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Monday: Jacob’s Ladder — 12 Comments

  1. Did you ever play "Snakes and Ladders"? It took me a little while to learn that it just a game of chance and skill has nothing with the outcome. Jacob was involved in a much more serious game of Snakes and Ladders and none of it had anything to do with chance. He found himself swallowed by a snake of his own making when he collaborated with his mother in deceiving his father. Clearly, they had not thought through the consequences of his actions, when his brother found out about the deceit.

    Tired and weary from a guilty conscience, fear, and travel he lay down to sleep using a rock for a pillow.

    And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
    And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; Gen 28: 12,13 KJV

    And Jacob woke up, partly afraid, but also encouraged.

    It is no secret that some of us have to get into a hard uncomfortable place before we can hear God speak to us.

    I failed two lots of examinations in my youth and had to leave College and return home. I had thought I was pretty good, changing countries to start my tertiary education, but I was young and immature. After two years of study, I found myself at the tail-end of a snake. I was working in a concrete pipe factory. I did not have a dream of a ladder extending to heaven, but God gave me one in the form of a pass for an examination I sat out of sequence. I returned to my studies and never failed another examination. That six months in a concrete pipe factory was my Bethel experience.

    God does not play games of chance, but he does provide ladders that give us a vision of our potential in him.

    • I think is hard for me as human to talk about failures. Failure is something I do not like to be bragging about. But this is different for God. He can transform my failure into something good... (It also depends on how much I want to learn from my own mistakes). But thank God because of His constant love, and because He knows me, thus He can use my failures against and for myself. Only God in His marvelous LOVE for me can change my character, saving the good and extracting what is rotten, transforming what has no form or purpose into something meaningful! All glory to Him who is able to turn my deficiencies in His dependence!

    • I had a similar experience to you Maurice. I took a year off between HS and college because I had no clue what I wanted to do. God taught me some lessons during that year. I went back to school and graduated with High honors after my HS years as a mediocre C student. Even when we wonder, God is using that time for instruction and sometimes, discipline.

  2. History is repeating itself - Abraham & Sarah tried to fulfill the LORD's promise of a son. Rebekah & Jacob trying to fulfill the promise the LORD made to Rebekah that the "older (by a few minutes) would serve the younger"

    Did they maybe believe that because Esau "sold" his birthright to Jacob that he would not care that Jacob also got the blessing of the 'firstborn' from Isaac? What was the difference between the birthright and the final blessing? Was the 'blessing' like Isaac's last will and testament?

    The birthright was the natural privilege of the firstborn son. Receiving the birthright, the firstborn would become the head of the family, and would have charge of the family, including the family property. He would be responsible for the welfare of the younger sons, the widow, and any unmarried daughters. He would exercise considerable authority over the other members of the family. The blessing that he received would also place him in a special covenant relationship with the Lord. During the Patriarchal period when Jacob and Esau lived, God dealt directly with the heads of the families. The Hebrews counted the blessing given by the father to be very important and considered it an oral contract, which was just as binding as a written contract.
    In the case of Jacob, it appears that he did not actually inherit any property from his father, even though he did buy the birthright from Esau for a bowl of pottage, a kind of bean stew. What Jacob did receive from Isaac was the blessing planned for Esau. The blessing, a sort of last will and testament, promised that Jacob would have lordship over other nations. The blessing Jacob received promised him divine protection, so that whoever cursed Jacob would be cursed, and whoever blessed Jacob would receive the blessing of God.

    It appears that Esau didn't consider the transaction over the lentil stew as binding because he said Jacob had 'taken away' both his birthright and blessing.

  3. Gen.28:11;18 speaks of Jacob placing a stone at his head, not ‘under’ his head using it as a pillow. It might not be important in the overall setting, but it’s more accurate. Gen.28:20-22 Jacob made a conditional vow saying if God will be with me, and then stipulates what he considers as proof that ‘God is with him’. He was not yet in contact with the God of his fathers.

    I consider the dream of the ladder to be a vision standing apart and separate from the account of Babel. To my understanding, this account is tailored specifically to impress Jacob that his father’s God was ready to be his God and accepting him as the progenitor of the seed – Gen.28:13-15; though Jacob acknowledged God with using the stone as a pillar declaring it to 'be the house of God', he did not have the faith of his father’s to direct his life, yet.

