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[a] stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac.- Genesis 28:10-12
Jacob was in flight. He was running from Beersheba to his uncle in Haran because his brother Esau had sworn to kill him. In Esau’s mind, Jacob had stolen his birthright to Father Isaacs’s estate. On the way to Haran, Jacob stopped for the night at a place called Luz. Once asleep, he had a vision. He saw the angels of God ascending descending on a stairway fixed between heaven and earth. The Lord gave him the promise that the land would belong to him and his descendants, and that the people of the earth would be blessed through him.
Time shows how greatly the people of earth were blessed by Jacob and his descendants, for one of those descendants was Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Christ himself was that ladder to heaven. The angels ascend and descend on Christ, by his authority, carrying help to God’s people on earth, and carrying their prayers from earth to heaven. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” And again he said, “I am the gate of the sheep. No comes in except through me.”
Jacob was greatly strengthened and encouraged by this vision and its promise. In total awe he named the place Bethel, which means house of God.
Jesus remains the only bridge between heaven and earth. Upon him and his direction the angels still ascend and descend. The cross of Christ is the stairway between heaven and earth. It was established by Christ’s innocent suffering and death. It was set and fixed by his powerful resurrection. Jacob was in a tumultuous time of his life, fleeing his own brother who wanted to kill him. The knowledge that God cared for him and sent his angels to help him comforted him. The knowledge that he was not lost in a cruel and fallen world, but that there was a ladder extending to heaven brought him comfort and strength.
So also fur us. In the midst of every earthly crisis and disaster, we know that we are not alone. The angels still descend and ascend on Christ, doing his will, watching over his people. And we know we are not marooned passengers left to die in a dangerous, violent world. Rather, we have Christ, the stairway to heaven, through whom we can ascend and join Jacob and all saints and angels around the throne of God.
Thank you, God, for providing the one and only bridge between heaven and earth- the cross of Christ. Help us to cling to that cross through every earthly difficulty. Let us rejoice knowing that the Way is there… the Way over which I can one day ascend into your presence. Amen.