“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”
When Jacob arrives at Bethel, he is a broken young man. Supposedly he has inherited the covenant blessings from his father: the promise that God will be with him, give him a great name, and make him a blessing to all nations (see Genesis 12:1-3; 28:3-4). But as he goes to sleep that night, he is alone and discredited—hardly a candidate to bless anyone, much less all peoples on earth.
But that night, in his dreams, Jacob catches a surprising glimpse of the God who has far more in store for him than he has ever understood. The text points out that this occurred in “a certain place,” so this was not some imaginary or dreamed-up location. And here, in this ordinary place on the earth, Jacob sees a stairway reaching from earth to heaven, an open passageway to God. And God assures Jacob that all of his covenant promises will be fulfilled.
Has God ever met you in an ordinary, unexpected place? Sometimes we, like Jacob, imagine that we need to work harder, feel more holy, or storm heaven to seize God’s promises. And, like Jacob, we find that our efforts leave us broken and alone.
But God reminds us that we don’t need to build a stairway to get to heaven. In Jesus, he has constructed a way for broken people to return to him (see John 1:51). Will you let God surprise you with his grace today?
God of heaven, what a great promise you give us! Help us today to see your grace to sinners, including us. Bring us to Jesus, who alone opens the gates of heaven to us. Amen.
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