Thursday, March 21, 2019

Climbing Jacob's Ladder

"He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven” (Genesis 28:17).

At the age of 77, Jacob left the land of promise to spend time with his relatives in Mesopotamia. Isaac had sent him back there to get a wife. Long before this, Esau had committed the sin of intermarriage and polygamy, and his wives were making life miserable for Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 26:34–35). Like the Sons of God before the Flood, Esau was unwilling to wait for the right woman and married on the basis of his lusts.

On his way out of the land, Jacob had a vision from God. The purpose of this vision was to assure Jacob that God would be with him even though he was leaving the land of promise. Jacob lay down to sleep, and in his dream he saw a stairway stretching from heaven to earth, with angels ascending and descending on it. He heard God promise that He would go with Jacob wherever he went, and the vision of angels assured Jacob of angelic protection.

When Jacob awoke, he said to himself, “God is here, too, not just at home. This place also is a house of God.” The word in Hebrew for “house of God” is Beth-El, and as Jacob started on his journey, he stood outside the nearby city of Luz and renamed it Bethel, claiming it for God. Jacob also said, “This is the gate of heaven.”

The first tower to heaven is described in Genesis 11, the Tower of Babel. The word Babel means “gate of heaven,” and the tower was clearly to be a house of gods, a religious center. God struck down this counterfeit stairway to heaven. God’s own stairway is built from heaven down to earth. Where man meets to worship God, there is the house of God, and there is the gate of heaven, the place where the stairway touches the earth.

In John 1:51, Jesus told Nathaniel that he would see heaven opened and angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man. Here Jesus claimed to be the true tower of Babel, the true gate of heaven. Jesus stated that He was the point of mediation between earth and heaven, and those who would come in contact with heaven would have to ascend through Him. Just as God promised to be with Jacob in the strange land, so the true staircase to heaven is with us always (Matthew 28:20).

Jacob felt fear and awe when he realized that God was with him. There is too much superficial lightness in the church today and too little awe. Today in your prayers ask God to make you more aware of and reverent toward His awesome presence.