Genesis 28:12. 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!
Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, should be living the good life within all the covenant blessings. But that is not how his story has turned out. Mostly because Jacob, like his grandfather, grew impatient and took matters into his own hands. God promised that he would receive the birthright and blessing despite being the younger son. But rather than wait for God’s timing, Jacob tricked his brother and deceived his father in order to get what God said was already his. Clearly it’s time for God to start over with someone new.
But giving up on us is not something that a covenant making God does. As you may remember, God has sworn to his own demise to keep this covenant (Gen. 15). Jacob can run from Esau but he can’t run from the grace of God.
And so, as Jacob lies down alone and exposed on the ground, God appears to him in a glorious vision of a ladder coming down from heaven to earth. Angels are there, and God himself is there.
Genesis 28:13. And behold, the Lord stood above [the stairway] and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac.
In mercy, God will repeat all the covenant promises that he made to Abraham. The Promised Land. Offspring like dust. All the peoples blessed through you. It’s incredible.
A Matter of Life and Death: stairway to heaven scene. Not quite what God is offering.
But God’s not done. To reassure Jacob’s faltering heart, God promises Jacob his unconditional love and presence no matter what he does and no matter where he goes.
Genesis 28:15. 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.”
What has Jacob done to earn this kind of relationship with God? What obedience has he displayed? What great faith has he shown? None. So far Jacob has done nothing in his life to deserve this. In fact, quite the opposite. And yet God has not given up on Jacob and he never, ever will. He will bring Jacob home in spite of Jacob.
2000 years later Jesus will leave his father’s house. He will journey to earth not to escape death but to embrace it. He will come down the ladder from heaven to offer us what God offered Jacob that day. The hope of his presence. Grace that we can never deserve and that we can never outrun, no matter how hard we try. Grace that will carry us back home to God where we belong. How can we be sure?
Because Jesus didn’t just claim to come down the ladder and point the way up. No. Jesus said that he IS the ladder.
John 1:51. “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Union with Christ means we are on that ladder. The ladder of Christ’s life. Ascending and descending with the angels. Living in the presence of God while living in the realities of this life. Bridging heaven and earth. Now, we are the Bethel. The living, breathing house of God. God has brought us home by making his home in our hearts.
No more running from the Esaus of life. No more need to fear. No more alone and exposed. No more “buying a stairway to heaven” (sorry Led Zeppelin). Christ has placed us on the ladder of his own life. A life we can now live for his glory as we ascend and descend bringing heaven to earth through “to live is Christ.”
What have you been running from in your life?
You in Christ
How does knowing that you are safe and secure in God’s house because of Christ allow you to both ascend and descend between heaven and earth without fear?
Christ in you
How can you live as a bridge between heaven and earth today?