The Gate of Heaven

Genesis 28:17—July 19, 2020-  Zoom 16 Dr. David R. Denny

Introduction:  Today we will shadow Jacob as he sets off on a long journey of thousands of miles.  He is heading back to his roots, back to the Paddanaram, the Euphrates Valley area where Abraham grew up ,and where his relatives still lived.  It is an arduous trip that begins, up the seacoast of Palestine.  But what makes this excursion so unique is that Jacob, early in the journey, will stop at the very gate of heaven (Bethel).

            In our sermon today we will learn a simple but valuable truth—God is always near us.  He is not ‘off somewhere’ unknown to us.  He doesn’t not live far away as is depicted in ancient Egyptian pictures.  He is close by always, ready to listen to our cries, ready to come to our aid when we are weary, ready to guide uswhen we have lost our way.  That is the lesson today.  So let’s hurry and catch up with Jacob who has just set out to find a wife in Abraham’s village faraway.  (a simple outline—get a pencil at write it down as we go—And I will ost tht entire sermon on Blaktiepress.com.

1.  The Journey—Gen 28:10 tells us this:  “Then Jacob departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran.”  And just like that, an adventure of thousands of miles began.  Beersheba is south of Jerusalem.  Jacob begins there and follows the coastline north wondering if God is watching him, wondering if God cares.  

            *Your life journey began at a point in time, somewhere in the distant past.  Close your eyes for a minute.  Can you see the events of your past parading by in  your memory?  We’ve all been traveling like Jacob.  As we walk along our unique pathway in life, each step is unknown.  We walk by faith.  No one knows what today will bring.  None of us know how tomorrow will end.  Such was the case with Jacob.  He merely, as the Bible says in our text, “departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran.”  

2.  The Dream—After several days of travelling, Jacob stops at a “certain place” (v. 11) to rest for the night.  It is about 81 miles from Beersheba south of Jerusalem to Beitin, or as the Bible calls it, Bethel.  He had walked until the sun set.    That little detail tells us so much about the earnestness of Jacob.  He wasn’t wasting any time on this mission to find a bride.  He walked until the sun set.  

*There aren’t any lights where I live at night so when the sun sets you have to get home quick or the boogie man will get you.  When it’s pitch black, it’s time to get in the house.  And Jacob stopped after sunset, started a fire, propped up a rock pillow, and finally lay down to rest.  *Isn’t it a wonderful feeling after a long day around the house to just lay down and let the night sweep over you?  So it was for Jacob.  As he slept, he had a dream.  Dreams are windows to our soul.  They sometimes tell us about our lives, about our worries, about our aspirations.  When was the last time you had a dramatic dream?  –Jacob lay down upon his rock pillow, sighed deeply, and dreamed.  He saw a ladder reaching to Heaven and the angels of God were traveling up and down.  And he heard a voice from God speaking to him (Gen 28:13-15). 

3.  The Promise—As the dream unfolded, and the angels came and went, God makes several promises to Jacob–“I am with you and will keep you wherever you go… And I promise to get you back home safely with your bride” (Gen. 28:15).  

            God didn’t have to do that.  He didn’t have to make promises.  But it is the nature of God to help us on our journeys, and so He is generous with his promises.  And you can rest assured that these promises made to Jacob are valid for you as well:

            #1–I am with you.  #2. I will keep you wherever you go.  #3 I will get you safely home.  If you have some time after you get off Zoom, write these promises down and carry them with you today wherever you go:  REPEAT PROMISES—

4.  The Amazement—Now this brings us to the reaction of Jacob to this entire scene of the ladder and the angels and the voice of God and those marvelous promises.  Jacob sits up in the dark and his heart rings with amazement. 

  “Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.”(Gen. 28:16).  

Are you amazed by God anymore?  Are you amazed how God walks with you each day? Or have you become so used to your church traditions that you don’t really sense God’s presence anymore?  I want you to feel like Jacob did.  I want you to see the ladder touching your life.  I want you to want to jump and shout at what God is doing in your life today. 

            That last phrase is so powerful—“And I did not know it.”  Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.”  When Jacob stopped that night after the sun set, and found a rock for his pillow, and laid down to rest for the night, he didn’t know that God was there.  He didn’t know it.  But God was there all along.  

            And that brings me back to our main lesson for this sermon—God is always near us.  And so He is, whether we acknowledge Him or not—He is near us.  Whether we pray or not—He is near us.  Whether we call upon Him  or not—He is near us.  

            Jacob sat up like a bolt in the middle of the night and said, with amazement, “I didn’t even know God was here!”  (Take some time to find God today.  Speak to Him.  He is close by.  Just call upon Him and listen for His voice).

5.  The Dedication—And so our story closes with Jacob drifting off back to sleep amazed at his new discovery.  And as the ladder faded away into the bosom of the night, Jacob dedicated himself anew to his service to God.  He built an altar, poured oil upon it, and promised to serve and honor God for the rest of his life.

Conclusion:

Will you do the same?  Let today be your “ladder” day. Be amazed at God’s presence in your life. Dedicate yourself anew to the Savior today. 

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