And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven…
And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. Jacob in fear of his life leaves home. The last kiss of his mother is taken. During the day Jacob goes forward cheerfully. Night comes on at length. The path is no longer distinct. The wind moans sadly. A sense of loneliness creeps over him. Fear of Esau haunts him. He sees the figure of his brother behind this shrub and that rock. Had Esau outrun to murder him in that lonely spot? He trembles at every shadow, and shudders at every sound. He thinks of the God of his father and mother, and prays. He lies down in the desert; a furze-bush is his only shelter, and a stone his hard pillow. He looks up into the dark vault all glittering with the silent stars. More intense becomes his loneliness, for the stars have no voice for him. Plotting and far-seeing Jacob had deep home-longings, mystic inquirings, and a wealth of affection in his nature. Of such God can make something; to such God can reveal something. To idolatrous, carnal Esau's how little can God make known. Selfishness hinders. Here in the desert Jacob draws his camel-hair robe more tightly over his feet, and dreams of parents and home, and heaven and God. It might surprise us that he could have such sweet dreams when he was fleeing from the one whom he had undoubtedly wronged. God would over-rule the wrong, and therefore sent him this vision.
I. ALL HAVE DREAMS OF A HEAVEN. A heaven is that for which all men are seeking, whether sought in the way of business, or pleasure, or politics, or literature. Even skeptics have their heaven in their doubt and intellectual pride. That which is our highest object is our heaven. As water cannot rise above its level, so the heaven of some cannot be above their thoughts. There will be a future state answering to the highest longings of the believer, a place of existence in glory far beyond anything here.
II. ACTUAL COMMUNICATION WITH HEAVEN IS POSSIBLE. One author (Hazlitt) says, In the days of Jacob there was a ladder between heaven and earth, but now the heavens are gone further and become astronomical." True science opens up an infinite number of worlds and densely-peopled spaces. Material discoveries lessen the sense of spiritual realities. It need not be so. If the universe is great, how great also is the soul, which can embrace in its thoughts the universe! And it is in the soul that God can and does reveal heaven. Peace, hope, love is the spirit of heaven, and that is revealed by Christ. Purify the spirit and heaven comes near.
III. EARNEST EFFORT IS NEEDED TO MAINTAIN COMMUNICATION WITH HEAVEN. In the dream of Jacob he saw a picture of his own struggling ascent in life. Angels might flit up and down, but man had to struggle and put forth earnest effort to maintain the union. Early in life the ascent seems easy. A mountain never appears so far to its summit as it is in reality. As we go on we become more conscious of the difficulties in the way of maintaining the open communications. Often we find ourselves with heads between our hands, pondering whether we shall ever overcome the evil and attain to the good.
IV. THERE IS ALWAYS HELP FROM THE HEAVENS IN THE EFFORT TO MAINTAIN THE COMMUNICATION. A voice comes to Jacob. A promise of guidance and support was given. Christ in his conversation with Nathaniel shows us how all good comes through him. In Christ all goodness centers. All heaven rays out from him in the pardon and reconciliation he has brought. He is the Word made flesh. He is the Divine voice from above. Through him the Holy Spirit is given, and that Holy Spirit shows us things to come, makes heaven plain, and the way direct. One day we shall be called to follow the way the angels go, and after death shall ascend that stairway which "slopes through darkness up to God." - H.
Parallel VersesKJV: And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.