Bottom line? Jacob didn’t deserve a ladder. When all was said and done, he should have been done. Extorted his brother’s birthright for some food. Deceived his father when the old man was blind and vulnerable. And, the huckster managed to wrangle the blessing of the firstborn though he wasn’t entitled to it and certainly didn’t merit it. Nope! This guy didn’t deserve a ladder. Didn’t deserve to even know that there might be a way for close communion between heaven and earth.
He was on the lam, after all. His seemingly minor sparks of deception had ignited a blazing fire of murderous rage within his brother and so, Jacob was forced to flee for his life. And, at a certain place, as he tried to use a rock for a pillow, he slept . . . kinda . . .
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. . . . For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
(Genesis 28:12-13, 15b ESV)
If there was ever anyone who wasn’t owed an encounter of the divine kind, it’s this guy, Jacob the schemer, Jacob the deceiver. So how come him? Because of the promise.
God showed things to Jacob no man had seen. Not because Jacob was like no man who had been, but because of God’s promise, His promise to Abraham, His promise to Isaac. God committed to Jacob not because Jacob had committed to God, but because God was committed to His purposes and to His glory. And, in His sovereign determination, had decided that Jacob would be part of that happening.
And so God graciously shows Jacob the crumb that the God of heaven would condescend to use a less than perfect man for His holy purposes because He would provide a bridge between heaven and earth by which earth-dwellers could ascend to the holy throne.
And because of that ladder, because God has made a way for heaven to meet earth, and for earth to be sanctified for heaven’s pleasure, God can fulfill His promise.
His promise to give us the land. He promise to bless the nations through us. His promise to be with us. His promise to keep us. His promise to bring us back, even from self-imposed exile. His promise to never leave us, until He has done what He has promised to do. (Gen. 28:13-15)
And all that because of a ladder. Because of a stairway between heaven and earth.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” ~ Jesus
(John 1:51 ESV)
. . . and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14b ESV)
We might be on the run. We may have come to our senses about our sin but don’t know what to do about it now. We might be anxious about our future. We might be finding it hard to enjoy a good night’s sleep between a rock and a hard place. But we have seen the ladder, full of grace and truth. And so we can rest in the promise. Confident that what God has begun in us, God will complete in us (Php. 1:6).
Not because of who we are, but because of what He has done. Despite what we have done, but because of who He is.
Praise God for the ladder. Thank God for the promise.
Because of grace. For His glory.