The Stairway to Heaven-Dream On
Genesis 28:10-17 (NIV)
Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “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; this is the gate of heaven.”
Aerosmith’s “Dream On” is crazy, insane, amazing! That high note. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about. Then there’s Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” So powerful and I’m not even a Led Zeppelin fan, but “Stairway to Heaven” knocks it out of the park.
As we walk into another new year, we have dreams we continue to strive toward. Maybe we fulfilled our dreams in 2017. Maybe we’re continuing on with our dreams. Wherever you are in the journey, welcome to another year. A year to continue your pursuit of your dream or to reap the benefits of fulfilling your dream.
In our scripture we meet Jacob. A kid from a totally dysfunctional family. He was the son of Isaac and Rebecca, the grandson of Abraham, Sarah and Bethuel, the nephew of Ishmael, and the younger twin brother of Esau. In this part of Genesis we see inside Jacob’s dream. We get a glimpse of Jacob’s ladder. What is Jacob’s ladder anyway? Well, it’s actually the connection between earth and heaven; and it’s the key point to Jacob’s dream. We all have dreams. Not just during our sleeping hours, but dreams for our life. What’s your dream? But do you know that God has dreams for us and the world? How do we pursue our dreams?
Do you envision yourself climbing up this ladder and reaching for the heavens?
Jacob’s dreams were more like a wrestling match with God. This particular dream occurred in the earlier part of his life. He was on the run from his twin brother Esau. Why? Because I’m thinking Jacob just might be a scoundrel. In fact his name means deceiver.
Born with this need to be first even in the womb, Jacob tried to grab his twin’s ankle in an effort to pull him back so Jacob could be the first born. Meaning he’d be the heir of his father’s fortune. But he didn’t make it. Esau made it out first. So Jacob conspires with his mother to take away his brother’s birthright. But God still loves Jacob and works in his life through his dreams.
Jacob’s mother tells him now that he’s stolen Esau’s birthright maybe he needs to get lost for a few years. You see Esau’s pretty ticked about it. Well, wouldn’t you be? And he’s after Jacob in a big way.
Now we see Jacob at the point where he’s on the run and stops to sleep. He finds a stone and uses it as a pillow. While sleeping on this stone he has this dream. He dreams of this ladder that goes to heaven. You know that “stairway to heaven” thing.
You see, heaven and earth aren’t so far apart.
Dreams work as a thin place where God touches us. In the dream, God brings heaven down to earth. He used this dream to remind Jacob that He’s never far away. God tells Jacob that as messed up as his family is—as messed up as he is—that He’s going to use Jacob’s family and Jacob himself to bless others.
When Jacob wakes up he gets it. Check out verse 16: When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” Ever experience that? Looking back at a situation or even in the moment, and realize God has been there all along. When have you experienced God’s presence?
God is forever present with us in this place we call life. Dreams allow God to make known His presence just like He did with Jacob. Godly dreams allow us to see how God is working in our life. He wants us to strive for higher things and never settle. We need to be striving to live on earth as we would live in heaven. Anyone can be average. I submit that God wants us to find that stairway to heaven and reach for it.
God uses dreams to bring healing in our lives. Whether it’s in the past, present, or future. Think of Ebenezer Scrooge. He went through dreams of the past, present, and future. Only to end up finding that truth, goodness, and love was right there in front of his face all along. It was the same type awakening with Jacob.
I love watching babies sleep. Probably because I’m so envious of their peacefulness. Whenever my granddaughter, Haylie, sleeps I know when she’s dreaming because her mouth is open and her eyes are parted ever so slightly.
And not much has changed in three years.
It’s as though God is whispering in her ear those things only babies hear and understand. I think as we grow older it’s not as easy to sleep in total peace like this. But God has a way of appearing in our dreams and smoothing out the rough edges.
So, do dreams really come true? Or do we simply just dream on? What is your dream for your life and what is God’s dream for you? Are we meant to dream until our dreams come true? Do we walk up that stairway to heaven and find that heaven and earth really are that close together. Where is that thin place? Is it in our dreams?
I believe that when we go to the communion table, we are in one of those thin places between heaven and earth. What say you?
Here is a “Prayer of Confession” for the New Year: God of mercy and grace, we come before you on this first Sunday of the New Year with new desires and old fears, new possibilities and old controversies, new dreams and old weaknesses. Comfort us, forgive us, and strengthen us. Help us to let go of the past and walk into the future unafraid. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.