Genesis - The Beginning
Lesson 8 - Jacob and the Gate of Heaven
When Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, they continued to see the Presence of God at work among them. Moses began to teach them about God’s law and about their heritage. In Genesis 25-49, we learn about Jacob, who God would later rename Israel. We learn about his twelve sons who would become the twelve tribes of Israel.
We learn about Jacob’s many troubles, his deception, and his sinful behavior. We also see how God reached out to him and how Jacob responded to continue the promises made to his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac. In one instance, Jacob had a remarkable encounter with the Presence of God in a place he then called Bethel (which means the house [beth] of God [el]). In this story, the Jewish people learn they were not only supposed to know and live by the Law, but they were also to be a people of God’s Presence. Later in the Bible, we learn that Jesus is actually the gate of heaven and that God not only desires to move among us but to fully dwell in us as people of his Presence. Today’s lesson will look at Jacob’s encounter with God’s Presence.
10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. 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.” 18 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. 19 He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.
For further discussion:
50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 51 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.”
22 And in him you too (we as believers in Jesus) are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.