Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Genesis 28:1-22
And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.
The patriarch Jacob was a man rarely in solitude. His life was lived in rich association with others. The husband of four wives, Jacob fathered twelve sons, of whom were descended the tribes of Israel. He could not even claim solitude at birth, for he was the second-born of twin sons. It seemed that Jacob's life was destined to be lived in association with others. Even when he died, Jacob was buried in the cave of Machpelah with his parents, grandparents, and wife Leah.
There was one occasion, however, when Jacob was alone, quite alone. After he had purchased the birthright from his brother Esau and had deviously received his father's blessing, Jacob set out to seek a wife. His father charged him not to marry a Canaanite but to journey to distant Paddan-aram and take a wife of the daughters of Laban, his mother's brother. This provided the perfect excuse for Jacob to flee from the wrath of his cheated brother, who had vowed to kill him.
Exiled from home and running from revenge, this solitary wanderer traveled north from Beersheba toward Haran. He camped on a remote plateau near the city of Luz. Here Jacob had time to ponder the events of his early life. Would the God of Abraham and Isaac be the God of Jacob as well? Was the covenant to extend to him? A sense of loneliness crept over him. Fear that his brother had followed him made Jacob apprehensive. He saw the figure of Esau behind every tree and rock. Finally, sheer exhaustion caused him to sleep, even with nothing but a stone for his pillow.
During the night Jacob had a dream. This was no ordinary dream, but a revelation from God. Jacob saw a ladder set up on the earth which reached into the heavens. Upon the ladder were the angels of God ascending and descending. But the most amazing feature of the dream was that at the top of the ladder stood the Lord Himself saying, "l am the LORD God of Abraham . . . and, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places to which thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land, for I will not leave thee."
The words of God must have been music to Jacob's ears. The blessing which God had promised to Abraham and Isaac was now promised to Jacob as well. His lonely heart would never be lonely again. Jacob awakened with a start and gasped, "Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. . . . And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it" and called the place Bethel--the "house of God" (Genesis 28:18-19). Certainly this was a turning point in his religious life. When Jacob arose early that morning it was with a new attitude toward God. Jehovah was not some distant and unknowable god, but one who had been there, right in that very place. There was an open pathway of communication between God and men.
In essence, the revelation of this stairway to Jacob is a revelation of Jesus Christ. He is our ladder of communication to heaven. With regard to salvation, Jesus Christ is our stairway through the stars to the God of heaven. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me" (John 14:6). But the Lord Jesus is so much more. To the Christian Jesus Christ is a continual, well-worn pathway to God. The Apostle Paul expressed it so clearly: "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man, Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5). The ladder of communication between God and men is Jesus Christ. He is our go-between, our mediator, our ladder of prayer.
Jacob was astounded to learn that communication between God and men was possible. Yet armed with that knowledge, he was no longer lonely. The Father's "I am with thee" to Jacob is God's promise to all His heirs. Jesus said, "And lo, I am with you always" (Matthew 28:20). As the heir of God's promise we need never feel alone. We never are.
When in affliction's valley I tread the road of care
My Savior helps me to carry the cross so heavy to bear
Tho' all around me is darkness, Earthly joys all flown;
My Savior whispers His promise, Never to leave me alone!