Traveling to Get a Wife, Jacob Dreams of a Stairway to Heaven
Genesis 28 - Traveling to Get a Wife, Jacob Dreams of a Stairway to Heaven
After Jacob blesses Isaac, Isaac commands Jacob to get a wife from among the daughters of Laban. On the way, Jacob has a dream of a stairway to heaven.
So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman. Go at once to Paddan Aram, to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother.” Genesis 28:1-2
Jacob’s brother Esau had married Judith the daughter of Beeri and Basemath the daughter of Elon who were both Hittites. His mother Rebekah had said to Isaac, “I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living” (Genesis 27:46). Rebekah was concerned that Esau was bent on killing Jacob for stealing his blessing and wanted to send Jacob afar off. Rebekah didn’t want Jacob to marry a Canaanite woman, so she convinced Isaac to send Jacob far away to her relatives. In God’s sovereignty, Jacob was not only chosen above his older brother to receive the birthright but was forced to flee for his life. In doing so, Jacob would marry within his family’s clan and preserve Messiah’s line.
“May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.” Genesis 28:3-4
Jacob had deceived Isaac into giving him the blessing intended for Esau. But now Isaac calls for Jacob to bless him. Isaac must have had a revelation or finally acknowledged that it was according to the divine will that Jacob should be blessed in accordance to the LORD‘s declaration over 75 years before that the older son will serve the younger.
Isaac prayed that Jacob and his descendants would receive the blessings and promises given to Abraham. These same covenantal promises were passed down to Isaac and his descendants and now upon Jacob and his descendants. Although Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were foreigners and sojourners in the land of Canaan, the Hebrews would emerge from the furnace of affliction in Egypt as the nation of Israel to eventually possess the land of promise.
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the Promised Land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. Hebrews 11:8-9
Replacement Theology claims that because of the Jewish people's disobedience and general rejection of Messiah, God has rejected Israel and replaced it with the church. It asserts that the church is the “New Israel,” and states that the promises made to Israel in the Old Testament have been transferred to the church. Replacement theology also holds that the prophecies in the Old Testament regarding a re-gathering of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and the reestablishment of Israel as a nation should be interpreted symbolically and not literally. Thus, replacement theology argues that modern-day Israel is not a fulfillment of prophecy and that the Jewish people have no right to the Land of Israel.
Yet, Genesis 15 and verse 18 records the following promise: On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates.”
Although Replacement Theologists claim that Israel failed to keep the Mosaic Law which is conditional, the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant was cut 430 years before the Mosaic Law was ever given on Mt. Sinai. The covenant promise of the Land of Israel that was pledged to Abraham was reiterated to Isaac and to Jacob and given to all of Abraham’s descendants.
Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau. Genesis 28:5
After leaving the Ur of the Chaldees, while en route to Canaan, Abraham and his father Terah settled in the city of Harran. Harran is derived from the Akkadian word “harranu” which means road or caravan. Akkadian or Assyrian is the ancient Semitic language spoken by the people in the region of Mesopotamia that occupied the northern part of Babylonia. The Bible also refers to Harran as Paddan Aram which is Aramean for highway. The Arameans were a Semitic semi-nomadic people who raised livestock on natural pastures in what is now modern Syria.
Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, “Do not marry a Canaanite woman,” and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram. Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had. Genesis 28:6-9
While Jacob obeys his mother and father and seeks to marry in the blessed line of Shem, Esau desires to displease his parents and marry in the cursed line of Ham. Esau, like his father-in-law Ishmael was a skillful hunter. Both Ishmael and Esau trusted in their own power and ability which was in the arm of flesh and they both opposed the things and people of God.
Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. 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. Genesis 28:10-11.
Although Isaac was very wealthy having been Abraham’s sole heir as well as receiving a hundred-fold return when he planted in a year of famine, there is no record of Jacob being accompanied by servants when he left his father’s tents and set out for Harran. According to Genesis 32:10, though Jacob had the blessing and the double-portion of the birthright, he left in haste with only the clothes on his body and his staff in his hands. Jacob, in fear of being pursued by his brother Esau and attacked, probably did not take the main road as he fled. Jacob's actions up till now were not of a man who feared and trusted in God. But now in trouble and obliged to flee, he looked only to God to make him to dwell in safety. Therefore he could lie down and sleep in the open air with his head upon a stone.
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
Jesus is Jacob’s ladder. The step of this stairway that rested on the earth is Jesus’ human nature, while the top in heaven in his divine nature. He is the way that bridges the gap between sinful man and a Holy God.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
$rd (Derek) – meaning way, road or course of life
tma (Emet) - firmness, faithfulness, truth, reliability or truth as a body of ethical or religious knowledge.
yx (Chai) - living, alive, life
Jesus answered by first saying, “I am.”
And Moses said unto God, “Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me unto you,’ and they shall say to me, ‘What is his name/’ what shall I say unto them?”
And God said unto Moses, “I AM THAT I AM” and he said, “Thus shall you say unto the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me unto you.’” Exodus 3:13-14
In Exodus 3:14, a common English translation of God’s response to Moses when asked for his name was, “I Am that I Am" In Hebrew it is pronounced "ehyeh ašher ehyeh.” Hayah means “existed” or “was” in Hebrew. “Ehyeh” is the first person singular imperfect form of “hayah” and is usually translated as “I will be.” Ehyeh asher ehyeh literally translates as “I Will Be What I Will Be.” However, in most English Bibles, this phrase is rendered as I am that I am. In Exodus 3:14, God is speaking and reveals His name in the first person. This Hebrew name for God is “Ehyeh” and is commonly translated as “I am.”