    It’s interesting to read that apparently the giving a ‘tenth’ to God was observed in Isaac’s family. Jacob saying: “I will surely give a tenth to You” – brings up the question: Who received this ‘tenth’ and how was its distribution organized without the ‘worship setting’ of a temple or temple workers to distribute it to the needy?

  4. Jacob shows the type of gratitude from the heart, that Yahweh is well pleased, despite the fallen nature of mankind, which he has great expectations.
    Romans 8:19-23


  5. It appears that Jacob was plagued by a sense of guilt and fear stemming back to his involvement in deception many years earlier. And I am sure Satan would have unrelentingly exploited this vulnerability within Jacob to wear Jacob down so that he felt uncertain about whether he was within God's protection or not. Satan constantly seeks to accuse us to lead us to doubt our standing with God either overall or within a situation.

    But God, who looks on the heart rather than the outward behaviour (1 Samuel 16:7), revealed to Jacob that God had already proactively set about to re-establish at-one-ment with Jacob whereby Jacob was connected with God and therefore within God's will and blessing (Genesis 28:15).

    Jacob's vision of 'at-one-ment' is one more metaphor in scripture painting the picture of God's abundant compassion to those who 'fall' and His accompanying proactive restoration of all who are willing to be restored. God is not willing that ANYONE perish - and therefore He desires and sets about to tirelessly offer every opportunity and resource to assist anyone who is willing to come to repentance and, in turn, restoration (2 Peter 3:9; John 3:16; 1 John 1:9).

  6. Wow, what more can I say. Yes I do believe God gives us a second chance. And many more opertunities to let Him come down to us and provide a ladder to redemption and reconciliation. Access to God to change us is provided by Him. The only thing we do is to be willing to be made willing. Now that we have consented for Him to convert us, we may rejoice in the Lord and get about our Father's business. Psalms 20:5. Habakkuk 3:18. Philippians 4:4. Phil may ask what is our Father's business or will for us if you prefer.
    He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with our God?
    Micah 6:8. For it is God who works in you both to will and to do His good pleasure. Philippians 2:13.

  7. The Lord made a promise to Abraham & Isaac that they shall multiply and fill the world and a land in Canaan; “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.
    Even without the trickery, God was to keep his word.

  8. “How is Bethel different from Babel? What lesson can we learn about our relationship with God from Jacob’s experience at Bethel versus what happened at Babel?”

    Jacob’s vision fits neatly with the ancient Near Eastern concept of cosmology. In that concept, the Gate of Heaven was physically located in the firmament of the sky—the firmament being the barrier that kept the waters above the sky from pouring down upon the earth. It was the portal through which the gods and demi-gods accessed the earth. (If you ever wondered why angels have wings, it is because it is a long drop from the Gate of Heaven to the earth if you don’t have a “ladder”.)

    The KJV’s “ladder” is a poor translation of the Hebrew word—staircase is better. In the case of the Babylonians, a huge ziggurat was built to support the staircase to the “gate of heaven,” which was located at the top of the ziggurat. It was by their tremendous effort that they “made a name for [themselves],” proving that they were worthy to access and gain the favour of their gods.

    In sharp contrast, God’s staircase (his relationship with mankind) connecting heaven with earth is founded on his amazing grace and love. Reaching down to Jacob in the depths of his despair, God’s presence and his word promises blessing and hope for the fallen, burdened and weary man. From this demonstration, Jacob learns and applies a lesson that he holds closely throughout his life; in spite of setbacks and trials, God is faithful to his promises. Jacob has only to trust in the faithfulness of God and act accordingly.

    • Hi Richard

      There are so many people who are burdened and weary at present, struggling under what seem to be a relentless torrent of setbacks and trials - people who need the reassurance of God's blessing and hope that you have unpacked so beautifully.

      Thank you for taking the time to 'research' and write what you did.

  9. Appreciation of God's goodness is very important.
    We need to trust him and believe in his words.
    By so doing our actions will speak loudly.
    Thank you heavenly Father............ "Great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me."


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