Dr. Kluane Spake
“Whatever is true belongs to me as a Christian.” Justin Martyr
There’s no pre-defined way that God communicates to us. It’s always individual. Throughout the Old Testament times, the Spirit came and went. God was not revealed to them on a continual basis. The Bible tells of diverse ways that God spoke: through angels, bushes, donkeys, husbands, fleeces, prophets, thunder, wives, soft winds, manuscripts, visions, dreams, and many strange people, etc. His voice was like a still, small whisper or the rushing of many waters.
Jacob detoured on his way to find "THE PLACE" of finding divine communication (Gen. 28:11). This “place” for Noah was where he sacrificed after the flood. To Abraham, this PLACE was upon the Mt. Moriah, where he bound Isaac on the altar (Gen. 22:9) The PLACE was the field where Isaac returned to pray. But Jacob brought the idea of “connection” within our reach and called this place the “HOUSE of God" (Gen. 28:17).
We remember how Jacob traveled upon perilous trails and rutted footpath that only a few adventurers would dare. These treacherous routes led Jacob across barren countryside alone. In the cool of night, the ground became his bed and a rock his pillow (Gen. 28). Just imagine – sleeping in a dangerous place and then awakening the next morning with a totally different perception. That’s what happened to Jacob when he dreamed about the LADDER that connected earth and heaven.
We all know about ladders. Many of us have been really busy trying to climb up the proverbial corporate church ladder and become successful. Many of our ladders have become a treadmill of ritual and trying to step above. We look for higher revelation, but that only keeps us in frustration because we’re without application. Jacob's dream provides us with a promise metaphor to help us realize that we don’t have to remain at the bottom of the ladder. We can begin to climb that same ladder of spiritual awareness.
Jacob was born about 1700 BC. He was the son of Isaac and the grandson of Abraham. Jacob was born a trickster – he wrestled his twin in Rebekah’s womb and was born second while grasping Esau’s heel. The next scam happened the day Esau came home exhausted after hunting and found Jacob cooking lentil soup. Esau traded his firstborn birthright to Jacob in trade for a bowl of soup (Gen 25:32). Later, as Isaac approached death, Jacob pretended to be Esau, and received his father's birthright blessing. This blessing gave Jacob the right to inherit the lands of Canaan, and to become the third patriarch of the entire nation of Israel. Infuriated, Esau threatened to kill Jacob. As a result, Jacob soon departed to live in Haran with Rebecca’s brother, Laben. It was during the trip to Haran, that he had a dream.
Millenniums before Sigumd Freud wrote his book on interpreting dreams, Jacob understood the dream about the ladder. He awoke saying, "God was in this place and I did not know it" (Gen. 28:16). This dream instructed Jacob on how to maintain hope in a distant land. Even though he had obtained the birthright by illegitimate means, it was God’s intention for him to have that blessing.
LADDER: As Jacob looked upon the ladder, he saw that it connected into heaven . Please note that it does not say "set in the ground, but towards the ground, which indicates that the anchoring is from the heavens above, and from there it declines downward to the earth
There, angels ascended and descended upon the rungs. It was here in this place (Peniel, meaning “I have seen God face to face,” Gen. 32:30) that Jacob erected a stone pillar so that he could again find that GATEWAY place with a ladder. The miracle is not that just that there was a ladder. The miracle was that Jacob could SEE the ladder and understand the manner in which God communicated to men.
Jewish TRADITION tells us of a twelve step ladder representing his yet unborn twelve sons. At the top of this ladder, Jacob/Israel saw a huge face with shoulders and arms all “carved out of fire” and standing at a glorious throne of splendor. Twenty four seraphim and cherubim surrounded the face of the Lord that emitted “incandescent sparks” of light and fire. This was the God that made skies from the Glory of His name. This encounter changed the character and personality of Jacob -- he was never again the same.
