[Jacob] 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! Genesis 28:12ESV
One of the glimpses the Bible gives of heavenly activities occurs in Genesis 28:12. God appeared to Jacob when he was fleeing from his angry brother from whom he’d stolen the birthright and spiritual blessing (Genesis 27:1-45). In a dream Jacob saw a ladder (some translations call it a stairway) extending from the earth and reaching to heaven with angels ascending and descending on it. And the Lord was standing at the top. (Genesis 28:12-15).
Jacob probably knew God had appeared to his father and grandfather and made promises to them (Genesis 12:1-3 and 26:1-5), but Jacob had never met God personally. And now in the dream, Jacob saw the Lord and heard him speak directly to him. The Lord identified himself as the God of Jacob’s father and grandfather. He repeated the promises he’d made to them: land, countless descendants, and that all the families of the earth would be blessed through Jacob and his offspring.
God promised Jacob, “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” (Genesis 28:13-15).
Jacob woke up full of excitement, saying, “Surely the Lord lives here. I had no idea!” He renamed the place Bethel “house of God.” *
Many years later, one of Jacob’s offspring identified himself as the promised Messiah with another glimpse of heaven: “Very truly I tell you, you will see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man,” Jesus Christ told Nathaniel. The ladder represented the way between heaven and earth (John 1:51). Jesus Christ is the access to heaven, the means by which we can go to heaven. He told his disciples, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).
Heavenly visitors including angels and the Messiah, Jesus Christ, have come from heaven and given us glimpses.
What’s your experience with heavenly visitors?
Nancy J. Baker
What does the Bible say about the role of angels and the Son of God, Jesus Christ, in Hebrews 1:7-14?
Read Genesis 48:13-19. At the end of his life, how does Jacob pass on the blessing of the covenant to his son Joseph’s son? Can you see similarities to the blessing Jacob himself had received (Genesis 25:23)?
Read Matthew 6:6-10. How does Jesus describe the connection between our prayers here and his father in heaven?
Read 2 Corinthians 1:20-22. How does God make it possible for you stand firm?
This devotion is from our series on Heaven.