You know what it’s like to feel guilty and alone and helpless.
“Grace, mercy and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus, our Lord. Amen.”
10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. 11 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. 12 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. 13 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. 14 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. 15 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.”
16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 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.”
Dear Friends in Christ,
What do you know about ladders? There aluminum ladders and wooden ladders; extension ladders and step ladders. Some ladders are light weight and others take 6 men and a little boy to move. Some are sturdy and make you feel safe, Others are so wobbly, you feel like a child in a Johnny jump up. Wooden ladders rot. Aluminum ladders are expensive. You will want to make sure your ladder is securely set in place before climbing. And nothing irritates a roofer more than someone messing with their ladder. When you are ready to come down from the roof, you like to know that it has been set safely in place. No matter what kind of ladder you prefer, you always want to know where your ladder is. You just never know when you will need it.
“Jacob’s Ladder” is an altogether different thing! In a gym, it’s a cardio workout that can make the healthiest man sweat like a pig eating pork chops. “Jacob’s ladder” in the Bible is in a class by itself. It is a fantastic ladder! You know, it isn’t really Jacob’s ladder. It is the Lord’s ladder. On that ladder the Lord showers his love on us. There is and will never be another ladder like it! I urge you to:
“BEHOLD THE LORD’S LOVE LADDER”
IT REACHES DOWN TO PENITENT SINNERS
IT REACHES UP TO GOD’S ABODE
This is -quite literally - the ladder of your dreams. Jacob had been a cheating, lying, conniving sinner. He was self-serving and deceitful. He knew what he wanted. Then he went after it no matter who got hurt. He had plotted with his mother and lied to his father in order to cheat his twin brother out of their father’s blessing. His sinful behavior brought with it a great cost. He had to leave home. His brother hated him and intended to kill him as soon as his father died. He felt the guilt of his sin weighing on his conscience. He was alone and felt it! He had brought heart ache into his family and he could not repair the damage he had caused. He was a pathetic, lonely, sorry sinner when God reached down to him with the ladder of his dreams!
Wouldn’t you love to see such a ladder! You have connived against others to get what isn’t yours. You have lied and cheated and used people to your own advantage. You have cared little about the feelings of others as you have sought to get what you wanted. Your sinful behavior has alienated you from people you love. You know what it’s like to feel guilty and alone and helpless. Like Jacob, you and I are sorry sinners who need the Lord’s love ladder.
Dreams have a way of making the strangest things appear perfectly natural. What Jacob saw in his dream is amazing. He saw a ladder that connected earth and the abode of God! There was a lot of traffic on this ladder. God’s holy angels were busy going up and down that ladder. As Jacob examined that ladder, he noticed the LORD himself standing at the top of the ladder watching his entourage of holy angels coming and going. The dream assured Jacob that God initiates contact with sinners and reaches down to us to come to our aid. What a dream!
The Lord reached down to Jacob to strengthen the faith of a trembling, penitent sinner. That’s the way it always works. God comes to us when we sin and reaffirms his love to us when we least deserve it. We heard that in our epistle reading today, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The strengthening of faith happens through the good news of God. The Lord spoke to Jacob and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham, your Father, and the God of Isaac.” The LORD shares his unconditional love and unlimited mercy. The LORD, whose independence allows him to do whatever he desires, makes promises to undeserving sinners. Seven times in Jacob’s life, the LORD appeared to him to reassure him and to strengthen him through his promises. The LORD was with Jacob just as surely as the LORD was with Abraham and Isaac. Jacob wasn’t as alone as he had felt when he lay down to sleep.
The LORD promised Jacob that his descendants would possess the land on which he was lying one day. Imagine that! Jacob who was practically an exile from this part of the world would return and his descendants would not only be permitted to live here. They would own the land. The LORD promised him that he would bless him and give him many descendants, like the dust of the earth. In him and in one great Descendant all the peoples of the earth would be blessed. That offspring is Jesus! Through him, we enjoy the same blessing Jacob enjoyed. It is the same promise God had spoken to his father Isaac and to his grandfather Abraham! Jesus accomplishes our salvation! Jacob’s family reaches its zenith in Christ. Now, we are a part of that family by faith in Christ.
Jacob’s dream came true. The Messiah came into the world. He traveled alone on that lonely trail which led to the cross to establish peace between God and man through the forgiveness of sins.
Jesus reaches down from heaven to penitent sinners and still shares his precious promises with us. Jesus once said, “You shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” You see, the Lord’s love ladder, is Jesus himself! God reaches out to us through Jesus and assures us that he has washed our sins away. God is with us because of Jesus. Surely, God loves us! We are not alone anymore.
Remember the Lord’s love ladder doesn’t only reach down to repentant sinners. It also reaches up to God’s abode. The LORD was standing at the top of the ladder. The LORD sends out his holy angels to “guard you in all your ways” (Ps 91:11) We look at Jesus. He is our ladder, our access to God! We can hear him say to us as clearly as he spoke to Jacob: “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.”
There is no worse feeling for a sinner than the isolation of knowing that you have offended God and hurt other people. But the Lord promises to be with us anyway! He promises to watch over us wherever we go! The Lord’s love ladder reaches up to remind us that we can look to Christ and his cross at any time to know for certain that God is with us to bless us! Even our sins cannot nullify God’s promises!
Jesus will never leave or forsake you. Jesus said, “I am with you always to the end of the world.” You are never alone. God is always with you. While God dwells in unapproachable light, he has also promised to be with us always for Jesus’ sake. God has promised to be at your side every day of your life and even into eternity. You are connected to God’s abode by Jesus who is your love ladder to heaven.
The Lord promised Jacob that he would call this place his home one day. God kept that promise. Many years later, when Jacob was an old man, the Lord led Jacob to Egypt because of the famine. He promised to bring Jacob’s descendants back to this very place again. And he did! The Lord has promised to take you to heaven. They will be many different paths you will take during your life. But God’s promises never fail. Jesus has promised to be with you and to bring you home to heaven one day. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”
So, what do you think about this love ladder to heaven? From it God reaches down to repentant sinners and assures us that he loves us. From it we behold our God’s presences with us to shelter us from harm and danger. Well, Jacob awoke from his dream and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place and I was not aware of it.” Jacob now realized that the Lord was with him wherever he went. God had drawn Jacob closer to him than he had ever been in his life. Jacob’s story is the story of every child of God who has gone through the suffering and agony that comes with the hangover of sin and then awakens from his stupor to find a forgiving God who has saved us and promised to be with us eternally! We look up at Jesus, God’s love ladder, and we see that we too have access to our heavenly Father for his sake!
There in that spot, Jacob had met God. He called it “the gate of heaven.” It was the place where God made a connection to him. The means of grace is our “gate of heaven.” In the means of grace, the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ touches our minds and our hearts. In the means of grace God comes to us and shows us the gate of heaven!
That’s quite a dream; that’s quite a ladder! It is dream come true is what it is. As I stated before it is an unusual ladder, in a class by itself, a fantastic ladder! It really is God’s love ladder.
If you look closely, you will see that ladder come to life. That ladder came down to earth to live among sinners and to endure all the abuse that man and God had to dish out. Even after that ladder had been buried under a ton of rock on an Israeli hillside, it burst out of that grave toward heaven and became the way of salvation for all people. You know that Jesus is the Lord’s love ladder. For Jesus’ sake, God comes to us when we sin to reassure us that his promises never fail. God is with us always to the end of days. What a ladder! What a Lord!