Bethel

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Today our lead elder/pastor Paul preached Genesis 28. So we heard that a long time ago our God kept His promise, His Word, and blessed a selfish and sinful man named Jacob. He disciplined him for his treacheries, as we’ll see as a church next week in chapter 29, but God blessed this rebellious man. God gave him life-changing grace.

As Jacob is sleeping on a rock, far from home and having lost his family (thanks to his own scheming and dishonesty), he has a dream.

I once rode in a sort of lift, the kind you see in movies or TV shows about ski slopes. The type where your legs dangle freely and you could, in theory, slip yourself loose and fall to your death (you know, if you get bored or something). It was over this ravine in a state park in Kentucky, and I had no choice but to ride it because it was the only way up to a natural bridge where my brother’s wedding was taking place. I hated the thing. I felt vulnerable and disoriented and in a totally unnatural position. My wife tried to distract me, but I was in that sort of silent, teeth-clenched panic that there isn’t a cure for and you just have to wait out.

Now, that was maybe a hundred feet in the air, I’m guessing. In Jacob’s dream, he sees a ladder or a staircase or a ziggurat that rises up through the heavens and through created space to God. Mile after mile after mile into the sky. A structure so high and so long I can’t even wrap my puny, acrabhopic head around it. And then then this broken man with the screwed up life sees angels ascending and descending on this ladder or stairwell, serving God on this heart-stopping earth-to-Heaven ladder. Impossibly massive steps on an impossible ascent to God, created Heavenly messengers serve Him in legions.

And then this rascal on the run from his now-fractured family, sees and hears this:

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.'”

Jacob has tricked his father. He has stolen from his younger brother. He will probably never see his mother again. And yet just when this man (probably) thinks that his life has disintegrated irreparably because of his sin, the God of the Heavens who is served by His own angelic army says, “I am with you.”

I don’t know about you, but I needed that. I needed to hear that this morning. Jacob would receive discipline from God for his past sins, yes, but this man was forgiven by grace through faith.

Our culture misses it, or at least it seems to in my eyes, but one of the primary needs of the human heart is forgiveness. We are wicked people living on God’s soil, and we know we are. Some of us deal with that by blinding ourselves to it, some by comparing ourselves to seemingly worse people, others by trying to justify our sins and selfishness, but we are all sinful and sinners. It is what harms our marriages and causes bitterness and keeps our anxious hearts beating wildly at night when we can’t sleep.

We are sinners in need of forgiveness. And the God of Heaven, who would be just to immediately judge us for what we are and cast us into Hell, has made a way for us to know Him and enjoy Him forever.

We are liars and thieves and blasphemers, but His love is incalculable. He promises in Jesus Christ, descendant of this scoundrel-turned-saint Jacob, to be with us, if we will only repent and believe.

I needed that. I needed to hear that the Jacobs of this world have a hope that transcends law-keeping, self-improvement, financial security, or happy kids. I needed to know that the One whom I’ve offended with my hideousness forgives me, is for me, and is with me.

You are offered the thing you need most in Christ Jesus. Join me in believing and trusting in Him. We have the same need, you and I, and we will stand before the same God. So join me and come to Him in faith.

He is the God of love and ladders.

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