Sun, Dec 02, 2007

JACOB'S LADDER! GENESIS 28:10-22

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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JACOB’S LADDER!
GENESIS 28:10-22
 

            Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Genesis chapter 28 as we look at the story of Jacob’s ladder and what that means to us. Now, before we get to our text this morning, let me share with you some information regarding a movie that will be released on December 7th of this year called The Golden Compass. Jeta Connor tells us:

Christians around the world breathed a huge sigh of relief when the Harry Potter series finally finished it's last movie. This was because of the strong belief that these movies were geared to influence children toward witchcraft and promote the occult. They thought the worst was over, but perhaps the worst is yet to come. British author, Phillip Pullman has written a trilogy called His Dark Materials which is geared toward children. It sounds fairly innocent to most of us, but that's not the way that Christian's see it. 
The first book in the trilogy, titled The Golden Compass was recently made into a movie starring Nicole Kidman and is set to debut on December 7th. The movies specifically target children. The title alone seems very inconspicuous, but the storyline of the trilogy itself is what has everyone so upset.

In the trilogy, a 12 year old girl, Lyra starts out on a journey to find answers after her friend is kidnapped. She travels to a parallel universe where everyone's soul is manifested in an animation or altar-ego in animal form. These are called "daemon".

In the story, a malicious governing body called, "the church" (which is renamed, the Magisterium for the purpose of the movie) is known to kidnap kids for the purpose of experimentation. Lyra finds help in The Golden Compass which reveals a coded answer to any question which she asks it. At the end of the trilogy, Lyra gets to the bottom of the mystery of the missing children and finally, she and some others rebel and kill a character called, "God", specifically YAHWEH.

The first issue that Christians are struggling with is that the "villan" in the story is the church and God- YAHWEH. For those of you who know your Bible, YAHWEH is the abbreviated version of the name that Moses wrote down when God told him His name. This seems like an obvious attempt to blashpheme the name of a Holy God.

Furthermore, they feel that renaming the church, The Magisterium is an attempt to "dumb down" the intended religious punches so that parents will bring their children to see the movie and the children will be drawn in, thus causing them to want to have the books as Christmas gifts.

- Jeta Connor, The Golden Compass: Anti-Christian?

            Also, from Snopes.com we are told:

            Origins: The Golden Compass, a fantasy film starring Nicole Kidman that is scheduled to be released into theaters on 7 December 2007, has been drawing fire from concerned Christians. The film is based on Northern Lights (released in the U. S. as The Golden Compass), the first offering in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy of children’s books, a series that follows the adventures of a streetwise girl who travels through multiple worlds populated by witches, armor-plated bears, and sinister ecclesiastical assassins to defeat the oppressive forces of a senile God.

            The series’ author, Philip Pullman, is an avowed atheist who has averred that “I don’t profess any religion; I don’t think it’s possible that there is a God; I have the greatest difficulty in understanding what is meant by the words ‘spiritual’ or ‘spirituality.’” Critics of Pullman’s books point to a strong anti-religion and anti-God themes they incorporate, and although literary works are subject to a variety of interpretations, Pullman left little doubt about his intentions when he said in a 2003 interview with The Sydney Morning Herald that “My books are about killing God.” (Conservative British columnist Peter Hitchens labeled Pullman “The Most Dangerous Author in Britain” and described him as the writer “the atheists would have been praying for, if atheists prayed.”)

            Other reviewers, however, have described Pullman’s works as being more generally anti-religion rather than specifically anti-Christian or anti-Catholic:

            In “His Dark Materials,” Pullman’s criticisms of organized religion come across as anti-authoritarian and anti-ascetic rather than anti-doctrinal. (Jesus isn’t mentioned in any of the books, although Pullman has hinted that He might figure in a forthcoming sequel, “The Book of Dust.”) His fundamental objection is to ideological tyranny and the rejection of this world in favor of an idealized afterlife, regardless of creed. As one of the novel’s pagan characters puts it, “Every church is the same; control, destroy, obliterate every good feeling.”

