He Had a Dream
“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.”
It is said everyone dreams. It is said we don’t remember many of them. Yet, some dreams are never forgotten. They are passed along to future generations. The dream of Jacob is one of them.
His name means “The Grabber.” We might call him an opportunist. He had high hopes and big dreams. He was good at lying. He was willing to steal to get ahead. He was good at getting others to help him lie and steal, including his mother.
But he was caught red-handed trying to steal his brother’s inheritance. Now, he was running for his life from a brother who vowed to kill him. Empty-handed, he was heading for Haran, some 500 miles away, planning that an uncle who lived there would help him out.
A dream interrupted his plans.
This was no ordinary dream. None less than the Lord God appeared in it with a surprising message. This lying, cheating, scoundrel was given a blessing beyond his wildest expectations. He was promised an inheritance so marvelous that it reverberates down through the ages, even to us.
The message began, “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” (Genesis 28:13).
He had been sleeping on soil his descendants would one day own. This would be the Land of Canaan, the Promised Land.
The message went on. “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.”
Even more surprising, “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.” And finally, “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.” (Genesis 28: 14,15)
When he woke up, Jacob thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”
Then, he became afraid. He set the stone he had rested his head upon as a marker. He poured anointing oil on top of it. “This,” he said, is the gate of heaven.” He named the place Bethel—the house of God.
What do we make of this? What can we learn from this? What did this man do to deserve this?
Nothing. He did not merit anything good from the holy God who had watched his every step, listened to his every lie, and knew the vileness that lived in his heart. But the Lord did not abandon him. Jacob didn’t realize it at the time, but God was leading him into a twenty-year training program. The Lord would use his stay with his uncle, Laban, to purify his faith, cleansing it of self-trust, dishonesty, and falsehood.
He later looked back on his life and said, “My years have been few and difficult.”
When he did return home, he was a changed man—a humble, repentant man.
The Lord God kept his promise. Jacob and his descendants became a source of blessing for countless others, including us..
The sons of Jacob became the 12 Tribes of Israel. One of them became a powerful ruler in Egypt. That was Joseph. Another son was Judah. He became the father of a line of people that included King David and an even greater King, called Jesus, who was also the Son of God.
Jesus was the source of Jacob’s blessings. Jesus is the one who blessed him with forgiveness and correction.
There’s a word for those actions by a loving God. The Word is grace. It is a love not deserved.
Divine grace overflowed in Jacob’s life. So also, in ours. Jacob was schooled by God through disappointments and setbacks. Sometimes, so are we. This is also a blessing.
Jacob was shown the stairway to heaven to focus his attention upon the heavenly and holy. A song talks about that. It says, “We are climbing Jacob’s ladder.”
In a way, that’s true. With every new day, we are taking a step closer to heaven.
Jacob had a dream of heaven. And now?
Now he is living the dream.
And we will, too.
Prayer: Jesus, Savior, bless us with forgiveness and keep us on the path to heaven. Amen. Points to Ponder
Some say that we lie most of all to those who love us Why might this be true?
Why does God sometimes interrupt our lives and our plans?
What surprising people has God used to bring blessings to you?