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Jacob's Ladder (Genesis 28:10-22)

July 22, 2020 | by: Gregg Hunter | 0 comments

Posted in: The Life of Jacob and Esau

Most carnival games are rigged. We all know this, but it’s still fun to try some of them out and waste a few dollars. I personally like to pop the balloons with a dart or squirt water into the clown's mouth faster than anyone else to win the prize. One game that I have never tried is often called “Jacob’s Ladder.” You’ve seen this, right? There is a rope ladder with hard cross-bars set up at an upwards angle, and the top and bottom of each side are connected to a single knot so that it becomes very difficult to balance on the ladder. There are all kinds of YouTube videos that you can watch to “beat Jacob’s Ladder,” if you want to give it a shot, but I’ve never tried.

Jacob’s Ladder is more than just a carnival game—it’s been depicted in numerous movies, television shows, and cartoons, and has become a common notion in pop culture. Because we live in a society with Judeo-Christian roots, most people know of this biblical allusion. But do you actually know the story of Jacob’s Ladder? You will when you read our text!


Please read genesis 28:10-22.

I think the biggest take-away that I had when reading this passage was this: “the ladder doesn’t really have much to do with anything.” Imagine that! The pop culture is using an icon from Scripture and taking it way out of context!

In the beginning of this passage, we are told that Jacob had a dream. In this dream, he envisioned angels going up and down on a ladder (more accurately translated ‘staircase’) from earth to heaven. Does this mean that angels actually travel up and down a long staircase to get from earth to heaven? Maybe. Or, maybe they just fly. Or, maybe they don’t need to travel back and forth at all. The point of this dream is not the ladder! The point is what Jacob sees at the top of the ladder. The vision and the staircase are used to emphasize that God is the one speaking to Jacob in the dream. When the eyes follow the angels up the staircase, they end by gazing up at the figure who stands on the highest of heights—God Himself.

Jacob has heard about God from his father and grandfather, but this is the first time Jacob is encountering Him personally. And think of the circumstances: Jacob has received his brother’s birthright and his father’s blessing, but he got them by trickery and has been sent away from his home in fear of being murdered by his brother. He must have been overwhelmingly fearful. So God gives him this message of reassurance. God gives Jacob the same promise that He made to Abraham and Isaac: God will be your God; God will give you the Promised Land; God will bless you with numerous descendants, through whom the earth will be blessed; God will be with you.

Jacob rightly reacts to this wonderful encounter with the living God by worshipping Him, creating an altar, and making oaths regarding his future service to the Lord in light of God’s promise to him.

This is a beautiful example for us to follow: God has blessed us with so many blessings, so we too should strive to follow Him in sacrificial worship in all that we do. The real message of this passage has nothing to do with “Jacob’s Ladder.” Leave that to the carnival games. The real message is about a loving God who chooses us to be His people, and blesses us in ways beyond our imagining. This God is truly worthy to be praised!