"Then Jacob departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and spent the night there, because the sun had set; and he took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head, and lay down in that place. He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. "Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. "Behold, 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 awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it." 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 took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on its top. He called the name of that place Bethel; however, previously the name of the city had been Luz. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, and I return to my father's house in safety, then the LORD will be my God. "This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God's house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You." (Genesis 28:10-22)
We serve the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Today we are going to look at an experience that Abraham’s grandson Jacob had while fleeing his brother Esau. Esau was the firstborn of Isaac and therefore was the one to receive the birthright from his father. Esau was a hunter and one day returning from the hunt he was extremely hungry and passed his brother Jacob who had prepared some flavorful soup. Esau needed food and asked Jacob to give him a portion of the soup. Jacob said he would if Esau would trade his birthright in exchange for the soup. Which Esau did and lost his birthright to his younger brother Jacob. (Genesis 25) Jacob then deceived his father who had poor eyesight into thinking that he gave the birthright to Esau when it was Jacob. When Esau found out what Jacob had done, he was furious and vowed to kill his brother Jacob. So Jacob left for the land of his mother to escape the wrath of his brother Esau. (Genesis 27)
Jacob went from the area near Haran and traveled to a place near Luz and stopped there for the night. There he made camp and settled down to rest for the evening. Jacob placed a stone beneath his head for a pillow and fell fast to sleep. During the night, Jacob had a dream. It was not the kind of dream we often have that come and then are lost to the memory. His dream had left an impression upon Jacob, and it was such that it is recorded in the book of Genesis written by Moses. More than a dream it was a vision where Jacob saw a ladder that reached down from heaven to the earth. On this ladder, the angels of God were ascending and descending between heaven and earth.
At the top of the ladder, Jacob saw God, who repeated the promise made to Abraham and his father, Isaac. It was the covenant promise that from him, a great nation would come. That this nation would be God’s people and the land they would possess was that land which Jacob was upon, the land of Cannan. God also made this promise to Jacob. "Behold, 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." (Genesis 28:15)
This whole incident impressed Jacob so much that he believed that the God of his fathers was in the very place that he had camped. Jacob took the stone that he had used to rest his head upon and consecrated it to the Lord by pouring oil upon it. He then made a vow before God. "Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, and I return to my father's house in safety, then the LORD will be my God. "This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God's house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You." (Genesis 28:20-22) From then on, the name of the place was called Bethel which means “House of God.”
We see this vision of Jacob’s ladder as a spiritual connection between heaven and earth. It is a view of God the Father taking the initiative to reach down to man. We see throughout the Scriptures God taking the initiative in His purpose to restore man’s relationship with Him. God sent His Son to reconcile man to Himself. "That God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:19) It was God who took the initiative to send His Holy Spirit to empower man to accomplish His will and purpose for their life. "He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." (Romans 8:27) God has predestined our future that we may have a life of abundant service to Him and inheritance in His Kingdom. "We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will" (Ephesians 1:11)
The Perfect ladder between God and man is Jesus Christ. Jesus made mention of His role in the gospel of John. "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." (John 1:11) Jesus is our ladder to God, and He is the only way that we can connect to God. All of our prayers, actions, blessings, and the lifting of our burdens are through the name of Jesus. "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:6)
There is a comparison here between Jacob’s ladder and the Tower of Babel. The story of the Tower of Babel is like this. The story of the Tower of Babel is recorded in Genesis 11:1–9. Everyone on earth spoke the same language. As people migrated from the east, they settled in the land of Shinar. People there sought to make bricks and build a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, to make a name for themselves so that they would be masters over the world. God came down to look at the city and tower and remarked that as one people with one language, nothing that they sought would be out of their reach. God went down and confounded their speech so that they could not understand each other, and scattered them over the face of the earth, and they stopped building the tower. Thus the city was called Babel. (Wikipedia) Some scholars see the story as a man trying to reach the heavens by building a tower unto it.
The question of the moment is this, are we trying to reach God in his heaven by way of the Tower of Babel. A tower built by our good works and ethical behavior by our Church attendance and making payment rather than giving ourselves. We will never have fellowship with God the Father through man-made efforts, as they will miss the mark of His Holiness. There is only one way; it is the God-given way; it is through the grace of God, the ladder of God’s plan of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ?
Thomas N Kirkpatrick
Pleasant Manor June 27, 2015