Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Jacob's Vision of Heavenly Glory
Genesis 28:12 "He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it."
Yesterday we looked at Abraham's vision of heavenly glory, noting the God centeredness of what He saw in his vision. He saw the Lord, called in the Hebrew "Adonai" - the Master of all things. He saw how the Lord reigns in various aspects in providence, redemption, revelation and prophecy. Today we will be looking at Abraham's grandson Jacob. Jacob's conversion experience is recorded for us in Genesis 28. As you will see in this very brief overview of what Jacob saw and witnessed, his vision of Heavenly glory entails the vision of a ladder, with its top reach up to Heaven.
Which Heaven was Jacob able to see into?
For regular readers of my blog, I had blogged several days ago about what the Bible teaches about Heaven in a post entitled: "The Bible's Four Heavens". In that blog it was noted that the Bible's use of the word Heaven can refer to the 1st heaven - the air; the 2nd heaven - the universe; the 3rd heaven - the present abode of God; and the New Heavens, which will be manifest at the end of Christ's millennial reign. I wanted you the reader to ask yourself: "which heaven is Jacob peering into?" It can't be just the 1st heaven, the sky, since that is normally populated by birds. It can't be the 2nd Heaven - the universe, since that is the domain of planets, stars and moons. What Jacob is seeing into is the third Heaven - the domain of angels and the highest aspect of that being the abode of the Infinite Holy Triune God.
What was Jacob's ladder?
Quite literally heaven came down to him - and no doubt it caused him to shudder in fear and wonder. Genesis 28:16-17 16Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17He 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.” The focal point of this vision was the ladder. Some have suggested that the pillar which Jacob set up and anointed with oil was a replica of that vision. Whatever the case may be, the point is that the ladder coming from the top to the bottom occupied the center stage. Now why do I say that? Because it is not until almost 2,000 years later that Jesus says these words at the onset of His ministry in John 1:51 - "And He said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” That ladder which Jacob saw was none other than an Old Testament appearance of Jesus Christ.!
What can we gain about heavenly glory from Jacob's vision?
As we now have seen, Jesus Christ is that ladder reaching from heaven to earth. In John 14:6 Jesus says of Himself - "I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but through me." As we close out this blog today, I want to leave you with three thoughts that explain what Jacob saw in his vision of heavenly glory - pointing the way to the Lord Jesus Christ:
1. He saw the way to Heaven. Genesis 28:12
Jesus Christ reaches from the top to the bottom. All other religions teach about the way to Heaven, whereas Jesus alone claims He is the way to Heaven.
2. He saw the Truth that gets you to heaven. Genesis 28:13-17
All other religions, ideologies, philosophies and "isms" will teach you morality, but know this - their roads paved with bricks of human effort will lead straight to the gates of hell. However what did Jacob say: that the place of his vision, Bethel, was the "gate of Heaven". Jesus Christ is the way. In fact Jesus Himself says in John 10:9 that he is the doorway, the gateway through which the sheep can enter. Truth by nature is exclusive - and Jesus Christ alone is the true and tried way by which you by grace through faith can enter into Heavenly glory.
3. He saw the life of Heaven. Genesis 28:18-22
Jacob's life was never the same from that encounter. He did not know what He saw by name, but the substance of the person of the Son was ever stamped on His heart - Jacob literally saw the Lord through the veil of visions and shadows. He saw that living ladder, Jesus Christ. When he had went to sleep, he was a rebel - however when he awoke, and grace called Him, and He believed upon the one whom He saw, Jacob became a worshipper. His speech changed, his actions changed and even his pocketbook changed. He wanted to talk about the things of God, do the things of God and give toward the things of God. In other words - the life of God in heaven entered into his life. Jacob was never the same from that moment.