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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Evening, October 1, 2006
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not” (Genesis 28:16).

Last Sunday night I contrasted Jacob, who spoke the words of our text, with his grandfather Abraham. I said that Abraham pictures a young person raised in a non-Christian home. It is all new to him when he comes into the church. Often, like Abraham, he is willing to live out his new-found faith with great zeal. That’s what Abraham did. And that’s what many young people who come into the church do when they are converted.

On the other hand, Jacob pictures a young person who has grown up in the church, who knows the Bible and the routine. He knows by long experience what is expected of him, and he does his duties in the church – although he is quite mechanical in his service.

Like Abraham, the convert from the world, with no Christian parents to push him forward, is nevertheless often quickly converted and full of zeal for God. But to one like Jacob, raised in the church, the whole approach to religion is different. And so tonight I feel that it is appropriate for us to focus, not on Abraham, not on the one who is converted out of the world, but rather that we should once again turn our attention to his grandson Jacob. For, like many of you tonight, Jacob was raised in what we would call today a “Christian home.” His family was far from perfect. We can see that even by a quick reading of Genesis, chapter 27. It was a home that was sometimes filled with tension. His father’s faith was weak at times. His mother sometimes rebelled against his father. It was a home that was far from perfect. And yet it was, after all, a “Christian home.” When compared to the homes of the Philistines and Hittites that surrounded them, it was the best home available.

Yet how little Jacob appreciated the good things that surrounded him at home. How little he thought of the great advantages that were his, which the boys and girls from heathen families that he knew in childhood had never experienced.

And yet the treasures that he knew from birth were so commonplace to him that he treated them like dirt. See him fling aside any thought of God! See him trick his brother, connive with his mother, and lie to his father! See him dig such a pit by his impudent treachery that he recoils at the thought of his brother’s hatred! See him as he flees from the home of his childhood for fear of losing his life.

We must not go into the details of Jacob’s story, or we will lose the larger lessons of it. We must focus on the main points, or this will only become a superficial Bible study, and the deeper meaning will escape us.

I wonder tonight if there may be a young man or woman among us, raised in the church, but now feeling some of the pressures that Jacob felt to flee from it all. That is a very common feeling among young people raised in the churches today. We are told by pollsters that well over 85% of those raised in evangelical homes leave the church in their early twenties, never to return. Since this is such a commonplace occurrence today, I wonder if you may not be feeling some of that, some of the inner pressure Jacob felt to escape – to free himself from the yoke of his parents and live his life “on his own.” Oh, I know you would never admit to such thoughts. But I wonder if they have not come to you at times, as they did to Jacob. I wonder if you may have had the thought, “How can I get out of this? How can I rid myself of the constriction and bondage of this whole church thing?” Be honest with yourself on this. Have you not at times entertained such thoughts? Has not Satan come to you and whispered, as he did to Jesus,

“All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me”? (Matthew 4:9).

Has not the Devil come to you, attempting to “choke” you,

“with cares and riches and pleasures of this life”? (Luke 8:14).

And if any of that, even a little of it, has been brought before your mind by the Tempter, has it not made you think that, perhaps, it would be best after all, to just put a distance between yourself and the church? “Just for a while,” the Tempter suggests. “Just till you gain your freedom and independence,” he whispers. “After all,” he says, “You are grown now. Put away this childish nonsense!” I wonder if you are listening to his enchanting appeal.

And then one day Jacob leaves.

“And Jacob went out from Beersheba [his home], and went toward Haran” (Genesis 28:10).

In a lonely spot he goes to sleep. Strange dreams come to him in the darkness. And then the voice of God comes through it, and Jacob awakes with shuddering fear.

“And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not” (Genesis 28:16).

Notice three things about Jacob’s experience. I hope they will go home with you. I hope that God will “haunt” you with these thoughts. I pray that the points, drawn from this text, will slice through the trance the Devil has put you in by his subtle, hypnotic charms. I pray that the Word of God, which

“is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, [will be] piercing…[and a discerner] of the thoughts and intents of [your] heart” (Hebrews 4:12),

will stab at your slumbering heart, as we consider the text,

“And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not” (Genesis 28:16).

I hope that three stabs of the Word of God will pierce your heart from that text.

I. The first stab is the fact that you are asleep.

“And Jacob awaked out of his sleep” (Genesis 28:16).

Figuratively Jacob had been “asleep” all his life to the things of God.

A person who is asleep like this is in great danger, but does not know it. The sea was broken up by a mighty storm. The ship was about to be broken up by the waves. Jonah knew nothing about it. Why was he unaware of the danger?

“Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep” (Jonah 1:5).

Doesn’t that describe you tonight? Isn’t that your condition? The storm of wrath is raging. The waves of judgment are about to crash down on you. And yet you sleep.

The sailors were afraid, yet Jonah slept. The shipmaster came and shouted above the clamor of the storm,

“What meanest thou, O sleeper?” (Jonah 1:6).

“How can you sleep,” he cried.

Sleep is often pictured in a bad light in the Bible. The five foolish virgins were asleep.

“They all slumbered and slept” (Matthew 25:5).

The Lord said,

“I know you not” (Matthew 25:12).

Christ did not know them. They were unprepared. And yet, “They all slumbered and slept.” Cruden said, “Sleep is used in the Bible for…the indolence [the laziness] and dullness of the soul” (Cruden’s Complete Concordance, Zondervan Publishing House, 1968 reprint, p. 607).

