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Ladder to Heaven - House of God

Updated on March 26, 2016

People learn by hearing, seeing or doing. They say the very best method of learning is by doing. Spirituality can sometimes seems obscure and esoteric but a painting is not just worth a thousands words, a painting if well done can evoke a sense of emotion and awake our soul. Journey with me as we explore Jacob's dream of a ladder to heave and then see a painting from the 12th century depicting the ascent into heaven. Learn about a masterpiece painting called the Golden Stairs that resides in the Tate Museum in Great Britain. Most importantly ponder where you are in your spiritual journey, what distractions have you seen, what set backs have you encountered and how the visual ladders and stairs can help you focus on what is really important - your relationship with God.

Jacob's Dream at Bethel

If you will recall the first book of the bible talks about a place that Jacob named Bethel. The meaning of Bethel is "holy place" or "house of God". To quote Genesis:

"He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. ... When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”.

— Genesis 28:10-22

After Jacob awoke, he named that place Bethel - meaning holy place or house of God.

He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. ... When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”.

— Genesis 28:10-22

Jacob's Dream by William Blake c.1805

Jacob's Dream by William Blake (c. 1805, British Museum, London)
Jacob's Dream by William Blake (c. 1805, British Museum, London)

The Dream of Jacob c. 1835

The Dream of Jacob (1835 painting by the school of Francesco Solimena)
The Dream of Jacob (1835 painting by the school of Francesco Solimena)

Golden Staircase by Sir Edward Coley Burne Jones c. 1880

Golden Staircase by Burne Jones
Golden Staircase by Burne Jones | Source

The Golden Stairs

Sir Edward Copley Burne Jones started the exquisite oil on canvas painting in 1876. It went on display in 1880. Originally this work was going to be called either "The King's Music" or "The Music on the Stairs". The title of the painting ended up being the "Golden Stairs" and can be seen at the Tate Museum in Great Britain.

Because the beautiful figures are holding musical instruments but are not playing, this painting provides a wonderful sense of anticipation. This painting also has a memorizing set of harmonies of golds and silvers. The architecture of the stairs creates a visual reminiscent of musical scale. Sir Edward Burne Jones is well known for his sense of mystery and these young ladies offer a classical view but also further a contemplative view of mystery. Because the young beautiful ladies are not engaged in conversation, because each appears to be in their own world, the painting lends itself to personal introspection along the stairway of life that we all journey. The figures and the architecture are beautifully married all with a sense of anticipation and important passing of time and progression of time.

It is symbolic that these young women are together on the staircase but enveloped in their own contemplative thoughts further buoying the viewer to analyze both the painting and our own personal spiritual journey.

The Ladder of Divine Ascent - Christian Life as a Ladder with Thirty Rungs

12th century - The monks are tempted by demons and encouraged by angels, while Christ welcomes them at the summit.
12th century - The monks are tempted by demons and encouraged by angels, while Christ welcomes them at the summit. | Source

In this icon we have Christ in the upper right hand corner receiving pilgrims into heaven. On the bottom, left of center, we have the mouth of hell open to those who abandon the ladder and chose the easy open-air path to destruction. One of the many reasons that this icon is so effective is that it makes very clear that there are only two trajectories. Each pilgrim is either moving up, or headed down.

— spiritualdirection.com

Had you thought about a ladder having just two trajectories before?

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Ladder Has Two Trajectories

In the 12 century, yes that is around the 1100's, there is a painting of a ladder with 30 rungs, these 30 rungs were thought to be humankind's progression to heaven. The painting shown above also details the travail and the temptations given to us along each rung of the ladder.

As you will hear later on in this hub, the author of the website spiritualdirection.com details how we must guard against "cruise control" in our lives and be on point constantly to actively strive to be closer to God.

A ladder is a tool that is very simple and in function it has only two trajectories so the symbolism of our spiritual journey is very clear. We a fought with distractions throughout our life but our goal should simply be to move upward. Here is a better description of this 12th century painting:

"In this icon we have Christ in the upper right hand corner receiving pilgrims into heaven. On the bottom, left of center, we have the mouth of hell open to those who abandon the ladder and chose the easy open-air path to destruction. One of the many reasons that this icon is so effective is that it makes very clear that there are only two trajectories. Each pilgrim is either moving up, or headed down."
Read more: http://www.spiritualdirection.com/2014/02/05/two-trajectories-of-the-soul#ixzz441HP8756


The Ladder and Our Daily Walk With God

While the ladder is typically thought of as an item for carpenters and painters, as we have seen both in scripture and Jacob's ladder and in many iconic paintings, the ladder is also a term that can be used to symbolize our personal connection to God. God is in heaven and our ladder to him, our connection to God is through our church's congregation, through our meditation, through our daily devotional readings.

We need to set a standard of excellence in our lives and being connected to God is the single most important part of our lives here on earth. Our connection with heaven, the rungs we traverse are even more important than our daily hygiene. We wouldn't go a day without combing our hair or brushing your teeth. Yet all too often we get too busy to take time to thank God let alone take time to praise him. Include God in your daily life, he does wish to speak with you and become a larger part of your life.