- Snopes.com

            Now, as upset as you might be about this because he is reaching out to our children with this garbage, why are more of you not upset about what is going on in the church today?  You see, the Emergent Church movement, which is nothing more than doctrines of demons is also focused upon reaching our children, our young adults because they are easier to reach then most of us who are older, but we are not excluded!

Paul said in Acts chapter 20 as he was speaking and warning the Ephesian elders at Miletus, Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.  Acts 20:26-32.

            You see, Paul is warning them and us, that savage wolves will bring in these doctrines of demons into the church but even worse, from within the church; pastors, leaders will be promoting and teaching these doctrines of demons from the pulpit! That should upset you!  Now, what does that have to do with our study this morning?  I am going to give to you the answer to this question, “What must I do to be saved?” and I will tell you this, it is not politically correct!  I will also be sharing with you some other important information this morning.

            Folks, if you know me you understand that I am not politically correct; I am not here to be a man pleaser, to tickle your ears, but to be a God pleaser and give you what you need. To the world and even in the church, that is offensive because I am very narrow minded, but so was Jesus and thus, I am in good company!  With that said, let’s being reading in Genesis chapter 28, starting in verse 10 and see what Jacob’s ladder is all about and what lessons we can glean from this story.

GENESIS 28:10-22

            Reading through these verses there are three main points that emerge. THE VISION GRANTED TO JACOB – GENESIS 28:10-12. THE PROMISES MADE TO JACOB – GENESIS 28:13-15.  THE DECLARATION MADE BY JACOB – GENESIS 28:16-22.  So with the remainder of our time this morning we will examine these points and see what we can glean from them in our walk with the Lord.

1.  THE VISION GRANTED TO JACOB – GENESIS 28:10-12

            Please understand why Jacob is on the run. He tricked his dad into giving him the blessing, which was suppose to be for his brother Esau.  Thus, when Esau found out he wanted to kill Jacob. Thus, Rebekah his mother hears of this and sends Jacob to her brother Laban’s house, his uncle. But keep in mind this is some 500 miles away, a long journey to say the least.

            What is the point here?  Jacob is hitting rock bottom, he even has a rock for a pillow.  He is on the run, he is all alone and it is at this point in his life that God appears to him. Why did God wait so long?  The Lord was waiting for Jacob to come to the end of himself, to be so low that he will finally look up and seek the Lord. You see, all his life he would scheme, deal, manipulate things to get what he wanted, to get his way and now he had absolutely nothing! God did get his attention. God also does that with us!

            So as Jacob is sleeping he has this dream of a ladder that reached from the earth to heaven and angels were ascending and descending upon it. And Jacob understood that this was a dream that was inspired by God, a God whom he did not seek until now and this vision showed that for Jacob, he could now have access to God, something he had not experienced yet in his life.

            Now, if this is all we were told of this incident, we might not think too much of it, but I believe the Scriptures do expound on this. We are told in John chapter 1, beginning in verse 43 of this incident with Nathanael and that will point us to what Jacob experienced here in Genesis chapter 28. We are told, The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ And Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ . . .

. . . Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!’ Nathanael said to Him, ‘How do You know me?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’ Nathanael answered and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Because I said to you, “I saw you under the fig tree,” do you believe? You will see greater things than these.’ And He said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.’ John 1:43-51.

            Notice that Philip also brings people to Jesus, here it is Nathanael and the testimony of Philip is that of Jesus being the Messiah and it is based on what the prophets spoke of the Messiah; He is the fulfillment of what they said.

Now once Nathanael hears that Jesus is from Nazareth, the walls go up, his prejudices against this city and its people were too much for him to believe that anything good could come from this town.  If Jesus is from Nazareth then He can’t be the one, He can’t be the Messiah. Now Nazareth was a poor city of Galilee, it was looked down upon. The name “Nazareth” means “Sprout town” not too impressive.  You see, Nazareth, from an economic position, from a military position, from a political position, was totally insignificant and for the Messiah to come from Beansville was just too much for Nathanael.

