The story of Jacob’s ladder is an amazing story of God’s grace towards an underserving person. Jesus himself says the ladder is about Him and we will look at that in a minute. First, some background..
The story is told in Genesis 28. Jacob, the grandson of Abraham and son of Isaac is running away in fear of his twin brother Esau. Jacob has swindled his brother out of his inheritance and birth-right. He is an arch swindler which we see through the rest of his life. It is important not to see Jacob through ‘rose tinted spectacles’ because he is a patriarch and an important figure in the bible. I love the honesty of the bible and it certainly reveals Jacob’s deficiencies in glaring detail. I have said it before, but there is only one good man in the bible (Jesus), the rest are remarkable examples of dubious characters who have received the grace, mercy and kindness of God.
Going back to our story, Jacob has been sent to his Uncle’s house at Paddan-Aram to find a wife from his own clan. He is travelling between Beersheba and Haran and as the sun sets he needs to find a place to sleep for the night. He finds a rock for a pillow and somehow manages to fall asleep! While he is sleeping, he has a dream;
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! 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. 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. 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.” (Genesis 28:12-15)
What an amazing promise to a rascal like Jacob! This ladder (or it could be translated as a stairway) signified an access for sinful man to reach God. It signified the amazing grace of God who created the ladder and provided it himself. It was initiated by Him.
Turning to the New Testament, in the first chapter of the gospel of John we see Jesus calling his disciples. He has quite a discourse with Nathanael and basically has a ‘word of knowledge’ about him. He then goes on to equate Jacob’s ladder with himself. Notice what he says in verse 51;
“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)
Jesus is saying “I am the ladder that connects sinful man with a perfect God. It is through trusting me and accepting that I am the only one who is able to deal with your sin. I have provided a way that you can come to God with clean hands and a pure heart. It is my grace that provides the way!”
He says further on in John’s gospel: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”(John 14:6)
We now have access to approach God’s holy throne, through the ladder, which is our saviour, Jesus
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)