In the NIV translation of the Bible, the term "stairway" is used instead of ladder. The word ladder appears in the King James Version, New King James Version, English Standard Version, and New American Standard Bible.

— http://christianity.about.com/

Take Time with a Task and Listen

I know our lives are busy - plan a task while one of the sermons is playing. Fold clothes, polish your utensils, paint your nails, hand write thank you notes. Take time with a task and listen!

Ladder of Heaven = House of God

In one of my favorite sermons Dr. Robert Bardin stated the gate or the ladder to heaven was the house of God. Whatever gate or ladder works for each of us - the veil between heaven and earth is very thin and we must take each rung of life with great preparation and caution.

Angels on the Stairway

My great, great Grandmother died one month before I was born. I have only one item from her - an ancient photo, of what appears to be a pencil drawing of angels on the stairway. I love that painting and amazingly no one in my family wanted it but me. I like to think it was set aside just for me. It is old but very well done. Probably worth nothing even thought it is a true antique - yet it means the world to me. It reminds me of God and how close he really is to us.

Thanks to the convenient access of the internet, I have recently learned the painting I love so much is actually a photograph of a famous English oil by Sir Edward Copley Burne Jones. The painting is called the Golden Stairs. And to my delight I found that the painting actually exists in full color at the Tate Museum in Great Britain. And best yet, it is available for reproduction.

Feel God's Love

The greatest number of hits I have on these pages have been from the search terms Feel God's Love. The stairs, the ladders, whatever you wish to call this journey are simply a way to feel God's love - to be closer to him, to strive for a higher rung on that 30 rung wooden ladder.

Search for Home - Silver Slippers Brought Me Here

One of the greatest books ever written was about silver slippers and the search for home and love and comfort. Dorothy clicked her ruby red slippers (the movie version was red - the book was written for silver slippers!) and three times she stated that there is no place like home.

God is home with you - he is calling. He wants to be with you as much as you do - perhaps even more.

The yellow brick road is sometimes filled with obstacles complete with flying monkeys and scary witches who call us names. Yet, within all of us - all of the time, we have the silver slippers given by God.

God is always with us - it is we who move away from God, it is our job to traverse to a higher rung.


The perfect "ladder" is Jesus Christ, who was God come to earth to save humanity. Jesus refers to himself as this ladder in John 1:51: "And he (Jesus) said to him, 'Truly, truly I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.'" (ESV)

— http://christianity.about.com/

Commit to Perpetually Pursue Spiritual Progress Toward Heaven

There is much wisdom in this simple admonition that is worth elaboration and reflection:

  1. We should commit to perpetually pursue spiritual progress toward heaven. This progress is marked by an ever deepening relationship with God in prayer, and increasing virtue.
  2. We should fear exceedingly if we ever find ourselves lacking in clear progress. This godly fear will lead us into corrective action and a rededication of effort.
  3. The enemy is seeking to entrap those who do make and keep this commitment – and even more so those who suffer under the delusion that they can relax in the quest for union with God.
  4. Love never rests until it is fully engaged with its object – love never stops seeking to give itself to the other – in this case both God and his people.
  5. If we ever find ourselves, over any significant period of time, failing to realize progress in prayer, virtue, and love of God and neighbor, we should recognize this as a “very bad sign” and work with urgency to get back on a track of growth.

What is the trajectory of your soul?


Read more: http://www.spiritualdirection.com/2014/02/05/two-trajectories-of-the-soul#ixzz441JStnVr

Daily Devotional - Strive for the Upper Rungs of the Ladder

Whatever connection you choose to access God, whether it is by music, reading the Bible or reading a book that walks you through the Bible, God is here today and wants to connect with you. You must have an open heart and be still in order to know that there is a ladder waiting for you every day. Take the time today to devote one small portion of each day to your spiritual health and you will find the ladder to heaven that God has provided just for you.

© 2010 ALL4JESUS

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    • fred allen profile image

      fred allen 8 years ago from Myrtle Beach SC

      Thank you for making me aware of this resource. I will check out the things I wish Jesus didn't say. I desire to see the truth about who I am and be challenged to be more like Him. Sounds like you are being fed by a true man of God. Glad I read this.

    • ALL4JESUS profile image
      Author

      ALL4JESUS 8 years ago from USA

      Heart4theword,

      Never had I until I did the research for this Hub. The internet continues to surprise me - delightful to find a special find to share. Thank you so much for stopping by. God bless you and your family.

    • heart4theword profile image

      heart4theword 8 years ago from hub

      Thank you:) Really enjoyed this video now, on Heaven's Gates! The wording in this song is so awesome:) Don't know that I've ever heard of this song, or Robin Mark? Thanks for finding a video that shares the written words:)

    • ALL4JESUS profile image
      Author

      ALL4JESUS 8 years ago from USA

      You are absolutely correct about everything! A special thank you for reminding me about the videos - I have added videos - you keep me on my toes! Thank you very much!

      The Carrie Underwood is a delight. Glad to share.

    • heart4theword profile image

      heart4theword 8 years ago from hub

      Didn't see any video's? So sorry to hear, you didn't get to meet your Grandmother. It sounds like, one day you will meet her on the stairway to heaven? What a glorious day that will be, maybe she can introduce you to Jesus:)

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