Daily Word

Gateway to understanding | Genesis 28:10-17

10 Then Jacob departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 And he happened upon a particular place and spent the night there, because the sun had set; and he took one of the stones of the place and made it a support for his head, and lay down in that place. 12 And he had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

13 Then behold, the Lord was standing above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your descendants. 14 Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “The Lord is certainly in this place, and I did not know it!” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”

Hard night’s sleep

Genesis 28:10-17 (NASB)

Can you imagine a stone for a pillow? Just trying to sleep without a pillow on a soft bed is already a challenge! Jacob is running for his life to Heran (see map) after the events of the past chapter. He gets to this “particular place” and God speaks to him in a dream. It becomes Bethel, the “house of God”, the most mentioned city in the OT after Jerusalem.

The Ladder and the Lord

In his dream, Jacob sees a ladder extending from earth to Heaven with angels ascending and descending. “The ladder was a visible symbol of the real and uninterrupted fellowship between God in heaven and His people upon earth.” (planobiblechapel.org quoting Keil and Delitzsch) The author’s idea continues, with my modification: The needs, wants, and requests of men ascend up to the Lord while the assistance and protection of God descend to men.

The Lord is in Heaven (at the top of the ladder) receiving these requests, seeing these needs – and even wants and desires. He wisely and lovingly responds according to His will, for ultimately, it’s His will that is done (Matthew 6:10). “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28).

The promise

When Jacob is at a point of fear and uncertainty – especially as he is leaving the promised land, God meets him and gives him this promise. This is the most important part of the dream – the promise that the Lord will continue the promise He made to Abraham and Isaac. Jacob receives the promise of descendants and the land; it’s the same promise Abraham gave him earlier (Gen 27:28-29). This time, the promise is from God.

Jacob seems to put more significance on the location than the promise. But at least he’s starting to grow in his understanding.


  • What is the most uncomfortable night’s sleep you’ve ever had? I often find it’s the times I cannot sleep when the Lord speaks through His Word.
  • We need to be careful about dreams or visions that may come to us. Be sure to diligently check them against the Word. If you are weak in your knowledge of the Word, tell it to your pastor…and get strong in the Word!
Ladder to Heaven. Image from pxfuel.com
Jacob’s travels. Image from seektheoldpaths.com *

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