Jacob was terrified. He whispered in awe, “Incredible. Wonderful. Holy. This is (#1)God's House. This is the (#2) GATE (entrance opening) OF HEAVEN!”(Gen. 28:17). Jacob discovered the OPEN heavens. Jacob understood that heaven contained the presence of God. He understood that the Ladder was the “Gate of heaven” and the only way into the presence of God. (The word ladder in several ancient translations is closely related to the word kabod (glory). Gen. 28 says, “In truth, the Glory of the Shekinah of the Lord dwells in this place and I did not know it.)
Jacob said “Dreadful (INCREDIBLE)” this means it was an awesome place. Translating this into the human realm is shown through our apprehension of reverential worship. Through reverence, we learn to live optimally on earth – as it is in heaven. HERE and NOW we ascend and descend. We go IN (to heavenlies) and OUT (upon the earth) and find pasture (places of feeding, (***). The manifestation of this astonishing LADDER between heaven and earth requires the founding of hallowed concepts that we are only now beginning to define.
HOUSE OF GOD = God lives in His HOUSE. We finally understand what was told to Jacob. It is fascinating that Jacob called the place "Bethel" which is Hebrew for House of God. Jesus is the new "Bethel;" God's dwelling place (Gen. 28:17; John 1:14). We become His HOUSE as well (2 Cor. 5:2, Heb. 3:6, 1 Pet. 2:5).
Jacob’s ladder is the archetype of all Temples. It has a kitchen (central courtyard) with sink –(laver) and oven (the altar), a "living room" (the sanctuary of the Holy Place) with its golden "lamps" and table (the Showbread Table). The "bedroom" is the Holy of Holies, the intimate place of the Shechinah (Divine Presence).
Because God dwells and abides (tabernacles) in us, we are His House (Eph. 2:19, 1 Pet. 2:4-5). We are the “many mansions” (mone in Greek, His permanent places of abiding ***. Because of Jesus, we (God’s house) are the “GATE OF HEAVEN” for others. The LADDER in heaven materializes on earth as we demonstrate the Glory of Christ’s likeness. When our mind realizes that Jesus allows us to become God’s house, it (our mind) becomes the entry way for heavenly reality to become visible on earth. The understanding of who we are IN GOD becomes the gate of entry for power and dominion.
GATE OF HEAVEN = Residing in Heaven (paradise on earth) becomes a conscious embracing of the reality of God’s presence and astonishing POWER in our midst. By apprehending redemptive thinking, we move closer and closer to SEEING the way things really are. We uncloak new stratospheres of possessing perpetual life with God. We are The expression of God’s glory and the LADDER leads us from Glory to GLORY.
Above the ladder hovered God’s ongoing promise to bless Jacob and his descendants and to give them the land. Jacob was promised on this occasion that his seed would generate a future line of kings that eventually became the dynasty of David and Solomon (Gen 28:13-14 NKJ).
BETHEL: In Luz, Jacob dreamed. He renamed that place Beth-EL (meaning the House of El). Jacob’s name was changed to ISRA-EL. El was one of God’s redemptive titles such as, El Elyon, El Shaddai, etc. In the Sumerian language, El means the “Shining One.” (His name Is-ra-EL means a soldier of El). All the arch angel’s names ended with EL. Gabri-EL, Micha-EL, etc.
Our mind races ahead, remembering the unfolding story and further encounters.
Jacob search for a bride and ended up an even greater encounter. Jacob marries twice – first to Leah and then after many years to Rachel, the one he loved. During this time, he wrestles with another angelic encounter.
Early Slavonic records translated from the ancient 1st century Aramaic writings amplify this story. Jacob asks the angel for his name (Gen. 32:29). According to alternative Jewish renditions of this story, the wrestling with the angel identified himself as Sariel, also known as Uriel and Phanuel. Jacob asks Sariel to help him translate the dream. (Many scholars think that the name Phanuel and Peniel are etymologically related.) In many ancient accounts, Sariel is identified as “The chief of four celestial princes who give God praise and joy.” According to Jewish traditions, this angel touched Jacob’s thigh and caused a limp. Then Sariel guided Jacob into being able to discover and understand his heavenly distinctiveness and identity which was incorporated in his being renamed Israel.”