In John 8:58, Jesus said “Truly, truly I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am.” The Jews clearly understood Jesus to be calling Himself God because they took up stones to stone Him for committing blasphemy in equating Himself with God.
I am the way and the truth and the life” is one of the seven “I Am” statements of Jesus. On the last night before His betrayal and death, Jesus was preparing His disciples for the days ahead.
The way – Jesus used the definite article to distinguish Himself as “the only way.”
The truth – Again Jesus used the definite article to emphasize Himself as “the only truth.”
The life – Jesus had just been telling His disciples about His impending death, and now He was claiming to be the source of all life.
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—or kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 1 Timothy 2:1-6
The way to be reconciled to the Father and the truth necessary for salvation that results in eternal life is that there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.
Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He 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 1:49-51
In order to be saved, we must embrace the fact that there is only “one God” who alone holds the key to eternity, and that there is only one way by which we can reach that God, “the man Christ Jesus.” We, in our natural state, are at war with God, estranged from Him, and separated by the presence of sin in our lives. Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus) serves as our mediator, our peacemaker, our advocate, being both fully God and fully man who bridges the gap between the Father and all men. Yeshua (Jesus) is Jacob’s ladder – our stairway to heaven.
There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “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
The word LORD found in the English translations of the Old Testament, when spelled in all capitals, represents the personal name of God. This name is comprised of the four Hebrew consonants – Yod, Hey, Vav, and Hey. These four consonants (known as the tetragrammaton), as recorded in the oldest hand written scrolls, had no accompanying vowels. Therefore, the exact pronunciation of these four letters is unsure. Yod, Hey, Vav, Hey is known as the “Ineffable” or “Unutterable” Name of the God of Israel.
There above it all stood the LORD – Yehovah. This is God's unique, self-revealed name, pronounced by some as Yahweh.
Each Hebrew letter is a word picture. The Hebrew letter “yood” is a hand. The Hebrew letter “hey” means behold (hinneh). While the Hebrew letter “vav” is a hook or nail. The tetragrammaton when studied as a pictograph – is the hand, behold, the nail, behold – behold the nail scarred hand!
The LORD was above the stairway to heaven and is above all. He is the sovereign King of kings and Lord of lords over all of creation. Yehovah is the King over heavens and the earth. He is faithful and just and keeps His covenant promises. He assured Jacob, as He did
Abraham and Isaac, that He would give the Promised Land to him and his descendants.
“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. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 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
The LORD’s promise of the land to Abraham is found in Genesis 15: 18-21. The northern border of the Promised Land is the River Euphrates while the southern border of Canaan is the river of Egypt. The land’s western boundary, which is the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, is described in Numbers 34:6. To ensure that there is no doubt about the land’s boundaries; Scripture also indicates the different groups of people that had occupied it: “...the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.” We know that these peoples lived in what is today Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, part of Asian Turkey, and of course all of Israel, including Gaza and the West Bank.
The participants in the soon-coming Psalm 83 War will include many of these countries and territories. The inhabitants of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gaza encircle modern day Israel and are bent on the annihilation of God’s chosen people. But God will be faithful and deliver Israel’s enemies into her hands and Israel’s borders will extend from the Nile to the Euphrates.
When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He 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 28:16-17
Jacob was afraid as were many others who were in the presence of the Living God. The whole nation of Israel cried out to Moses as recorded in Exodus 20:19 and said, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.” Job declared in chapter 42 and verses 5-6 in the book that bears his name, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” In Isaiah 5:6 the prophet bemoans, “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” In the presence of the holiness, power and radiance of God, man is awe-struck and aware of how short he falls of God’s glory.
Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz. Genesis 28:18-19
Jacob was so spiritually and emotionally impacted that, to memorialize the occasion and the place, he blessed the stone on which his head had rested, sanctified it by anointing it with oil and gave it the name “Bethel” (God's House). Jacob took the stone that he used as a pillow and set it up for a pillar.
The worship of sacred stones constituted one of the most general and ancient forms of religion. But among no other people was this worship so important as among the Semites. The religion of the nomads of Syria and Arabia was summarized by Clement of Alexandria in the single statement, “The Arabs worship the stone.”
The Arabs still worship a stone today. The Black Stone is the eastern cornerstone of the Kaaba, the ancient stone building toward which Muslims pray, in the center of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is revered by Muslims as an Islamic relic which, according to Muslim tradition, dates back to the time of Adam and Eve. Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba as part of the Tawaf ritual of the Hajj. This ritual of the Hajj (the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca) is to circle the Kaaba 7 times in a counterclockwise direction. Many of the pilgrims try, if possible, to stop and kiss the Black Stone, emulating the kiss that Islamic tradition records that it received from Muhammad. The stone was venerated at the Kaaba in pre-Islamic pagan times. It was set intact into the Kaaba's wall by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the year 605 A.D
Unlike the pagans who often used a stone for a sacred pillar to be worshipped, Jacob used the stone he slept upon as a memorial in the remembrance of the mercy and goodness that God bestowed upon him.
Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.” Genesis 28:20-22
Jacob made a solemn vow which demonstrated that he was on a path of humility and piety. Jacob did not ask for wealth and power but asked for God to provide him with the simple necessities of life. In return, Jacob would make Yehovah his God, tithe and proclaimed that this stone which I have set for a pillar will be God's house. The intent of Jacob’s declaration is that upon