“10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. 11 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. 12 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. 13 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. 14 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. 15 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.’16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.’ 17 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.’18 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. 19 He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.20 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 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God 22 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.’
God did not come to Jacob on this lonely journey and reveal Himself to him because the man was deserving. He wasn’t. He was twisted and he was twister. He was on a long journey (not only physically). The process of transformation he would undergo would be lengthy and gruelling. But God, in His unfathomable love and mercy, chose this man. He met him this particular night in his sleep, and spoke to him, and reiterated promises made earlier about a land, a people and a blessing (see Genesis 12:3; 13:15,16). He made wonderful, kind promises, to be with him and bring him home. He showed him the true picture – that he was not alone. There were angels all around. But best of all, there was God. His presence is inescapable and unavoidable. But even by the end of this section, it appears Jacob was not fully believing (20-22), and we see evidence of the deal-maker, trying to bargain with God when he had no need to.
No, God did not meet Jacob because of what Jacob was like, but because of what God is like. He sovereignly comes to people, and chooses them, and works out His great purposes in them and through them. He works on them, changing them bit by bit, teaching them so much along the way.
I found in my Bible a reflection on this passage from F.B.Meyer – one I must have jotted down years ago:
‘…we ought to feel that the present moment of time and this bit of the world’s surface are linked with heaven. This is what the ladder meant for Jacob. The moor land where he lay, and Laban’s home whither he journeyed, were as near God as his father’s tent…Oh that by humility and purity we may become more sensitive and awake to the things that are unseen and eternal.’
In his ‘Devotional Commentary’ Meyer also writes: ‘Jacob may have thought that God was local; now he found him to be omnipresent. Every lonely spot was his house, filled with angels’ (p.25).
Many years later Jesus came to the earth, and spoke to Nathanael about being the fulfilment of Jacob’s dream (John 1:51). He is the ‘Ladder’ between heaven and earth, bringing God to men and men to God.
PRAYER: Lord, in your mercy and grace, please continue to work on this ‘Jacob’ heart of mine. It is still full of so much that ought not to be there. Thank you for your immense love and incomprehensible patience. May I live out all the plans you have for me, for the greater glory of your Name.