These are my raw sermon notes for the first sermon in the series The Wisdom and Power of Ancient Stories – first story is Jacob’s Ladder found in Genesis 28. The context of the story is that Jacob has just tricked his older twin brother out of the birth right blessing and Esau now is seething mad and out to kill Jacob. The bible records
41 So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, “The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”
So Jacob’s mother packs him off to go to her brother’s house “for a few days” which turns out to be 14 years.
From a commentary
“It may not have been his choice to leave home. He may have preferred to stay home with his mother. If he doesn’t go he is a dead man. This leaves me with the feeling that Jacob’s mind and emotions are swirling like a newly disturbed beehive. He feels uprooted. His comfort zone has definitely been invaded. His future is uncertain. He may have scores of questions with no answers. This could make for a very restless night. It could be a night of tossing and turning even if he could lay his weary body and raw emotions on the softest pillow. It was not to be. Instead, he lays his head on a rock.”
So he leaves Beesheba and heads toward Haran – Haran was the place where Abraham;’s Father Terah stopped on his journey to the promise land in Gen 11
Jacob had travelled about 80 k’s of the 650k trip to Haran
I did some research and found out the generally horses can travel about 50 ks a day
Out of interest
The Tevis cup is a 100-mile-in-one-day competition which goes over some quite rugged and mountainous trail terrain in the western states of USA… but they do it on very special arab horses, with little or no baggage and even the winning times are usually around 17 hours
Jacob – being from the middle east – was on an Arabian horse.
As evening of the first day falls, Jacob finds himself near the city of Luz. He knows the city gates will close at sundown therefore he is content to spend the night in the open field, “and he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep” (vs. 10 NKJV).
Read Genesis 28:10-22
Its clear to see that Jacob feared for his life.
Most scholars interpret Jacob’s ladder as a connection between heaven and earth, with God taking the initiative to reach out to man. The perfect “ladder” is Jesus Christ, who was God come to earth to save humanity. Jesus refers to himself as this ladder in John 1:51: “And he (Jesus) said to him, ‘Truly, truly I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.'”
Here are some points from the story
1) He took a stone from that place – and it became touch point for the supernatural V 11
In THAT PLACE you desire comfort but comfort is denied. But there are plenty of rocks.
In THAT PLACE you desire companionship but companionship is denied. Still, there are plenty of rocks.
In THAT PLACE you could use a friendly voice, an understanding voice, but friendly and understanding do not exist here. Rocks exist here, and plenty of them.
The hard times of our life can be amazing touch points for the supernatural
It’s amazing that in that hard place – he meets God
God is near to those with a broken heart
Gen 35:3 – Jacob describes this event – as the day of his distress
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
If you are going through a hard time, know that God is near you. I have found that in the hard times, this is where I most meet God.
2) He lay his head on a rock
The Rock speaks of Christ
Ps. 61:2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Speaks of changing your thinking
See when our heart is overwhelmed because things are going wrong in our world, we need to not let our emotions make decision, but rather get our thinking right by aligning it with the word of God.
Romans 12:2 NKJ
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:2 AMP
2Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
3) So he dreams of a ladder
Talk about Huey Lewis and the News
I met a sad dancer – down in southside Birmingham
She was running from a fat man selling salvation – in his haaand.
Now he’s trying to save me – well I’m doing all right – the best that I can.
Just another fallen angel – trying to get through the night.
Step by step – one by one – higher and higher
Step by step – rung by rung – I’m climbing Jacob’s ladder.
Coming over the airwaves – the man says I’m overdue
Sing along – send some money – Join the chosen few.
Hey – mister I’m not in a hurry – And I don’t want to be like a you
And all I want from tomorrow – is to get it better than today.
Step by step – one by one – higher and higher
Step by step – rung by rung – I’m climbing Jacob’s ladder .
Led Zepplin – And she’s buying a stairway to heaven
Scholars sometimes contrast Jacob’s ladder, God’s outreach from heaven to earth, with the Tower of Babel, man’s grasping from earth toward heaven. Are you trying to climb to heaven on a “ladder” of your own good works and behavior, or are you taking the “ladder” of God’s plan of salvation, his Son Jesus Christ?
Interesting that people still want in their own efforts to get to heaven – rather than resting on the Christ – who is the outreach of heaven.
A ladder takes you to the next level.
The divine ladder
Jacob needed a ladder. On his own, he was unable to bridge the gap between the human and the Divine. As a scoundrel, liar, and cheat, he was not able to enter into clear and constant communion with God. He was isolated on the desert floor, without hope of divine guidance in his life. Yet, precisely at his point of need, Jacob has a strange dream, consisting of a ladder, angels ascending and descending the ladder, and God’s voice speaking forth from heaven.
Begins to breath vision and life into his future
I am going to give you this land
And lots of them
I am going to be with you
And you will be blessed
And I will stay with to see that this word comes to pass
Jacob has just deceived his father, fled from his brother who wants to kill him
His future is looking bleak.
And in the hard place – as he takes a stone from the hard times and engages with the supernatural
God begins to speak into his future
Maybe as you read this you need to know that God is beginning to speak into your future.