            You see, he knew what the Scriptures said, But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The one to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”  Micah 5:2.  Bethlehem was the place to be, the Messiah coming there from eternity, land stretching out so far and wide, keep Nazareth just give me that Bethlehem countryside!  Sorry for all those of you who are Green Acres fans!

            Now, at this point Philip could have been very discouraged and walked away.  He could have told Nathanael that he is going to burn in Hell if he doesn’t change his tune!  Now both of those responses have been and are being used by Christians, but not with Philip, look at what he does.

Instead of arguing or mocking Nathanael he invites Nathanael to come and see!  What a great lesson for us. Do you invite people to church, to come and see what Jesus is really all about, what His people are really like? You should! Instead of arguing, mocking, condemning them, do as Philip did, tell them to “Come and see!”

Now a couple of things about these verses here.  First of all Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves, as Peter found out. And Paul in Hebrews 4:12-13 said, For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a Discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

            Secondly, I do believe that Nathanael was under the fig tree studying the Scriptures.   But there is another way to look at this, you see, that phrase under the fig tree was a phrase that was used by the Rabbis to describe someone meditating on the Scriptures.   So as Nathanael is sitting under the fig tree, meditating on the Word of God, Jesus saw him there, saw what he was doing, and then Philip called Nathanael to come and see the Messiah, to come and see Jesus!

            Notice that Nathaniel’s eyes are opened and he gives testimony of who Jesus is, the Messiah, the king of Israel, the Son of God!  I wonder what would have happened in Nathaniel’s life if Philip did not say to him “Come and see” for yourself about Jesus? What a great lesson for us to not only learn but apply to our lives!

            Now here is the problem, sin separates us from God. Job, in speaking of God, said For He is not a man, as I am, That I may answer Him, And that we should go to court together.  Nor is there any mediator between us, Who may lay his hand on us both.  Job 9:32-33.  What Job cried for is here, the Mediator, the Bridge Builder, the One who restored our fellowship with the Father, Jesus Christ.  I do realize that this is not politically correct, to say that Jesus is the only way, but tough!  That is the reality and I am not going to lie just to make someone feel good about themselves when they are dying in their sins. Jesus said in John 14:6, “ . . . ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” Case closed!

            Thus, I believe the ladder that Jacob was dreaming of, the ladder reaching from earth to heaven with the angels ascending and descending upon it is none other than Jesus Christ!  He is the bridge builder between God and man!

            You see, as I have said, sin separated us from God but now Jesus came and bridged that gap by paying the penalty for our sins. It is as Paul said in I Timothy 2:5-6, For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”  Jesus is our ladder to God; He tore that veil in the temple that separated man from God, opening that curtain up so we could boldly come before God through Jesus Christ.  Peter also picks up on this in I Peter 3:18 where he says, For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.

Here is something for you to think about.  What portion of Scripture do you think Nathanael was meditating upon while he sat under the fig tree? I believe it was that portion of Scripture here in Genesis chapter 28 that deals with Jacob and his dream of this ladder reaching up into heaven.  The reason I say that is what Jesus had to say to him impacted Nathanael tremendously!

In Genesis 28 Jacob saw a ladder and this ladder was going from earth to heaven and angels going up and down the ladder and Jacob was dreaming of a day. Now watch this, he was dreaming of a day when man would have access to God.  You see, that's what that ladder represented, from earth to heaven and angels were ministering to that ladder to keep it open, to keep it available, to keep it working so that man could go to God.  And Jacob was dreaming of that day.

And as I have said, that ladder is the Son of Man, Jesus Christ. Look again at what it says. You shall see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending not upon a ladder but upon what?  On a man.  You know what He was saying to Nathanael?  He was saying, "Nathanael, it's wonderful that you know I'm omniscient, but let Me tell you something better, you now have permanent open access to God through Me."  Isn't that a beautiful thought?  "I am that golden ladder."  And you say, "What are the angels doing there?"  Who ministered to Christ?  Who ministered to Him after His temptation, through His life?  The angels did.  Who ministers to God?  The angels.  Who ministers to us?  The angels.  That's a busy place, you see them up and down, up and down.

