Genesis 28:10 – Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. (Verse 11) So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. (Verse 12) Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven, and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
John 1:51 – And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
Can you see that Jesus is the ladder set on earth that reaches all the way to heaven? Genesis 28:19 – And he called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of that city had been Luz previously. Beth means house in Hebrew; hel, Elohim means God, so Bethel means house of God. Bethlehem, house of bread; Bethsada, house of fish; Betheny, house of dates, the fruit. So why did Jacob call this place the “House of God?”
The church is a place of God’s presence.
Genesis 28:16 (NLT) Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” (Verse 17) But he was also afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!” (Jesus is the Ladder, but the church is the gateway to heaven.”)
The Church is a place of becoming aware of the presence of God. It’s not just about good music and maybe good teaching. It’s about having an encounter with God. This is what happened with Jacob. He had an encounter with God and his life was changed. So what makes church different than any other place in the world is that God comes. And if God doesn’t show up, all they’ve had is a meeting.
The Church is a place of God’s protection.
Genesis 28:15 – “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 spoken to you.” (Keep in mind that Jacob was running from his brother at this time.)
The house of God is a place of protection because it’s a place of God’s presence. Psalm 9:11 – For He shall give His angels charge over you.
The Church should be a place of God’s provision.
Genesis 28:13 – And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.” (In other words, “I’m going to provide for you.”)
When a believer comes into a relationship with Jesus, we have His presence, His protection, and His provision. Then after God told Jacob all this Jacob says:
Genesis 28:20 – Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, (Verse 21) “so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God. (Verse 22) “And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”
Before this, God was Jacob’s father’s God, not his: Genesis 27:20 – … “Because the LORD your God brought it to me.” Jacob’s father had asked him how he found the meat so quickly and Jacob said that his God had brought it to him. But now after God speaks directly to Jacob, he is changed, God becomes his God. Jacob changed because of the presence of God! When we become aware of the presence of God in our lives, that’s when everything will change toward committing everything to live for Jesus Christ!