Jacob was given a great sign included in a dream. In this dream he actually heard from god who was at the top of the ladder or staircase which went from that spot where Jacob slept to heaven.
Genesis 28:13-22 (NRSV) 1"And the Lord stood beside him 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; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.' Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, 'Surely the Lord is in this place-and I did not know it!' 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.' So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God's house; and of all that you give me I will surely give one-tenth to you.'"
God made a promise to Jacob. Then when Jacob set up the altar he gives and "If.then" statement. If God does this for me then he will be my God. God has already spoken to Jacob. Jacob knows the accounts of God's faithfulness from his ancestors. Does it have to be proven that God will do what he says he will do?
I can understand this by looking at Jacob's life. He has always been a cheater. He took his brother's birthright and then stole his blessing. Jacob is probably thinking that god wouldn't bless him because of all the bad things he has done. The Hebrew word which is translated "if" in about all the translations I checked does have other meanings. We see how the young's Literal Translation puts it:
Genesis 28:20-22 (YLT) "And Jacob voweth a vow, saying, 'Seeing God is with me, and hath kept me in this way which I am going, and hath given to me bread to eat, and a garment to put on- when I have turned back in peace unto the house of my father, and Jehovah hath become my God, then this stone which I have made a standing pillar is a house of God, and all that Thou dost give to me-tithing I tithe to Thee.'"
So actually Jacob has seen everything the Lord had done for him in the past and trusts him to do what he promised in the future.
You can trust all the promises of god. The Bible contains hundreds of promises which God has made. I believe that not all of them are for every Christian. As you read your Bible, pay attention to the leading of the Holy Spirit. At times when you are reading and come upon a promise God gave to someone in the Bible, he will be whispering to your spirit that the promise is for you. Claim this as one of God's promises for you.
Don't go looking for signs. Read your bible and pray and God will let you know what you are to do and what he will do for you. Then live your life obeying what he tells you and trusting totally in Almighty god for all he has promised you.
By Dean Masters
Unedited redistribution approved.
What is the meaning of life? Find out on the Masters List firstname.lastname@example.org