Jacob had been physically awake. But his soul had been asleep all his life. He was in great danger of losing it, yet he slept on.

“How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?” (Proverbs 6:9).

Is that not your condition right now? Is that not a question God is asking you tonight?

“How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?”

Yes, the first stab of our text should be the thought that you are asleep. You walk through the corridors of the church as a somnambulist – a sleepwalker. The man who walks in his sleep appears to be awake. His legs move. He gestures with his hands. His eyes are wide open. And yet the somnambulist only appears outwardly to be awake – for he is walking in his sleep. I greatly fear that this is a description of you tonight. You have read the Bible – in your sleep! You have mumbled prayers – in your sleep! You have sat through countless sermons – in your sleep! And I may very well ask you that question once more,

“How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?”

“And Jacob awaked out of his sleep…” (Genesis 28:16).

II. The second stab is the fact that you may never awaken.

Do not take comfort in the thought that Jacob awakened. Do not hold the false hope that, because he awoke, you will also be awakened some day.

Some of you are dreaming. In your dreams you look forward to being awakened. But those thoughts are only a mirage. Do you know what that is? A mirage is an optical illusion caused by the reflection of light through layers of air of different temperatures and densities, by which a pool of water appears to be very near, shimmering on the edge of the desert.

Many a sun-parched wanderer, lost in the vast expanse of the Sahara Desert, has seen a flickering image of a water hole – just over the next sand dune. But, alas! It is only a mirage! It is only a false hope! And when he makes his way to the place where the water appeared to be – there is nothing there but burning sand. He reaches forth his fingers for the water, but his hands come back full of dust. Years later a caravan comes to the place. They find the white bones of his skeleton reaching out – toward the false hope of water, which was only an optical illusion before his eyes.

And I say that your dream of someday being awakened is no more than that – no more than a mirage, no more than an optical illusion of your mind, no more than a false hope!

“I shall be awakened some day,” you say in your mind. Rubbish! It is nothing more than a delusion, nothing more than a mirage in the desert!

“The night is far spent, the day is at hand” (Romans 13:12).

“It is high time to awake out of sleep” (Romans 13:11).

“How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?” (Proverbs 6:9).

“And Jacob awaked out of his sleep…” (Genesis 28:16).

But his brother never awoke! His brother went down to his grave unawakened! And, knowing this, how can you be so cocksure that you will not die unawakened – as Jacob’s brother did? Oh, may you see the terrible reality that you are lost and hopeless. For unless your lost condition troubles you now, it will be said of you, as it was of Jacob’s brother,

“As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Romans 9:13).

I give no further explanation of that dreadful verse than this – if you go on the way you are, it will also be said of you,

“Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”

The young man or young woman who came into the church from a godless home “have I loved.” But the sleep-ridden child of the church “have I hated.” That is the word of God. I could not change it if I tried.

“How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?” (Proverbs 6:9).

“And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not” (Genesis 28:16).

III. The third stab is the fact that you have never felt the terror of the Lord.

“Hold back,” the new-evangelical may say. “You have stabbed them enough. Give them peace and pardon!” I will do no such thing! If I did that I would be pulling the text out of its context – and, as the old saying goes, “A text without a context is a pretext.” Look at the very next verse, verse 17.

“And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place!” (Genesis 28:17).

Look up please.

That’s how you felt when the old-time preachers spoke. I heard R. G. Lee preach in person. He preached until my flesh crawled! He preached until I sweated! He preached the terror of the Lord. So did Bob Jones, Sr. So did John R. Rice. So did Mordecai Ham. So did J. Frank Norris.

“And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place!”

That is awakening! That is throwing aside the mirage! That is arising out of sleep!

“How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?” (Proverbs 6:9).

There was a man who went through life with his eyes to the ground. He lived in a mirage. He went through life as a somnambulant, sleep-walking, dreaming, dead to the terrors of the Lord, never thinking of his need for salvation through Christ Jesus. He never awoke in this world.

Then one day, as he walked through the maze of life, he dropped dead.

“And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments”
      (Luke 16:23).

He never awoke, he never lifted up his eyes, until he awoke in the flames. May that not be your case! May you be convicted of sleeping now, before you awake in everlasting flames! Amen.

 Let us turn to hymn number 6, “Have You Counted the Cost?”  Let us stand and sing it thoughtfully.  Let it speak to your heart.

 There's a line that is drawn by rejecting our Lord, 
Where the call of His Spirit is lost, 
And you hurry along with the pleasure-mad throng, 
Have you counted, have you counted the cost?   
Have you counted the cost, if your soul should be lost, 
Though you gain the whole world for your own? 
Even now it may be that the line you have crossed, 
Have you counted, have you counted the cost?  
    ("Have You Counted the Cost?" by A. J. Hodge, 1923).  

If you would like to talk to Dr. Cagan and myself about this sermon in a quiet place, please step to the back of the room now.

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Genesis 28:10-17.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Nearer, My God, to Thee” (by Sarah F. Adams, 1805-1848).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not” (Genesis 28:16).

(Matthew 4:9; Luke 8:14; Genesis 28:10; Hebrews 4:12)

I.   The first stab is the fact that you are asleep, Genesis 28:16a;
Jonah 1:5, 6; Matthew 25:5, 12; Proverbs 6:9.

II.  The second stab is the fact that you may never awaken,
Romans 13:12, 11; Proverbs 6:9; Romans 9:13.

III. The third stab is the fact that you have never felt the terror
of the Lord, Genesis 28:17; Luke 16:23.