Thoroughly Equipped: Stairway to Heaven

Today’s reading is Genesis 28:1-29:35, Matthew 9:18-38, Psalm 11:1-7, and Proverbs 3:11-12.  As we continue our study of the difficult twins, Jacob and Esau, we find them in the aftermath of the blessing debacle. We find that Esau was now scrambling to make up for all the indifference he had shown toward his family.  Genesis 28:8 says, “It was now very clear to Esau that his father did not like the local Canaanite women.”  There is no telling how many times he had been told that.  But he wouldn’t listen.  It was only when he began to suffer the consequences of his squandering that he began listen.  But instead of really listening, he began to scramble.  Verse 9 tells us that Esau’s answer was to scramble and find a wife that may be acceptable.  But his scrambling to make it right did not make it right.  He visited his uncle Ishmael and requested to marry one of his daughters, in addition to the Canaanite women he already had.  So, in all points he was now attached and aligned with the unrighteous branch of the family line.  (Remember Noah’s proclamation about the Canaanites?  Remember the story of Ishmael?)  And time will show us that his unwise and unrighteous scrambling to make it right in his own way, led to many problems in future generations.

As for Jacob, he began to run.  He fled from Esau, who wanted to kill him, literally. Let’s look at Genesis 28:10-22:

Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD, and He said: “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. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”

He lay down to sleep, most definitely weary from the journey and weary from the deception. As he slept, he had a dream. In this dream, he saw a stairway. Now, in the old Sunday school/campfire songs we sang that it was a ladder. “We are climbing Jacob’s ladder….” But it wasn’t a ladder with rungs; it was more like a ziggurat with sloping stair sides. It was what the people were trying to build in the Tower of Babel. Of course, what we learned from that story was that we can’t get to God on our own. Our access to God through faith in Christ is a gift from Him, which we accept as ours. This stairway that Jacob saw was symbolic of an invitation. It was an invitation from the God of the universe to deceitful Jacob—the Lord offering to become Jacob’s God. On this stairway to heaven, Jacob saw angels ascending and descending on it. This was also acknowledged by Jesus in John 1:47-51:

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.”

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.” He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Look at verse 51 again: “You shall see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” When Jacob had his dream, he saw a stairway—the way to heaven. Angels were ascending and descending on the stairway. Jesus said that angels would ascend and descend on the Son of Man. Who is the Son of Man? Jesus! Why would angels ascend and descend on Him? Because He is the stairway! He is the bridge between earth and heaven, between God and man. He is the only Way, Truth, and Life! Once again, we see the foreshadowing of Jesus in this invitation between God and man. We all are extended that invitation! If you are a Christian, you have received and accepted His invitation. But even as Christians the Lord continues to extend many invitations to us. He invites us to share in His work, to spend holy time together, to experience the blessing of obedience and to walk by faith and not by sight. He invites us to lay down our burdens and follow Him. He invites us to abundant life. Today, will you accept His invitation?  Will you quit all the scrambling to make it right by yourself? God extends His invitation through Jesus to be Lord of your life and the blessed controller of all things.  That is an invitation we can’t afford to ignore.

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