by Tony Nester

The Gate of Heaven
Tony Nester
Genesis 28:10-22

The grace of God is marvelously unpredictable. God's Spirit is at work everywhere, all the time, and there's no telling in advance who is going to be revealed as the recipient of grace.

Jacob was one of God's surprises. One night at a lonely campsite Jacob found himself surprised by grace.

God appeared to him in a dream. He saw a ladder or stairway which led up to God. Angels were moving up and down that stairway. Jacob heard God promising him with family, with descendents, and that God would never leave him.

The surprise was not Jacob's dream - there are other stories in the Bible about God appearing to people in dreams. No, the surprise was who it was who was given this dream - Jacob.

The Bible is quite clear that Jacob had been a despicable person. He had cheated his brother Esau out of his birthright, stolen his brother's blessing, and lied to his father on his death bed. Jacob was a scheming cheat - just as the name Jacob says - the name in Hebrew means a supplanter, a schemer, a cheater.

Jacob was running away from his brother's anger and revenge - he was a coward.

To such a man comes the grace of God! We would not have designated Jacob as one to receive such a dream, such a promise from God. But God delights in surprising us. That's why we have a hymn called ''Amazing Grace''.

Jacob awakes that night with his dream vividly in his memory. He thought he had escaped all detection - thought he was hidden - supposed he was to be forgotten.

But now he knows that God has found him and he is afraid: ''Surely the Lord was in this place and I did not know it … this is the gate of Heaven.''

I think there is a bit of Jacob in each of us. We fear being found and being found out by God. There are times when we hope we've dropped off of God's radar and that we're hidden from God's scrutiny. Sometimes we scurry off to some campsite where we hope God will never notice us.

What we don't realize ...

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