Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place, and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. He took one of the stones of the place, and put it under his head, and lay down in that place to sleep. He dreamed. Behold, a stairway set upon the earth, and its top reached to heaven. Behold, the angels of God ascending and descending on it. Behold, Yahweh stood above it, and said, “I am Yahweh, the God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac. The land whereon you lie, to you will I give it, and to your seed. Your seed will be as the dust of the earth, and you will spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south. In you and in your seed will all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you, and will keep you, wherever you go, and will bring you again into this land. For I will not leave you, until I have done that which I have spoken of to you.”
Jacob awakened out of his sleep, and he said, “Surely Yahweh is in this place, and I didn’t know it.” He was afraid, and said, “How dreadful is this place! This is none other than God’s house, and this is the gate of heaven.”
When I was reading these verses as a boy, I had a worldly perspective. I used to think these stories were probably moral lessons about the great men of God like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Now I realize that there were great moral lessons, but the Messiah had to show me that they are not a demonstration of the morality of great men, but of God Himself. Now, as I look at the stories, I see weak men in desperate need of discipline and direction who were
pursued by a truthful, moral and loving God. I now see that when God built in them a level of faith, that their whole lives were changed and He was able to do great things through them.
At this point, Jacob reminds me of a college boy who just left home. He ran as his family crumbled behind him thinking he was free, only to realize that God was still there.
When he had that dream it really spooked him. I don’t believe the words of Jacob here. This place was not God’s doorway. Jacob just made that up. We need to pay attention to what God says here. Jacob was not the man of God he was to become yet, and what God said here was very accurate. He told Jacob that He would be with Him and do exactly what He said He would do. He didn’t say that this place is the doorway to heaven, He just said that he would help Jacob in a dream. God also made it very clear that the land all around Jacob would belong to him. We would be wise to listen to these words today.
When Jacob found God in Bethel, he thought it was dreadful. The place wasn’t dreadful and a vision of angels and heaven was not dreadful either. The problem is that Jacob was afraid of God. The Bible tells us that fear is caused by our sin, and Jacob knew that he had sinned against God. He could not feel comfortable in God’s presence.
There are many churches today that are trying to make visitors comfortable in the hope that they might stay. The problem with this idea is that if God is present it will make the Jacob’s of the world feel uncomfortable. The only way to make your church seeker friendly, would be to ask Jesus to stand outside. Jesus knows this is happening. He predicted it. I believe these words were written to the church in our day:
Revelation 3:20-22 :
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me. He who overcomes, I will give to him to sit down with me on my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies.”
Your church should cause people to become very serious and be afraid because God really is there. When a person is a sinner and God is real, comfort is not an option. We need to allow Jesus to come in to our churches if we want to do anything of value in them.