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Jacob's Ladder, The Gate of Heaven Bible Genesis 28

Updated on January 27, 2012

Jacob's Ladder

And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.

Jacobs takes a journey to Haran, to find a wife.

Isaac, the son of Abraham, had two sons, Jacob and Esau. Jacob, although the younger, was blessed because of his worthiness and given the "birthright" blessing from his father the prophet.

Once the birthright had been given, Isaac and Rebekah instructed Jacob to leave and go to the place of Rebekah's nativity, Haran. The reason for this instruction was actually two-fold, one being fear for his life because of the anger of his brother Esau, and the other, to search for a wife from within the covenant line. So, following his parents request, he set out and journeyed toward Padan-aram, to the house of Bethuel his mother's father.

Isaac gave Jacob all the blessings of Abraham.

As Jacob prepares to leave, his father Isaac bestows a further blessing on him, and with his prophetic view of the future makes him a promise;

"And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people;

"And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham" (Gen. 28:3-4).

With this blessing fresh on his mind, he sets out on his journey. As he travels he perhaps pondered this marvelous blessing given to him and the effects it would have on his life and on the lives of his posterity. As night was falling he prepared for sleep and took of the stones of the place and laid them for his pillow.

The scriptures are given to us to be studied with different levels of meaning and understanding. On the surface, we may see simply stones that Jacob used as a means of support for his head. Another layer of meaning could lead us to believe that the stones could be referencing Jesus Christ and His teachings. Another name for Chirst is that of "the living stone." if we ponder that perspective alone, Jacob could be demonstrating his submission to Christ and to His will, as he lay prostrate waiting to enter into HIs rest.

Jacob dreamed and saw a ladder.

"And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac:"

This ladder he saw was a symbol of the ascension of man, progressing from grace to grace until the goal, of returning to the Father, was achieved. It was a symbolic journey where each of the rungs of the ladder could be representative of the steps that needed to be taken to move upward in this process. Man must climb up one level at a time as he participates in the saving principles and ordinances of the gospel offered by the Lord, who stands at the top.

Jacob Enters Into A Covenant With The Lord

Next, Jacob hears the words of the Lord as he utters the same promises that were given to his grandfather Abraham, and his father Isaac.

" And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of."

This covenant relationship is a direct answer to the request Isaac made of the Lord when he pronounced the blessing on Jacob at the time of his departure from Canaan.

Jacob Shown His Future

In my opinion, it is at this time that Jacob is shown the future concerning his seed. This is a common process of revelation from the Lord, when dealing with his prophets. God revealed unto Adam all things concerning his posterity. Moses was taken up to a high mountain and shown all things from beginning to end. Enoch was high and lifted up, even in the bosom of the Father, and he beheld all nations of the earth before him and saw everything from the beginning to the end. The Book of Mormon prophets, Lehi and Nephi had similar experiences as they were taken to an exceedingly high place and shown the world from the beginning to the end.

We are given a clue that this may be the same procedure that is happening with Jacob as the Lord shows him his seed being spread abroad to the west, east, north, and south. Symbolically the references to the four directions are understood to mean the "four corners of the earth." Quite possibly, he is seeing the scattering of Israel that will happen in the future to his posterity. Also, with the statement made by the Lord promising to "be with Jacob in all places, to bring him to the land of his inheritance, and not rest until this is complete", could be an allusion to the gathering that will take place in the "latter days."

The Gate Of Heaven

The Salt Lake Temple.
The Salt Lake Temple.

Bethel, The House of the Lord, or Temple of God.

At the conclusion of his dream, he arose in the morning and sanctified the site of his vision with anointing oil and vowed, or covenanted, to live in complete harmony with God's will. He then promised to tithe all that he would come to possess to the Lord from whom all blessings are given. "Jacob realized that the covenants he made with the Lord there were the rungs on the ladder that he himself would have to climb in order to obtain the promised blessings-blessings that would entitle him to enter heaven and associate with the Lord." This is clearly a process of commitment on the part of Jacob.

Because he recognizes the importance of this covenant, and the holy nature with which it was administered, he sets apart the location as sacred, calling it Bethel. Bethel is a contraction of the word Beth-Elohim which literally means "the house of the Lord" or as the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints refer to it, The Temple of God.

The Temple is a spiritual apex in the life of a LDS person, where they have the privilege of participating in ordinances performed within its walls and entering into covenants that are viewed as a "step by step ascent into the eternal presence" similar to the concept of the ladder which Jacob saw.

His Work And His Glory- Immortality and Eternal Life

The Lord himself spoke of this process when he declared, "For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."

"Immortality" is promised to everyone unconditionally, because of the blessings of resurrection which was given because of the atonement of Christ. "Eternal life" is the process of ascension or sanctification that occurs through obedience to the principles and ordinances of the gospel. Through these principles and ordinances man is offered the possibility of climbing from one level of existence to that of another. This is done by obedience to the law which is affixed to the level it is given.

The Lord explains in Section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants (one of the four standard works of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), " All kingdoms have a law given; And there are many kingdoms; for there is no space in the which there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom. And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions. All beings who abide not in those conditions are not justified."

Therefore, the Lord makes it known that we will inherit the kingdom that has the law we are willing to obey. Our life here is a proving ground of trial and error where this is all worked out. This process of moving from one place to another is similar to the ascension or sanctification rungs on the ladder. Because of the mercy and grace which the Lord gives to all of His children, every person who has lived on this earth will have the chance to choose his place on the ladder. This was afforded us when we were given the gift of agency, no one can force us to take a step if we choose not to. The most glorious part of it all is that we will all be happy with whatever choice we make, this is the pure "Love of God" at its finest.


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