The ladder and you

There are many metaphors about ladders. We hear about how people climb the corporate ladder. There is the ladder to success. Some would say that if the ladder is not set against the right wall, every rung taken is closer to the wrong place. There is the ladder of knowledge. There is the economic ladder that alludes to climbing from one social status to another. There is the ladder of power. There is the ladder of life. There is the ladder of personal evolution. And so on. The ladder symbolizes connection. In reality, the ladder is a basic tool that connects two points that are otherwise out of reach. A mysterious dream of a ladder in the Old Testament has tremendous reality explained in the New Testament.

In Genesis 28, Jacob was on his way to Haran, the home of Rebecca’s relatives, when he came to a “certain place (v.11),” and camped there for the night. The Hebrew indicates that this was not just a random place, but “ha makom,” or “the place.” The use of the verb “yifga,” meaning to encounter, suggests a divine appointment. Jacob laid down to sleep and had a dream about a ladder that reached to heaven with angels ascending and descending on it. The Lord was standing above the ladder and reaffirmed to Jacob His promise made to Abraham and Isaac—that his descendants would be as numerous as the dust of the earth, through him all peoples of the earth would be blessed, and the Lord would be with Jacob. When Jacob awoke from the dream, he exclaimed in Genesis 28:16, “Truly the Lord is in this place—and I didn’t know it!”

Jacob called it the House of God, and the Gate of Heaven. The Jewish sages interpreted this place to refer to Jerusalem, and “the place” Jacob encountered God, to be Mount Moriah. Mount Moriah was the very location of the Akedah, (offering of Isaac), by the language used in Genesis 22:4: “On the third day, Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place (ha makom) in the distance.” Jacob’s dream of the ladder to heaven is associated with the revelation of the descending of Jesus (as the Son of Man, and His crucifixion), and the ascending of the risen Christ to heaven. The reality of Jacob’s ladder is revealed in John 1:51 when Christ told Nathaniel, “Hereafter you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Jesus was referring directly to Jacob’s dream about the ladder ascending to heaven, with angels ascending and descending on it.  In John 3:13 Jesus says, “And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” Jesus is saying that He is that very Ladder to God. Moreover, Jesus is the true Gate to Heaven as he says in John 10:9, “I am the true gate: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture.” And Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the father except through me.” Herein, the ladder is far more than a metaphor. It is reality for those who believe on Christ.

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Bill Wilson