Sermon Title: Jacob’s Ladder
Text: Genesis 28:10-22; John 1:43-51
Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. 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 Lordstood 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.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lordis in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lordshall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you” (Genesis 28:10-22).
Jesus Christ meets our most basic human needs. We need companionship (we don’t want to be alone), we crave security (we don’t want to feel vulnerable), and we want a home—somewhere to belong (we don’t want to be rootless).
When God comes to Jacob, the patriarch is a fugitive who is alone and vulnerable. He’s been told by his parents to leave home—to leave the land of Canaan—and go about 450 miles to the northeast to find a wife. On that trip he stops to sleep, and God appears to him in a dream and makes three promises: I am with you (you’re not alone), I will keep you (you’re not vulnerable), and I will bring you back to this land (you have a home).
It’s fascinating how Jesus uses this story in John 1 to show us something even more beautiful than what Jacob received. “Jacob’s Ladder,” for us, is actually a Person, and One who gives us everything that we truly need and want. But he wants us to have faith like Nathanael’s—a faith that trusts—instead of like Jacob’s, who’s still negotiating and manipulating to get what he wants.
- How can our class pray for you or a friend or loved one tonight?
Start Reading(read Genesis 28:10-22)
- Remember the importance of context: What has Jacob done in the previous chapters? Why did he leave his home? Where is he going? Why?
- Find all the uses of the word “behold.” Why is it used? How many times is the word “place” used? What could the author be signaling there?
- How do God’s promises in verse 15 address Jacob’s needs at that moment? How does God make the same promises to us?
- Jacob saw a ladder/staircase that went from earth to heaven with angels ascending and descending. What did that mean to Jacob?
- Read John 1:43-51 and notice how Jesus used Jacob’s dream. Contrast the faith of Jacob with the faith of Nathanael.
- Why does Jesus imply in John 1 that he is the ladder of Jacob’s dream? What does that mean to us?
- How are you tempted to have a conditional faith like Jacob’s? Do you ever say, “God, if you’ll do this, then I’ll do that,” or something similar?
- Have you ever felt alone? Afraid? Disconnected from home? How does Christ address those needs?
- If you had faith like Nathanael, how would it change your life right now? What would change about the way you work, your attitude, your relationships with others, etc.?
Start Praying(ACTS acronym)
- Adoration: Worship God in prayer for fulfilling the promises that he made to the patriarchs through Christ.
- Confession: Confess that you sometimes have a faith that looks more like Jacob’s than like Nathanael’s.
- Thanksgiving: Thank God that he showed his interest in us by sending Jesus to be the one through whom he would fulfill his promises.
- Supplication: Pray for everyone in your class—that their faith in Christ would deepen and mature.