“Jacob dreamed, and behold a ladder was set on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the LORD stood above it and said ‘I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth … and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed…’” (Genesis 28:12-15).
Let’s observe …
1. There is a great chasm between earth (man) and heaven (God). Sin separates man from God (Isaiah 59:1-2), one’s own personal sin (Ezekiel 18).
2. Since man could not overcome this chasm by himself, God provided a way. God made available a ladder to span the chasm, so that all the families of the earth could be blessed. The blessing in view is reconciliation which comes through the forgiveness of sin (Genesis 12:3; 28:14 cf. Acts 3:25-26). Note: There is not one hint of limited atonement to be found here. Access to this blessing, and heaven itself is available to all (Acts 10:34-35; Galatians 3:26-28; 1 Timothy 2:4-5; Titus 2:11; Hebrews 2:9; 2 Peter 3:9, etc.).
3. Christ is the ladder (John 1:51). Jesus referenced this passage in His conversation with Nathanael. He affirmed that the ladder was “the Son of Man” (John 1:51), which is a reference to Himself (cf. Matthew 9:6; 16:13; 17:9; 17:22; 20:18; 26:2; 26:24; John 13:31, etc.). Jesus descended through Jacob (Matthew 1:11-ff; Luke 3:23-ff). It is through Him, all people can be blessed (Genesis 12:3; 28:14 cf. Acts 3:25-26).
4. Notice that God did not mention multiple ladders. Only one ladder is mentioned. Christ is man’s only means of access to the Father. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Again, He said, “you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). Peter preached, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Paul wrote, “there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). Buddha nor Mohammed will not do. Christ is man’s only access to heaven.
5. The angels descending and ascending represent communication. The term “angel” literally means “messenger”. In this case, it seems that a figure of speech (metonymy) is being employed whereby the word “messengers” is being used of “messages”. (a) Through Jesus, God communicated with man (Hebrews 1:1-2). Jesus is called “The Word” (John 1:1; 1:14; 1 John 1:1; Revelation 19:13). (b) Through Jesus man can access the Father in prayer (John 16:20; Hebrews 4:14-16; 1 John 2:1; 1 Timothy 2:5). Jesus is our bridge between God and man.
The dream of Jacob finds fulfillment in Jesus (John 1:51). How thankful we should be that God let a ladder down from heaven giving us access into the heavenly realm! “Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15).