10 Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. 12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
18 So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19 He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, 21 so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, 22 and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”
Personalize the meaning. Respond as God speaks to you through the Scriptures. Ask: How could my life be different today as I respond to what I’m reading?
On Jacob’s way to Paddan-aram, and again on his way back (35:1–15), the Lord appeared to him at Bethel. God revealed himself to Jacob as the God of Abraham and of Isaac (28:13). Jacob saw a ladder with angels ascending and descending (v. 12). With this divinely provided link between heaven and earth, God committed himself to keep his promise to Jacob, and to be present with him during his journey (vv. 12–15). Jacob called the name of the place Bethel, saying “This is . . . the house [or temple] of God,” and “this is the gate of heaven” (vv. 17, 19). He set up the stone on which he had slept as a sacred stone (v. 18).
Centuries later, at the height of human history, we read of Jesus Christ telling Nathanael, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John 1:51). Here the angels go from heaven to earth not on a ladder but on Jesus himself—Jesus, in other words, is the ladder. In him, sinners on earth are restored to God in heaven. Jesus is the final “Bethel” or house of God, the true end-time temple. For in him, as in the temple of old, mankind is restored to God. In him, unclean sinners are made clean. Reflecting on such grace, our hearts are moved with fresh worship of the Lord of mercy who undertook to draw near to us sinners in our weakness and filth (Luke 19:10; Rom. 5:8).
- What stood out?
- What is the importance of Jesus bringing up the offspring of Jacob?
- What is the vow that Jacob makes to the Lord?
End in Prayer