Bible Society of South Africa

Not Charlie’s but definitely a ladder full of angels - 8 March 2024

By Imogen Campbell

Bible text(s)

16Jacob woke up and said, “The LORD is here! He is in this place, and I didn't know it!”

Genesis 28:16GNBOpen in Bible reader

Jacob was on the run from his enraged elder brother whom he had aggrieved, when he ran straight into God.

Inclined to be a bit of a homebody, he found himself away from all that he had known. Completely out of his comfort zone and alone, he settled in under the starry sky with a stone for a pillow.

The spot was also a stone’s throw from modern-day Jerusalem. That night he had a dream. In it, he saw a staircase or ladder going all the way to heaven, while angels were ascending and descending on it. At the very top, stood the LORD and he said, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac.”

The LORD then told him that he would give Jacob the land on which he, Jacob, was lying. He reassured him and promised to be with and watch over him. The LORD also promised to bring him back to the land eventually.

Upon awakening, he had the realisation, that against all odds, God had been in that place. The next day he renamed it Bethel, which means house of God. Extraordinarily, he had stumbled upon the gate of heaven. At that point, Jacob made a vow to God as recorded in Genesis 28:20-22. He also promised to give back to God a tenth of all that God had given him.

What stood out about Jacob in this instance was his insistence on giving a tenth just like his ancestor Abram did in Genesis 14:18-20. The Bible records it as follows: “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.’ Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”

The well-known passage in Malachi 3 revealed hardened, disobedient hearts that did not respond generously. Interestingly, Malachi 3:10 urged, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

When both these men understood that they had been blessed by God, they responded by making an offer of or giving back a tenth. Instinctively, they understood this principle of obedience and sacrificial giving. In doing so, fully trusting his provision, they honoured God. Gate of heaven and floodgates of heaven. Interesting, don’t you think?

Prayer: Lord, help us to have hearts that not only understand how stupendous a privilege it is to be blessed by you, but to respond as the men of old have – in willingness, gratitude and generosity. Amen

Bible Society of South Africav.4.21.9
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