Gems from Genesis: Chapter 28

After the drama of chapter twenty-seven, it’s good to have something positive to talk about in this chapter of Genesis. As Jacob is encouraged by his father to go to visit his uncle in Paddan-Aram in order to get a good wife (as opposed to the wives Esau took from among the Canaanites), something amazing happens along the way. The verses I’m looking at today will describe it with four “beholds,” so let’s look at them now.

Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached 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 Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 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 in you and your offspring 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.”

Genesis 28:10-16 ESV (Emphasis mine)

Behold, a ladder!

This was not just any ladder Jacob saw, but one that reached all the way from earth up to heaven. That had to be some big ladder! There is nothing like this that we’ve seen in Scripture to this point. God was definitely giving Jacob something new to consider. I think God used such a drastic vision to wake Jacob up a bit. He’d been living under the protection of his mother and off the faith of his father long enough. It was time for Jacob to experience just who this God of his grandfather was.

What’s amazing about this ladder is related to something Jesus tells another man thousands of years later. Unlike Jacob, this man was not deceitful, and Jesus even honored him for his honesty. He too struggled to believe until Jesus shocked him back to his senses. Then Jesus says to Nathanael:

Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

John 1:50-51 (Emphasis mine)

What does this ladder Jacob saw represent? It’s not a what but a who—Jesus! Jesus is the stairway to heaven. He is the ladder. Blows your mind, right? That’s not all.

Behold, angels of God!

Not only does Jacob get a glimpse into the amazing work of Christ as the mediator between God and man, but he also sees the work of angels in the process. Angels are busy doing the bidding of the Father, gaining access to mankind through Christ.

Behold, the Lord!

As his mind is surely racing over the appearance of these angels coming and going, Jacob sees the Lord. This is the Lord God, the Father, standing and speaking to reiterate the covenant he established with Abraham, Isaac, and now Jacob. This personal word to Jacob was needed to remind him that, though he would be far from the land of promise for a time, the covenant would hold true. He might be returning to the land of his ancestors, but he would not be staying there.

Behold, God’s presence!

When God reminds us of his presence, it’s worth a behold! Jacob would be in awe of the fact that the God of his father would also be with him—unworthy as he was. He knew he didn’t deserve to be part of this covenant relationship, and yet God was telling him, in a way that he could never doubt, that he was indeed with him and would never leave him.

How did I miss it?

Jacob wakes up and says what I’ve been prone to say: “Surely the Lord was in this place, and I did not know it.” Our God catches us unaware because we’re not looking for him in our struggles and sinful state. We’re escaping a bad situation, and yet, he suddenly shows up to remind us we are his and he’s not letting go.

Behold, Jesus is the stairway to heaven, the angels are busy doing the Father’s will, God has spoken, and he doesn’t want you to miss it. Wake up!

Grace and Peace

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