THE ORIGINAL STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN
The negative consequence of Jacob stealing the blessing was that he had to leave his family and run for his life. So he flees to Paddan Aram, hoping to stay with his Uncle Laban, his mother’s brother. As he’s on his journey, he is probably overwhelmed with feelings of loneliness and despair. But then one night, he has a strange dream…
Genesis 27:41-28:5, 28:10-18
From that time on, Esau hated Jacob because their father had given Jacob the blessing. And Esau began to scheme: “I will soon be mourning my father’s death. Then I will kill my brother, Jacob.”
42 But Rebekah heard about Esau’s plans. So she sent for Jacob and told him, “Listen, Esau is consoling himself by plotting to kill you. 43 So listen carefully, my son. Get ready and flee to my brother, Laban, in Haran. 44 Stay there with him until your brother cools off. 45 When he calms down and forgets what you have done to him, I will send for you to come back. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”
28:1 So Isaac called for Jacob, blessed him, and said, “You must not marry any of these Canaanite women. 2 Instead, go at once to Paddan-aram, to the house of your grandfather Bethuel, and marry one of your uncle Laban’s daughters. 3 May God Almighty bless you and give you many children. And may your descendants multiply and become many nations! 4 May God pass on to you and your descendants the blessings he promised to Abraham. May you own this land where you are now living as a foreigner, for God gave this land to Abraham.”
10 Meanwhile, Jacob left Beersheba and traveled toward Haran. 11 At sundown he arrived at a good place to set up camp and stopped there for the night. Jacob found a stone to rest his head against and lay down to sleep. 12 As he slept, he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway.
13 At the top of the stairway stood the Lord, and he said, “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. 14 Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions—to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. 15 What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.”
16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” 17 But he was also afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!”
18 The next morning Jacob got up very early. He took the stone he had rested his head against, and he set it upright as a memorial pillar. Then he poured olive oil over it. 19 He named that place Bethel (which means “house of God”), although the name of the nearby village was Luz.
20 Then Jacob made this vow: “If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if he will provide me with food and clothing, 21 and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the Lord will certainly be my God. 22 And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me.”
To Think About…
It would be 20 long years before Jacob finally returned home. When he did get back, his mother, Rebekah, had already died. There was a lot of unnecessary pain and sorrow that resulted from Jacob’s deceit in stealing the blessing.
Put yourself in Jacob’s shoes as he is forced to leave his home and his family and run for his life.
Can you imagine how Jacob felt as he made the long journey from his home to his Uncle Laban’s?
What emotions do you think he felt?
What do you think the stairway in Jacob’s dream meant?
In verse 17, Jacob’s says that the place where he’s had his dream is “the very gateway to heaven.” Do you think Jacob just happened to fall asleep in the right place, or is the point of the dream something else?
In this dream, God extends the covenant He made with Abraham to Jacob and commits Himself to Jacob. Jacob commits himself to God. What God wants from Jacob is the same thing he wanted from Abraham: trust and obedience.
Jacob is over 40 years old when all this happens. Why do you think God chose to reveal Himself and His plan to Jacob at this point in the story?