Sleepwalking (Genesis 28:6-22)

Sleepwalking, according to WebMD, is a disorder that causes people to get up and walk around while they’re asleep. It is not just walking around, one woman drove to work on a Saturday Night while asleep! When someone is sleepwalking (driving!) they are performing routine tasks while not fully conscious. There is some debate on whether or not sleepwalkers should be awakened. Many suggest they should because they could easily injure themselves or others. (One wife, however, noted that while she was initially concerned about her husband’s sleepwalking it was the best exercise he ever got!) But what about those who are spiritually sleepwalking? Should they also be awakened from their slumber? We will consider this in our sermon this morning from Genesis 28.

  1. Awake but Asleep (10-11). Jacob is physically awake but spiritually asleep. Jacob is aware of what is physically happening around him. He knows that Esau wants to kill him and that he must flee to Haran for his life and to find a wife. Jacob, however, is oblivious to what is spiritually happening around him. He stops in “a certain place…because the sun had set” unaware of what is happening around him spiritually. Jacob is so focused on the physical that he is blind to the presence of God all around him.
  2. Asleep and Awakened (12-15). Jacob falls asleep, but is then spiritually awakened. Jacob has gone to sleep and now has a dream from God that awakens him from his spiritual slumber. He sees “a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven.” Descending up and down the ladder are angels and at the top is the Lord! The Lord affirms to Jacob the covenant He made with Abraham and Isaac. The Lord promises the land to Jacob and his descendants and promises His faithful love will remain with Jacob. In this dream, God opened Jacob’s eyes to see the spiritual reality around him. God opened Jacob’s eyes to be able to see Him and His great work.
  3. Fully Awake (16-22). Jacob wakes up physically and spiritually. He said, “Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it.” Jacob was amazed that he was standing in “the house of God, and…the gate of heaven”. His amazement was because he was oblivious to it before he went to sleep. After his encounter with God and being graciously awakened spiritually, Jacob devoted himself to following the Lord. Jacob set up a pillar and called the place Bethel (house of God). He made a vow to the Lord to trust Him and serve Him. Jacob at this point really begins to live in the physical with his focus being on the spiritual.

There are two main points of application. First, we must not live in the past. It is good to remember the past and build upon it, but living in the past makes you disgruntled. You long for the “way things used to be” and lose your hope because you are not enjoying the present and planning for the future. Second, we must not live in the future. It is good to consider it and make plans accordingly, but living in the future makes you detached. You yearn for the uncertain and become discontent. Those who live in the past or live in the future are sleepwalking in the present. The Bible tells us “This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps 118:24). We can only live today. We can only be present in the present. Let us not sleepwalk through it.