            But not all will receive this, not all will accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and thus, they reject the way to the Father!  It is as Proverbs 14:12 says, There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.  It is not what you want or desire; it is what God has said.  If you want to go down your own path, it is the way of death and in Psalm 14:1a we are told what God thinks of those who reject Him, The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ You can also translate this verse The fool has said in his heart, “No to God.’  Either way you are in trouble!   I mean how much more testimony does a person need to believe?

            Thus, this was not only important for Jacob, but it is also important for us to believe, to understand and apply to our lives. It is as D. Rowland wrote: “A ladder of escape: - A company of shipwrecked sailors cast on the coast of Scotland at the bottom of a great precipice, where the water would have broken up their vessel and drowned them, found a ladder hanging down the precipice, which they reached from their ships mast, and escaped thereby. So Christ is to us a ladder of salvation, and if we believe on Him we shall be saved from all evil, and we may rise to be holy, happy, and useful.”  You see, “What must I do to be saved?” It is simple, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved! 

            The vision given to Jacob by God is one that is open for us to see, if we would truly seek after the Lord as Jeremiah said, And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:13.  May you believe!

2.  THE PROMISES MADE TO JACOB – GENESIS 28:13-15

            Here’s the thing folk’s. If you have your relationship with God restored by THE bridge builder Jesus Christ, there are blessings that God has promised you. Yes, these promises were for Jacob, but I also see them apply to our own lives as Christians as you will see. There are four main points here that we are going to look at.

A.  He will have companionship with God – I am always with you

            What a precious promise that should be to each of us, that God is always with us. Now, as a Christian you can try to run away from God but as soon as you repent, as soon as you turn around and thus, turn to the Lord, God is standing there with his arms of forgiveness open wide.  It is as Paul said in Hebrews 13:5, Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’

            Did you notice that? Let the way you live out your life be honoring to the Lord because the Lord is always with you. You see, we like it that God is always with us but there are times when maybe we don’t want Him to come with us when we do certain things.  How about when you go to see that movie, or maybe surf the Internet sites, or go to the bar, or go out on that date, or use that kind of language, or whatever it may be that you are doing and you know that you don’t want the Lord with you, it would make you uncomfortable.  Let me tell you this, He is with you and you should be uncomfortable if you are doing those things and get out of them.  Thus, let your conduct be glorying to God because He is with you!

            B.  God will provide safety for him – I will keep you wherever you go

            Not only is God with us but He will protect us, watch over us, He will not let anything happen to us without His knowledge and approval. A great Psalm that illustrates this for us is Psalm 121 where we are told, I will lift up my eyes to the hills — From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.  Psalm 121:1-8.

            Folks, that is our God, He will provide safety for us as we are going through this life, it is His promise to us!

            C.  God will guide him – I will bring you back to this land

            God is not in heaven watching us fumble through this life. He wants to guide us, interact with us, but He wants us to look to Him. He wants us to be guided by His Spirit.  Our God is actively involved in our lives.  In Psalm 32:8 we are told, I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. The Living Bible puts this verse like this, I will instruct you (says the Lord) and guide you along the best pathway for your life; I will advise you and watch your progress.

            And Jesus expounded on that thought in John 10:1-5 as He tells us, Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.  In other words, as we look to our Shepherd, to Jesus, He will guide us, He will lead us in the path we should go, may we be looking!

D.  God guarantees him this – I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoke to you

            And the last promise is that God guarantees to finish what He has started in our lives. Paul tells us in I Thessalonians 5:23-24, Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

            What a precious promise that is to us, that God will complete the work in us, He is faithful and thus, our salvation is based upon His work and not ours.  We believe by faith and our faith is in Jesus, the One who not only began the good work in us, but He continues the good work in us, and He will complete the good work that He has begun in our lives. Paul tells us this in Philippians 1:6, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. And The Amplified Bible puts it like this, And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.

