The Bible’s big. Like, it’s really big. Lots of words. No pictures (not in my one anyway). The great thing about the Bible is that you can read it a thousand times and see new things every time. That’s probably because reading the whole thing is really difficult – I mean, it’s not, but it is, you know? You can read it, that’s easy. But having it go in? That’s harder. Especially in the Old Testament where there’s lots of “knowing” and lots of “begetting” (nudge nudge wink wink), and lists of names and….lets face it…the book of Numbers. So while on one hand we say “I see new things all the time”, it might equally be “I think I might have vagued out at that bit last time around”.
That’s why, when you see, or someone shows you, a real gem, it’s like uncovering a treasure map. It takes your breath away.
Obviously the Bible is chock-full of such gems, but here’s just one…… In Genesis 28, Jacob (son of Isaac and father of Joseph and the other 11 brothers) heads off to Harran to find himself a wife. On the way, he has a dream:
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. (Genesis 28:12).
This becomes popularly described as “Jacobs ladder”. Jacob names the place Bethel, which means “house of God”.
Cut to a thousand odd years late and Jesus calls Nathaniel to follow him and during the exchange:
He [Jesus] then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.” (John 1:51)
Jesus literally describes himself as Jacob’s ladder – the stairway between heaven and earth. Except in Jacob’s dream, the ladder rests on earth. In John, the ladder rests on Jesus, the Son of Man.
When Jacob awoke, he thinks “surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” (Genesis 28:16). Surely this must have been Nathaniel and the disciples reaction as the penny drops. The Lord is right in front of them, and they were not aware.
Then Jacob “was afraid and said ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.'” (Genesis 28:17) Elsewhere in John, Jesus is described in “house” terms. In John 1:14, John had said that “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” The word “dwelling” in the Greek is the same as “to tent” or “to tabernacle” (even though those aren’t verbs as we know them). It’s a clear way of saying that just as God had dwelt in his fullness in the tabernacle, so now God rests in his fullness in Jesus.
Jesus is the house of God. He is the gate of heaven.
Now we know this. Of course we know this. We hear it often. Jesus is God on earth. He’s the image of the invisible God. But do we really get how deeply profound this declaration is? If you are anything like me, you know it, but you need to be reminded. I have a really short memory. I need to be told things a lot. That’s why this link of Jacobs ladder feels so momentous for me. Its so incredibly beautiful.
He is the very gate to heaven. We walk through him to enter into God’s presence.
This truth re-acquaints me with the magnitude of God. It reminds of the sheer beauty of who Jesus is. It shows me the power and the mercy and the faithfulness. It is a truth so embedded, from Genesis to John and beyond, that we can still see it. We can see it today. We can see it right now. We can know it, deep in our hearts.
I pray that what you knew before, you know again today.