Over the course of my life I have witnessed or have received personal testimonies where people sincerely bargained with God to get them through difficult situations.
Most of the time prayers resembled something like this, “Lord, if you will get me safely out of this, I promise to be a better person and go to church more often.”
These impending hardships could be anything from imprisonment, combat or serious illness.
I think many of us have been in similar situations and we all know the outcome. We fail to keep our side of the bargain. Slowly we seem to forget the promise that we made because the hardship subsides and life returns to normal.
The Bible tells us that Jacob made a similar bargain with God when he was trying to escape the wrath of his brother. Jacob and his mother devised a plan to deceive Jacob’s father to receive an inheritance that belonged to Jacob’s brother, Esau.
Jacob received the inheritance, but this act of deception caused him have to flee his family and homeland in fear for his life.
During his travels, Jacob received a vision of a ladder that stretched from the Earth to the Heavens. He observed angels ascending and descending the ladder and God reaffirmed his promise, “I will not leave you” (Gen 28:15).
In Geneses 28:20-22, Jacob makes the following quid pro quo statement, “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.”
The problem with making a deal like this is that we soon discover that God is the only one who has the power to live up to his side of the bargain. We also expect that God accepts our bargain.
God does not deals in bargains, but in covenants and has already fulfilled his covenant through his son.
This means we do not have to come to God like a used car salesman trying to score a deal, we can come “boldly to the throne of grace” (Heb. 4:16) and know that he is always there willing and able to meet our needs.
Jacob was not perfect and he did not always live up to the holiest of standards. Jacob, however, maintained communication with God and God never left him, deal or no deal.