Jacob refused to stop wrestling and let go until he could first received a blessing. The stranger replied "Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed" (Gen 32:28). Israel means "he who strives with God." Jacob insisted upon receiving a legitimate blessing… one he had not stolen.
After accumulating much property and riches, Jacob decides to return to Canaan. He secretly leaves Laben’s in order to escape. Laben was the arch swindler and deceiver who symbolizes the force crated in us that tries to prevent our return to the Promised Land. Laben works through our not realizing who we really are – our false identity. Time and time again, it turns out that Laben actually intended something entirely different from what it appeared he meant on the surface (Gen. 31:47). Jacob’s previous inner dishonesties were addressed by Laben’s dishonesty. Each one of us has to cleanse ourselves of lifetime of inner Labens that we chased after – the personal phantoms that only sadly deceived us.
Jacob sent messengers to Esau telling of his return and asking, “that I may find grace in thy sight." (Gen. 32:3-5). How did Esau even know that he was near? Why did he have an army of 400? Was he watching me all those years? "Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed" (Gen. 32:7).
In this message, Jacob refuses to press the claim of his stolen birthright. Instead of requiring that Esau should "bow down" unto him, he refers to Esau as "his lord" and Jacob takes the place of a servant! This message was easy to understand. Jacob looked for grace – he had not come to the double portion, nor even to seek their father's inheritance. God had given him all the world's goods he could want.
It is at this juncture that heavenly hosts appear again. The LADDER had already brought angels into his life the first time in Haren. Angels came again as Jacob left Haren to return to his land. Angels again appear now in order to help enforce the relationship with his brother. Because Jacob still feared seeing Esau again after their unfortunate youth.
"And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him." The word "met" here suggests that the angels not only "became visible," but they "met" him. These angels then came forward to greet him and to welcome him back home. Jacob saw two protective heavenly encampments of angels. (We see the progression here. He went from dreaming about angels to actually seeing them). Jacob described this situation by saying, “This is God's army.” He named that place “Mahanaim” (Gen. 31;52, 32:2, Jos.13:26, 30, 21:38, 2 Sam. 2:8, 12, 29, 17:24, 17:27, 19:32, 1 Kg. 28, 2:14, 1 Chron. 6:80, SOS 6:13). “Mahanaim” literally means “the double camp of two armies dancing!” In other words, Jacob saw the angels (the armies of heaven) dancing together!
God spoke even in a louder way, in the joy that was experiences when Jacob saw God in Esau's forgiving face (Gen. 33:10).
Centuries later, heaven opened once again when John the Baptist heard that Voice (Matt. 3:16-17). Since the baptism of Jesus, HEAVEN HAS NEVER CLOSED. At the same instant that heaven opened, the Word began His earthly ministry. Jesus become the LADDER of connection. He is the Ladder by Whom we climb up to into the spiritual arenas.
We must not try to climb up some other way. “He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber” (Jn. 10:1). The linking Ladder told Nicodemus, "No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man" (John 3:13, see also Mk. 14:62). Jesus is the ONLY means by which we can ascend to the heavenlies. As He (the tabernacle of God with men) arrives more fully, we see that the heavens remain open to give us constant communication kept up between heaven and earth.
Jesus said that Nathaniel had no guile! (John 1:47). The word Jesus used for "guile" means he had no deceit." Nathaniel wasn’t like Jacob, who made use of double dealings and pretense. Jesus declared Nathanael to be a true son of Abraham (and Isralite), inwardly in spirit.
Jesus identified Nathaniel, "When you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Only Jesus knows our heart, but He can do more than understand us. He provides the way to heaven and because of His unbroken communion with the Father. Nathaniel saw Jesus to be the Son of God Who had come down as a man. God and man met in Jesus (the Son of Man) – the Ladder.
