This devotional series focuses on communing with God, the One who is near, and exploring what it means to be “gates of heaven” on the earth. This idea presents itself in Genesis with Jacob, and in the New Testament through the life of Jesus and at Pentecost.
All of us can probably call to mind moments in life where we have felt out of our element, troubled, and disconnected. But our trouble does not equal trouble to the Lord. On what we might call one of our “worst days”, God remains at His best. Yes, He is a God of endless compassion and understands every drop of blood, sweat, and tears we shed, but our struggles do not inhibit His precision, His intentionality, or the clarity He communicates with.
Jacob’s Dream – The Gate of Heaven
In Genesis 28, we find Jacob in the middle of a 500-mile journey across a foreign land at his father Isaac’s command. He was fleeing the threats of his brother Esau and had deceived Isaac. He was most likely feeling the pain of knowing his connection to his family was currently tense and complicated. But something life-changing happens to Jacob through a dream God gives him.
Jacob went from being unaware of God’s presence, to vibrantly aware of God in His midst upon waking from his dream, where angels ascended and descended a ladder from heaven to earth: “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God (tabernacle); this is the gate of heaven.” (Genesis 28:16-17).
Jacob is the first character in scripture to commemorate his encounter with God by remembering the place where it occurred. The word “tabernacle” refers to a habitation, a dwelling place where life and worship abound. What’s fascinating is the way Jacob defines the house of God, as “the gate of heaven”. A gate is a transition place, in this case, a connection point between heaven and earth, where heaven’s activity touched earth and God’s presence changed the spiritual and natural realm.
The reality that we are most aware of will dominate our thinking, hoping, and living.
This is the first time we see an encounter with God described as “the gate of heaven”. We see this idea paralleled in the New Testament with Jesus and again at Pentecost. This phrase refers to being aware and connected to the full reality of God’s intentions on the earth, His capability, and His desire to work through our lives. Jacob’s dream caused a shift in his awareness that changed his perspective, enabled him to believe, and gave him a picture of what God’s activity on the earth looks like.
This story reveals another beautiful aspect of God’s nature: He is intently interested in making clear to us who we are, ahead of the priority of what He wants us to do.
He reminds Jacob where he has come from and infuses his perspective with a promise of what his life would look like: an established, ever-increasing family who would be a blessing to those around them, and territory larger than he could imagine as a dwelling place.
In a moment when Jacob probably felt weak and certainly alone, God caused him to feel seen and known by giving him this dream. God’s addresses Jacob as an individual, and according to the larger story he was a part of (his family line). It was important to the Lord that Jacob encountered and trusted God for himself, not just because his father (Isaac) and grandfather (Abraham) knew God.
Before “calling” Jacob to do anything, God affirms what we all long to know at our core – that he was seen, a part of a family, and would have a blessed inheritance that would bless others.
Pray & Reflect:
- Set aside 10 minutes and recall moments in your life that have been divine turning points. How did this shift your awareness of God, change your reality, or alter your thinking?
- Ask God to remind you who He says you are. Ask Him to share with you more vision for your personal future and your family’s future. Write down what He speaks and shows you. Ask Him to show you how the increase He will bring in your life will be a blessing to others.
- Even in moments of weakness and discouragement, God is close and is speaking. Are there things God has promised you or shown you that currently feel distant or impossible? Ask God to help you shift your thinking and bring you into greater awareness of His reality- where impossibilities bow, where angels are carrying out assignments from heaven, and where your life becomes a conduit for more God activity.
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