That he wants you to engage afresh with him
An example is the The vision of Dry bones
Ez 47 – Can these bones live. And the breath of the Holy Spirit begins to blow on what was dead and they rise up a great army
Why is it that hard times seem to produce something in our life that is then useful for the kingdom
Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies – it cannot bring forth life.
The outer hard husk of the wheat grain must died and be broken in order for the life to germinate
It’s the same in our life
But it is up to us on how we react to the tough seasons of our life.
5) Jacob sees God at the top of the ladder
He learned via the vision of a ladder that communication between heaven and earth was possible. Angels ascending and descending between heaven and earth shows him that God’s “messengers” are plying God’s business constantly. But, to me, this is the best part: “And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God . . . I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest…I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of” (Gen 28:12-15 KJV).
1. “The Lord stood above it.” He is standing “above” our circumstances, problems, cares, our “pillows of stone.”
2. He is “the LORD God.” He is the Ruler of everything. There is no match to his power and might to save.
6) We need to wake v 16
Wake up the mighty men
May we “awake” from our complaining.
May we “awake” from our whining.
May we “awake” from feeling sorry for ourselves.
May we awake from making excuses.
May we “awake” from blaming others.
May we “awake” to a full awareness of God’s promise, provision and presence!
7) He then starts to say – Surely the lord is in this place. V16
How awesome is this place
In the hard times – we have to challenge ourselves about what we say.
What is the vocabulary of our life. Often in hard times, the words we speak become very negative.
8) Surely the Lord is in this place and I knew it not. V16
God is in the hard times – But we so often don’t know it.
He anoints the hard place and calls it the gateway of heaven
That just amazes me. Think about that. That the hard season that you are in right now – just may be the gateway to heaven for you
Luz – a place of deviation
Most scholars assume that the town Luz was named Almond Tree because the almonds that grew in its environs. There is no proof of that, however, and Luz may very well have been named after a “crooked and perverse generation” that lived there.
Hard times are an opportunity to deviate from the will of God or an opportunity to deviate toward the will of God.
From the plan that God has for your life. But we can turn these opportunities for deviation into a gateway into heaven.
9) He takes the rock and anoints it with oil
Olive oil has been a staple food in the Mediterranean for thousands of years, and some olive trees which are hundreds of years old still bear fruit. The process for making olive oil is relatively simple,.
The olive harvest is the first step in making olive oil. Traditionally, olive trees were beaten by hand to release the fruit, Once the olives have been picked, the clock starts ticking: they must be brought to an olive mill as soon as possible, or the acidity level will climb too high, ultimately affecting the flavor. After being brought to the mill, the olives are picked through to remove large branches and leaves, and then sent through a cleaner which removes dirt, leaves, and twigs, leaving plain olives behind.
The cleaned olives are run through a mill which turns them into a paste. Traditionally made olive oil still uses a stone grinder to mill olives,. The resulting paste is subjected to the malaxation process, which means that it is slowly mixed so that droplets of oil begin to adhere to other droplets in the mixture.
After being mixed, the olive paste is put under pressure to extract the liquid oil along with water from the fruit, leaving the paste or pomace behind. The olive oil is separated from the water, usually in a centrifuge, and the olive oil is bottled while the water is discarded. The resulting olive oil is called virgin, because it is made through a purely mechanical technique. Olive oil with acid levels measured at less than 1% is considered “extra virgin” and usually has a particularly rich and intense flavor. Olive oil with a higher acid level (1-3%) is labeled “virgin.”
Jacob pours out over the rock – the resultant oil of being olives being crushed and beaten
As we processed through life – the result of our life – if we allow the supernatural around our life – is that we will be oil for the use by the master.
I found the information about the acidity levels interesting. If we don’t come to God and allow him to work on us, then we become acidic
Toxic in the way we do life.
I want to be like extra virgin olive oil.
My life scripture is this
Ps 45:1 – My heart overflows with a good theme
9) Look at the change in attitude – How awesome is this place v 17
I want to look back at the tough times in my life and be able to say. – wow how awesome was that time as I met God and he took me to another level
He allows the presence of God to fashion his reaction
10) God was not his God at this stage
Notice too what it is that the Lord says, “I am the Lord the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac…” Notice that He is not yet Jacob’s God, but He is about to be when we get down to verse 21 (Gen 28:21).
I point that out because it displays how we normally come to God. Nobody chooses God – but that God comes first to them. 1 John 4:19 “We love, because He first loved us.” John 6:44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…” John 6:65 “… No one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”
Jacob, though he had grown up in the tents of his father Isaac had not taken Isaacs God as his own. So there is another lesson here. While we need to train our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren if we live so long – in the faith they must of their own accord make a decision to believe in and obey Jesus
11) He sets up a place – that he can look back on this hard place and see that that is where he met God
12) He then commits himself to God and commits to giving God a tenth of all he will possess in his lifetime.
My Prayer for you
Father God, I pray for the reader of this sermon right now. If they are going through a hard time, I ask that they have a powerful sense of your presence breathing vision into their future. Allow this tough season to be the gateway of heaven and as they cover themselves in the presence of God, may they always be sweet with no acidic attitudes that would spoil your work in their life. Amen
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