We should begin by first giving God credit for this prophetic-allegorical dream instead of just writing it off to Jacob’s poor choice of pillows. A stone? What was he thinking?
Would you like to have an encounter with God like this; something that would establish and confirm you, a promise-laden word that would direct and motivate you? I would like to serve as a spiritual investment advisor and offer a side-by-side comparison to the deal Jacob had with God and the deal we have with him.
I confess, it is tempting to want to see angels in my dreams and hear words in my sleep and to have physical places in the earth where I can point and say, “That place is sacred because God met me there”; so I can say, “I will always remember that day!” There is nothing wrong with these things. I know people who have had encounters with God at least as dramatic as Jacob’s. However, those who have and who go on to walk with the Lord do not point back to those events in time as the sustaining force of their lives.
While we look in awe at Jacob and the old testament bible characters, I think they look down upon us as that great cloud of witnesses and would like to suggest that we take a bit closer and more appreciative look at the covenant that we have now with God. In truth, the great men of old knew they were only getting a foretaste of something that was to come. Jesus once confided to his intimates…
“Turning to the disciples, He said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see, for I say to you, that many prophets and kings wished to see the things which you see, and did not see them, and to hear the things which you hear, and did not hear them.” (Luke 10:24)
Why would Jesus say this? Wasn’t this a little demeaning to his forefathers? It might seem so unless, like Jesus, you knew that you yourself were the fulfillment of any and every worthy dream they or any man had ever dreamed.
We have so much Jacob would have loved to possess. We have new hearts that have been cleansed rendering the need for animal sacrifices unnecessary. He did not. While Jacob was a nomad living in fear of marauders, we are not. Instead we have been joined together in one body in Christ. At Bethel heaven was being accessed via ladder by God’s angelic servants. Granted, most of us lack this kind of real estate. However, while Jacob had an isolated visitation from God, we have become the temple of God. Our hearts have in a real sense become Bethel’s in their own right, where heaven has once again been reconnected to earth right in our human hearts. Of all places! We are now the conduit of heaven to earth!
I believe there is a day coming for Christ’s Body that has been made one with God, whose members have all been sovereignly joined together into existing networks around the earth, where our vastly superior identity and covenant will dawn upon us and we will jointly say….
“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it!”
God’s kingdom has come and is coming and its expansion has and always will rest on the mysterious revelation of Christ in us the hope of glory. That human beings, instead of a temple or place or events have become the habitation of God is the scandalous mysterious truth we have yet to corporately embrace and experience. Yet it is Christ alone on who the Kingdom will be built.
Every haughty human idea that has exalted itself above the knowledge of God is destined to bow its knee to Jesus Christ. We are not incorrect in saying that these vain godless philosophies make up the spirit of this age. One thing between our current status and a kingdom growth spurt is the darkness that still blinds the Bride of Christ. We will have to humble ourselves and acknowledge that many of these haughty ideas are lodged in our own hearts where we have insisted on putting our temporal spin on eternal things so that we can manage and control them. Can we really harness the wind?
Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things. (Ecclesiastes 11:5)
To Peter (and us?) Jesus said, “When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old you’ll have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don’t want to go.”
Let’s wrap up the cost-benefit evaluation we are doing on the deals we make with God. Jacob was negotiating with God. “If you will do this, then I will call you my God. And, if these conditions are agreeable to you, then I will give you a 10th of all that I have.” The if/then spirit of this negotiation is alien to the new covenant that we have been offered by God in Christ.
God does not promise us earthly treasure if we do this or that. He does not bless us because we adhere to old testament calendars and precepts. The Old Covenant, with its Law and traditions were all completed in Christ. Everything that was promised in those old agreements is now totally available to use around-the-clock and around-the-calendar in Christ. Those who tie their anticipation of blessings and prosperity to the faithfulness of their tithe are undermining the grace of God and the fulness of Christ as their all in all. How can Christ be our all in all when we feel we must always do more an more in the way of compliance?
While Jacob’s deal has been negotiated for 10%. Christ will require 100% of us to receive and live out the free gift of grace we have been given. The cost will seem as nothing one day. He offers us an eternal inheritance that includes a new identity in Christ. That is much more than his promise to Jacob! On the merits of Christ alone (without a single if), he still says
I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and
I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.
I believe that when our hearts grasp the nowness of our current deal with God our stories will consequently reflect the nowness of our Father’s kingdom intentions. When this happens something will shift in the battle that God is waging through us for this earth. When we hear the Body of Christ say with increasing unity,
“Surely the Lord is in this place (my heart), and I did not know it.”
the winds of warfare will shift and the kingdom of God will expand in unprecedented ways as it was forecast to so long ago.
Father, While it is surely going on, help us to see that there is still something immensely better than the comings and goings of angels as we realize the import of the Holy Spirit’s immediate presence in our lives. Help us to look in awe at our own hearts and to realize our eyes are truly blessed to see Christ, the mystery of the ages. Help us to see that in Christ, we have been established and affirmed, motivated and directed to see that we are co-heirs with Christ, our elder brother and all-in-all. Help us grasp that in Christ, there is nothing that can be added to the fulness of what we have right now in this very moment. May our weary hearts breathe those long and overdue deep sighs of relief and say with great joy, “Surely the Lord has been in this place, and we did not know it!”