            Thus, the promises that God made to Jacob can be applied to our lives as Christians and they are very precious to us!

3.  THE DECLARATION MADE BY JACOB – GENESIS 28:16-22

            As Jacob awoke he realized God was speaking to him in this dream and it caused him to have a reverential fear of God, He respected who God was!  Job said in Job 28:28, And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.’  You see, recognizing who God is and allowing that to change your behavior, that is wisdom.  Knowledge is just information and wisdom is taking that knowledge and applying it into your life. There are many today who have knowledge, they know there is a God, but they lack wisdom, they don’t apply that truth to their lives!

            It is out of this that Jacob worshiped God. Folks, as Christians God is in us, we have an encounter with God every day and it should lead us to the place of worshiping Him with our lives, placing our life on the altar of sacrifice for His glory, for His use!

            Jacob recognized he had an encounter with God and it also caused him to change the name of the place he was at from Luz, which means “separation” to Bethel, which means “house of God.” We are all separated from God, living in Luz you might say until we receive Jesus Christ into our lives as Lord and Savior, the ladder or bridge builder and now we live in the house of God!

            Jacob also desired to give to God a tithe or a tenth of his possession to the Lord and that truly is a great place to start. But again, when you give to the Lord you do so with a joyful heart and if you can’t then don’t give! Jacob realized that this was all the Lord’s anyway and the Lord had entrusted it to him and he would give it back for the Lord to use.

            And the last point is Jacob set up a memorial to the Lord, why?  It was not because God needed to be reminded but for those who passed by and it would point them to the true and living God. Folks, Peter tells us, Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  I Peter 2:4-5.

            And Paul tells us, Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you?  You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.  II Corinthians 3:1-3.  What are you leaving for people to see? When you leave a place do you leave behind the fragrance of Jesus or something else?  You should be leaving a picture of Jesus, a memorial of the Lord you serve for people to see!

            As I begin to close this morning we have seen THE VISION GRANTED TO JACOB – that the ladder that Jacob saw that opens the gates of heaven for man to have access to God is Jesus Christ.  Then, THE PROMISES MADE TO JACOB – come to those who have given their lives to Jesus as Lord and Savior and those promises are so precious.  We will have companionship with God, God will provide safety for us, God will guide us, and God guarantees us this, that He will finish the work. And lastly, THE DECLARATION MADE BY JACOB – it brought Jacob to a place of worship where he was willing to serve the Lord.  Was Jacob perfect at this point? No, he was young in the Lord and the Lord was going to teach him over the years, but he will grow!

            Let me close this morning wit these words for you to think about:

What is a Christian? In the LETTER TO DIOGNETUS, which dates back to the second century A.D., an anonymous writer describes a strange people who are in the world but not of the world.

“Christians are not differentiated from other people by country, language, or customs; you see, they do not live in cities of their own, or speak some strange dialect. . . They live in both Greek and foreign cities, wherever chance has put them. They follow local customs in clothing, food, and other aspects of life. But at the same time, they demonstrate to us the unusual form of their own citizenship.

“They live in their own native lands, but as aliens. . . Every foreign country is to them as their native country, and every native land as a foreign country.

“They marry and have children just like everyone else, but they do not kill unwanted babies. They offer a shared table, but not a shared bed. They are passing their days on earth, but are citizens of heaven. They obey the appointed laws and go beyond the laws in their own lives.

“They love everyone, but are persecuted by all. They are put to death and gain life. They are poor and yet make many rich.

They are dishonored and yet gain glory through dishonor. Their names are blackened and yet they are cleared. They are mocked and bless in return. They are treated outrageously and behave respectfully to others.

“When they do good, they are punished as evildoers; when punished, they rejoice as if being given new life. They are attacked by Jews as aliens and are persecuted by Greeks; yet those who hate them cannot give any reason for their hostility.”

The word “Christian” has lost much of its meaning in our culture. It means “Christ in one.”

- Source Unknown

            Folks, we all have access to God the Father through THE LADDER, Jesus Christ – may we let the world know what God has for them and the access to God through THE LADDER!

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