But instead of the expected greeting, he was terrified by the angry and revengeful glances which he met. He was seized and his coat stripped from him. Taunts and threats revealed a deadly purpose. His entreaties were unheeded. Those maddened men rudely dragged him to a deep pit, thrust him in, and left him there to perish.EP 138.5

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