Jesus explaines that The Son of Man was God's link with the earth (Dan. 7:13; Matt. 26:64). He alone provides a means for us to enter and ascend into God's presence. Nathaniel was promised to see even greater power than he had realized before. This same promise endures for us as well. Christ takes us beyond our tendency to sin and brings us (through His death) into His resurrection (Rev. 4:1, 13:8; 19:11).
Jesus told Nathaniel that he would see the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man. This could also be referring to "messengers" or those preaching the Gospel (but it probably also mean actual angels). They are “ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them who are heirs of salvation” (Heb. ***). It seems very possible that they may help take men up the ladder -- even perhaps like the beggar was carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:22).
LADDER: Perhaps this twelve runged ladder could also represents the salvation progression of our lifetime as we ascend on earth. Each step (rung) has specific consequences. RUNGS are what allow the two poles to connect (to heaven from earth). The angels stand and move upon the rungs. What happens at this extraordinary and awesome connecting of rungs? Reconnecting the rungs of our life is the process of our salvation, the reconnecting to the fullness of eternal life. Like the angels, we progress from rung to rung, not standing on the same rung forever. In this analogy, the ladder represents our covenantal life process of reaching the Lord, in ascending steps of regeneration:
11. God likeness --
10. Transformation of our mind
9. Increasing liberty & spiritual awareness
8. Increasing faith that brings us into the Spirit of Life.
7. Salvation. Process of regeneration begins
6. Spiritual awareness
5. Rational awareness
4. Emotional awareness
2. Physical awareness
We wake up to Reality. Salvation begins life in the spiritual world. The ladder becomes the momentous revelation of our regeneration, the point of the Incarnation of Christ in us – coming into our WHOLE being, (spirit, soul, and body). The ladder has grown from a seed of a dream and into mature believers now grounded in certainty and conjoined with the Creator.
Once again, Jesus (in us) is the connection (the Ladder) that brings heaven to earth. Jesus (the Ladder) brings us into perception of unknown spiritual Truths and then shows us how to “translate” and communicate these revelations. This is our Gateway to hearing fresh revelation from the Lord. Jesus (the light that pierced the darkness) gave us the ability to show forth His light. No longer do we have to go to a specific geographical location to find a ladder. Heaven is open and lighted everywhere we go.
Surely, the Glory of this latter “house” (us) will exceed the former (***). This progression to a superjacent spiritual reality causes us to function more effectively and at a higher level. Correct concepts SEE the entrance to heaven (wherever God dwells) as OPEN. Christ in us is the avenue through which angels come. Our assignment is to bring this reality of heaven into the visible realm of this earth. We must reframe our mindset. We are the house of God.
The Incarnation of the continuing coming and presence of Christ (Matt. 28:20) in us, establishes fellowship with the seen and unseen. The Coming of the Lord in the flesh is both a coming from within outwards and a returning from without to inward. This is a brand new consciousness of Christ in us (plural). The circulation of purpose becomes perfected when heaven and earth meet within the corporate Bride. He comes in and through us to come for us.
Angels (going up and down the ladder) carry out the will of God by "moving" from the heavenlies "down" to earth and then back "up" to heaven and granting us spiritual in-SIGHT. The Lord connects angels and people together through Him, so that we can communicate. Angels minister to us as heirs; they climb upon our Ladder, because the Kingdom of Heaven is WITHIN us (Lk. 17:21). We ascend into the incredible presence of the Lord Himself, and draw closer as we partake (commune) in this most holy act of worship. And, “this is the gate of heaven."
As Solomon spoke to the Schulamite, the Lord also speaks to us in the clefts of the rock, in the secret (places) of the stairs (SOS 2:14). Stairs are also the LADDER that ascends to our Lover. The way to the stairs has been hidden (secret) and now revealed in us corporately. The Bridegroom brings the BRIDE to the secret place (of the stairs) -- to the Bridal chamber and intimacy. Jacob described this very PLACE -- “Mahanaim”(SOS 6:13) -- “the double camp of two armies in heaven dancing together!