Reader: “Surely the Lord is in this place,”
Response: “and I wasn’t even aware of it!”
Scripture: Genesis 28:10-22
Meanwhile, Jacob left Beersheba and traveled toward Haran. At sundown he arrived at a good place to set up camp and stopped there for the night. Jacob found a stone to rest his head against and lay down to sleep. As he slept, he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway.
At the top of the stairway stood the Lord, and he said, “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions—to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.”
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” But he was also afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!”
The next morning Jacob got up very early. He took the stone he had rested his head against, and he set it upright as a memorial pillar. Then he poured olive oil over it. He named that place Bethel (which means “house of God”), although it was previously called Luz.
Then Jacob made this vow: “If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if he will provide me with food and clothing, and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the Lord will certainly be my God. And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me.”
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Today we come to another familiar Old Testament story. We mentioned yesterday the pacing of God unfolding his plan little by little in his own time. The above passage is another small step some 1800 years ahead of the arrival of God’s Son. This story is two steps further down the road of God’s covenant with Abraham, the grandfather of Jacob. He is on his way to find a wife, a wife among his relatives. On his journey, he stops for the night. You know the story; he has a dream in the night. On that dream he sees angels “ascending and descending.” Again we ask, if the stairway, (ladder) is connecting heaven and earth, wouldn’t it seem that the angels (malach in Hebrew meaning “messenger”) would be descending and ascending rather than the other way around? But the stairway is the path connecting earth to heaven and heaven to earth. If you will, it moves us from where we are (earth) and bridges us to heaven (the presence of God). You’ll recall in the New Testament, Jesus picks up this very phrase (John 1:51) where he is talking with Nathanael in regards to his own identity. Nathanael had just affirmed Jesus, calling him the Son of God, a phrase Jesus did not use of himself at this very beginning of his public ministry. He always referred to himself as the Son of Man. But then Jesus went on to say to Nathanael, “I tell you the truth (another way of saying this is really important), you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.” Jesus is the one who makes it possible for man to move from earth to heaven. Carrying this thought further (Luke 22:67-70), in Jesus’ trial just prior to the crucifixion, as he stands before the religious leaders when asked if he is the Messiah, Jesus responds, “If I tell you, you won’t believe me. And if I ask you a question, you won’t answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated in the place of power at God’s right hand.” They all shouted, “so, are you claiming to he the Son of God?” And Jesus replied, “You say that I am.” At the beginning of his public ministry and at its end, he affirmed the title Son of God. In his dream of the ladder, Jacob was seeing a shadow of the Mediator between earth and heaven. He then recognized the Lord as being in his presence, though he had been unaware. He called the place, the “house of God,” the dwelling place of God. Many years later, the earthly dwelling place of God, began in a manger of all places. And now, the body of the believer is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.
Music: “On Christmas Night All Christians Sing” King’s College Cambridge
Bonuses: “The Christmas Song” The King’s Singers
“The Christmas Song” Nat King Cole an all time classic. Where are those kind of singers today??
Lord Jesus, I’m challenged by the words of Jacob, “the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it.” I can’t help but wonder how many times that has been the case in my own life. Father, in this coming year, grant that I would be aware when you are working in the place where I am. Give me godly eyes that see the heavenly realm at work all around me. May I daily reach for heaven, Lord Jesus, as you bridge these worlds. Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and good will towards men. Amen. ―Daniel Sharp