We All Need a Jacob Pillow

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Even as a kid, the idea of Jacob using a rock for a pillow made me hurt.

As someone who now greatly values their shut eye, I can’t imagine grabbing a rock to lay your head down on. It’s stiff, probably sharp, and will most likely give you a raging headache when you wake up.

Couldn’t Jacob have found anything better?

Probably, but if you’re traveling through the middle of the wilderness on the run from your hate-fueled older brother, you would probably travel light as well.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know why Jacob used a rock for a pillow. It seemed to me that he would’ve been better just laying his head on the ground, but what do I know? Hopefully, he at least rolled something up to make it softer.

Regardless, the rock became an important focal point for him after he woke up. 

As the Text indicates, Jacob has a dream where he sees angels ascending and descending on a ladder. It’s enough for him to claim that God was “surely in this place, and I didn’t know it” (Genesis 28:16).

It also marked the first real encounter that Jacob had with God. He would “wrestle with God” later, but until this point, the blessing that his father gave him was his only real exposure to his future life. As far as we know, God was a Being known only in stories told by his relatives.

Now, God was real.

Do you remember the first time in your life you became aware of the fact that God was real? Maybe it was after a great personal tragedy, or a great personal triumph. Maybe you remember a riveting sermon, or uncovering a passage in Scripture and meditating on it. Maybe it was after spending a significant amount of time in prayer. 

By no means am I arguing that anyone needs to have a supernatural experience of God. I don’t believe that God speaks to us in those ways (Hebrews 1:1-2).

What I am saying is that there was most likely a time in your life when you “woke up” and realized just how real God is. It became your faith — not your parents, spouse’s, or maybe even your kid’s faith. Yours.

For Jacob, that moment was this dream. After he woke up, he took that same rock and placed it as a pillar and anointed it. He called it “Bethel” to indicate God’s assistance and promise to devote his life to God’s service.

Do you have a pillow like that?